Positive Thinking

Reason and the ability to use it are two separate skills

To be fluent in a language means not only that you can understand it, but that you can speak it competently. Competency in the language does not necessarily make it your first language. It may be your second, or third. Your first language is your dominant one.

Reason can be thought of like a language, so can emotion. Emotions can lack reason, and reason can lack emotion. Often, one dominates, the other is afterthought.

“Reason and the ability to use it are two separate skills.”

— Franz Grillparzer

Emotion that is dogmatically subordinate to reason feels stultified and inauthentic. Reason that is dogmatically subordinate to emotion is flawed. Just like that co-equal branches of government make for a stronger government, we are stronger not when one dominates the other, but rather when reason and emotion are democratic peers within us. The two have a conversation and come to consensus. Reason and emotion are aligned.

Reason and emotion are balanced through proper executive function.
Positive Thinking


In everything, its opposite can be found. Opposites inform each other, so neither can be fully understood in isolation.

Water is vital, essential, and wonderful. When not treated with proper respect, water can kill you. So is water healthy or is it toxic?

Positive Thinking

When Fiction is Truer than Non-Fiction

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We could leave it there and be done, or we could parse that out a bit more.

Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris and Brett Weinstein discussed the idea of a metaphorical truth. They defined it as a notion that is literally false but conveys benefits to the person who acts as if it were true. Their example is treat every gun like a loaded gun. Every gun is not in fact loaded, but those who act as if they are are less likely to have a problem. Jordan has also said he acts as if God exists. Notice he treats the notion of God just like any other metaphorical truth. Whether God is literally true is less important than that— at least according to Jordan— those who act as if it is true seem to receive certain life benefits.

Deeper Truths

So myths, stories from religious traditions, and even modern movies like The Lion King, use the story as a foil to convey a deeper truth that non-fiction would have a harder time getting at.

Positive Thinking

What if angels were never told what they are?

Look close enough and you will see yourself in this picture.

Here’s a thought experiment about angels…

Creativity Dreams

Chaos, Negative Emotions, and Creativity

Those nasty negative emotions. If only we could just do away with them, right? But they have value, and they show up more in creative (right-brained) thinkers. Here’s why they are both valuable and in larger quantity in creative types, according to Jordan Peterson:

Positive Thinking

Redefining Reality in Six Minutes

Positive Thinking

Competency Matrix

In my all-time most viewed post, Serotonin and Social Status, I inquired as to whether there are mindsets that protect us from societal influences on serotonin levels. Five years later I finally attempt to answer that question with Does Competency-Awareness Drive Serotonin Levels?

Jordan Peterson posits something like (I’m paraphrasing), no one knows the upper limits of the benefits we might incur through maximizing our competency. With that context, here’s this post.

WHO AMONG US is maximally competent? Who can say they cannot become more competent than they are now? Clearly, the answer to both questions is no one.  So we all share the same goal: increasing our own competence. Competence at what? Well, how about the biggest challenge of all: life itself. So the question that follows that is, what does it take to be competent in life? And, could virtue be a synonym for key competencies?

Here’s a short (no doubt incomplete) list:

Creativity Super Human

Everyone Has an Origin Story

A tragic turn of events unleashes new, unfamiliar superpowers that shock the wielder, eventually forcing him to face his moral obligation to reduce the suffering of those around him.

The New World, 1978. As early as 6th grade, I was already captivated by the evolution of humanity, hope for improvement, and an awareness that we live our lives in a blip on the larger arc of history. Homo Sapiens is the one obscured by the ship’s exhaust (before catalytic converters!), shooting for sport. Or perhaps out of fear. This drawing meant so much to me that I’ve kept it all these years. It is the only drawing I still have from elementary school.

Positive Thinking

Malevolence, Forgiveness, Acceptance, Buddhism and Christianity

Panel of hell (detail), Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1480-1505, oil on panel, 220 x 390 cm (Prado)

Jordan B. Peterson is known for an ostensibly uncontroversial position: the reality of malevolence and malevolent people. This position seems at odds (he says as much) with Buddhism’s perspective that Evil is essentially ignorance. Buddha taught (quote TBD) that evil is born out of ignorance, and that perspective instructs us on how to vanquish evil (knowledge!) Might Jesus Christ agree with Jordan, that Buddhism is fundamentally flawed because it casts evil as an epiphenomenon rather than fundamental to the nature of humanity?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

— Luke 23:34

Christ here strongly suggests that malevolence is born out of ignorance, which is his justification for the need for forgiveness.
It is a reasonable proposition that Christ and Buddha were saying the same thing in different ways.


Mac OS X vs Windows XP

Back in 2002, I created, and when I shuttered the site in 2005 (due to personal matters), the downloadable pdf of the site had received over a quarter of a million downloads, and that’s just the pdf.