In Glass Onion, the once famed but now fading model Birdie Jay constantly gets herself in trouble — mostly by simply opening her mouth. Perhaps, her assistant suggests, if you think “sweatshops” are where sweatpants are made, that “jewy” is a word describing cheap people, and that, as a white lady, going to Halloween as Beyoncé is a great idea, you’re better off not tweeting for the rest of your big media campaign.

Still, her billionaire friend Miles stands by her. “A disruptor,” he calls her. “Some people think Birdie is disruptive every time she opens her mouth, just because she is saying what everyone is thinking but no one has the nerve to say.” “It’s true,” Birdie confirms. “I say it like I see it.” But if what got her on the cover of magazines and into the idea of “sweetie pants” — designer sweatpants for every occasion — also gets her cancelled on Oprah, is “disruption at all costs” really the right attitude? What’s more, is Birdie even deliberate in her actions?

“It’s a dangerous thing,” master detective Benoit Blanc tells her, “to mistake speaking without thought for speaking the truth.” Just because your gut tells you something feels right does not make it right. We’ve all been led astray by our intuition at one point or another. Your true opinions are not the ones that first bubble to the surface, and your best ideas are rarely the ones you blurt out halfway through even thinking of them.

Some people, like Birdie, take pride in being “unfiltered,” but if your filter is not something you apply and remove on purpose, there is no distinction between honesty and stupidity. “I’m a truth teller,” Birdie claims. She comforts herself that “some people just can’t handle it.” In reality, Birdie simply has no control over herself and, by extension, no read on which statements will get her an award vs. kicked out of the studio.

Whenever I witness someone blubbering along without reflection, I’m reminded of a Louis C.K. bit from one of his stand-up comedy routines: “You know when you say to a friend of yours ‘You’re being an asshole,’ and they’re like, ‘No, I’m not.’ Well, it’s not up to you! That’s up to everybody else. You don’t get to say no to that.” Similarly, the truth is rarely straightforward and often subjective. What might seem 100% clear and obvious to you may sound shocking, even asinine, to others.

Think before you speak and don’t auto-pardon yourself after. Living unfiltered is only a virtue when it’s done deliberately, and the truth, like water, often must pass many layers of stones before it becomes crystal-clear.

The Person Who Hurt You the Most

“The best way to destroy your enemies,” the saying goes, “is to make them your friends.” Hoping to send some good wishes their way, I wondered this morning: “Who’s the person who hurt me the most?” Was it the childhood bully who, because he was jealous of my good grades, had to get verbal stabs in non-stop? Was it one of the many girls who rejected me?

The first thing I realized was that even the most painful emotional punches made me cringe a lot less in retrospect than the memories of me hurting others. Be it some mentor I offended, a breakup I had to initiate, or the times I let my family down — my own failures make me shudder far more than whatever suffering the world doled out to me.

This led to my next and ultimate, I guess perfectly logical conclusion: The person who hurt me the most is, by far, me. My so-called enemies sure deserve all the forgiveness I can muster, but so do I, and, given how long my laundry list of regrets, perhaps I need it more than they do.

For every time someone was mean to me, there were 100 times I was mean to myself. For every time someone was unwilling to accept my apology, there were 100 times I beat myself up over some shortcoming. And for every time someone struck an emotional blow that left a lasting mark, there were 100 times I twisted the knife in my own wound.

Make no mistake: We all have skeletons in our closets, and the one we’ve buried deepest carries the very alive face we look at every morning in the mirror. Forgive your enemies, sure. Pray for them. Send good wishes into the universe for everyone whose path you’ve ever crossed. But before you do any of that, remember to show yourself compassion. Forgive your past selves, and make them your friends.

If it’s true that we most yearn for forgiveness from the people we hurt the most, in the long run, there is only one person in the world who can give us what we need. Luckily, they’re with us wherever we go and oh so willing to move on, if only we ask them to. “You are your own worst enemy,” another saying goes, but you could just as well be your own best friend — and the only thing it takes to turn one into the other is a smile every morning for the fan in the mirror.

Omotenashi: How the Japanese Remind Us We Deserve to Be Happy Cover

Omotenashi: How the Japanese Remind Us We Deserve to Be Happy

On our last night in Tokyo, we missed the korot stop. It was nearly 8 PM, and we knew this was our last chance. “Dude! We have to turn around!” My friend and I got off at the next stop along the red Marunouchi metro line that connects Shinjuku and Tokyo Station, then hopped right back in to go the other direction.

I can’t recall whether it was Ginza, Kasumigaseki, or Shinjuku-sanchome station, but I still remember exactly what the tiny stall selling little pieces of heaven looked like. It was a 10-foot-long aluminum box with two glass displays, their bottom half straight, the upper half curved — the kind you typically see in bakeries and cake shops. “Thank god!” The single-pull metal shutter was still open.

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Greatness Happens in the Moment

“Most people struggle to be present,” Mark Vancil comments on The Last Dance, a documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ “repeat three-peat.” “People go and sit in ashrams for 20 years in India trying to be present. Do yoga, meditate, trying to get here, now.”

MJ, on the other hand? “Michael’s a mystic. He was never anywhere else.”

If you pay close attention while watching the show, you’ll see it. “Will this be your last game ever? The world wants to know.” “Well, the world is gonna have to wait and see what happens.” Jordan refuses to go to the future to give reporters an answer he doesn’t have yet.

“Can I walk in peace?” “We still have to play the game.” “It’s the moment, man. Y’all get in the moment and stay here.” Time and time again, Jordan has to remind everyone else to not jump ahead or get lost in the past. Yesterday’s victories don’t matter. Tomorrow’s failures haven’t happened. All that counts is today. This is the moment. This is the job. This is the practice, the trip to the stadium, the game.

Can he make the shot? Will he make the shot? The only one who never asked that question was the person taking all the shots.

Don’t let the world bully you out of the moment. Greatness only ever happens here.

Revenge Is A Dish, But…

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and you know why? Not because the delay will make it sweeter, but because by the time you’ll get to taste it, you’ll have lost your appetite entirely.

When Ray finally sees his vengeance on his former partner fulfilled, 25 years, unimaginable pain, and plenty of bad decisions have floated down the river of time — and for what? A chat between two broke and broken men, each rotting away in their own way, one in a literal prison, the other in a metaphorical one.

Like a dart piercing all the lies over the years, Ray’s not-at-all-innocent victim throws a good point: “I’m the guy you can blame for doing exactly what you wanted to do.” It’s true. A quarter century of obsession allowed Ray to do what he does best: Scheme, deceive, and steal. He didn’t have to think about his daughter, his only friend, or the lives of his targets. He didn’t have to try hard, change his approach, or attempt to make an honest living. Pretending that his crimes all served a higher purpose allowed him to blank out every slight hint and every giant warning sign that he was on the wrong path. For Ray, it was just marching, marching, marching.

It’s easy to make up a mission that allows us to feel like crusaders when we’re blinded by emotions. But remember what the crusaders did: They killed, lied, and stole — all in the name of God, all for “a higher purpose.” The ends don’t justify the means just because we’re eager to use them, and the most convenient explanation is rarely the right, let alone a justified one. We don’t have to dish out payback, fight some imaginary dragon, or prove anyone wrong.

The next time you feel a craving for retribution, imagine not eating for 25 years, then getting a meal that could never ever live up to your slow-cooked expectations. “So, was it worth it?” your target will ask. Of course, the real target was you all along — so perhaps revenge is a dish we should best let go cold without ever dipping in our spoon.

The Universal Remedy

There’s very little 24 hours of time can’t fix. When he became Elvis’s promoter, Jerry Weintraub only had 24 hours to raise a million dollars — but it was enough. Most of the time, however, it takes something less drastic than calling hundreds of people and flying to Las Vegas on a hunch.

When you fall down at basketball practice and hurt your legs, 24 hours later, you’ll know more and feel better. When you have the worst hangover of your life, one day in bed and a Big Mac menu later, you’ll be okay to work again. And when you’ve had a terrible setback in your job, a day of downtime and reflection will do wonders.

The only universal remedy is time, and the only way to apply it is to let it pass. It’s called “endurance” because it’s not always fun, but, sooner or later, it does always work — if only for the distance it puts between you and your latest failure.

Take your time. Really take it. Spend it. Deliberately let a full sun-and-moon-cycle pass, and whatever weighs heaviest on your mind right now will feel a lot lighter — if it even remains on your mind at all.

Forced Acceptance

Meditation is like putting yourself in handcuffs. For those 15 minutes, all you can do is sit there, and let the world pass by. Your mind can fight, sure — and it will — but at the end of the day, all inner barking, revolting, and “thinking against the current” will be to no avail.

You probably won’t realize that in your first session. Or your second. Or your third. Sooner or later, however, your exhausted mind will want to give resignation a try — and, for once, it will actually be the right thing to do. No matter who you are, the world would continue spinning without you just the same. It is humbling, empowering, and necessary to have this realization on a regular basis.

There are many ways to practice forced acceptance. You could take a daily walk without your phone, ear plugs, or any other devices. You could stare out the window for ten minutes. Meditation is the most efficient because it’s the most honest. It doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that it’s about doing nothing. It doesn’t try to hide its passivity behind some other activity. If you want to go straight to the source, meditation is your best bet.

Where do you practice forced acceptance? How often do you do it? Do you remember you’re not Superman on a daily basis? Questions worth answering in a world that wants to make you feel as if you control everything, need to do everything, and that whatever goes wrong is your fault.

Learn acceptance. Be at peace. And if it takes the occasional pair of mental handcuffs to get there, perhaps that’s not a fluke but part of the design.

The Kind of Sharing That Matters

When you post a picture of your new car on Instagram, that’s not sharing. That’s bragging. You want a pat on the back for the accomplishment and the hard work it represents. That’s fair, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to be honest about it. You’re not “spreading the joy.” Your post will make some, maybe most, people jealous. And you will get plenty of back-patting, but not all of it will be genuine. That’s life. That’s social media.

Beyond the many ways we can use them to stuff ourselves with hollow feelings, however, there are some that truly deserve the “social” moniker. One of them requires little more than stopping to take a photo or taking a break from grocery shopping to quickly text someone on WhatsApp: Whenever something reminds you of someone you care about, let them know.

If you spot a car you used to salivate over with your third-grade bestie, send him a picture. When you find a chair at IKEA with your cousin’s name, tell her about it. And should you come across a delicacy you tasted on your Japan trip with a friend ten years ago, make sure to remind him how good it tasted. That’s true connection. That’s sharing. That’s spreading the joy.

Every brand, ad, and TikTok video now encourages us “to share” not because we care about the people we share with but in order to make a statement about who we are. In a world where everything feels unique but is actually average, where we all like the same food, clothes, and music, and where we can live just fine, even better, with an identity that’s muted rather than emphasized, that’s not the kind of sharing that matters.

Meanwhile, the moments that truly matter are easily lost in a sea of humdrum, everyday activities. Passing the canned beans isle without reminding your high school friend of your inside joke happens quickly, but regrets often last forever once we have them. “Hey! I saw this, and it made me think of you.” A single line, no effort. It barely feels like sharing, yet it can easily make our day. Don’t forget it — because that’s the kind of sharing that matters.


Every job posting nowadays claims you’ll have “lots of autonomy.” You should be “highly organized” and “self-motivated to get things done,” because there’ll be plenty of decisions for you to make with authority and responsibility.

The reality often looks different. The only responsibility that truly gets passed on is the one the person above you doesn’t want, and your autonomy is frequently limited to how you do exactly what your boss asked you to do.

My dad sits right below the c-suite level in his organization. He still gets told who to fire when. That’s fauxtonomy at its worst. “Why don’t we offer early retirement to the guy who’s been clamoring for it for years? Who picked the person who’s performing well and actually has fun doing it?”

Everyone loves handing out autonomy until they have to live with the consequences of other people’s decisions. That’s why, in big corporations, autonomy only exists on paper. The strings are pulled in the same tiny unit where they’ve always been pulled — it’s just the fallout that spreads.

As a leader, your job is to listen, not point. If you’re not willing to trust the judgement of those you ask to help you, you’re not really entitled to their help at all. A manager with her ear to the ground will always have a better impression of what’s going on in her team than some higher-up 17 levels above in the org-chart, yet all it takes is a little humility for the two to come together: “What do you think? How should we handle this?”

Fauxtonomy is a pandemic, but it still hasn’t reached every corner of the world. Best of all, unlike a real virus, all we have to do to eradicate it is to change our minds. Don’t settle where you’re not trusted, and don’t stop trusting when believing in others gets uncomfortable.

When Bigger Just Means Better

When MrBeast first started on Youtube, he did what plenty of kids his age did: He recorded his screen while playing some Minecraft, battling others in Pokémon, and going for epic shots in Call of Duty. After a few years of doing that with very minor success, he began showing himself on camera, making short films with his friends. His growth sped up, but it was not until they did crazy stunts, like wrapping himself in cellophane and toilet paper or counting to 100,000, that his channel really picked up steam.

Ever since, once question has been driving MrBeast’s ideas for new videos: “How can we make something even bigger?” That’s how we got videos of him giving away $10,000 to strangers, filling his friend’s house with Lego, and, more recently, a full-on replication of Squid Game in real-life.

When his production budget increased so drastically, however, the tone of his videos subtly started shifting. There are still the usual, larger-than-life MrBeast videos his more than 100 million subscribers have become used to, but suddenly, other types of videos have entered the picture. “I cleaned the world’s dirtiest beach,” for example. MrBeast gives $1,000,000 worth of food to people in need, opens a restaurant that pays you to eat there, and cures 1,000 people’s glaucoma, cataracts, and other vision-affecting conditions. What happened?

At some point, Jimmy Donaldson realized: From now on, bigger just means better. If you’ve already reached Netflix-level production value on your Youtube videos, there isn’t much higher you can go by spending more — but you can make content about more important causes. You can tell a different story rather than just a more expensive one.

The allure of “bigger” is that it promises to work. If counting to 10,000 is a hit, counting to 100,000 is almost guaranteed to get you even more fame. Most of us never max out on our “bigger” potential — and so forever stay stuck in a hamster wheel of mundane aspirations. When you look at people at the very top of the “bigger” chain, however — Bill Gates, Meryl Streep, MrBeast — you’ll almost always see them turning to “better.” Better ways to spend and donate their money, better issues to bring awareness to, better stories to share and spread across the world.

The lesson for us is that “better” is an option long before “bigger” runs out. You don’t have to make a million first to start selling a better digital product. You don’t need to retire to make a documentary about a town that’s dear to you. Often, “better” is the better way to go “bigger,” and we’re just scared to take a leap of faith.

For MrBeast, “bigger” first meant putting more of himself into his videos — often literally. Then, he had to up the stakes of what he was doing on camera, and now, the craziness of his next stunt is only limited by his imagination. Thankfully, Jimmy never forgot about “better” along the way. He remembered that “bigger” is only a means to an end, and once he reached that end, he began choosing “better” instead.

The world wants to reward us with more for more, but if we insist on getting more for better, usually, it is still happy to comply. For every next step, ask yourself: Is “bigger” really just bigger? Or does “bigger” actually mean “better?” Act accordingly, and whether it is views, subscribers, readers, fans, money, impact, or glory you seek, the spoils will never be in short supply.