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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Over the past few weeks I have been struck by how many times I’ve heard people ask “where are you going to spend Thanksgiving?” Of course, it’s an understandable question; we live in a world where families are spread out, and in a city like Atlanta (or New York or LA) with tons of “transplants,” people often go “home” for the holidays.

In that sense, the holiday can really feel like a destination as opposed to a celebration.

Perhaps this is exactly why “friendsgiving” celebrations are so in vogue. For many people, even though they spend this holiday of thankfulness…


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Photo: Makairos Tan

Over the past three weeks, as college basketball’s March Madness has turned even the most sports-allergic among us into bracket-betting enthusiasts, the simplest question is usually the most telling: “who do you have in your final four?”

Did you go with the well-known, ‘reliable’ choices — the number one seeds? Or did you choose a few bracket-busting underdogs, that — if right — help you win big by defying conventional wisdom? Or perhaps a blend of both? …


What’s so wrong with the Israeli political far-right? (Hint: a lot, and here is an explainer why.)

Many of us in the US have been trying to to understand the newest controversy that has Israel in our news — particularly Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu’s boosting of the far-right Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”) party in the run-up to the Israeli national elections in April. Of course I have lots of opinions of this deeply misguided and troublesome decision by the Prime Minister. But rather than opine about it, I thought I would pull together seven questions and a few links/resources that help others get some insight into the issue. Here they are:

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Image: Times of Israel

What is the far-right wing political…


“But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.” — To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee, 1960) For many of us in the United States, the Pulitzer-prize winning book To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those indelible markers of youth and awakening. The book is a master class in storytelling; a text we read in grade school that introduces us to the world of Depression-era Alabama as seen through six-year-old eyes of Jean Louise Finch (Scout). More profoundly however, it…


(This is the Weekly Dose of Optimism for January 26, 2019. Want this in your inbox every Friday? Sign up @ https://tinyletter.com/AppliedOptimism)

We often talk about the need to have empathy for individuals in circumstances other than our own. But what about a sense of empathy for the environment that surrounds all of us? It’s hard enough to imagine how we might “walk a mile in another person’s shoes,” much less feel an embodied sense of the natural world around us. Yet the natural world is equally as dynamic and fragile as the people within it. Having a greater sense…


Maybe having a ten-year old son who is obsessed with the online video game Fortnite has my mind in the (digital) clouds, but I can’t help but keep reflecting on how American democracy has become a weird hybrid of reality television and Twitch (the streaming platform that allows viewers to watch streams of eSports and other consumer created content). With both television and the online experiences you can play the game, but if you aren’t up for that, can also just step back and watch everyone else play. No cost, no risk — you just can sit in the proverbial…


I’ve been thinking about this statement all week. One reason it has been on my mind is that this past week those of Jewish faith (me included) “start over” with the reading of the Torah. After having just celebrated the holiday of Simchat Torah (translated as ‘Rejoicing of Torah’), this week we begin anew — reading the story of creation in the book of Genesis. It is a timeless story — the creation of the world over six days, and a day of rest on the seventh. The ‘boundless drama of creation’ begins its ever-unfolding narrative, including the creation of…


The other day a friend commented to me that the way I was speaking with her made me sound very unsettled. It was a comment I have heard a few times recently, and it gave me pause to reflect on how my state of mind is being perceived by those around me. I almost wanted to protest, to clarify that it is not me that is unsettled, but rather the world around me.

She was right though, the truth is I AM unsettled, because these are unsettling times. And I know I am not alone.

It is hard to look…


“Out of order.” Those were the words Rabbi Peter Berg spoke this past Sunday as he began the memorial service for our friend Scott Selig. Scott died last Friday after a year long battle with cancer and, notwithstanding his valiant attitude embodied by the “ScottStrong” movement he inspired, the truth was inescapable: the battle was over. Rabbi Berg was right, life indeed felt out of order — a father was burying his son, a city counting on the long life of a leader had been cheated by his premature death. A family that extends well beyond blood, that includes friends…


In every generation, there are moments that create a collective sense of loss. These moments aren’t felt the same way by everyone in that generation, and depending on one’s race, gender, faith, economic class, geography and countless other factors, those moments are seen through the prism of perspective differently. But the occurrence of the moment is static, the nature of the event is immutable. It becomes a pivot point in an unfolding story of history and change.

Charlottesville was one of those moments. It is not the exclusive moment for this generation. In the 24/7 news cycle of moments in…

Seth Cohen

Radical Optimist. Founder of Applied Optimism. I shifted reality, now I want to unleash optimism. You do too? Let’s be friends. More at www.appliedoptimism.com

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