4how can we teach
our children - and
ourselves! - that our
intrinsic value has nothing to
do with our achievements?
This is a tricky one. There is an ancient saying that
goes something like: “We are perfect just as we are
but there is always room for improvement.” So,
the idea to convey is that all people are born with
a unique set of capabilities and characteristics.
Not being “perfect” according to some external
standard does not mean you are deficient—it
means you are human. But, that does not mean
that we should not try to drop those unskillful or
unhelpful behaviors that we have adopted—like
we can dispose of that dirty old sweat shirt that
we are holding onto long past its usefulness. But
realizing that it’s a behavior we have adopted,
rather than a core aspect of who we are, actually
makes it easy to dispose of it.
5why is it more
important to have goals
than to achieve them?
The short answer is that goals are very important
because they give us direction and meaning to
our lives—so it is very important to have them.
But we can look at them as climbing a mountain:
once we get to the top, there will be another one.
Or even if we don’t get to the top, we made a lot
of progress in climbing as far as we did, and as
long as it was a worthy mountain to climb we
have done something meaningful with our lives.
But more important than reaching our goals, is
approaching the task of achieving them with
wise, daily intentions—like being kind, generous,
and grateful—so that we maintain our moment to
moment happiness as we trek up the steep path,
regardless of how far we get.
6You encourage readers
to change, not control
their thoughts. Does
this mean that you advocate
for positive thinking?
Yes, but I would think of it as balanced or realistic
thinking. Much of our thinking (and core beliefs)
have a bit of a negative bias. Our minds have
the same basic characteristics and make-up as
they did when we were cave people—and in that
circumstance, being fearful of your environment
made good sense. In other words, erring on
the side of being fearful or negative about the
external environment helped to avoid tigers or
warring tribes and to propagate the species. But
we don’t need this negative bias in the modern
world. Mindfulness allows us to recognize those
thoughts (or core beliefs) which are unrealistically
negative, investigate them to discern their
accuracy, and then replace them with more
accurate (or positive) beliefs and intentions,
which allow us to live a happier, fuller, and more
meaningful (and productive) life.
7what do you hope
readers will take away
from your book?
I hope readers will be inspired to learn more about
- and adopt - practices of mindfulness in their
own lives; and for parents to share these notions
and practices to their children. I really believe
that the practice of mindfulness—learning to pay
attention in a non-judgmental way to our internal
and external experience without being captured
by that experience—is transformative, and can
lead to a more successful life filled with genuine
happiness. My book is intended to promote that
kind of transformation—and then it is up to the
Meet the Author
John graduated from Boston College (with highest honors in
philosophy and political science) and Harvard Law School (cum
laude). He works as a trial lawyer at DLA Piper, where he is also
the Global Co-Chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Group
and serves on its Executive Committee.