How to hope

Pessimism comes naturally to me. Choosing between optimism and pessimism is like asking whether I would rather be disappointed or pleasantly surprised; it just sounds safer to choose the latter. But over time, pessimism takes its toll on my mood and health, and I’ve been advised many times to be more hopeful. Until recently, I’ve had … More How to hope

Narratives Add

This year at Carleton I’ve gotten to teach one of my favorite parts of multivariable calculus, the multivariable chain rule. Despite its scary-sounding name, the multivariable chain rule seems to capture a fundamental principle about how the world works, a principle I call “narratives add.” I’ll walk you through how the multivariable chain rule works … More Narratives Add

Don’t hold back

I often get frustrated by things I feel like I should be able to do, but don’t. For example, I should be able to get myself out of bed in the morning without agonizing over whether to reset the alarm for later. Every night I think to myself, “Tomorrow I will just stand up and … More Don’t hold back

Soak the nut

Growing up in my family, my sister and I took turns with the chore of washing dishes every evening. This was not a job I liked, and there were many ways I tried to get out of it: Before dinner, I would do some other extra chore, so that when the calendar was checked to … More Soak the nut