Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

The Road To Character Walked By Jordan Spieth

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

9780812993257I am reading with strong interest David Brooks’s new book, The Road to Character.

In this book, he argues that this generation has lost its connection to character. We are in an age of self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, and self-importance.

Masters Champion Jordan Spieth is an exception to this. He merges resume values with eulogy values.

He is arguably, the most popular person on the planet just now. After his convincing and record-breaking victory at the Masters he conducted 24 interviews in 27 hours, including Letterman. The Empire State Building was lit green in his honor.


I’ve read about and watched these interviews. He does not have to say and has not said, “Wow, I’m great. Look at me.” He seeks the objective standards of the World Golf Ranking. He wants to be number one but I doubt he will proclaim, “I’m number one!” The ranking will speak for itself.

His humility is part of his appeal. I think we are weary of self-congratulatory heroes.

His youth and innocence is another part of the appeal.

He is driven but he’s going to have to update his goals. His childhood dream of becoming Masters Champion has been realized at age 21 after only his second try. A few more victories on tour coudl find him supplanting Rory McIlroy as world number one (come on Rory, get going!).


He is committed to not changing as a result of all this notoriety. He’s got a winning formula. Talent. Commitment. Service. Fun. Tenacity.

While David Brooks does not mention introverts or extroverts in his book, he is talking about the difference between extroverted and introverted ways of being. The road to character is more introverted.

This accords with what the Buddha said 2500 years ago. We must look within. This is not to say that introverts are more virtuous than extroverts. We are not. It is to say, though, that without the capacity to slow down, get quiet, and go within we become a self-promoting, loud, surface.

Brooks says, “We live in a society that encourages us to think about how to have a great career but leaves many of us inarticulate about how to cultivate the inner life.” Of course, mindfulness is a skill set that can bring us to the inner life and it is the theme of my recently released book, The Awakened Introvert: Practical Mindfulness Skills for Maximizing Your Strengths and Thriving in a Loud and Crazy World. The book is written to introverts, but it really applies to any of us who are seeking to go within beyond the surface and the noise and the cult of “me”.




I Was Born Thirty Years Too Late

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Photo Credit: M. Mancini

If I had been born in 1933 instead of 1963, I would have largely missed the demands of the Information Age. If I had come of age as a writer thirty years ago in 1985, there would have been no Internet and I would still be creating manuscripts on a typewriter.

I am not a Luddite. I am fully engaged with all manner of technology. The possibilities of the Digital Age are staggering, inspiring,  and, often, overwhelming. I admit to nostalgia about the old days.


As an introvert, I am not cut out for this era of self-promotion. In the old days, a writer’s publishing house promoted the book. There was little authors could do except to go on book tours and communicate with their fan base via letters.

Now, we are expected to participate: to have a presence and following on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. We are expected to blog and to cultivate an audience. You’ve heard me get plaintive about this before.

As writers, we spend a significant portion of our time devoted to these social media tasks rather than writing.

I am uncomfortable in this world. This confession shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. It grates against my introvert nature of seeking a quiet, unassuming place to participate in the world.


I don’t like competing for eyeballs, promoting my self, and asking for favors. Yet, I do this every day. In fact, I have a favor to ask of you: please buy my latest book–The Awakened Introvert! And furthermore, after you’ve read it, please write and post and online review. Shameless.

Books need this kind of attention these days to get noticed. Alas. I can find solace in Nancy Ancowitz’s Self-Promotion for Introverts. Her advice would help me to be better prepared and, yet, I would still feel uncomfortable because these activities go against my preferred way of being.


I have my grandmother’s vintage Royal. It is a conversation piece and I haven’t tried to type on it in decades. I’m tempted to try. I wonder if I can find parts for it?

I confess that I feel lost at times. I want to live a life of quiet humility, but I find myself in this dilemma. I crave a noble solitude that may only exist in a past era when these technologies and expectations did not yet exist. Since this wistful fantasy can’t turn time back, I will soldier on in the present moment–mindfully, of course!

It’s not all bad. There are wonderful possibilities in these mediums. I can reach people all over the world instantaneously. Anonymity gives way to reach. We have choices and we can also marvel at the possibilities we couldn’t even imagine thirty years ago.


The Colors and Seasons of Introversion and Extroversion

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak


“Minion Yellow is a custom colour designed to represent the sweet and subversive characters. An extroverted hue, it projects playfulness and warmth and is suggestive of intellectual curiosity and enlightenment.”

So says Pantone, makers of Minion Yellow. Interesting copy. Can a color be extroverted? Apparently so. I prefer orange. I suppose this bright yellow color does suggest loudness but I fail to see how we get to intellectual curiosity, let alone enlightenment.


However we characterize color, it is likely based on stereotypes. Extroversion is red, yellow, and orange. Introversion is blue, green, grey, and brown. Maybe purple is in the middle? Seasons can reflect the differences between introverts and extroverts too, especially in the northern climes where the winter season is severe.

Fall into winter is the season of the interior. The days get darker, the leaves fall off the trees, and we turn within in preparation for the long winter ahead. With the exception of the often extroverted demands of the holiday season, we can look forward to (or dread) the long season of solitude ahead. The streets will be quieter, less people out walking. The sidewalk cafe´s closed.

The color of winter is white: solid, unified, and stark. It is also black during the long nights. It is also grey, as so many days are overcast (although this winter the frigid cold brought lots of sunshine).


As spring starts to emerge, people begin to emerge from winter hibernation. Street life begins back again and it’s easier to get outside. We don’t need to layer ourselves in protective armor of fleece, Goretex, and down.

Winter into spring and summer are the seasons of exterior: spring cleaning, gardening, and reconnecting with the community at large. Of course and again, these are generalizations. For intrepid Vermonters like myself, winter isn’t a complete hunkering down. We remain active, engaged, and socialize throughout.

I like the metaphorical aspect of winter: the way it represents stillness, purity, and quiet. I am ready to say goodbye to winter, the longest one in memory and look forward to some extroverted color flowers poking up out of the ground soon.


Whatever your seasons and colors, mindfulness can help you to be present to whatever is happening. You’ll find a wealth of thriving techniques in my book: The Awakened Introvert: Practical Mindfulness Skills for Maximizing Your Strengths and Thriving in a Loud and Crazy World. Order your copy today.


How to Create Solitude in the Context of Relationship

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Photo Credit: John Fowler

Solitude is necessary for my existence just as water is. Without it, I wither and become listless in my desiccated state. I am not, however, a hermit. I am in a committed relationship, married in fact, and must negotiate my needs for solitude within this relationship.

Unlike Fenton Johnson in his recent Harper’s article, I feel that we can attain hydrating solitude within the confines of a committed relationship. This feat requires cooperation. If your partner also needs solitude to water themselves, that is a helpful start. But we are not all married to other introverts. Asking for time to oneself is an easy sell to an introvert partner and a much harder one to an extroverted one who may not get, intuitively, the ask for time alone. Here are some steps to consider:


  • Ask
  • Explain why it is necessary (feel free to use my thirst metaphor)
  • Commit to taking the time
  • Maximize the soul-nurturing quality of that time (meditation can accomplish this; so, too, can creative endeavors)
  • Be fully present during the times when you are with your partner

Seeking solitude is a self-care habit as assuredly as drinking water. We can certainly forget to drink half our body weight in ounces of water each day and survive. Likewise, you can ignore your solitude needs and survive, but thriving may be out of the question. Over time, we will just become weary, disconnected, and life may feel colorless. We may become irritable. And we may take refuge in the low hanging fruit of an ersatz solitude — the television. Mindfulness practice is better.

You can find more about relationships and solitude in the Awakened Introvert: Order your copy now.


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