Dr. Bernie S. Siegel

Do Little, Rather than Nothing

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I’ve written about this topic before: Positive community activism; Spineless inaction: the bystander effectYour positive imprint on mankind.

And I’m writing about it again, but I’m going to let Dr. Bernie S. Siegel be my mouthpiece on this one because he addresses the importance of making a difference in the lives of others in this excerpt from: 365 Prescriptions for the Soul. Here’s the selection verbatim:


Wave on sand 2It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little; do what you can. -Sydney Smith

Perhaps you have heard the story about the boy on the beach throwing washed-up sand dollars back into the water.  A man walks by and asks, “Why are you doing that?  There are thousands of them washed up.  You can’t make a difference.”

The boy picks one up and throws it back into the ocean, “I did for that one.”

Remember, by changing one life you change the world.  Every action has its effects.  So make a difference and help someone get back into the ocean of life.  You need not risk your life carrying them through the surf, but find out what they need to get back into the swim.  Then help them do it.

How to make the best of a New Year, every day

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new-years-day-1021358_1280My last post of 2015 talked about making resolutions you can actually fulfill.

This first post of 2016 proposes that every day be treated as one does a New Year.

I’ll borrow sentiments from Dr. Bernie S. Siegel again, providing you with wisdom that might help you get a good start on 2016, and every day you’ve been given. Direct quotes will appear indented in this post.

How can you have a new year? You are the same person, and the world doesn’t start again with a clean slate. Your troubles don’t disappear. People don’t forgive you for what you did the year before…

Your life is anything but new when you awaken on the first day of the year. It is simply a way of measuring the passage of time. Why make such a fuss over it?

We like new starts, don’t we? There’s something refreshing about having the opportunity to start all over again. Not unlike second chances, I treat the commencement of a new year as an opportunity to do better. Unless you’re perfect, you too like the idea of a fresh start.

The truth lies in our desire to be reborn, to start again, to make resolutions and changes we can live up to. Then why wait for a certain date to start a new year? Why can’t tomorrow be New Year’s Day?

Maybe it is!

Wow, instead of waiting 365 days to do better, I can do better in the next minute. I don’t even have to wait until tomorrow. Right now, I can do better. I can think of and speak more kindly towards others and myself. I can promote a healthier lifestyle and make plans to construct a better me and a better world. Why wait?

I see it every day in my role as a physician; people learn they have a limited time to live, and they start their New Year behavior. They move, change jobs, spend more time with those they love, stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of them, and start to celebrate their life.

Whoa, why wait until it’s too late? Quite literally, when you’ve been given a death sentence, it is too late. I’m not going to rely on receiving such a prognosis to get things right, I’m going to make every effort to do better for myself and others, right now.

I have the chance to live my best life now, and so do you.

When every evening is New Year’s Eve and every day you awaken to is New Year’s Day, you are living life as it was intended.

Wow, given the alternative, I’ll get right on it!

New Year, new goals?

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2015 New YearsGood Bye 2015

Resolutions, they can be worth celebrating, but more often than not, they shame us and fill us with guilt.

Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, had the following to say about these annual promises to ourselves that we oftentimes make without thinking them through:

It is not a bad thing to make a New Year’s resolution, but you can also continuously set yourself up to fail. Be realistic and forgiving. The best resolution is to accept your limitations and start from there. Resolve not to give up on yourself, and be sure to love yourself, even when you don’t like your behavior.

It is far easier to live with the old regrets and problems than to change. So resolve to practice doing what you have resolved, rather than achieving sainthood tomorrow.

As you write down your resolutions, remember these things:

Be kind; do not set yourself up for failure by creating multiple resolutions that involve too much self-denial.

Keep your goals manageable and realistic. The best resolutions leave one day of the week to enjoy being human and not living by any rules or expectations you have created.

Soulution of the Day

Resolve slowly, so you don’t get dizzy and fall down on the job.

Life can turn on a dime

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Pooh Bear

December 28, 2015 – I am thrilled to report that my grandnephew went home from the hospital 1.5 weeks after this article posted. He seems to be flourishing at home and the hope is that in time, there will be no recognizable cognitive changes for him. He is such a sweetheart, whatever happens in the future, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. The support of his parents will carry this little guy through thick and thin. They are truly wonderful human beings.

A couple days ago, my family received the unfortunate news about the youngest member of our very large family, my grand nephew, Kingsley.

This adorable, full of life, seven month old is hospitalized with bacterial meningitis. Just like that, the parents’ Facebook posts changed from lively, getting into trouble photos, to a photo of their unconscious son in his PICU crib, hooked up to fluids. He was moved to a regular room yesterday and could be there for another week. The PICU photo was replaced with one of him smiling while still hooked up to the antibiotic fluids his body desperately needs.

God help him, God help his parents.

It’s sure difficult to look for the good in such a horrible situation but Kingsley’s mother, my niece, posted a comment saying how blessed she felt with the attentive medical staff that was taking care of her precious son. And she felt as though she was being held in the arms of all of us who were praying and stating positive intentions for his recovery. She found good in the bad.

My morning meditation reading today by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel addressed ones focus when in trouble: where to look and what you look for. I thought I would share it with you today: Read the rest of this entry »

Our school of hard knocks: life

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Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios
Painting courtesy of Mary Riesche Studios

Okay, my life isn’t always crappy, quite frankly, it’s rarely crappy.  I’ve had a great life and I certainly can’t complain too loudly.  But I’ve learned many things in my umpteen years of life, one of which is that there are teaching moments – and teachers – all around us and if we’re diligent students, we’ll learn something new now and then.

Dr. Bernie S. Siegel in his book 365 Subscriptions for the Soul, brings up this topic in one of his daily meditations.  He starts out by offering the following Taoist quote:

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Read the rest of this entry »

Perfecting our life’s target practice

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Are you going in circles?
Are you going in circles?

Dr. Bernie Siegel, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, provided the following regarding the art of focusing on the right target for our lives.  The first quote is very timely advice by the late, great, Yogi Berra:


You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. – Yogi Berra

Your target in life helps you to direct your course.  So before you aim, be sure you choose the right target.

What are you aiming for?  What is your goal?  What goals are you trying to achieve?  What are you trying to hit?  These are the questions you need to ask yourself, because they tell you your direction and where you will end up.

The more target practice you engage in, the more likely you are to hit the bull’s-eye.


Take the time to refocus on your target.  Ask the questions often to be sure to hone in on your center.

The Elephant in the Room

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ElephantHave you ever jumped to conclusions or reacted ill-advisedly because you didn’t have all the information about a particular person or situation?  If you haven’t, I guess I’m the only sorry person out there who has made that mistake far too many times throughout my life.

Dr. Bernie S. Siegel is my commentator today as I quote directly from his 365 Prescriptions for the Soul that starts with an Indian parable:

Three blind men touch an elephant. The first blind man was holding the elephant’s leg and said, “I think an elephant is like the trunk of a tree.” The second blind man was holding the elephant’s trunk and said, “An elephant is like a large snake.” The third blind man said, “An elephant is like a great wall,” while touching the elephant’s side.

You all know the story about the elephant that walked into an area where many blind men were living. They all wanted to know what the elephant was like. So when the elephant was captured, they were allowed to touch it. Of course their descriptions varied depending on the part of the elephant they touched. Read the rest of this entry »

Tree of Life

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I’m going to once again look to Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, and quote directly from a page in his book, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul.

Tree of Life CStand tall and proud.  Remember your roots!  Be content with your natural Beauty.  Drink plenty of water.  Enjoy the View!  – Illan Shamir, Advice from a Tree

If we are busily performing deeds but never stop to reach up for knowledge and wisdom, our tree of life will have no branches and many roots.  Without branches, how can it move and respond with the winds of life?  Or if we accumulate great knowledge but perform no deeds, then we are like a tree with many branches but no roots, and we will be blown over by the winds of fortune.

We must see that our tree of life contains both wisdom and deeds.  Then our branches will spread and our deep roots will provide support and nourishment.  We will be able to survive the storms and droughts that life presents us.

Do little, rather than nothing

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I’ve written about this topic before: Positive community activism; Spineless inaction: the bystander effectYour positive imprint on mankind.

And I’m writing about it again, but I’m going to let Dr. Bernie S. Siegel be my mouthpiece on this one because he addresses the importance of making a difference in the lives of others in this excerpt from: 365 Prescriptions for the Soul. Here’s the selection verbatim: Read the rest of this entry »