with john allcock
author of “forty things i wish
i’d told my kids”
1what inspired you to write
“40 things that i wish i’d
told my kids”?
I was going through a challenging time in my life
(a divorce and associated difficulties) and I was
introduced to mindfulness. I read widely, went
to retreats, and listened to literally hundreds of
talks by some of the leaders in the field—Jack
Kornfield, Gil Fronsdal, Joseph Goldstein, Thich
Nhat Hanh and others. I wanted to pass what I
was learning onto my kids, but could not find a
single book that I thought explained the concepts
and practices in an easy-to-understand manner
for a Western audience.
2what changes have you
seen in children who
have been able to
internalize some of the
lessons that you’ve outlined
in your book?
We see an increased ability to pay attention and
to focus on a task or an intention, and not get
distracted by unhelpful mental habits. In addition,
we see an increased self- awareness of how our
actions impact others, and more attention on
self-care as well as care and concern for others.
3are there ways to
narratives that prevent
us from reaching our
Yes. The most basic way is to learn to do nothing.
In other words, to learn that we need not be
captured by any narrative that comes into our
head, and recognize that much of our thinking
is a self-created narrative or story that is not
necessarily true. Basic mindful meditation—
doing nothing when we are confronted with
such internal stories—teaches us that we do not
have to actively buy into the story. Rather, we can
simply recognize it for what it is, investigate it,
not buy into it, evaluate it, and ultimately choose
a different, more realistic and more positive
narrative to guide our lives.
“Being mindful can lead to a
more successful life filled with