Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Millennial Chutzpah

Coping with assertive family members has been excellent training for dealing with students. The other day, and this is a true story, I received an email from a student at another university telling me that his psych professor had assigned them a paper that I had written for them to critique. The student had the chutzpah of asking me to write a few points critiquing my own bloody paper! I hadn’t heard such chutzpah since the son who killed his parents asked the judge for leniency because he was an orphan. 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Family Democracy

When I was building my family, I was all for promoting self-expression. I was all for women’s liberation and children’s liberation. I wanted my wife and son to feel free to express their views and feelings. BIG MISTAKE! 

As a result of my foolishness, I have spent the last thirty years surrounded by overly assertive family members who challenge my every word, question my judgment, and want me to experiment with colors other than brown. Our son never had a thought that didn’t find its way into his mouth. My wife, in turn, never had a grievance she didn’t express. Oh, the joys of democracy.

 But I have to admit that both have made me a better person: more empathic, more sensitive, more egalitarian, more democratic, more in tune with my feelings. So much so, that I can never speak to male friends anymore. So much so, that every major decision in the house, like the color of my underwear, requires a meeting with minutes and secret ballot. 

Order now: The Laughing Guide to Well-Being: Using Humor and Science to Become Happier and Healthier

Monday, May 9, 2016

Personal Responsibility

I came to this country because I thought that personal responsibility was big here. Instead, I found a bunch of low performing, mediocre politicians, professionals and celebrities ready to blame the world but themselves for their shortcomings. No wonder that the totally politically incorrect Amy Chua is gaining traction. The author of Battle Hymn for the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package (with hubby Jed Rubenfeld) claims that success relies on three characteristics: impulse control, feelings of inferiority, and feelings of superiority.

 I think I’m going to join the Amy Chua movement of sadomasochist believers in high expectations. I already fulfil two of her requirements. In fact, I invented impulse control and feelings of inferiority. I’m working now on feelings of superiority, but it’s not going well. Nobody believes me.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Modesty and Moderation

Today I want to address the topic of modesty. I think it's important to practice modesty in moderation. 

OMG!!!  The Laughing Guide to Well-Being: Using Humor and Science to Become Happier and Healthier is ranked #1 new release in Amazon in the College and University Student Life category, #2 in the Doctors and Medicine Humor Category, and # 9 in the Self-Help and Humor Category. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Influenza and Affluenza

Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, many people blame diseases for their ethical obtuseness. Instead of expecting decent behavior from their son, the parents of Ethan Couch hired a psychologist who claimed the teenager had a bad case of Affluenza: the result of rich parents who never set proper limits for the kid. Ethan, for whom his parents had no expectations, killed 4 people while drinking and driving and got away with only probation. Ethan and his mother were recently found in Mexico, blaming the severe winter for skipping probation. They were afraid to catch the Influenza virus.  

Preorder now: The Laughing Guide to Well-Being: Using Humor and Science to Become Happier and Healthier

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Yakov Smirnoff and me

Having read The Laughing Guide to Well-Being: Using Humor and Science to Become Happier and Healthier Yakov Smirnoff, the famous comedian, wrote the following:

"Isaac's book is hilarious. I believe if you can get people to laugh that means you're getting them to listen, and when they listen, they learn. This book accomplishes all three of these things." Yakov Smirnoff.

I want to make it clear that Yakov was not pressured to do this, and that he did not do this under duress. Being from Miami, I know what you're all thinking: I bribed Yakov to write an endorsement of my new book, but let me reassure you that Yakov does not take bribes and I don't give bribes. 

I also know that you're thinking I'm desperate to sell copies of my new book, but let me reassure you that I'm not desperate. I'm inconsolably desperate. 

If Yakov's blurb and my pathetic plea do not cause you to click on the link above and order my book, I don't know what will. But don't complain when copies run out and everybody at the office is talking about my book and you don't know what's going on. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Low Expectations

The bitter cold aggravating most of the country was of sufficient schadenfreude value that my wife and I decided to watch the Weather Channel. While we were experiencing our two days of winter here in Miami, with temperatures in the low sixties, we reminisced of our days in Canada when we were young and stupid to live in the prairies.

Meanwhile, the host of the Weather Channel invited a veterinarian to comment on the well-being of pets during the stormy weather. Dr. Chow said that all pets are different, and that some of them are more tolerant of cold than others. She told viewers that “St. Bernard dogs cope better than Chihuahuas with cold.” Wow, really! I would have never guessed!
That was the moment when it all came together for me. Dr. Chow epitomized all that is wrong with this country: Low expectations. If you are going to go on national TV, don’t you want to say something a little smarter?

I’ve been on TV to talk about serious stuff only very few times, but every time I went on I studied the topic in great depth. In contrast, my co-panelists invented answers that had zero empirical evidence and absolutely no grounding in research. Like Dr. Chow, they had very low expectations of themselves. Donald Trump, who gets his foreign policy insights from the Weather Channel, is about to name Dr. Chow as his running mate.