Well I do think there are people who are habitually negative and depressed and take the opposite approach because they imagine the worst, and their minds become dominated by that. They let their own emotions and expectations transform their perceptions of the world.
Well, I certainly wouldn't want to live in the 18th century myself, or the 19th either, for that matter.
If you can attribute your success entirely to your own mental effort, to your own attitude, to some spiritual essence that you have that is better than other people's, then that must feel pretty good.
I became a student of the history of religion. I am fascinated by how religions often center on mystical experience, and in the Old Testament tradition you find flames, the burning bush.
Both chronic, long-term poverty and downward mobility from the middle class are in the same category of things that America likes not to think about.
People tend to judge presidents on how the economy performs, and yet we don't expect them to have the power to do much about it. Or we don't want them to exercise that power, if they were to have it.
For a long time on Earth humans didn't worship good gods; that's a new idea. The ancient Greek gods, the Hindu gods, are fairly amoral, most of them. We get stuck when we insist that God be both good and all-powerful.
I went into science, ending up with a Ph.D. in cell biology, but along the way I found out that experimental science involves many hours and days and nights of laboratory work, which is a lot like washing dishes, only a little more challenging. I was too impatient, and maybe a little too sloppy, for it.
Of all the nasty outcomes predicted for women's liberation... none was more alarming, from a feminist point of view, than the suggestion that women would eventually become just like men.
I have a Ph.D. in cell biology. And that's really manual labor. I mean, experimental science, you do it with your hands. So it's very different. You're out there in a lab, cleaning test tubes, and it just wasn't that fascinating.
So even though I consider myself a fairly upbeat person, energetic and things like that, I never do very well on happiness tests.
The Civil Rights Movement, it wasn't just a couple of, you know, superstars like Martin Luther King. It was thousands and thousands - millions, I should say - of people taking risks, becoming leaders in their community.
In fact, there is clear evidence of black intellectual superiority: in 1984, 92 percent of blacks voted to retire Ronald Reagan, compared to only 36 percent of whites.
That's the really neat thing about Dan Quayle, as you must have realized from the first moment you looked into those lovely blue eyes: impeachment insurance.
The psychological trauma of losing a job can be as great as the trauma of a divorce.
We - we spend a lot of time, scholarly time, thinking about love and sex, but very little about the - the kind of joy that can take over a crowd of people or a group of people, in festivity, in ecstatic ritual of some kind, in celebration.
I think it's tragic that we have this human capacity, which appears to be hardwired, or so the evolutionary biologists say, for collective joy. We have these techniques for generating it that go back thousands of years, and yet we tend not to use this.
Our atheism family tradition is traced to a - I don't know if it was great-great or a great-great-great grandmother who was a poor Irish-American woman in the 1880s in western Montana.
There's a lot of cruelty going on all the time, and I'm not just talking about inter-human cruelty. I'm talking about whole species becoming extinct, asteroids hitting planets, black holes gobbling up stars.
Like many other women, I could not understand why every man who changed a diaper has felt impelled, in recent years, to write a book about it.
The secret of the truly successful, I believe, is that they learned very early in life how not to be busy. They saw through that adage, repeated to me so often in childhood, that anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Yes, I think especially the Pentecostal churches, you know, that there's been such a growth in Pentecostalism. And it's a rejection of the much more dour and barren kind of Calvinist worship and also, the very formal Catholic forms of worship.
When I was born, my father was a copper miner in Butte, Montana. It was a hard-core, blue-collar situation.
In 1993, 89 of the 'Fortune' top 100 companies were administering the Myers-Briggs test to their employees. The philosophy behind personality tests is that they don't want you to be in the wrong kind of job. The tests have been completely exposed as nonsense.
It was a very big principle in my upbringing that you should respect everybody's work. The street sweeper. Everybody. You should never look down on anybody for their work.
We who officially value freedom of speech above life itself seem to have nothing to talk about but the weather.
I've spent so many years talking about poverty and economic justice, I'm strongly tempted to get biblical. Jesus' teachings are so radical; they're just insanely generous and apocalyptic. Christians become more fascinated by the dead Jesus. They don't like the living Jesus.
As anyone knows who has ever had to set up a military encampment or build a village from the ground up, occupations pose staggering logistical problems.
Employers have gone away from the idea that an employee is a long-term asset to the company, someone to be nurtured and developed, to a new notion that they are disposable.
Experimental science is fascinating, but I don't want to do it. I want other people to do it, and I'll read about it.
I'm interested in what bonds people together. You know, what brings us together in good ways? And there's not a lot known about that.
I haven't read enough of the Bible. You know, I'm saving the Bible for if I ever get imprisoned, and the only reading material was the Bible.
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month's rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene.
Personally, I have nothing against work, particularly when performed, quietly and unobtrusively, by someone else. I just don't happen to think it's an appropriate subject for an 'ethic.'
I'm an obsessive. When I get a problem, a question in my mind, it can take me over.
If I get incensed about some injustice, you can't make me - I will not just going to sit at my desk, at my computer all the time. I - I might want to march out on that.
I first started asking big questions when I was 12, and by big questions, I mean, 'Why are we here? What is this business? We're alive for a few short decades and then poof, we're out of here.'
There is the fear, common to all English-only speakers, that the chief purpose of foreign languages is to make fun of us. Otherwise, you know, why not just come out and say it?
My death is incidental, and I worry very much about my loved ones and, you know, would like to make it as easy as possible for them. Or wish I could will away whatever, you know, the sadness they will feel when I die. But for me, nothing. The world goes on.
A research group found that 56 percent of major companies surveyed in the late '80s agreed that 'employees who are loyal to the company and further its business goals deserve an assurance of continued employment.' A decade later, only 6 percent agreed. It was in the '90s that companies started weeding people out as a form of cost reduction.
The religions that fascinate me and, you know, could possibly tempt me are not the ones that involve faith or belief. They're the ones that offer you the opportunity to know the spirit or deity.
Well, the first thing that clued me in to the fact that there was something really scary about breast cancer, way beyond the thought of dying, was coming across an ad in the newspaper for pink breast cancer teddy bears. I am not that afraid of dying, but I am terrified of dying with a pink teddy bear under my arm.
I would never call myself a cancer survivor because I think it devalues those who do not survive. There's this whole mythology that people bravely battle their cancer and then they become survivors. Well, the ones who don't survive may be just as brave, you know, just as courageous, wonderful people.
At best the family teaches the finest things human beings can learn from one another generosity and love. But it is also, all too often, where we learn nasty things like hate, rage and shame.