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The Reasonably Good Life

Author: Dr. Mike Brooks

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This podcast is about using Reason to pursue the Good Life in this complicated world. We all want to be happy and don’t wish to suffer. However, this is often a formidable challenge! In recent decades, America, as well as many other parts of the world, have become increasingly polarized. Each side comes to view the “other” as an enemy to be vanquished. Yet, on some level, we all know that this is not the way. As a wise man once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The level of polarization makes it difficult to tackle other societal problems effectively, including COVID-19, climate change, poverty, racism, and pollution. The good news is that we human beings are adaptive and resilient. We can leverage these qualities and the powers of reason to learn, grow, and improve as individuals. As we are all members of society, as we make such individual improvements, we improve society as well. We all want a better world that is conducive to greater happiness and life satisfaction, yet the change must start with us. I hope you join me on this journey in the pursuit of greater understanding, growth, and life satisfaction.
17 Episodes
After the tragic mass shooting deaths of 19 elementary school kids and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022, America is, once again, doing some soul searching. We have had over 200 mass shootings thus far in 2022, and there's no end in sight. America is too great of a country to do nothing about gun violence. While there are no simple answers, we can do more than thoughts and prayers. The key to growth, change, and improvement rests in our ability to be flexible, reasonable, and skillful as we approach this complicated problem with open minds. 
In this episode of The Reasonably Good Life, I interview licensed psychologist and ordained Zen Buddhist priest Dr. David Zuniga. Dr. Zuniga's a good friend of mine, and we've have many wonderful conversations in the past, so I thought it would be fun to interview him for the podcast. We cover Buddhism's influence on modern psychotherapy, human nature and interconnectedness, why we suffer, the myth of the self, and mindfulness and its connection to psychotherapy and well-being. 
In this episode, I am interviewed by Karly Fritsch, who is in a master's program at St. Bonaventure University in New York - on her way to becoming a licensed professional counselor. We discuss a range of topics such as some of the challenges of being a therapist, treatment efficacy of different therapy models, ethical problems that therapists face, serving clients who have diverse needs and backgrounds, and getting feedback from clients on treatment progress. It was a lively and enjoyable discussion, and I hope you listeners enjoy it!
In this episode, I was interviewed by Emma Lian, who is a junior at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. She is a smart and studious young woman who reached out to me on her own accord to ask me some questions about the practice of psychology because she interested in career options in this field. We both thought it would be fun and interesting to record the conversation for The Reasonably Good Life podcast, so we did so! We had a great time discussing a range of topics including the differences between psychiatry and psychology, what it's like to be a psychologist/therapist, the increase in mental health issues among young people, mental health problems on a societal level, what helps people achieve greater life satisfaction, medication vs. psychotherapy to treat mental health issues, and general advice for young people to help increase happiness and well-being. 
Are screens as bad for young people as we fear? This is the second part of my interview with Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University, and one of the world's leading researchers on the effects that screens are having on young people. While there are definitely some legitimate concerns about screens and some reasonable limits are in order, we also need to keep in mind that the best research available does not support the scary headlines that screens are causing the vast majority of kids to spiral into depression, anxiety, screen addiction, aggression, and self-harm.
Are screens as bad for young people as we fear? We cover all of the important topics in this episode of The Reasonably Good Life (so much so that I had to break this into two episodes). In this episode, I interview Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson. Chris is a psychology professor at Stetson University, and one of the world's leading researchers on the effects that screens are having on young people. Chris has been researching and publishing papers on this topic for about two decades. Chris and I have been cyber colleagues/friends for several years now, but this is our first meeting in cyberspace! We had a fun, lively, and in-depth conversation, and we don't leave a stone unturned on this important and timely topic. Part 2 of this interview will be posted next week - enjoy!
We evolved to have an ego because having a coherent sense of self can help us to survive and thrive. However, our ego can become overly-attached to just about anything - status, power, prestige, other people, our team, tribe, or political party, possessions, and so on. When our ego becomes overly-attached, it can cause unnecessary suffering on both individual and societal levels. Having a better understanding of what the ego is and how it works can help us loosen the grip that it sometimes has upon us. As we do this, we are better able to make more skillful, effective decisions in life without the clouds of the ego obscuring our vision. Please join me, Dr. Mike Brooks, and my trusty intern and co-pilot, Patrick Kennedy, as we explore this important topic!
The more we are able to manage our suffering in life, the happier we will be. It's difficult to be happy when we are miserable! Of course, some suffering is part of the human condition and inescapable. Yet, we often suffer more than we need to or should. The Buddha taught how attachment is the root of our suffering, and he was onto something there. Some of our attachments are necessary and healthy, but when we become overly attached, we become vulnerable to suffering. Please join me, Dr. Mike Brooks, and my trusty intern, Patrick Kennedy, as we explore this topic within our series on suffering!
We all suffer in life, and some of us suffer more than their fair share. That said, we all suffer more than we need to suffer. Why is that? The better we understand the nature of our suffering, the more strategies we can learn to reduce it. Join psychologist Dr. Mike Brooks and his intern, Patrick Kennedy, as they explore this important topic. 
Most of us have been dealing with more suffering in recent years with problems like the ongoing pandemic, increased polarization, natural disasters, and other calamities. Why do we suffer and what can we do about it? We have all probably heard the quote, "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." We could split hairs over the exact definition of suffering, but we can all agree that suffering is a part of life. So, we must learn ways to deal with it skillfully in order to enjoy life more. In this episode of The Reasonably Good Life, I explore the issue of suffering with my intern, Patrick Kennedy. The better we understand the nature of suffering, we can take steps to manage it more effectively.  The good news is that we CAN make improvements. 
We like to think of ourselves as reasonable people who seek truth. As we navigate the complexities of this world, we want to know the truth so that we can make skillful decisions. Yet, it is extremely easy for us (myself included!) to be led astray by fake news, lies, and conspiracy theories. Despite having easier access to accurate information than at any time in human history, why is it so hard to find the truth?
Frances Haugen is the "whistleblower" who was a former project manager at Facebook. She amassed internal documents that became part of the Wall Street Journal's investigative report known as "The Facebook Files." Some of these documents allegedly show that Facebook knew that Instagram, which it owns, is harmful to teen girls. Do the whistleblower's revelations prove that social media is really harmful to teens? Let's take a closer look to better understand what is going on here.
Throughout history, it seems like every generation worries that the end of the world is near. This trend has continued to this very day. When we read the headlines and our social media feeds, it is hard not to fall into despair. But reality is seldom as bad as our worst fears. While we certainly have a multitude of problems in this world, there are good reasons to have greater hope than most of us do.
Why does the world have so many problems? Why are some of them so difficult to overcome? While there are many reasons, I explore six factors that I believe contribute to these problems. Importantly, the more we understand the root causes of the world's problems, the more likely we will be able to work toward solutions.
There are countless books, articles, and opinions on the subject of success. We all want to be "successful" in life, whatever that means!  Is there a secret to it? While not necessarily a secret, I cover a critical key to success in this episode of The Reasonably Good Life. The better able we are able to develop and use this essential skill, the more success we will have in life.
It's a miracle that we exist at all. As far as we know, we only have this one life to live. What are we supposed to do with it?  How then shall we live? In a manner of thinking, "What is the purpose of life?" is the Ultimate Question. How we answer this question can guide our entire lives, so it is critical that we give it some serious thought. I offer a reasonable idea in this video without claiming that I have THE answer to the Ultimate Question.
Welcome to the first installment in my new series, "The Reasonably Good Life"! It's about using Reason to pursue the Good Life in this complicated world. If you are like me, you are tired of seeing and hearing about all of the craziness in America (and elsewhere). There are so many good things about America, the world, society, and ourselves. Yet, there is a lot of room for improvement as well. This isn't "either/or" but "both/and." As far as we know, we only have one life to live. How shall we live? What is the "Good Life" and how are we to pursue it? I don't pretend to have all of the answers. I'm on this journey too. However, I believe that, by better understanding the nature of our challenges and obstacles, we can use our reasoning abilities to navigate this world more skillfully and effectively. This flexible approach leads to growth, improvement, and greater levels of happiness. I hope you will join me on this journey!
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