What we learned from heroin-addicted Vietnam War veterans and then promptly forgot.

Source: history.com

On May 16, 1971, a headline on the front page of the New York Times read, “G.I. Heroin Addiction Epidemic in Vietnam.” This wasn’t an exaggeration. According to a report from the Department of Defense, 51% of soldiers had smoked marijuana, 31% had used psychedelics, and 28% had done hard drugs, like cocaine and heroin.

Naturally, the U.S. Government was concerned. They feared these soldiers would continue to abuse drugs when they returned home. …


It’s not something you get “right” on your first (or fiftieth) try

Photo by Ruffa Jane Reyes on Unsplash

A lot has been said about “success” and “failure”. I’m sure you’ve told yourself a story or two. They’re words we throw around too often. Yes, some things have definite conclusions, like a work project, a football match, or the outcome of an election, but other things don’t. For example, you.

Despite this, what I’ve seen myself do time and time again is “pin” events with definite conclusions to me, as if I should wear either the pride or shame — depending on the outcome — for the…


It’s helped me in a way I did not expect.

Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash

There’s nothing easy about life. There’s an unsettling lack of certainty and predictability about it all. When you wake up tomorrow morning, you don’t get to decide what happens next. If the current pandemic has taught us anything it’s that life can take twists and turns we did not expect.

That’s not to say that life is bad. Life can bring us incredible moments. Beautiful moments. It’s just that, at best, you can influence only a small piece of this world we live in. …


And what to do about it.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Last week, a long-standing suspicion finally solidified into a full-blown belief: I am terrified of failure.

There are no two ways about it. When I think that people are counting on me, I melt like butter. I crumble like high-quality pie crust. I break down like my Hyundai Elantra.

OK — maybe it’s not that bad. But, it’s definitely not good. When I think of the volume of work I produce regularly, it’s disappointingly small. Why is that? Because I’m scared to do certain tasks. Well, why is that? …


From mind-boggling conspiracy theories to the Capitol riot, they have a lot to answer for.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The last 12 months haven’t been the best, have they? I mean, we saw the world consumed by a pandemic. We witnessed the gruesome death of George Floyd. We watched as the number of unemployed skyrocketed. We presided over a tenuous U.S. election.

And, then, in the wee hours of 2021, we looked on as the U.S. Capitol was overrun by a violent mob, which had been all but instructed to do so by their then-president.

The last year has been a stressful time for…


Are you tired of feeling so much anger and hate?

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

When we think of compassion, we imagine people devoting their lives to charities and other causes. We imagine people selflessly giving up their hopes and dreams to act solely for the good of others. We see compassion as a big, heroic act.

But, is it?

I’d bet that in the not-so-distant past, you acted compassionately. After all, compassion is simply the emotion that, in the presence of suffering, creates a desire to help. Maybe you felt the desire to help a colleague with a computer issue you knew how to…


They’ve discovered something better.

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, How do they do it? Maybe they’re in phenomenal shape. Maybe they wake up at 4 AM every day to meditate. Maybe they produce more than anyone else in the office. Whatever it is, you think their willpower must be superhuman. And then you think bitterly, I can’t even get myself to go for a walk on a warm, sunny day!

But, before you jump on the self-flagellation train, know that there’s a secret to these people’s success. And it’s not what you think.

Have you ever wondered…


3 things wise people do to give themselves away.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

What is wisdom?

Is it a vast accumulation of knowledge? It is extensive experience? Is it related to being morally or ethically upstanding? Is it knowing, in truth, how little one knows?

People throughout the ages have attempted to describe wisdom, from Aristotle and Confucius to the Buddha and Shakespeare. According to Neel Burton, author of Hypersanity, what they’re all getting at is that wisdom is the ability to see the causes of, and connection between, things. …


Hey Vincent!

Yeah, I'm not 100% clear on the purpose of the spiritual path. In the vaguest of terms, I think it leads to a happier, more fulfilling life. Why does it do that? I'm not sure. I think it has something to do with taking a different perspective on life than what's standard.

If that's true, mindfulness helps us on the path by giving us another perspective. When we see our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, etc., with clarity we begin to see that they are not what we thought them to be. We see them come and go with…


And having a practical tool for dealing with the rest.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

In the West, we tend to take an all-or-nothing approach to life. We’re taught to grab the proverbial bull by the horns and, through sheer force of will, bring it to its knees. There is no living in peace with the bull, nor is there any other sort of compromise we can make with it. We need to dominate the bull or else we’ve failed.

We have this same attitude toward our minds. We make mistakes, come up short, or fail to achieve our goals and then we pound ourselves…

Jeff Valdivia

Following my curiosity and hoping it will lead me to wisdom. I write about science, meditation, and spirituality.

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