5 years, 1 month, and 27 days. Avoid regrets — think critically and act boldly.



How to Avoid Regret!

What we can learn from people who have faced death
 Posted Feb 09, 2013

In 2003 the New Yorker magazine published an article entitled “A Letter from California” about the suicide capital of the world, the Golden Gate Bridge, in San francisco. At that time the reported statistic was that someone leapt to their death from the bridge every two weeks. Among the most most memorable features of the piece– indeed, it is easy for me to recall a decade later– is a passage about the small percentage of people who survive the jump from the bridge. The author of the article asserts that instant regret is a common experience among those who jump to their deaths only to later survive. One young man, for example, was quoted as saying ” I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable– except for having just jumped.” This is a powerful testament to the idea that life is largely what we make of it and that our moment to moment perceptions can have a strong impact on our decisions, behavior and relationships.

Never is this more true than in the case of regret. Regret happens when we feel we have “mis-lived.” That is, when we feel that we have made mistakes from which we cannot recover or which we cannot undo. All of us harbor some form of regret. Sometimes they are small, such as wishing you would have attended a dinner party. Other times they are large, such as wishing you had never invested in a certain company or gotten married.

Recently, a hospice nurse in Australia cataloged the common regrets of the dying patients with whom she worked. The two top regrets are interesting and fundamentally relatable. First, people generally wished they had had the courage to live a more authentic life. They looked back on life and realized the many occasions in which they had capitulated to external pressure. They wished they would have taken a few more opportunities to follow their own hearts. The second regret on the list was “I wish I wouldn’t have worked so hard.” In a world where success is often measured by what we do and how well we do it the blur between job and identity appears not to be fulfilling in the long-run. If deathbed wisdom is any guide than people would prefer, at least in retrospect, to have taken off a few more Fridays and spent a bit more time with friends and family.

When you think about your life you likely have regrets large and small. Instead of dwelling on them here consider what you might do to avoid them in the first place. Are you willing to take a sick or vacation day to spend time with those you care about? Are you willing to take it a little easier at work this week? Are you willing to say no to someone else or take the risk to pursue a private passion? Take bold action now to avoid regret later.

Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener is fascinated by the way people avoid the difficult aspects of human psychology despite their benefits. He has written about these topics in his new book, co-authored with Dr. Todd Kashdan: The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why being your whole self—not just your “good” self—drives success and fulfillment. It is available from Amazon , Barnes & Noble , Booksamillion , Powell’s or Indie Bound.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/significant-results/201302/how-avoid-regret (emphasis added)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

In the post-Jaialai birthday moment, I am filled with regrets.  Would our circumstances have been different had I not followed your mother and returned to racist Oregon and the suburb of the place known as one of the most racist cities in the U.S.? See, e.g., https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/07/racist-history-portland/492035/; https://gizmodo.com/oregon-was-founded-as-a-racist-utopia-1539567040; https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/31/portland-white-supremacy-racism-train-stabbing-murder; http://www.oregonmag.net/OregonRacismTrib.html; https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/northwest-front-americas-worst-racists-119803; http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2015/07/oregon_history_of_racism.html; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/portland-race-against-the-past-white-supremacy/; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/06/07/when-portland-banned-blacks-oregons-shameful-history-as-an-all-white-state/?utm_term=.25ae7756d407; etc.

We all have regrets.  (Only liars and those who fail to live an examined life would deny them.)  As stated above, regrets are moments of life mis-lived — moments you wish you would had experienced differently based on YOUR choice of action at the time.

Some regrets are unavoidable, to some extent.  For example, as played out in the news recently, the Bachelor experienced regrets about who he chose and took bold actions to rectify the situation before it was too late.  https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/03/06/the-bachelor-after-the-final-rose-what-went-down-after-mondays-debacle/.  (We fault the man not for his bold action but for his lack humanity in handling the break up with the woman he regretted proposing to.)  The heart does as it wishes.  We love who we love without rhyme or reason.  But, the head and the body need not (and should not) heedlessly follow the romantic and mercurial heart on its misadventures.  Humanity, morality, responsibility, etc., often serve to restrain the desires of the heart.  This dynamics often sets up the inevitable conflict and results in regret.

Aside from matters of the heart, other regrets are often avoidable IF, at that moment in time, we think critically, broadly, and clearly through the issues and choose bold actions, if appropriate, instead of giving into fear and timidity.  Let’s look at each component of my assertion.

First, critical, broad, and clear thinking is necessary to avoid most regrets.  Why?  Too often, regret results from rushed decisions (fools rush in, remember?) or poor decisions based on imperfect analysis or data.  A common error, especially for decisions made during the heat of the moment, is that we analyze things too narrowly in terms of time as a dimension or in terms of other relevant factors.  For example, during the heat of the moment, we often erroneously think the issue confronting us will last forever or for a long time.  Then, too often, we further exacerbate poor analysis with poor data: we fail think through the matters sufficiently to understand fully what data is necessary and, as a result, we fail to gather all the necessary and relevant data from relevant stakeholders before making our decision.  In hindsight, we often regret these decisions for having failed to think through the problem more clearly and broadly.

Second, containing our emotions is also necessary to avoid most regrets.  Beware, emotions  — both positive and negative — can overwhelm and blind us to reality.  Thus, it’s best to give time for emotions to subside to avoid making rash decisions.

Let me give you an example of how joyful emotions could lead us to make foolish decisions that could haunt us for life.

IN 2010 at a mate’s party, strapping 19-year-old rugby player Sam Ballard swallowed a garden slug as a dare.

A group of young friends was sitting around at a table drinking red wine when a slug was produced and one of them said: “Eat it, I dare you”.

Sam swallowed the slug.

Prior to this, Ballard’s mother Katie had thought her son as a “larrikin” but “invincible”, that nothing could ever happen to him.

She described him as “my rough-and-tumble Sam”.

But the teenager’s life was to take a devastating turn.

Sam, from Sydney’s north shore, fell ill and was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital where he was diagnosed as having been infected with rat lungworm.

The worm is found in rodents, but snails or slugs can become infected when they eat the faeces of rats with the parasite, known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

Sam Ballard was a cheeky ‘larrikin’ before the devastating effects of the infection from a garden slug.

Sam Ballard was a cheeky ‘larrikin’ before the devastating effects of the infection from a garden slug.Source:Supplied

Sam (above, with mother Katie) now needs 24/7 care and his family are in debt after the NDIS slashed funding.

Sam (above, with mother Katie) now needs 24/7 care and his family are in debt after the NDIS slashed funding.Source:News Corp Australia

While most people develop no symptoms, very rarely it causes an infection of the brain.

Sam contracted eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis, which many people recover from and which Sam initially seemed to be rallying.

But he then lapsed into a coma for 420 days and became a quadriplegic.


We’ve all been there.  We’re having fun with friends, and in the heat of the moment, someone suggests a stupid idea.  Unfortunately, often, in the heady moment of euphoria the idea doesn’t sound so stupid, and someone ends up getting hurt by it.

Stop.  Think.  Don’t allow emotions to cloud your judgement.

If fear of failure, of looking stupid, etc., or another negative emotion holds you back from doing what your head tells you is the best decision, be bold.  The moment of absolute certainty never arrives.  If you’ve engaged in the appropriate analysis and have made the best decision possible under the circumstances, believe in yourself and boldly embrace your decision.  If you fail, so what?  Learn and do better next time.

Now let me give you the clearest example of how fear and short-sighted thinking beget regrets: suicides.

[O]ne of the saddest realities about suicide is that it often results from impulsive decisions that might have never occurred again if the person had survived or backed out.

Anywhere from one-third to 80% of all suicide attempts are impulsive acts, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. 24% of those who made near-lethal suicide attempts decided to kill themselves less than five minutes before the attempt, and 70% made the decision within an hour of the attempt.

Suicidal urges are sometimes caused by immediate stressors, such as a break-up or job loss, that go away with the passage of time. 90% of people who survive suicide attempts, including the most lethal types like shooting one’s self in the head, don’t end up killing themselves later. That statistic reflects the “temporary nature and fleeting sway of many suicidal crises,” reports The New England Journal of Medicine.



Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before. Ken Baldwin and Kevin Hines both say they hurdled over the railing, afraid that if they stood on the chord they might lose their courage. Baldwin was twenty-eight and severely depressed on the August day in 1985 when he told his wife not to expect him home till late….  As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped. ….

When Paul Alarab was pulled from the Bay at 11:34 a.m., he was unconscious and badly bruised. The impact had ripped off his left glove and his right shoe. The Coast Guard crew, wearing their standard jumper-retrieval garb to protect against leaking body fluids—Tyvex biohazard suits, masks, gloves, and safety goggles—began C.P.R. Half an hour later, Alarab was pronounced dead. Gary Tindel, the assistant coroner of Marin County, who examined the body on the dock at Fort Baker, at the north end of the bridge, observed that “massive bleeding had occurred in both ears, along with apparent grayish brain matter in and around the right ear.” Tindel brought Alarab’s … cell phone back to the coroner’s office in San Rafael. Soon afterward, the cell phone rang. It was Alarab’s ex-wife, Rubina Coton: their nine-year-old son had been waiting more than two hours at school for his father to pick him up.

“May I speak with Paul?” Coton asked.

“I’m sorry,” Tindel said. “You can’t.”


In other words, a break up, a job loss, or crisis point often triggered fears about the overwhelming nature of life AT THAT MOMENT and caused people to make rash decisions without thinking broadly about how that moment will pass, how other people would be adversely affected by the person’s bad decision, etc.  If they had taken time to let their emotions and fears subside so that they could think more clearly and broadly about the problems confronting them, they would realize that the problems are often solvable and that the crisis will pass.  As with Ken Baldwin, the one regret that most of those who survived suicide attempts has is the suicide itself:  they realized the only problem they could not fix was their death — all their other problems were fixable or tolerable.


No one promised you that life would be easy.  If they did, they lied.  Life isn’t easy.  It has its beautiful moments that could bring boundless joy.  But, it also has dark moments that could bring deep despair.  Both are part of life.  What you do during those moments matter.  Enjoy the beauty and wait out the despair for both will pass.  Cling to neither.  https://www.thoughtco.com/life-is-suffering-what-does-that-mean-450094.

When faced with challenges, I am often reminded of the Serenity Prayer.


For a discussion about the teachings of the Serenity Prayer, see https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/18/serenity-prayer-wisdom_n_4965139.html.

I grew up Catholic, and you boys were baptized as Catholic.  Regardless of whether your mom brings you to church service regularly, let the teachings of the Catholic traditions help guide you.  There is wisdom there.  The Church is animated by men, and men are not infallible.  For example, vanity once ruled the Roman Catholic Church and three separate popes vied for power at the same time.  See, e.g., https://www.britannica.com/event/Western-Schism.  You may not agree 100% with all of the Church’s teachings, but don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.  Accept the good.

After you boys were wrongly taken from me, I struggled to find meaning for life.  After having spent years of my life helping the homeless, the poor, the elderly, the infirm, the refugees, the victims of domestic violence, etc., I couldn’t understand how racist thugs could collaborate with a known pedophile to frame Ms. L and me to place her son with the pedophile.  Racist thugs physically assaulted Ms. L, a slight woman of 100 lbs., and sent her to the emergency room.  They illegally seized confidential documents that were clearly marked “Confidential and Subject to Attorney-Client Privilege” that any court would forbid.  How could these systems I’ve spent years supporting failed us so drastically?

The first place where Ms. L and I found refuge sat next to a huge and open construction site.  Metal bars grew out of those massive pits.  Not a day passed where one or both of us didn’t think about jumping from the highest point we could find and impaling ourselves onto those metal stakes.

Three things stopped us.  The first was our children.  Kids who lose a parent to suicide are more likely to commit suicide.  Thus, suicide couldn’t be the legacy we leave for you kids.  The second was each other.  You boys have your mother, but we had no one but each other.  The thugs threatened and harassed everyone dear to us.  The third was hope: we would fight, clear our names, and get you back.  Thus, we live to fight another day, and we do not regret that decision.

Be strong, my sons.  We fight for you, and will continue to do so.  It took me more than five years to expose the Enron of Healthcare, who defrauded the sick and dying out of the health care for which the latter have paid.  Five years where we struggled because I lost my job when I blew the whistle against the corrupt.  This struggle is greater.

All my love, always


P.S., I leave you with another article that you may find informative.

The 25 Biggest Regrets In Life. What Are Yours?

We are all busy. Life happens. There’s always something to distract us from getting around to certain things we know we should do.

Soccer practice.  Work. Home renovations. Getting that next big promotion.

And with the explosion of always-on smartphones and tablets delivering a fire hose of urgent emails, not to mention Twitter and Facebook (FB), in recent years, things have only gotten busier.

In the backs of our minds, we know we’re neglecting some stuff we should do. But we never get around to it.

Then, something happens.  A good friend or loved one – maybe close to us in age – drops dead unexpectedly.  We begin to think about what our biggest regrets would be if we were suddenly sitting on our death bed.

 Here is a list of the 25 biggest ones we’ll probably have.

The question is, are you going to change anything this afternoon or tomorrow in light of this list?  Or are you going to go back to your busy life?

 1. Working so much at the expense of family and friendships.  How do you balance meeting that short-term deadline at work and sitting down for dinner with your family?  It’s tough.  There are always worries. “What will my boss and co-workers think? It’s not a big deal if I stay late this one time.  I’ll make it up with the family this weekend.”  But the “making up” never seems to happen.  Days turn to months and then years and then decades.

2. Standing up to bullies in school and in life.  Believe it or not, a lot of our biggest regrets in life have to do with things that happened to us in grade 4 or some other early age. We never seem to forget – or forgive ourselves – for not speaking up against the bullies.  We were too scared. We wish we had been more confident.  And by the way most of us have also met up with a bully in our work life.  Maybe he was our boss.  We remember that one time we wish we’d told him off – even if it cost us our job.  We usually take some small solace in hearing that that bully later on made some unfortunate career stumble.

3. Stayed in touch with some good friends from my childhood and youth.  There’s usually one childhood or high school friend who we were best buddies with.  Then, one of us moved away.  We might have stayed in touch at first but then got busy.  Sometimes, we thought to pick up the phone, but maybe we don’t have their number or email any more.  We always wonder what it would be like to sit down with them again for a coffee.

4. Turned off my phone more/Left my phone at home.  Many of us can’t get off our phone/email addiction.  We sleep with it next to us. We carry it with us constantly. It’s right next to us in the shower, just in case we see a new email icon light up through the steamed up shower glass.  We know constantly checking email and Twitter in the evenings and on weekends takes us away from quality time with family and friends. Yet, we don’t stop.

5. Breaking up with my true love/Getting dumped by them.  Romance is a big area of regret for most of us.  Maybe we dumped someone that we wish we hadn’t. Maybe they dumped us.  Most play a never-ending game of “what might have been” for the rest of their lives.  It is tough to simply be happy with the love that you’ve found and takes away from the special moments you have today, if you’re constantly thinking back to what you once had — which actually might not have been half as good as we think it was.

6. Worrying about what others thought about me so much.  Most of us place way too much importance on what other people around us think about us.  How will they judge us?  In the moment, we think their opinions are crucial to our future success and happiness.  On our death beds, none of that matters.

7. Not having enough confidence in myself.  Related to the previous point, a big regret for most of us is questioning why we had such little confidence in ourselves.  Why did we allow the concerns of others to weigh so heavy on us instead of trusting our own beliefs?  Maybe we didn’t think we were worth having what we wanted.  Maybe we just thought poorly of ourselves.  Later on, we wish we could have been more self-confident.

8. Living the life that my parents wanted me to live instead of the one I wanted to.  Related to that lack of confidence, a lot of us get sucked into living the life that we think a good son or daughter should live.  Whether because we’re explicitly told or just because we unconsciously adopt it, we make key life choices – about where to go to school, what to study, and where to work — because we think it’s what will make our parents happy.  Our happiness is derived through their happiness – or so we think. It’s only later – 1o or 20 years on – where we discover that friends around us are dying and we’re not really doing what we want to do.  A panic can start to set in.  Whose life am I living any way?

9. Applying for that “dream job” I always wanted.  Maybe we didn’t apply for that job we always wanted to because of a child, or because our spouse didn’t want to move cities.  It might not have been the perfect job for us, but we always regret not trying out for it.  Do you think Katie Couric regrets giving the nightly news gig a shot?  No way. Sometimes you swing and you miss, but you have no regrets later on.

 10. Been happier more. Not taken life so seriously.  Seems strange to say, but most of us don’t know how to have fun.  We’re way too serious.  We don’t find the humor in life.  We don’t joke around.  We don’t think we’re funny.  So, we go through life very serious.  We miss out on half (or maybe all) the fun in life that way.  Do something a little silly today. Crack a joke with the bus driver – even if he ends up looking at you weird.  Do a little dance.  You’ll probably smile, on the inside if not the outside.  Now keep doing that, day after day.
 11. Gone on more trips with the family/friends.  Most folks stay close to home. They don’t travel all that much.  Yet, big trips with friends and family – to Disney World, to Paris, or even to the lake – are the stuff that memories are made of later in life.  We’re all thrown in to some new unfamiliar situation together.  We’ve got to figure it out as a group – and it’s fun, even when it rains.  We really remember trips.

12. Letting my marriage break down.  Back to romance now. More people will divorce than stay together.  If you ask these folks, they’ll tell you that it was for the best. They couldn’t take it any more.  And, of course, there are some marriages that shouldn’t go on and where divorce is the best for all parties involved.  However, if you talk to many people privately, they’ll tell you they regret their marriage breaking up.  It’s never just one thing that ends a marriage – even if that one thing is infidelity. There are usually lots of signs and problems leading up to that.  The regrets most of us have is that we didn’t correct some or most of those “little things” along the way.  We can’t control our spouse but we can control our actions and we know – deep down – we could have done more.

13. Taught my kids to do stuff more.  Kids love their parents, but they love doing stuff with their parents even more.  And it doesn’t have to be a vacation at the Four Seasons.  It could be raking leaves, learning how to throw a football, or cleaning up a play room together.  We learned all the little habits that we take for granted in our own behavior from mimicking our parents.  If we’re not making the time to do stuff with our kids, we’re robbing them of the chance to mimic us.

14. Burying the hatchet with a family member or old friend.  I know family members that haven’t talked to a brother or sister for 30 years.  One’s in bad health and will probably die soon.  But neither he nor the other brother will make an effort.  They’ve both written each other off.  And there’s blame on both sides – although I take one’s side more.  But these were two guys that were inseparable as kids. They got washed in a bucket in their parents’ kitchen sink together.  Now, neither one will make a move to improve things because they think they’ve tried and the other one is too stubborn.  They think they’ve done all they can and washed their hands of the relationship. They’ll regret that when one of them is no longer around.

15. Trusting that voice in the back of my head more. Whether it’s as simple as taking a job we weren’t really thrilled about or as complex of being the victim of some crime, most of us have had the experience of a little voice in the back of our heads warning us that something was wrong here.  A lot of times, we override that voice. We think that we know best.  We do a matrix before taking that job and figure out a way to prove to ourselves that, analytically, this makes sense. Most of the time, we learn later that voice was dead right.

16. Not asking that girl/boy out. Nerves get the best of us – especially when we’re young.  We can forgive ourselves that we didn’t screw up enough courage to ask that boy or girl out on a date or to the prom.  But that doesn’t mean that we still won’t think about it decades later.  Sometimes people regret seeing someone famous or well-known in real life and not going up to them and telling them how much they inspired them in our lives.  It’s the same underlying fear.  We always we could have just said what we really felt at that moment.

17. Getting involved with the wrong group of friends when I was younger.  We do dumb stuff when we’re young.  We’re impressionable.  We make friends with the wrong crowd, except we don’t think there’s anything wrong with them.  They’re our friends and maybe the only people we think that truly understand us.  However, we can really get sidetracked by hooking up with this group.  Sometimes it leads to drugs or serious crimes.  We never start out thinking our choice of friends could lead us to such a difficult outcome.

18. Not getting that degree (high school or college).  I’ve spoken with lots of folks who didn’t graduate with a high school or college degree.   When I met them, they were already well-known at their job.  And there are many examples I can think of where their jobs were very senior and they were very well-respected. However, if the education topic ever came up in private conversation, almost universally, you could tell they regretted not getting their degree.  It made them insecure, almost like they worried they were going to be “found out.”  Most of these folks will never go back to get it now.  Whether they do or not, they’re great at what they do and don’t need to feel bad about not having that piece of paper.

19. Choosing the practical job over the one I really wanted. I was watching CNBC the other day and one finance guy was being asked for advice on what college kids should major in today. He said: “It sounds corny but they’ve got to do what they love.” He’s right. Of course, as a country, we need more engineers, scientists, and other “hard” science folks.  But, at the end of the day, you’ve got to live your life, not the government’s.  There are many who think they need to take a “consulting job” to build up their experience before settling in to a job they love.  Although there are many roads that lead to Rome, you’re probably better off just starting immediately in the area that you love.

20. Spending more time with the kids.  I had an old mentor who used to tell me, “when it comes to parenting, it’s not quality of time that’s important, it’s quantity of time.”  When we get so busy at work, we comfort ourselves knowing that we’re going to stay late at the office again with the idea that we’ll make it up by taking our son to a ballgame on the weekend.  As long as I spend some quality time with him, we think, it will all balance out.  It probably won’t.  There are lots of busy executives who take control of their schedules in order to either be at home for dinners more or be at those special school events with the kids.  Kids do remember that.

21. Not taking care of my health when I had the chance.  Everyone doesn’t think of their health – until there’s a problem.  And at that point, we promise ourselves if we get better we’ll do a better job with our health. It shouldn’t take a major calamity to get us to prioritize our health and diet.  Small habits every day make a big difference here over time.

22. Not having the courage to get up and talk at a funeral or important event.  I remember at an old Dale Carnegie class I attended, they told us more people were afraid of public speaking than dying.  They’d rather die than give a speech apparently.  Yet, when you’re close to death, you’re probably going to wish you’d gotten over those fears on at least a few occasions, but especially at a loved one’s funeral or some important event like a wedding.

23. Not visiting a dying friend before he died. I had a buddy I went to high school with who died 3 years ago.  He was in his late 30s with a great wife and 3 great boys.  He had cancer for the last 3 years of his life. We’d talked off and on over that time. Two months before he died, he called me and asked if I could come by to visit. I was in the process of moving and too busy with my own family.  I said I’d come soon.  A month later, it was clear he had days to live.  I rushed to the hospital and did get to visit at his bedside before he passed, but he was a different guy from the one I’d spoken to only a month earlier on the phone. He was just hanging on. We hadn’t been best friends and we hadn’t seen much of each other since high school, but I know I’ll always regret not going to visit him earlier when I’d had the chance.  What I’d give to have one last regular chat with him.

24. Learning another language. A lot of us travel a lot. Fewer still have studied a second language. And this is a big regret down the road for many of us, even though it might seem like a small thing next to family, career, and romance.  A lot of us wish we’d made the time to learn a new language to open up a whole new culture to us.

25. Being a better father or mother.  There’s no bigger legacy than our children.  Often, they turn out great.  When our kids struggle though, there’s nothing bigger than makes us feel guilty.  Yet, when they start showing signs of problems – with school, or friends, or otherwise — there’s often been many years that have passed in which we could have and probably should have been spending more time with them.  No situation is ever lost though.  There is always time to improve our relationships with our kids.  But, it can’t wait another day, especially if it’s a relationship that’s been neglected for years.

We can all relate to most of these regrets. We can’t change the past, so this list isn’t meant for you to start a pity party.

The question is what are we going to do with the rest of our lives to ensure we don’t experience any of these regrets later on when we’re in the hospital preparing to say goodbye.

If you have some regrets you’d like to share, please leave them below in the comments for all to read.  I’ll call them all out.



5 years, 1 month, and 23 days. Home is where the heart is.




My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  They’re wrong.  While that may be true for some, most of us are aware of the good things going on in our lives but are often too busy to be fully present to enjoy them.  Further, we often assume those things will always be there.  We are wrong.

Life if fickle.  Control is illusory.  We think we are the masters of our fate and we are in control of our lives, but we are foolish.  Life happens.  It happens how and when it wants.  In a heartbeat, a fire could burn down everything you have worked your entire life to build,


a hurricane could reduce to rubles everything you cherished,


an inhumane creature could take your life or the lives of your loved ones.


You have but to look at our own circumstances to see the point.  I have spent chunks of my life helping others — tutoring kids; helping the elderly with groceries; prepare food for the poor; researching and writing a policy to prevent the homeless from freezing to death during inclement weather, and volunteering at that emergency shelter; providing free legal services to refugees and asylum seekers; providing free legal services to victims of domestic violence; etc.  Never in a million years could I imagine that racist thugs would collaborate with a known pedophile to harm us.

Because you never know when something near and dear to you will be taken from you, be present as much as you can each and every day to soak in all that goodness.  Don’t buy into the illusion that you’ll always have what you currently have.

Embrace your brother.  Watch over each other.  Take care of each other.  Each of you is worth more than your weight in diamonds and gold.  I would give all the wealth in the world to be with you now….

All my love, always,


P.S., I leave you with these thoughts:https://i1.wp.com/www.sunshineandhurricanes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Collect-Memories-Not-Things-Meme.jpg

Buying New Experiences, Not Things, Tied to Happiness

Buying New Experiences, Not Things, Tied to HappinessA new study suggests that those who spend money to do things are happier than those who spend their money on possessions.

In the study, investigators determined extraverts and people who are open to new experiences are more apt to spend more of their disposable income on experiences, such as concert tickets or a weekend away, rather than hitting the mall for material items.

Investigators, led by San Francisco State University Professor, Ryan Howell, discovered the habitual “experiential shoppers” reported greater life satisfaction.

To further investigate how purchasing decisions impact well-being, Howell and colleagues have launched a website where members of the public can take free surveys to find out what kind of shopper they are and how their spending choices affect them.

Data collected through the “Beyond the Purchase” website will be used by Howell and other social psychologists.

The site is designed to study the link between spending motivations and well-being, and how money management influences our financial and purchasing choices.

In the current study, Howell and colleagues surveyed nearly 10,000 participants, who completed online questionnaires about their shopping habits, personality traits, values and life satisfaction.

“We know that being an ‘experience shopper’ is linked to greater well-being,” said Howell, whose previous research on purchasing experiences challenged the adage that money can’t buy happiness.

“But we wanted to find out why some people gravitate toward buying experiences.”

Investigators determined an individual’s personality via a model that classifies how extraverted, neurotic, open, conscientious and agreeable a person is.

People who spent most of their disposable income on experiences scored highly on the “extravert” and “openness to new experience” scales.

“This personality profile makes sense since life experiences are inherently more social, and they also contain an element of risk,” Howell said. “If you try a new experience that you don’t like, you can’t return it to the store for a refund.”

Researchers believe it may be helpful if people would realize that life satisfaction and happiness can be influenced by their spending habits.

“Even for people who naturally find themselves drawn to material purchases, our results suggest that getting more of a balance between traditional purchases and those that provide you with an experience could lead to greater life satisfaction and well-being,” he said.

The research findings are published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.



5 years, 1 month, and 14 days. Always be you, and beware of hypocrites — those who pretend to be someone they’re not.






My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Beware of hypocrites, my sons.  They are abound and they often assume leadership roles after donning the mantle of virtues to cover up their vices.  A cursory search of the Internet and you’ll find lots of stories about “leaders” who publicly extol the virtues of family values while bedding prostitutes or otherwise cheating on their spouses, who publicly decry the harms of homosexuality while engaging in homosexual conducts behind closed doors and in dark corners, etc.

For example, there is an elderly woman who goes to church 3-4 times a day, befriends mostly priests and nuns and other members of religious orders, constantly talks about her charitable work helping the poor and the disenfranchised, and loves visiting the Holy Land and the Holy See.  From all appearances, one would think her place in heaven is assured.  However, her conducts do not always conform with her words. More often than not, she “helps” the poor while helping herself.  She uses the poor and the cripple to raise funds, a sizeable portion of which goes to support her lavish and jet-set lifestyle.

At least she is small fry and those she professed to help actually do receive help, albeit not as much as they would have had to minimized her expenditures and maximized benefits to those she promised to help.  There are scammers out there who steal millions from the poor and the dying, all while basking in the lie that they’re there to help the poor and the dying.  https://www.cnn.com/2013/06/13/us/worst-charities/index.html.

Much has been said in the news recently about the egregious conducts of Oxfam “leaders”, but I am not surprised.  The adage that people kiss up and shit down comes to mind.  While there are lots of good people out there who work hard to help the poor, the homeless, the elderly, and the disenfranchised, too often the dishonorable infiltrates their ranks and besmirch their good names by claiming to help those less fortunate but, in actuality, abusing the latter.

Years ago, while working at a refugee camp to provide free legals services to asylum seekers, I came across a little toad of Vietnamese man from Australia who claimed to volunteer overseas “to help” his people.  In truth, he was there to prey on the weak and helpless and to coerce one into becoming his bride.  Shortly after arrival, reportedly he pointed to the most beautiful young Vietnamese woman helping out in the office and announced that he’d marry her.  True to his words, shortly thereafter, he married her and quit his voluntary position.  (Asylum seekers in those days could spend years languishing in refugee camps and often look for marriages as the way out.  Often, the women would even offer to pay men to marry them.  Of course, this constitutes marriage fraud, is highly unethical, and is illegal.  Love can flourish even in the most dire of circumstances, but these sham marriages are often unbalanced relationships between those with power — the man with an overseas passport (often a loser who has been rejected by his female compatriots at home) — and those without — the powerless woman who has given up everything she’s known to face an uncertain future while languishing in a refugee camp.  There is nothing fair or virtuous about these sham marriages.)

At the same time, I met another winner who repeatedly tried and failed to gain admission to law school then who went about bragging how he intends to get “an MBA in history.”  Another winner.  Unfortunately, they were not alone.

The trick is to watch what people do, and not put too much faith in what they say.  If their conducts conform with their words, then believe them.  If not, then stay clear of them.

A man is only as good as his word.  If a person has no honor and use his or her words only to further his or her deceptions, then be wary of him or her.  It is only a matter of time before you, too, fall prey to his or her lies.

We are raised in honest households; thus, we are no match for those who spend their hours and minutes scheming to defraud others.  Thus, it is best to give such ilk wide berth.

Likewise, do not do anything that would cause you to fall among the ranks of the hypocrites and liars.  Be you.  Be the best you possible.  Live right.  It will not always be easy, but it will always be right.  And, who promised you that life would be easy?  It isn’t.  Regardless, you can still live well, my sons, and leave the world a better place than when you found.

I love you with all my heart,






5 years, 1 month, and 13 days. Given the current tone of discourse, I remind you again to SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND.



Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

Peace Prayer of St. Francis
CCLI Song Number 649264


Auto Scripture:
2 Samuel 14:25; 1 Corinthians 14:9; 2 Peter 3:16; 2 Corinthians 12:15; Psalm 108:1; 1 Corinthians 9:22; 2 John 1:8; 1 Chronicles 2:9;
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.Make me a channel of your peace
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The Prayer of Saint Francis has always been one of my favorite hymns growing up.  It’s a simple, yet powerful, prescription from one of the humblest of our saints for how to live well.  The lesson, albeit deeply challenging to put into practice, is eminently simple: put the needs of others first.

Imagine a world where each of us tried to put others before ourselves.  Think of  all the rancor and distrust we’d give up!  Divorce rates, for example, would be greatly reduced.  How could marriages fail if each member puts the needs of the other before his/her own?  (The key here is reciprocity.  If one member puts the needs of the other first, but the second does not reciprocate, then the relationship will be challenged to succeed.)  If you took care of your friends and family and they you, then how could those relationships fail?

As I’ve always said, we are bottomless pits and our thirst for self-fulfillment never ends.  Recall the story of the simple fisherman and the magic fish?  Having caught and released the magical fish that could speak, at the behest of his ungrateful wife, the man asked for a cottage to replace their shack, a castle to replace the cottage, a kingdom in lieu of the castle, an emperorship, the papacy, and ultimately dominion over the sun and the moon.  Because she was never content with each acquisition, she ultimately ended up with nothing.  http://storyberries.com/the-fisherman-and-his-wife/.

We are wired to be dissatisfied: our brain adjusts to whatever is new and resets that threshold as the new normal.  This is true of drugs and of all  things in life.  Thus, if we give in to our baser instincts, we will forever be unhappy because no amount of money is enough, no number of cars will keep us satisfied, etc.  A guy we know who is a philanderer, for example, is learning this lesson the hard way.  He cheated on his beautiful wife with one woman.  Over time, he found that being with one woman is not longer enough and he needed two.  Two turned into several.  Where will this end?  In this day and age of AIDS, STDs, etc., what risks is he exposing himself and his poor wife to?  When is enough enough?  Never.

The importance of self-control and self-discipline can never be overstated.  The best meals, for example, are not the ones where you are overstuffed, feel like puking, and have to undo your belt ad unbutton your trouser.  No, the best meals are those that are just shy of being satiated and leave you wanting.  So, put down that fork and appreciate the wonderful experience you have enjoyed.  Overindulgence will ultimately result in your losing appetite for that favorite dish of yours.

I  bring this up today because I am deeply sadden by discourse following the school massacre in Florida.  Children and their families suffered and continue to suffer, but the lack of humanity has caused many to rush to label these kids and marginalize them without listening to their pleas and hearing their pains.  Why?  Where is our humanity?

Listen and try to understand the person speaking to you.  Don’t worry about what you’ll say after the person is done speaking; if you truly listened, the questions will present themselves and you will have endless matters to discuss.  If you do these things, you will find that life will be better.  People will often respond in kind, and you will attract the right sort of people to your circle.  I promise neither utopia nor the absence of the crass and the vulgar, but their effects will be limited.

All my love, always,




5 years, 1 month, and 12 days. Live with purpose.

Intergenerational care: Where kids help the elderly live longer

‘Good things are happening’

“When we bring children and residents together, the elderly together, you can see right away that good things are happening,” Somers said.
These “good things” are evident to any observer.
More than 10 children make their way along the garden paths into the lounge where the residents are stretching their arms and shaking their legs. Most faces in the room are smiling, and a few residents reach out to encourage the kids to come toward them specifically.
As small children roam about, trying the exercises themselves, cuddling up to residents and in some cases performing headstands, the rest of the room comes alive.
“They’re responding to an external stimulus, which is a toddler with an adorable grin fumbling towards them, carrying a toy, trying to interact,” Somers said.
The benefits in terms of health are also clear to see.
Residents “very often forget their own physical limitations, and they find that they are encouraged; they stretch themselves; they will lean up out of their chair, extend a hand, engage in conversation,” she added.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

First, I give you Schubert’s Ave Maria.  It is more beautiful than I can describe and my go-to when I am overwhelmed by the ugliness in the world today.  I hope it will give you as much comfort and delight as it has given me over the years.

Second, I updated the homepage for this blog to provide a roadmap.  What started out simply as letters to you about lessons I have learned over the years — hoping these lessons would help you avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes I and others have made — has given rise to certain themes that if articulated might  help you better put these lessons into perspectives.  I copied the revised version below for your convenience.

Finally, I wanted to remind you to live life with purpose.  For some (many, actually), money or wealth is their raison d’etre.  But, that is an unwise choice.  On their deathbeds, no one asks for more time at the office making money.  Often, retirees lose their zest for life upon retirement because they lost their raison d’etre, their purpose in life.  As alluded to in the CNN article above, purpose is the zest of life … without it, we are lost and simply exist, not thrive.  I want you to thrive.

Years ago, when I sold books door to door, I met an elderly woman one early morning.  I knocked on her door, and, as we started to chat, she unloaded upon me a litany of ills that have befallen her.  After listening for a while, I asked, “Why do you get up in the morning, then?”  (Yes, I was young, and I was an idiot.  I would never be as blunt or rude today. Well, hopefully, I wouldn’t.)  At that point, she became upset and reversed herself, listing all the important things she had going on in her life and why it was important for her to get them done.  In other words, she changed her tune because she refocused on her purpose for living.

What do you live for?  I submit that you should live life to the fullest and make the world a better place along the way.  Below, in the revised homepage, are my thoughts on that.

I now leave you with my favorite quote from Hunter Thompson:


Enjoy your ride!  But, remember that you can do well by doing good along the way.

All my love, always,



My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai,

Life has its challenges and obstacles, but nothing changes that most basic, fundamental, and unadulterated truth: you two are the best things that have ever happened to me.  I am lucky to have you for my sons.

I love you with all my heart … always and forever.  Not a day passes that you are not in my thoughts, and your absence do not weigh heavily on my heart.

Current circumstances conspire to keep us apart.  But, that is only a temporary condition.  Know that everyday, I am doing my best to fight my way back to you so that I may be there to help you grow into the amazing men you will become.

These posts are but temporary solutions to fill the gap until my return. Through them, I hope to give you guidance and continue the lessons that were started from the moment you took your first breath — and took my breath away.

You will find that the overarching theme for this blog (and my life — and, hopefully, yours as well) is that WE SHOULD STRIVE TO LEAVE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR HAVING LIVED.  That’s my Golden Rule.  Consequently, the Corollary is to HELP IF YOU CAN, BUT DO NO HARM IF YOU CANNOT HELP.

Specifically, how do you make the world a better place?  First, be the best YOU can be. No one can ask for more of you.

To achieve that goal, I share with you lessons I’ve learned about how to live well and what it takes to be successful in America.  Note two things: (1) I am talking specifically about what it takes to achieve what is considered to be professional success in the U.S. and not elsewhere in the world; and, (2) the focus is on success as defined by society at large and not on your personal definition of success.  Your definition may be different.  That’s OK.  But, know that if you chose that path, it would be a rougher road to hew.  The choice remains yours.

Second, fight evil wherever you find it.  This is your duty as a human being.  We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.  If not us, than who?  I am always mindful of the words of Martin Niemoller, the Protestant pastor who spoke out against the Nazi and suffered in the concentration camp as a result.  He said,

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


Regarding my prescriptions for a life well-lived, all I can say is be brave, my sons.  Be courageous enough to be the real you and the best you possible, despite the niggling comments of others.  Be strong enough to stand up for yourselves and your visions.  Be willing to fight for them.  Also, fight injustice.  Speak out against evil.

I know these are not small things I ask of you, but the world will tend towards disorder unless energy is expended to counteract the disorder.  If not us, then who?  We are the stewards of our world.  Do try to leave it a better place by actively working to make your little corner of the world a bit better than when you first found it and by stopping those who try to destroy whatever beauty lies there. A world without beauty is not a world in which we are meant to live and thrive.

Regarding our situation, be patient, my sons.  Be strong.  Be good.  The truth will prevail.  I promise.

It took me five years to fight the Enron of Healthcare and expose their corrupt practices.  How much longer will it take to fight and expose corrupt government officials?

Until we reunite, know that I love you always and forever.

All my love, always,


5 years, 1 month, and 11 days. Always put first thing first.




My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Recently, we heard a friend may be coming into bad news shortly.  She works very hard as a teacher and has gained much respect from the parents of her students; is a nice person as far as we are aware; and, despite her already long days, often volunteers to help others from her school and church.  Recently, she asked for another position at work, and a raise.  Unfortunately, the principal of that school made passing remarks that suggest our friend may be disappointed shortly.

The problem is that our friend over-extends herself with secondary and tertiary matters instead of focusing on first things first.  She’s a teacher.  Teaching is her most important task.  After that, her duties as an employee of the school is to help elevate the school and not cause problems for the school.  She failed the latter.  By not being mindful, she had put the school in a difficult position for the past few months.  The costs of this negates much of the good things she’s done.  Further, instead of focusing on her primary tasks and doing what is important for the school, she expends a significant amount of energy doing things that are unimportant to school and that are ultimately harmful to her health and well-being.

She failed to take care of the most important things first.  Doing well on secondary or tertiary matters can never make up for not performing your primary duties or tasks.

Remember to ALWAYS do the first things first.  Often, the first thing is what is most important and most urgent.  However, when those moments of crises have passed, then it is what is most important but not urgent.  These include, but are not limited to, exercising, planning the steps necessary to achieve your goals, doing your daily homework and class work in order to build up your body of knowledge, volunteering and helping to improve your community, taking leadership roles in your daily lives, nurturing friendships and relationships, taking time for leisure to nourish your own soul, etc.  Do unimportant or non-urgent things ONLY IF AND WHEN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

Too often, people waste time on unimportant and non-urgent matters. For example, how much time have you spent today on television, video games, texts, Facebook, Whatsapp, or other social media?  How many hours have you spent doing those things this past week? this past month?  How have they helped you?

(Don’t tell me you get your news from Facebook!  That’s foolish.  Why would you allow someone to choose for you what you may read?!!  Decide for yourself what you should read, not allow some algorithm created by some billionaire to limit what you may read.  Go to original and reputable news sources, e.g., the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Guardian, etc.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/college-inc/post/what-if-the-rankers-ranked-newspapers/2011/10/04/gIQAYZl6KL_blog.html?utm_term=.5f075803f775.)

Use the Eisenhower Matrix (the last graphics above) to help you prioritize your tasks.  http://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/.  This requires using your head and planning to manage your time.  (These are critical skills for success, my sons; don’t make short shrift of them.)

Because you are most productive in the morning, after you’ve had rest, don’t waste those precious moments on menial tasks such as planning your to-do list.  Do that in the evening — or at least draft a tentative list.  Then, after you’ve done your most intellectually challenging tasks in the morning, return to the list to update and finalize it.

Use the Eisenhower Matrix to help you stay focused and on task.  Take time to enjoy life and those important to you, but don’t waste time on unnecessary things.  If I could, I would go back in time and relish every moment I had with you and not waste a single second on unimportant and non-urgent things.  Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

I love you always,





5 years and 23 days. Keys to success: (2) be of value, i.e., solve problems, work to build and improve, help others, etc.






My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

There is so much I want to say to you — I need to tell you.  But, here we are.  Life gives us a lemon, so we make lemonade.  These letters will do until circumstances change.

Ok, we were talking about how you  must fit in and be likeable to achieve a measure of success in this life.  Now, to be clear, I’m NOT telling you to become a sycophant, a flatterer, a “yes” man.  No, be yourself.  Be true to yourself, but be your best self.  Be kind.  Be well-mannered.  Be pro-active.  Be humanistic.

Being kind and well-mannered gets you over that first hump of being rejected off-hand.  Would you want to spend time associating, playing, or working with a person who is rude, has disgusting hygiene, and has terrible manners?  No, who would?  But, being likeable and being able to fit in are not enough.

To be invited to the table and join the ranks of the successful few, you must also bring value.  The best path I’ve found to give value is to use my critical thinking skills to solve problems that challenge others.  Be a problem-solver and you will also be of value.  The world needs problem solvers.  By all means, solve problems that plague you, but also make time to solve problems that confront others.  The latter will take you far.

In most jobs I’ve had, I managed to solve problems critical or important to the organization, and gained the attention of the leadership team as a result.  One of my firm’s clients, for example, operates in almost every state in the U.S., and my firm used to send them several binders each year to update key laws affecting their operations.  These binders would be filled with the actual text of new statutes, regulations, court decisions, etc., and would be sent to the client’s legal counsel.  While that is useful, when asked to take over that project, instead of continuing what other lawyers had done in the past, I opted to create a chart by each legal issue affecting the company and by each state in which the company operates.  Then, I provide a brief summary of the relevant law in each state as well as citations to the relevant sections of law.  This made it much easier for the company’s lawyers to explain to its staff what the company may and may not do in each state.  Both the client and my firm were happy with my approach.  In other words, I brought value.  As a result, my billing rates were higher than those of some of the partners at the firm, and one of the founding partners promised to let me go straight from being an associate to an equity partner when the time came, instead of having to become a contract partner first.

In numerous other circumstances, I brought value by solving long-standing problems that others before me could not solve.  How?  By listening carefully to the issues, needs, and concerns of all the relevant stakeholders, and using my critical thinking skills to find a pathway that satisfied the needs of the various stakeholders.

Listen, and bring value by using your problem solving skills.  Do that, and you will go far.

What that means is that you MUST work on your critical thinking skills daily.  Pay attention to whatever you are doing at each moment, and use your critical thinking skills to find ways to do better.  If you are reading for class, for example, put down your highlighter and stop painting the pages yellow as your eyes roam over the pages while your mind day-dreams about what you’ll do after you finish painting the pages of your required reading.  Reading is not a visual exercise: it is a mental one.  So, think!  Think about what you are reading, why your teacher asked you to read it, how it fits in with what you have learned in class thus far, how it moves forward the subject matter you are studying, and what you are supposed to get out of that reading.  Then, as you read, search for that information.  Read with purpose.  Don’t read mindlessly.  Your job is not to process words so much as to look for ideas those words purport to convey.  Do that, and you’ll succeed in reading tasks in school.  I promise.  https://guides.library.harvard.edu/sixreadinghabits.

All my love, always,