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Five Minute Articles For Your Consideration

What Do You Want?

What Do You Want?

In season three of Ozark, Marty Byrde is kidnapped by a Mexican drug lord, Omar Navarro, his partner in a money-laundering scheme. Navarro doesn’t trust Marty and holds him in dimly lit cell until he can prove his trustworthiness. In several scenes Navarro asks Marty what he wants, all the while torturing him if his answers aren’t truthful enough. Of course, Marty wants to see his wife and kids again. He wants to live. But, he’s a money launderer. He loves the challenge. He loves the money. He’s in it because he is it. Finally, after taking beatings for many false answers, Marty says he wants two things; to launder money only when he says it’s safe and to turn an FBI agent who can then guarantee immunity should he get caught. This satisfies Navarro and Marty is released. You can’t watch those scenes without asking yourself the same question, what do I want? The answer has to pass the Navarro test. It must be fundamentally honest.

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Welcome to MaybeLand

Welcome to MaybeLand

When my son was little he would drive me crazy repeatedly asking “why?” It was a good way for him to learn but the never-ending game of infinite regression got old, and by the end of the day I wanted to smack him. I didn’t. My restraint paid off, and now he’s an Emergency Room doctor in Los Angeles who has created a successful path in life by never being afraid to ask “why?” Our roles have recently reversed, as I am now the one repeatedly asking him “why?” especially in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. His answer is generally the same, “maybe.” No matter how many times I ask, his answer doesn’t change because there is no certainty in MaybeLand.

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Take A Breath…

Take A Breath…

The entire world is focused on coronavirus right now, but this virus isn’t the only thing that’s contagious, so is the anxiety associated with it. As the coronavirus spreads and dominates the news cycle, you’ll probably notice yourself getting more and more anxious every time you turn on the TV. That’s because the news is contagious. You may also experience greater anxiety when you talk to anxious friends. That’s because other people’s anxiety is contagious. When your kids are anxious, you will undoubtedly feel more anxiety too. Clearly, our children’s anxiety is contagious. But most of all, anxiety is an emotion that looks to confirm itself, and when it does, it only propagates further and stronger. In other words, your own anxiety is contagious!

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Your Spirit is Bigger than That!

Your Spirit is Bigger than That!

If you’ve ever taken ayahuasca, dropped some acid, smoked peyote or ingested a few magic mushrooms, then you know the feeling of the ego shrinking away as the mind dissolves into a mystical union of oneness. These transcendent experiences send us to a dimension of love and gratitude where we don’t want or desire anything. Sometimes we can see just how petty we really are and at other times we become lost in a phantasmagoria of mystery and illusions. Specifically, ayahuasca and peyote ceremonies, ritualistic in nature, have seen a rapid increase over the past ten years as more and more people attempt to break out of the ties that bind us. At the end of the trip, however, we’re left with the knowledge that our spirit is bigger than the life we lead. We vow to live a more conscious and loving life but the vow is often transitory even though the experience remains firmly intact within us.

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Spiritual Malaise

Spiritual Malaise

I define spiritual malaise as a very personal type of burnout that robs us of the energy we need to pursue the lifestyle we desire. It’s not a grounded feeling or phenomenon, but rather a deep sense of uneasiness and frustration with daily life characterized by a lack of self-connection and engagement. It’s more ambiguous than depression and less fretful than anxiety. It does not declare itself or spread rapidly, it sits, like smog, degrading the oxygen around it. In one sense it’s the malaise of the modern age. With so many daily distractions, from cell phones to job competition, to family and relationship demands, we barely have enough time to consider the things that make life worthwhile.

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Confirmation Bias in Couples

Confirmation Bias in Couples

Confirmation bias is a cognitive distortion that causes us to selectively search for evidence in support of what we already believe to be true. For example, if you believe in ghosts and go to a haunted house then every creak in the floor, movement of air or unexplained noise will serve as validation that the house is haunted. If you don’t believe in ghosts then the house is just old and drafty. Confirmation bias is not based on objective facts; it’s based on selective facts that reaffirm our beliefs. As a purely subjective occurrence, confirmation bias creates self-fulfilling prophecies that traps us in a web of our own assumptions. Continue Reading

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My Humbling: Part II

My Humbling: Part II

We all learn things as we mature that we think we should have learned long ago but for some reason did not. Our thoughts about it generally fall into two categories; No big deal, learn from it and move on, or I can’t believe I didn’t know that sooner. I fall into the second category. I often think I should have known everything sooner, most people do. It was only a few days after my “humbling” regarding Charles Krauthammer, told in Part 1 of The Humbling of Larry Laveman, that I experienced another “really?” moment while watching a HBO documentary on the history of Rolling Stone magazine. Continue Reading

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The Humbling of Larry Laveman: Part I

The Humbling of Larry Laveman: Part I

June 21st, 2018 — Journal Entry: Today Charles Krauthammer died. It’s a sad day for journalism. I will miss his commentary and insight.

I was an admirer of Charles Krauthammer. He was a fair minded, well-spoken and highly intelligent writer and commentator. I periodically saw him on TV while channel surfing the news and commentary of the day. Whenever Krauthammer was on I would linger. He had an awkward look, and always seemed a little uncomfortable in his chair, but his reporting was so good that I would put down my remote and listen. Continue Reading

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The Song of Psychotherapy: Billy Joel, The Beatles and You

The Song of Psychotherapy: Billy Joel, The Beatles and You

Billy Joel, the great modern-day doo op master, openly talks about how he takes old music and makes it his own. He’s not original in his musical abilities, yet everything he does is distinctly Billy Joel. Going from a classically trained pianist to a rock and roller, Joel began creating his own tunes when he got bored playing Mozart and Beethoven. If you listen carefully you can hear the notes from the old 60’s song Wipeout in the opening to Angry Young Man. Joel is one of the best-selling singer song-writers of our generation and a good example of how our uniqueness evolves as we differentiate from that which precedes us. Continue Reading

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The Five Rules of Marriage

The Five Rules of Marriage

I recently had the good fortune of speaking at my daughter’s wedding. I wanted my speech to be memorable and personable but I also wanted to keep it real. So I created the five rules of marriage. Trying to distill the rules down to five wasn’t easy. It’s like the writer Somerset Maugham once said, there are five rules of writing only no one knows what they are. Drawing on all that I know, here are my five rules of marriage. Continue Reading

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