Unconditional love is an illogical notion, but such a great and powerful one.
I’ve started to look at life differently. When you’re thanking God for every little you – every meal, every time you wake up, every time you take a sip of water – you can’t help but be more thankful for life itself, for the unlikely and miraculous fact that you exist at all.
A few weeks later, I’m in a fluorescent-lit classroom in Chelsea awaiting the start of the official Mensa test. I’m sitting next to a guy who’s doing a series of elaborate neck stretches, like we’re about to engage in a vigorous rugby match. He’s neatly laid out four types of gum on his Formica desk: Juicy Fruit, Wrigley Spearmint, Big Red, and Eclipse. I hate this guy. I hope to God he’s not a genius.
I am officially Jewish, but I’m Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant.
I’ve never before been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day.
The year showed me beyond a doubt that everyone practices cafeteria religion… But the important lesson was this: there’s nothing wrong with choosing. Cafeterias aren’t bad per se… the key is in choosing the right dishes. You need to pick the nurturing ones (compassion), the healthy ones (love thy neighbor), not the bitter ones.
My reading list grows exponentially. Every time I read a book, it’ll mention three other books I feel I have to read. It’s like a particularly relentless series of pop-up ads.
There’s a beauty to forgiveness, especially forgiveness that goes beyond rationality. Unconditional love is an illogical notion, but such a great & powerful one
Think of negative speech as verbal pollution. And that’s what I’ve been doing: visualizing insults and gossip as a dark cloud, maybe one with some sulfur dioxide. Once you’ve belched it out, you can’t take it back. As grandma said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The interesting this is, the less often I vocalize my negative thoughts, the fewer negative thoughts I cook up in the first place.
I’m addicted to self-improvement. The thing is, there’s so damn much about myself to improve.
The key to making healthy decisions is to respect your future self. Honor him or her. Treat him or her like you would treat a friend or a loved one.
This is what the Sabbath should feel like. A pause. Not just a minor pause, but a major pause. Not just lowering the volume, but a muting. As the famous rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel put it, the Sabbath is a sanctuary in time.
The Bible improved my ethical IQ. I started to act like a good person. I tried not to gossip, and lie, and covet, and just by pretending I was a good person, I think I actually became a little bit better of a person. I’m not Gandhi or Angelina Jolie, but it was a baby step.
Probably 90 percent of our life decisions are powered by the twin engines of inertia and laziness.
It comes back to the old question: How can the Bible be so wise in some places and so barbaric in others? And why should we put any faith in a book that includes such brutality?
I’m still agnostic. But in the words of Elton Richards, I’m now a reverant agnostic. Which isn’t an oxymoron, I swear. I now believe that whether or not there’s a God, there is such a thing as sacredness. Life is sacred. The Sabbath can be a sacred day. Prayer can be a sacred ritual. There is something transcendent, beyond the everyday. It’s possible that humans created this sacredness ourselves, but that doesn’t take away from its power or importance.
There’s a very passionate pro-chewing movement on the Internet called Chewdiasm. They say that we should be chewing 50 to 100 times per mouthful, which is insane. I tried that. It takes like a day and a half to eat a sandwich. But their basic idea is right. If you chew, you’ll eat slower and you will get more nutrients.
I always thought the name of Utah’s major newspaper was some sort of weird misspelling of the word “desert.” But no, Deseret is the “land of the honeybee,” according to the Book of Mormon. I guess I should have figured they would have caught a typo in the masthead after 154 years.
The Bible talks a lot about thankfulness, and I’m more thankful than I ever was. I try to concentrate on the hundreds of things that go right in a day, instead of the three or four that go wrong.
Let me tell you, though: being the smartest boy in the world wasn’t easy. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t want this. On the contrary, it was a huge burden. First, there was the task of keeping my brain perfectly protected. My cerebral cortex was a national treasure, a masterpiece of the Sistine Chapel of brains. This was not something that could be treated frivolously. If I could have locked it in a safe, I would have. Instead, I became obsessed with brain damage.
I grew up in a very secular home with no religion at all, so I was starting from zero.
Taking the Bible too literally is a mistake. It should be read as a guidebook of wisdom and insight.
I know that history is simultaneously a bloody mess and a collection of feats so inspiring and amazing they make you proud to share the same DNA structure with the rest of humanity. I know you’d better focus on the good stuff or you’re screwed.
My immune system has always been overly welcoming of germs. It’s far too polite, the biological equivalent of a southern hostess inviting y’all nice microbes to stay awhile and have some artichoke dip.
I know that you should always say yes to adventures or you’ll lead a very dull life.