GOING WELLNUTS

The Humor Blog for Well-Being

April 25, 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. 
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 […]
April 18, 2016

Neurotic Life: Part III

After three years in Nashville we were so desperate we were thinking of going back to Winnipeg, Manitoba. If that failed we could always move to Moldova and reclaim the land the Cossacks stole from my family during the Kishinev pogrom. After debating between Manitoba and Moldova we moved to Miami.  Controlling your behavior is a matter of life and death in Miami. If you want to stay alive here, you have to master your driving behavior. First, you have to control the automatic desire to move ahead when traffic lights turn green. Second, you have to count four cars that will cross in red in front of you. Third, if you don’t want to be rear ended, you have to accelerate when the light turns yellow. Finally, you have to learn a few choice words in Spanish to communicate with the drivers who get stuck at the intersection. Miami is indeed a wonderful place to learn how to control your behavior. Here, you have to unlearn everything you learned about driving, unless, of course, you come from Latin America, which is where I grew up. Given my Latin background you would have thought that I’d know how to drive […]
April 14, 2016

Neurotic Life: Part II

We landed in Melbourne, Australia, just in time to welcome the new millennium. I went from a task- oriented culture to a place where everybody was in long service leave longer than they were at their desks. What a concept! In Canada, I worked with very productive colleagues who only reinforced high work ethic. In Australia, I worked with wonderful colleagues who only reinforced the realization that I was an idiot and that I worked too much. After three years in Australia trying to control my neurotic tendencies, I relented to my pathologies and moved back to North America, where I could wallow in self-pity for working too hard. Not only did we come back to a workaholic culture, but to Nashville no less, where other than Country music, all there is to do is work. Also, we went from a food mecca to a food desert. The nearest vegetarian restaurant in Nashville was in Ashville.  Preorder now: The Laughing Guide to Well-Being: Using Humor and Science to Become Happier and Healthier
April 11, 2016

Neurotic Life: Part I

If doing something is good, overdoing it must be wonderful. If gaining control is a good thing, gaining complete control must guarantee eternity. This is how we, neurotics, think. When I was finishing my PhD in psychology I was a full time student. I was also working full time outside the university (I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that), raising a baby, and writing a dissertation on a tight schedule. My wife Ora and I would not get much sleep because Matan, our son, really wanted to play in the middle of the night, and we really didn’t know how to say no, which, 29 years later, we still don’t. This was in Winnipeg, Canada. In winter, the average temperature was -54 and in summer it was 108 mosquitos per square feet.   To make sure I completed my dissertation on time, I followed obsessively a tight schedule. I used to get up at 5 am, go down to the basement and start typing. The heating didn’t work so I wore gloves to type. Until 7 am I wrote nonstop to make sure I achieved my word goal for the day. My obsessive compulsive tendencies were only in […]

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