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.



4 years, 11 months, and 21 days. Happy New Year, my sons!



My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

All we want to Christmas is our family.  Alas, we will have to wait another year to make our dream come true.

May the last days of 2017 bring you closure. May 2018 bring you inner peace, good health, and joy.  May your hard work pay off.  May you find true friends who nourish your souls.  May love find you fulfilled.  May a smile grace your lips each day.  May your patience not be tested.  However, if tested, may your graciousness rule.

May you have the courage to make mistakes, and the wisdom to learn from them.  May each day find you better, however slightly, than the preceding day.

Know you are loved … truly loved and truly missed.

All my love always,



4 years, 9 months, and 28 days. Money is but a means to a comfortable life. Don’t chase after it. Live right.






Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes, Including Billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal

Saudi Arabia announced the arrest on Saturday night of the prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is sure to send shock waves both through the kingdom and the world’s major financial centers.

He controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, owning or having owned major stakes in 21st Century Fox, Citigroup, Apple, Twitter and many other well-known companies. The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

This is the Age of the Fallen.  Recent stories of the mighty who have fallen includes Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, President Park of South Korea, President Rousseff of Brazil, President Lula of Brazil, Senator Menendez of New Jersey, National Security Advisor  Flynn, the head of Samsung, and numerous others.

They rose to power and fortune through nebulous means, and their wayward ways eventually caught up to them.  Don’t be like them!

Money is but a means to an end — a means to securing a comfortable life.  It is not the end-all.  It does not buy you happiness because it brings its own baggage.

Miseries of the Rich and Famous

Would $25 million make you happy?

Not if you’re a member of the ultra-rich.

In a survey titled “Joys and Dilemma of Wealth” by Boston College, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Calibre Wealth Management, the wealthiest set revealed they are an unhappy bunch — worried about appearing ungrateful, rearing bratty children and failing to meet expectations.

The report, obtained by The Atlantic, gives a glimpse of the wealth and fulfillment level of 160 households, of which 120 had amassed fortunes of at least $25 million. The findings: Despite great wealth, many seem miserable.

One of the gems from the survey: “I feel extremely lucky, but it’s hard to get other, non-wealthy people to believe it’s not more significant than that … The novelty of money has worn off.”

So is it better to live life without money? “Being very poor is very miserable,” says Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University. “But it turns out money doesn’t buy as much happiness as people think it would buy.”




Money can’t buy happiness

Extremely wealthy people have their own set of concerns: anxiety about their children, uncertainty over their relationships and fears of isolation, finds research by Robert Kenny.

Most of what we think we know about people with a lot of money comes from television, movies and beach novels — and a lot of it is inaccurate, says Robert Kenny, EdD.

In an effort to remedy that, Kenny, a developmental psychologist and senior advisor at the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, is co-leading a research project on the aspirations, dilemmas and personal philosophies of people worth $25 million or more. Kenny and his colleagues surveyed approximately 165 households via an anonymous online survey and were surprised to find that while money eased many aspects of these people’s lives, it made other aspects more difficult….

What did you find?

People consistently said that their greatest aspiration in life was to be a good parent — not exactly the stereotype some might expect. When asked whether their money helps with that, they answered with all the obvious: good schools, travel, security, varied experiences. But when we asked how their money gets in the way, that was a payload. We received response after response on how money is not always helpful. They mentioned very specific concerns, such as the way their children would be treated by others and stereotyped as rich kids or trust fund babies, they wondered if their children would know if people really loved them or their money, whether they’d know if their achievements were because of their own skills, knowledge and talent or because they have a lot of money.

Some were concerned about motivation. They worried that if their children have enough money and don’t have to worry about covering the mortgage, what will motivate them? How will they lead meaningful lives? This is where the money might get in the way and make things confusing, not necessarily better. Very few said they hoped their children made a lot of money, and not many said they were going to give all the money to charity and let their kids fend for themselves. They were, however, really interested in helping their children figure out how they could live a meaningful life. Even though they did not have to “make a living,” they did need to make a life.

As for the respondents’ aspirations for the world, they focused, once again, on how to help the youth in the world live healthy, meaningful and impactful lives. Their answers were consistently youth-focused: They were concerned about being good parents, they were concerned about their children and they were concerned about the children of the world in general. We found that to be very interesting, and even surprising because it runs contrary to so many of the stereotypes about this population.


We were not super-rich by any means, but we were rich enough to experience some of their struggles.  Your aunts and uncle and I always worried about how best to provide for our children without spoiling you guys, without enabling you to take things for granted.  There is value in hard work.  Never shy away from it.

You know, during most of my career, I worked hard to establish myself and earn a good living to support you boys.  For most of my career, I had four weeks of paid vacation.  Yet, during all my years working for large firms and organizations, I knew of only one colleague who was able to take the full vacation time off and enjoy it with his family.  The rest of us barely had time for family, much less vacation.  Most years, I was able to take one week off.  One year, we spent two weeks in Hawaii, but I spent one of those weeks holed up in the hotel, sitting in front of my work-issued laptop.

I should have taken more vacations and should have spent each and every second of the time off with you.  That’s my regret.

Most of my colleagues and I knew of someone, or has heard about someone, who died at the office.  We spend so much of our lives there.  Yes, the money and the recognition was nice, but at the end of the day, they don’t mean much.  I have never heard of anyone who, on his deathbed, wished he’d spent more time at the office.

Live within your means.  Take time to enjoy life, each other, and nature.  Those things — not money — help you live a long and meaningful life.

All my love, always,


Ex-NFL player who lived on $25,000 a year shares his key to saving money

When John Urschel retired from the NFL at age 26 in 2017, he had earned an impressive $1.8 million over just three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

His salary was as high as $600,000 in 2016, but you wouldn’t know it from his lifestyle: The offensive lineman, who drives a used Nissan Versa that he bought for $9,000, chose to live on less than $25,000 a year.

That means Urschel was living off of just 4 percent of his salary in 2016. In other words, he was saving about 96 percent of what he made.

 He didn’t live on a modest $25,000 a year and drive a used car “because I’m frugal or trying to save for some big purchase,” Urschel said. “It’s because the things I love the most in this world (reading math, doing research, playing chess) are very, very inexpensive.”

Former NFL player John Urschel

Nicole Craine | Getty Images
Former NFL player John Urschel

Urschel, who is currently pursuing his doctorate at MIT, chooses to spend on what makes him happy and not waste money on things that aren’t important to him.





4 years, 9 months, and 2 days. Don’t be a snowflake. Be resilient.





In its annual survey of students, the American College Health Association found a significant increase — to 62 percent in 2016 from 50 percent in 2011 — of undergraduates reporting “overwhelming anxiety” in the previous year. Surveys that look at symptoms related to anxiety are also telling. In 1985, the Higher Education Research Institute at U.C.L.A. began asking incoming college freshmen if they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” during the previous year. In 1985, 18 percent said they did. By 2010, that number had increased to 29 percent. Last year, it surged to 41 percent.



When Mr. Hanks was 5, living in Redding, Calif., his parents separated. His mother, a waitress, kept the youngest of the four children while Tom went with the other two to live with his father. He was playing with his siblings one night when he was told he had to go with his father. He was a cook who married twice more and Tom had lots of stepsiblings and lived with a lot of upheaval. “By the age of 10, I’d lived in 10 houses.”

“By and large, they were all positive people and we were all just kind of in this odd potluck circumstance,” he said, adding that he still vividly recalls the confusion of being that little boy. “I could probably count on one hand the number of times I was in a room alone with my mom, or in a car alone. That is not exactly what happened to me, but there were times when either my mom or my dad — the same thing was true for both — in which being alone with them, I realized, was like, ‘This is a special time.’ For other people, it’s not a special time. It’s just part and parcel to the day.”



My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Be like Tom Hanks.  He’s had his share of rough times in life, but he remains strong, good, and talented. He doesn’t adopt a “Woe is me!” attitude.

Everyone in life has his or her own cross to carry.  It is no use to cry about it all the time.  Deal with it and move on.

Victimhood is becoming an art, and it is making us weak.  Yes, mourn when bad things happen.  Take time to recover and heal.  Then, get back on the horse and move on!

Don’t wallow in the misery, the misfortune, the bad.  Without the negative, how could you fully appreciate the beauty of kindness, of goodness, of fortune?  Take the bad with the good.  Learn from each.  Keep what you must.  Then, move on with the business of growing as a person and living as a person.

According to the article above, 18% of incoming college freshmen felt overwhelmed in 1985 versus 62% today.  Has college gotten harder?  No.  Has the challenges of living on your own for the first time gotten harder?  No.  Yet, why are more incoming freshmen overwhelmed?  Maybe they lack the survival skills and fortitude of earlier generations for whom life was more challenging, and for whom less was given.  These days, we have too many helicopter parents whose life’s mission is to not let their child fail.  (Of course, I’m oversimplifying.  The factors are many, and too much to go into here.)  They intervene at the most inopportune times, when children are presented with opportunities to test themselves, learn, and grow.  Without challenging ourselves, how will we ever know what we are capable of? how good we are?

Giving everyone a gold star for showing up is doing a disservice to our children.  It fails to reward each individual child’s effort.  Empty praises help no one.

He goes on to admonish against today’s culture of excessive parental praise, which he argues does more for lifting the self-esteem of the parents than for cultivating a healthy one in their children:

Admiring our children may temporarily lift our self-esteem by signaling to those around us what fantastic parents we are and what terrific kids we have — but it isn’t doing much for a child’s sense of self. In trying so hard to be different from our parents, we’re actually doing much the same thing — doling out empty praise the way an earlier generation doled out thoughtless criticism. If we do it to avoid thinking about our child and her world, and about what our child feels, then praise, just like criticism, is ultimately expressing our indifference.

To explore what the healthier substitute for praise might be, he recounts observing an eighty-year-old remedial reading teacher named Charlotte Stiglitz, the mother of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who told Grosz of her teaching methodology:

I don’t praise a small child for doing what they ought to be able to do,’ she told me. ‘I praise them when they do something really difficult — like sharing a toy or showing patience. I also think it is important to say “thank you”. When I’m slow in getting a snack for a child, or slow to help them and they have been patient, I thank them. But I wouldn’t praise a child who is playing or reading.


Be present.  Do your best — neither I, nor anyone else, can expect no more than that.  Keep trying.  Keep moving forward.  Keep learning.  Keep growing.

Be thankful for what you have, and the many blessings in your lives.  However, that does not mean you can rest there and stay where you are.  Life continues to flow around you.  If you don’t move forward with it, then you will be left far behind your friends and cohorts.  And, I’m not talking about things and acquisitions.  I’m talking about life, maturity, and the unique experiences that only living will afford you.  You do not want to be a man of 90, but stunted in emotion, intelligence, and life’s experience.  It would be unbecoming.

All my love, always,



4 years, 8 months, and 1 day. Human desires are bottomless pits and trying to fill them is an unending task. Don’t indulge in such inexhaustible pursuits.





[The problem is we are getting t]oo much dopamine and not enough serotonin, the neurotransmitters of the brain’s “pleasure” and “happiness” pathways… Despite what the telly and social media say, pleasure and happiness are not the same thing. Dopamine is the “reward” neurotransmitter that tells our brains: “This feels good, I want more.” Yet too much dopamine leads to addiction. Serotonin is the “contentment” neurotransmitter that tells our brains: “This feels good. I have enough. I don’t want or need any more.” Yet too little serotonin leads to depression. Ideally, both should be in optimal supply. But dopamine drives down serotonin. And chronic stress drives down both.

Too many of our “simple pleasures” have morphed into something else – a 6.5-oz soda became a 30z Big Gulp drink; an afternoon with friends gave way to 1,000 friendings on Facebook. Each of these momentary pleasures is just that – momentary. But chronic dopamine from your favourite “fix” reduces serotonin and happiness.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Beware of the elusive and destructive “pursuit of happiness.”  Don’t buy into the lie.  Happiness is like a butterfly.  No matter how fast you run and how hard you work, it will continue to elude your grasp so long as you chase it.  However, if you bathe, wear bright clothes, find a peaceful spot in the garden, and sit still, you’ll find that butterflies may come to you.

Happiness is like that.  When you are too busy chasing after the things that make you happy, you get caught up in the chase and fail to slow down to enjoy the moments that make up life, those moments in which happiness is hidden and waiting to be discovered.  For example, happiness is being with you, watching you play, hearing you tell your stories and your discoveries, seeing the brightness in your eyes.  The activities in which we are engaged in those moments are unimportant.  If I over-emphasize those activities and put too much import in making sure they are perfect (as we are apt to do), I would have overlooked those moments of happiness from simply being in your presence.

Tips for Getting a Butterfly to Land on You

If you’re lucky, a butterfly might land on you while you are in the exhibit. Though there’s no guarantee this will work but, you can do a few things to increase your chances. The best rule of thumb is to act like a flower:

  • Wear brightly colored clothes. I have a bright yellow and orange tie-dyed shirt that always seems to lure butterflies to me.
  • Smell sweet. If you’re wearing a skin lotion or perfume that smells a bit like flowers, that attract a hungry butterfly.
  • Stay still. Flowers don’t move, so you won’t fool a butterfly if you’re walking around. Find a bench and stay put for a while.




But, worse, in truth, the “pursuit of happiness” in modern time has turned into nothing but the unrelenting pursuit of pleasure.  We stuff ourselves with Doritos, sodas, and other junk food because food scientists at Frito-Lay, PepsiCo, and elsewhere found the exact chemical formula to ensure those chips, drinks, etc. stimulate our taste buds and ensure we cannot stop at eating just one chip, one sip, etc.  See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html.  Gaming companies spend billions of dollars and countless hours scouring psychological studies and techniques to ensure their games produce the optimum mix of reward and chance to ensure that players would spend hours hooked to the game.  Social media giants are no less devious.

As stated in the Guardian article above, dopamine is the reward neurotransmitter that tells our brain Doritos taste good and you should have another.  Unfortunately, that way lies food addiction and obesity.

On the other hand, serotonin is the contentment neurotransmitter that tells us we’ve had our fill of the good stuff and should stop.  While serotonin cannot be found in chips, sodas, and video games, it can be yours with a massage, meditation, outdoors activities in the bright sunlight, exercise, or a healthy diet.  See, e.g., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/; and, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201111/boosting-your-serotonin-activity.  (Yeah, there’s science behind that as well … the good science, not the science that feeds the greed.)

My sons, don’t feed the black hole that is man’s unquenchable desires.  If you chase after pleasure, you will find it a relentless and endless pursuit.  Our brain is hardwired to adapt, so a new watch or a new game will quickly lose its luster as you adjust to having it and reset your sight on something different. See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/07/magazine/the-futile-pursuit-of-happiness.html.

Still yourself.  Enjoy the moment and the people around you.  Help those less fortunate.  Work with others to build a better community for yourselves.  I promise that you will find the effort extremely rewarding, and happiness will ensues.

All my love, always,



4 years, 6 months, and 26 days. 1668 days. 40,032 hours. 2,401,920 minutes. 144,115,200 seconds. Too long!



My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I had a dream about you last night, Shosh.  I was helping you with your homework assignment on sharks.  We caught a baby shark, and I tried to put a nose ring on it to keep it on a leash.  Note to self: sharks hate nose rings.

Remember how we used to draw pictures of dinosaurs, construction equipment and starfish?  You used to have an immense curiosity about those things and we constantly read about or talked about them.  Once, when you were about 3 1/2, we were at the aquarium and looking at the tide pool/touch pool where a number of different starfish was on display.  You pointed to a starfish and said that it was a leather starfish (the second one above).  The aquarium guide “corrected” you and said it was an ocre starfish (the top one above).  You disagreed and tried to explain to her that it was a leather star.  She wouldn’t have it.  I smiled and told her that she should listen to you.  She decided to go off and consult her books.  Shortly thereafter, she returned to apologize and confirmed that it was a leather star.

Three lessons reveal themselves here.  First, don’t believe in “experts” just because they are experts.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Sometimes, “experts” are too smart for their own good and can be blinded by their own “expertise” and blinded to the data confronting them.  Second, always pursue what you love.  Be curious. Be intensely curious.  Life is an unlimited buffer if you nurture that curiosity.  Third, trust yourself.  Be willing to entertain other ideas, even opposing ideas, but never jettison your thoughts because it’s expedient, because an “expert” said you’re wrong, or because others disagree with you.  If you are right, you stay right even if everyone disagrees.  If you are wrong, you remain wrong even if everyone agrees.  Don’t worry everyone else.  Trust in yourself.

All my love, always,