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Places to go & Things to do

There are many places in the world people go to learn, replenish, rejuvenate and relax. I am partial to Esalen as I consider it the home base for these type of holistic learning/healing/enjoying places. This is where the human potential movement took off and spawned all manner of healing life-style practices and where people from all over the world come to see what all the talk is about. Regardless of what you experience here I think you will come away with greater clarity on your priorities.

Here is the beginning of their mission statement:

Esalen is a leading center for exploring and realizing human potential through experience, education, and research. We work toward the realization of a more humane and all-embracing world.

While there are some children here this is more adult education.



​Who can say it better than Wikipedia? "Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect."

Wikipedia doesn't want to go out on a limb and say "will produce," but I can tell you the odds are very good. There is a good amount of research that supports the notion that giving rewards the giver more than the receiver. 

There are any number of ways one can volunteer. You can offer to help someone out with something. You can donate some time to a non-profit organization. I recommend you do something that gets you interacting with other people in ways designed to be of assistance. See if giving a bit more doesn't get you a bit more.

Where you live in the world determines so much what you do, what you like, where you go. Some people live on farms and when they vacation they want to get away to the beach, mountains, big cities,etc. Some people who live in cities want to get back to nature. I am sure there are place where people grow crops relatively close to where you live as there are farms all across the world. This particular one opens up in the spring and stays open long enough for you to go help out, relax and recall that at one time a lot more people lived this way. Plus this one is on a river. The farm is in Northern California and is called Emandal.

Okay, I grant you this is a very weird image, but it caught my attention and maybe yours as well. Want to guess where this is from and what it is all about? This is the Kentucky Ventriloquist Museum. A place I will probably never visit. There is a line in the musical Miracle on 34th Street about a Santa Claus ringing a bell on a street corner that goes: "That one over there represents them all as they represent him." It may be a stretch to say this museum represents all museums as they represent it, but it is art and it is in the eye of the beholder. Regardless of where you cast your eye, I think you will find a visit to a museum to be stimulating.


Most people wouldn't mind being happier. But just how do you do it? I imagine marshmallows will do it for some, but probably not all. Martin Seligman, PhD has devoted his career to learning more about happiness. He has done a lot of research and what he has learned you might want to learn. He put together some questionnaires you can take (for free) that actively help you determine the strengths you have and how you can use them to be happier. Go take a half hour and do the survey and see if you don't learn a thing or two that can help you out.

There is an abundance of research into the benefits of cultivating gratitude. The more you have of it, the more you share it and demonstrate it the better for everyone. So go ahead and think of someone who did something for which you are thankful.You don't even have to say anything, just thinking it is helpful But, if you do share it with them, well, you get bonus points.

I could easily write about the benefits of pets or napping because they both are contributors to better health and happiness. But instead I am going to recommend something you can do in a minute or less (or more) right before you go to sleep. Think over the day and acknowledge some of the things that happened for which you are thankful. That's it. Research supports this brief activity will help you feel better about your life.

Here is the truth. The only reason this image is here is because I was reading a book discussion board and was struck by it, copied it and then later couldn't find the originator to ask permission to use it. If the creator wants credit or for me to take it down I will, but I was struck by the possible story here. We all could make up a story about what is happening in this picture. And that is my recommendation for you. Look at pictures with someone and make up stories or tell some of your own. Once upon a time our ancestors told their stories around the campfire and maybe you have some experience with that as well. Story telling can be a bonding experience. If you want to listen to some you could check this out.

I like this image. Not everyone enjoys walking up steps, but I imagine when they are colorfully painted it helps a little. I remember seeing a video once of the steps into a subway that had been outfitted to look like a piano and when you walked on a certain step it would make a sound. People were walking up and down those steps and having a good time. I am not sure what you can do to help make walking up and down steps more engaging for you, but whenever possible take the steps.

Rain falling
Thank you - gratitude
Lefty - Things you are thankful for
Bucket List

If you can read lips you will notice that Dr. Evil is saying: "One million dollars." To him that was a very large ransom to ask for as you can tell by the look on his face. Unfortunately, what he thought was a lot of money turned out maybe wasn't so much. He was off with his calculations. And so too might you. If you have not done this already, please ask around to those people who you think have their financial act in order and ask them for their financial adviser. Regardless of what kind of money you have, chances are you will benefit from talking to someone who deals with this stuff every day and would take a small percent of your profits were you to earn any from their advice. This is one of those things that you are going to wish you did sooner than later. If you want to see Dr Evil in action you can check him out here.

We all know exercise is good for us and some of us are diligent about it while some of us are less so. Those that have a good deal of physical activity in their life often enjoy it and value the benefits. There is a group who push themselves to exercise but don't really enjoy it until it is over. Sometimes that is because like the woman above you notice others can do things way more easily and gracefully than you. It is hard to do something and not feel you are as good at it as you would like to be. For those that would want their exercise to be a little bit more enjoyable invite someone to do it with you. Having a friend join you has many benefits as does joining a like-minded group of exercisers. So does having your dog join you and show you up.

Dog yoga
Austin Powers

Different things amuse different people. Not a lot of people found this movie amusing and I would include myself in that group. Yet this little clip makes me smile. It certainly leaves a lot to be desired in terms of being politically correct, but I have to believe they were smiling when they did this. Smiling and laughing are good medicine. Norman Cousins, a professor, journalist and author of Anatomy of An Illness brought Marx brothers movies with him when he needed to recover from his own illness. Maybe its time to go watch a comedy and give yourself a laugh.

Tres Amigos

Some people write post-its. Some people write blogs. Some people write books. Some people write journals. Some people write to the editor. And some people write poetry. I am not one of those people. I tend to like to read longer pieces where I can get more involved. Yet many people find poetry to be a way to connect to themselves and the world. If that interests you, then you might want to check this out. 

postits poetry

This is a real place. On earth. A place you can visit.

I am an advocate for travel. I think going to new places, even if it is just up the block, is enhancing. The more new places and things you can expose yourself to usually the better. Most of us could probably take day trips within 50 miles of our home and see things we have never seen. I am all for that. In thinking about recommending that you spend time out of your familiar environment, I came across this list of 32 Magical Places to visit in your lifetime.The picture above is the Danxia mountains in China. I think we could agree they are pretty magical looking The list leans a bit much towards America but there are inviting places throughout the world that you might consider visiting. In the meantime, you can take a walk. That is usually an affordable travel option and also has known benefits.

Whether you are an underachiever or an overachiever I recommend you take the time to make up a bucket list with big and small dreams, hopes and desires. Things you would like to do, places you would like to see. You may achieve some of those items and some you very well may not.

It is important to acknowledge what you want. Even if the odds are extremely low just acknowledging your hopes to yourself (and ideally others) will increase your odds of achieving them. Dream away and write it down some place along with the date. Put it someplace so you know you will see it and be prompted to revisit now and then. I have my students write letters to themselves and I mail them to them a year later. You might want to write yourself a letter now and then and give it to a friend and ask them to mail it out to you in 3, 6 or 12 months.

While you wait for that letter to arrive, you can take those dreams and put them into action. According to Napoleon Hill "A goal is a dream with a deadline." While many people don't like deadlines they do seem to help to get the task done. Think about what dreams you might want to re-think as goals. Once you make something a goal you can devise steps to help you achieve it. Make the first ones small so you can start in and get some momentum before you come up against bigger challenges.

I Googled: “Why is Games of Thrones so popular? I found there were over 4000 answers to that question. So much for a simple straightforward agreed upon answer. I think one of the reasons it is so popular, is that there are over 4000 answers to the question, and that it not counting your own. I imagine a good part of its popularity is the multiple story lines, the visual imagery and how they keep on killing off characters that you think they would never cut out of the story. There is no one reason why it appeals to so many people.
I have learned as a therapist that very few things are black or white. There is a lot of gray in the world. Managing ambiguity is a skill we all develop to various degrees. It may help to think that with many things in relationships there is your truth, their truth and everyone else's truth. While we often prefer clarity and certainty, there is a lot of murkiness around us. Learning to accept the truth when it is a certainty, your truth when you realize it and another’s when you know it, is challenging enough. Then you need to learn to live comfortably enough in the uncertainty. Sometimes it is just easier to watch Game of Thrones and let them deal with the uncertainty.
Game of Thrones


Not everyone likes movies, but a lot of people do. I want to recommend something you may already do, in which case lucky you. I suggest you go to a matinee and indulge yourself in your movie treat of choice and sit down, relax and forget about your life and focus on something else entirely. Movies got their real start during the depression when people needed a reasonably priced excape from reality. Buy youself a little off time.You pick the genre of your choice. There is something about a matinee that is kind of traditional. Most kids who go to the movies start out at matinees. Hopefully it will give you fond memories. 

I am a big believer in having through lines in your life. Friends you have known a long time, places you re-visit and activities you do over and over again. Going to a movie is often a familiar yet still exciting treat. Why not give it to yourself now and then.


You get bonus points if you can name the movie this is taken from. The image is a bit misleading, but I couldn't resist including it. What I want to encourage you to do is spend some time with your same sex friends. Hanging out, talking, shopping, going to a show or doing anything with your friends without your partner is time well spent. You may remember back when you were single and one of your single buddies fell in love and suddenly they were not so available to spend time together. You can't be everywhere doing everything, but every now and then it is good to re-fuel with the people who helped get you here. Oh yeah, the image is from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

cuckoos nest

This either brings a smile of remembrance to you or it doesn't. Probably depends on whether you liked the movie or not. For me this represents the freedom of dance. Everyone has their own moves - some may be more aesthetically appealing to others or not, but we all have them. I think it is important to put the music on sometimes in the house, crank it up and dance. Doesn't have to be for long, but it really ought to make you feel better. You can always dance along with Napoleon Dynamite.

Napoleon Dynamite

My dad had this shaving cream mug with the saying on the side: "When a man is tired of pleasure the is tired of life." There are many pleasures we have in life: the pleasure of friendship, accomplishment and joyful activity to name a few. Unfortunately, the pleasure part of our brain peeks in our teens. Which accounts for why teenagers find pleasure in things we no longer would put in that category. It is a little sad that the highlights peek so soon. Fortunately while we may not experience the rush of exuberance of youth, we do have more opportunities to explore. We just need to expand our perspective.

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