Random thoughts

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I’ve been writing this column for ten years now. I often get random thoughts that turn into columns and stories but many others just sit there as just that – random thoughts. They don’t look like they will ever develop enough to be any more than the runts of my ideas litter. But given that I am too obsessive to give up my babies, however runty they may be, I wanted to still share them. For what it’s worth, here is a random sampling of these random thoughts:

-          Happiness is not about what you have; it’s about the ability to appreciate...

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Smooth rocks and plastic rings

SMOOTH ROCKS AND PLASTIC RINGS
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Why do we always seem to come home from vacation with a pocketful of smooth rocks or seashells we picked up at the beach or cheap plastic rings we bought at an amusement park? I don’t know about you but I have a stack of them.

I was seven years old the first time I went to Italy to visit my grandparents’ farm. It was quite an experience. No running water, no electricity… and no toilet. Yikes! I was invited to use the great outdoors for all my toileting needs. Are you kidding me? There are bugs out there! I...

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Can I do more?

CAN I DO MORE?
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Can I do more? This question is a trap if I ever heard one.

Can I do more to help my parents? Can I do a better job on this assignment? Can I eat better? These types of questions are endless and the only answer to them is yes. The simple fact is we can always do more. And if we’re not able to accept, or “be OK,” with this reality, we’re going to be in trouble. The question of ‘Can I do more?’ will leave us with only two options. The first is to be disappointed with not doing our best and the second is to try harder and keep...

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6

Science and marketing: Strange bedfellows

Here’s something I published today in the on-line version of Metro. Someone who read it asked me if it meant I was against all ‘Soft’ sciences. I’m not sure what is meant by that word but I am not for or against anything per se. Science simply means knowledge and there is no such thing as bad knowledge. The problem is that we often substitute belief for knowledge. Throw in marketing and knowledge gets pretty blurred.

I will believe and support anything as long as it meets two criteria. First, it has to make some logical sense based on reality. For example someone once described a hockey...

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3

How many fingers?

How many fingers?
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Every once in a while, when talking to a client, I briefly hold up two fingers. I then ask the person how many fingers I held up. He or she quickly says, “Two.” It’s a simple question and people never hesitate when answering.

But then I make the simple question much more complicated by adding a few conditions.

“I will ask you the question again. This time there are three possible scenarios. Number one, don’t answer and nothing happens. Number two, answer correctly and I hand you a million dollars. Number three, answer...

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4

Do I need to take a pill?

Montreal Gazette

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An article in the paper two weeks ago quoted a researcher who claimed that 98% of anti-depressants and other psychiatric medication prescriptions could be stopped with no ill effects. As much as I agree that they can sometimes be over-prescribed, I certainly don’t think his statement makes any sense. I decided to send an editorial to The Gazette in response to the claims in the article. It was published last week and I’ve included it below.

I focus on antidepressants in the article but every class of medication should be...

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8

The golden rule 2.0

THE GOLDEN RULE 2.0
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The golden rule is nice – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Unfortunately, just like any advice, what may be good for one person can be a pretty bad for someone else.

The rule of moral reciprocity is based on a simple principle; everyone should be treated equally. But it is also based on the idea that you will treat yourself fairly…and that isn’t always the case.

I have written before about a basic dimension of personality called agreeableness. We all have different degrees of this dimension. At one...

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6

Why is that cop following me?

Temple Grandin - Author, activist, diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome

WHY IS THAT COP FOLLOWING ME?

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If a police officer were walking toward you, would you run? Clearly not. Most of us would never take off no matter how scared we were. We would never want to give the police officer a reason to believe we had something to hide.

Yet this is exactly what one person with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of Autism, recently did. When finally cornered he made a threatening move and the police officer shot and wounded him seriously.

In another person’s mind

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5

Inspirational people

The kind of story that moves me the most is one where a person triumphs over adversity and manages to maintain a healthy positive attitude. (Chèrs lecteurs Francophone, voir plus bas pour une belle histoire inspirante, écrite en Français). There is enough horror and evil out there to make us all miserable. But we are not completely impotent in the face of it. Good and evil are forces of human nature highly influenced by context. In a war, previously good people can be made do so horrible things. In a campaign to raise money for earthquake survivors, previously stingy people can make...

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6

The flagpole and the flag

THE FLAGPOLE AND THE FLAG
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A flagpole stays in its place while the flag keeps changing position. Such is the way of logic and emotion. These two parts of our minds are in a constant dance for control. They can work together as allies and take us far in life, or battle each other and keep us from ever finding mental peace.

If you were to see a rattle snake while on a hike you would certainly freak out and get away from it. After you made it back safely to camp you would calm down. But regardless of whether you are calm or in the process of...

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