Short story: I have a new phone number (405)808-7180


Long story:

So, I recently got a taste of my own medicine.

I have only had one phone number for my whole life. That sort of thing becomes sort of personal, and it is plastered in a million places all over the internet and more. Many of my colleagues keep separate numbers for personal and business use and perhaps I would be wise to consider that.

A couple days ago, my phone got turned off. We have been on a family plan for many years through some extended in-laws. It was hard to pass up unlimited data and nearly free phones for $50/mo for both my wife and I. But this had happened a couple times before. Perhaps I should have heeded the warning signs earlier. This time I decided it was time to gain some independence and get my own lines. I thought it would be easy to keep my own number.

However, when I got to the phone store, I was informed that there was a $2200 outstanding balance. Since I was not the authorized user, I did not have a right to my number anymore, even though I had it before joining this plan. To get my number transferred, the full balance would have to be paid AND I would need permission from the primary user. However, due to drama that is not mine to share, I really had no feasible way to reach this person.

Thinking about how hard it would be to contact all my clients, and all the insurance companies, and every other institution I do business with, plus all the potential lost referrals, I was kind of like a deer in headlights for a little while. I considered paying the balance in the hopes I could then call the primary and get permission. I considered driving across the city to start trying to track down the primary, but it was too late to do anything that night anyway. Surely there had to be some solution to this horrible problem.

And then the kind agent we were working with said the magic word.

“You’re just going to have to ACCEPT this is happening.”

I felt like I was talking to myself in a counseling session. I couldn’t fight this after how many times I have talked to other people about acceptance. But man, acceptance is hard. It just takes time to sink in sometimes.

So, I accepted it and soon thereafter actually felt much less stressed and more liberated.

Personally, I kind of like my new number. It has a nice pattern in my mind.

(405) 808-7180

That’s my new forever number.

Now to spend the next few days contacting everyone.

This message is for people who work too hard.

At some point when I was a kid, I vaguely recall that I was a perfectionist. If I worked on a project for school, I would try to go above and beyond, getting every little detail to the best of my ability. It didn’t seem right to stop when there was still more I knew I could do to improve. Perhaps you can relate to that feeling.

I think at some point I became a procrastinator, largely to prevent this perfectionism. If I only allowed myself two hours to do a project, then I would do the best I could in that two hours and working more on little details was not an option anymore.

Another thing that helped change my perspective on perfection was learning about the law of diminishing returns. This was an economic term that explained the very common phenomenon that the more effort you put into something, the less actual benefit. We humans usually assume that if something is good, more is better, but that is not always the case.

Consider: the first hour you spend studying for a test might get you a 70%, the next hour bumps that up to an 85% and another hour gets you an A at 93%. If you just need an A for your transcript, does putting another 3 hours in to make sure you get a 100% really benefit you? What about if you stay up all night studying and then you fall asleep during the test and fail it?

Here’s another example. The big box store spends money to prevent shoplifting. They install some cameras, hire a guard and maybe put security devices on items. This is called “Loss Prevention.” They could spend even more money to hire more guards, employ extensive technologies and thorough methods, but if they did manage to completely prevent shoplifting, they would almost certainly have spent more money to prevent all the shoplifting than they saved by accomplishing their perfect goal.

I also started to realize that the “perfection” I was chasing was very narrowly focused. If I spend all weekend on a school project, I might see myself as a perfect student, but it would be imperfect of me to neglect my friends and family. If in theory you could be perfect in one area, it would almost always come at severe cost to other areas. But that first amount of effort in an area paid big dividends, and if I could settle for being good enough at something, then I would have time to spare to be good at many things. I started to wonder if perfection in the grand scheme of things was being a good student, a good son, a good friend, etc., and still have time to play and relax so that I actually enjoyed my life.

Consider the verse: “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Tim 6:10 NIV.

I’ve always been struck by that term, “pierced with many griefs.” It’s so true. Money is important, but like I said before, we think that if something is good, more is better. There are many times in my life where I have opportunities to make more money. But I have recognized that the law of diminishing returns applies. If I do all the work on an investment, I might get a 7% return on investment. If I turn the management side over to someone else, then I almost eliminate my stress, and still get a 6% return on investment. How much is my peace of mind worth? Isn’t that part of the reason we chase money, because we think it will make our lives better?

Perhaps you aren’t into investing, but have opportunities to take on a second or third job. There are times where that may be necessary, but if those extra hours increase your income 10% but take up 100% of your free time, when do you plan to enjoy that extra money? Was it worth it? What if you work 12 hours a day to provide a nice home for your family, but they would rather live in a smaller house and actually have you home in the evenings?

Saving, budgeting and working hard are very important, but consider that the law of diminishing returns indicates that the first amount you spend on a task is most productive. Rather than spend 100% of your effort on the future, make sure to put some effort into enjoying today. Treating yourself occasionally and taking it a little easier can make those working decades much more enjoyable. You wouldn’t want to pinch every penny for forty years and have plenty of income to retire on, but not enjoy it because your health is too bad.

These are just intended to be a few more pieces of the puzzle to help with the usual needs for perspective and balance. I hope you find them as beneficial as I have. It’s always nice when five minutes of learning can improve the rest of your life. That’s a pretty good return on investment.

Social media is great for connecting people, sharing ideas and easily expressing opinions. It is woefully inadequate for debating. In fact, I think that debating on social media is largely counterproductive. It may feel good to express your opinions or criticize. It feels good to be on a soap box or to be a champion of a cause. I am certainly guilty of it myself, even when I’m aware of the problem. But I try to remember,

“Shutting up people who disagree with you is not the same as changing their mind.”

Most debating just promotes resentment, defensiveness and for people to crawl away to their corners. In my opinion, that is the main cause of the polarization in our society. What we need is for people to be able to listen. If you want to change someone’s mind, you don’t call them out in public. You take them aside, let them know you care, try to understand their point of view and gently encourage them to consider how they could do things better. This requires 2 things:

Tact and relationship.

Remember, social media is still a relatively new invention and new inventions like this transform society. And it takes a while for society to form rules on how to properly use new technology.

I propose that it is time to form a:

Social Media Code of Conduct

*** If you need to correct, criticize or change someone’s mind because of what they posted, do it over the phone or in person.***


1) if you don’t have a relationship with them to do that, you don’t have a relationship to effectively change their mind, it only promotes resentment in the world.

2) If you are not willing to put in that effort, that is a sign you are not willing to put in the effort to be understanding, tactful or respectful in your internet response either, so your efforts will be ineffective and only promote resentment in the world.

“It is too easy to be hurtful on the internet”

Now, I know many people will promptly argue that there is so much hate and ignorance in the world, they need to fight against it. And they also want to make sure to champion the rights of their friends and speak up for them in order that they know they are not alone.

I am not proposing that we just ignore bad behavior. If you feel you have to speak up, then phrase your replies in terms of speaking to those other people you are fighting for. Tell them that you agree with them and you are with them and what you believe.

But rise above, be the better person and leave out the comments directed at calling out bad behavior. When you feel you are right and feel obligated to try to change someone’s mind, remember that calling someone, or their ideas, ignorant, hateful, wrong, etc. on the internet simply does not work. It builds up walls, resentment and shuts down conversation. Again, if you really want to change someone’s mind, do it privately and lovingly.

And of course, there will always be extremists and close minded people. But your responsibility is not to change them, your responsibility is to stand up for what you believe in, in the right way. The ends do not justify the means.

So, if you agree with this Code of Conduct, please:

1) Adopt this code of conduct for yourself
2) Explain it to others (preferably in person, or you can share)

Thanks, and…

“be excellent to each other” – Bill S. Preston, Esq.

I’m going to admit something today.

I don’t like blogging.

I love talking to people. I love thinking about life, relationships, wisdom, etc. And I love sharing those things.

I even like the idea of having a blog, both to inspire others and maybe one day to provide lessons to my daughter after I’m gone. I have no shortage of lessons. I have a long list of topics and think of more things often that I am eager to express.

I also recognize the need to have an internet presence for marketing purposes, and to let people know I am still actively practicing my counseling. But my frequency of posting has dropped from weekly, to biweekly and now I struggle to post monthly.

Simply put, the idea of sitting down to write seems like drudgery. It is something I want done, but not something I want to do.

And often counseling involves helping people address those sorts of struggles. We want to be better. We often know what we need to do, but we struggle with the actual doing.

I totally get that.

My one sentence definition of adulthood is: Doing things we don’t want for the things we do want.

But here I am writing this blog, so obviously something must have tipped the scales for me today, and I thought I would share what helped in case it might help others.

Most of the time when we struggle with decisions, we are struggling with short term and long term thinking. Sometimes all we have to do to change our decisions is simply go from thinking about our momentary happiness to just our daily happiness.

If I was doing what would make me happy right now, I would be taking a nap.

But I asked myself, what will make me happy at the end of the day. Having this task completed will make me happier at the end of the day than if I had taken a nap. Or, looking at it another way, I decided to make a sacrifice to benefit future me. And I’m sure future Me will be grateful. I’m kind of happy now just because I’m doing this nice thing for myself.

Now, admittedly, I asked myself a similar question this morning when I was going to workout, but it was raining outside. I decided going back to bed for 30 minutes while listening to the rain would be more rewarding than exercising and losing half a pound. And it was so very nice and I firmly stand by my decision.

Anyway, it’s a simple point. Don’t just do what feels good now, or avoids pain now. Start thinking, “what will bring me the most joy overall, or the least pain in the long run,” and see if that doesn’t help tip the scales when you’re struggling to get up and do that thing you know you should.

Future You will thank you.


When I was a teenager, one of my fondest memories was the summer that I had no responsibilities and my best friend practically lived at our house. We’d stay up all night playing video games and sleep all day. There seemed to be no end to the fun.

But on occasion, my friend’s mother would call and tell him that he needed to come home. We would ask what was the reason for the end to our fun and I still remember to this day, she would say, “He needs balance.”

As a teen, I just thought this was a lame excuse to ruin our fun.

But as I have gotten older, I have changed my tune. What I thought was foolishness, was just wisdom I did not understand.

Now I understand that more is not always better. You can have too much of a good thing.

The most obvious example is water.

Not enough water and you will die of thirst.

Too much water and you will die from drowning.

“The wise man avoids all extremes.” 1

I think learning about balance and moderation is a large part of maturity. I imagine I’m probably just preaching to the choir for most adults. But I wanted to point out a phenomenon about passing on wisdom that seems to be lost in most memes and debates.

To find balance and wisdom, you often have to be aware of both extremes. But when people are passing on their wisdom or hard earned life lessons, they are usually just warning you of one extreme. And when people put this in meme form or a post on social media, it is just one part of a complicated puzzle, almost always eliciting arguments and derision because other people are looking at another piece.

Consider some quotes you may or may not have heard to illustrate this.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” 2


“The nail that sticks out gets hammered” 3


“Never, Never, Never Give Up” 4


“You have to know when to quit”


“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. “ 5


“Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. “ 6


“Black Lives Matter”


“Blue Lives Matter”

Often times people find a problem with something and assume the opposite is right, but in most situations the truth is somewhere in the middle. No one is 100% right or 100% wrong. I have learned some very valuable insights from some cruel people, because the source of wisdom does not always determine the quality of wisdom.

As they say, “A broken clock is still right twice a day.”

With modern media’s polarized debates and short attention span, people do not take the time to incorporate the points of both sides. Instead, one of the new favorite past times is to shut people up. People think that finding a flaw in someone’s point, or pointing out something they missed is equivalent to winning an argument. But I say:

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” 7
“It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.” 1

Perhaps even thinking of it as an argument with two opposing sides is problematic. I think we need less debates and more discussions.

“Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood “ 8

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” 9

In my opinion, a good example of balance is a healthy two parent family. Often times you will see one parent being more compassionate while another parent is more authoritarian. Sometimes this can lead to arguments about parenting style, but when two people are able to respect what the other brings to the table, they usually do much better than either would alone. There are times when a child needs to be pushed, have consequences and allowed to fail. But there are also times when a child needs to be rescued and nurtured. Any one person is usually going to err on one side or the other and I have seen the devastating effects of both parenting styles in their extreme.

At the end of the day, figuring things out in life is tricky. There is no one right or wrong answer you can apply across the board. You can’t just take people’s advice at face value.

Sometimes you need to listen to hard truths:

“The wounds of a friend can be trusted” 10

and sometimes you have to be able to rise above what everyone else is telling you:

“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.” 11

You have to sort it out for yourself and find that balance and what applies in any given situation.

“Memes are easy, life is hard.” 12

It is easy to get offended or assume the worst in someone when they make a point, thinking they don’t see the whole picture. For instance, I know that this blog about wisdom may sound arrogant, but I am aware that I fall short and make mistakes all the time. I know that striving for balance is hard. Those truths don’t make balance any less valuable.

The best wisdom understands both sides and the need to incorporate them properly.

One of my favorite quotes is a major part of Alcoholics Anonymous, where people struggle daily with moderation:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. “ 13


“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away and know when to run.“ 14

P.S. I like quotes.

Here is what I could come up with for sources:

1 – Ecclesiates 7:18

2 – American Proverb

3 – Japanese Proverb

4 – Winston Churchill

5 – Proverbs 26:4

6 – Proverbs 26:5

7 – German Proverb

8 – Steven Covey

9 – Epictetus

10 – Proverbs 27:6

Lying in bed sick one morning, with no other distractions, I just listened to my heartbeat for a while.

As I lay there, I pondered the nature of my heart.

It was utterly amazing to me when I seriously considered that my heart keeps beating, day after day, year after year, consistently working without a break.

My entire being depends on it, and it provides the breath of life to every part of my body.

The more I need it, the harder it works.

If I clog it with grease, it doesn’t complain, just works as hard as it can with what its got.

I would immediately die without it.


And then it struck me…

This is why the heart is the symbol for love.



Ok, I’m going to put my head on the chopping block today. Talking about the opposite sex is a pretty dangerous thing to do for any guy who values his peace. In fact, I have already dialed back the original post I made because some people were offended at what I thought were fairly benign observations. However, I think those that are open to this message can transform their relationships, so I’ll take one for the team.

I’m just going to let this article speak for itself. Keep in mind this is not every woman or every marriage, but it does apply to some. This is a transformative story of a wife who had a difficult realization about how she used anger in her marriage. Trust me, this is something that many husbands are desperate for their wives to understand, but are too afraid to share.

Just click the link below.


I Wasn’t Treating My Husband Fairly, And It Wasn’t Fair


One of my favorite stories has an uncertain origin, so I don’t know who to attribute it to or even where I heard it. It has many variations from different cultures, but here is how I heard it:


Once upon a time, there was a man who was given the opportunity to see what Heaven and Hell looked like before he died.

First, he was taken to Hell. He expected to see fire and brimstone, along with people being tortured with pitchforks. He was surprised by what he saw.

He was taken to a giant wooden set of double doors and they opened up into an enormous banquet hall. The hall stretched beyond sight and everyone in Hell was there. All throughout the banquet hall were a series of long rectangular banquet tables and everyone was seated on either of the two long sides at a table. 

All along the tables were giant bowls of soup. Now, I’m not much of a soup fan, but when you smelled this soup you were immediately overwhelmed by the sensation that if you could just have some of that soup you would be happy for eternity.

However, everyone in Hell was lashed to the benches so that they could not get up or reach the soup bowls, which could not be moved. The only way to reach the soup was with the 3 foot long wooden spoons that were lashed to everyone’s arm such that they could not be removed. Consequently, everyone in Hell was desperately trying to get a spoonful of soup, but because they could not get up, undo the spoon or bend their arms in a successful manner, no one could do it.

Throughout the hall, everyone was in agony as they strained their arms and necks and groaned in desperate pain to get the thing they so desired but was just barely out of reach.

The man quickly realized that this was a psychological torture and he could not bear to watch the faces contorted in agony or hear their groans. He asked to be taken away.


And so he was. He was promptly taken to Heaven where he expected to see clouds, streets of gold and people playing harps. But yet again, he was surprised at what he saw.

It was the exact same scenario. Giant wooden double doors opened up to a banquet hall as far as the eye could see. It had the same tables and the same soup that would bring eternal happiness. And yet again, the people were all lashed to the benches and had 3 foot long wooden spoons strapped to their arms.

The circumstances were exactly the same in Heaven as they were in Hell. So what was different?

In Heaven, each person reached their spoon out, got a spoonful and fed the person across from them. And in return, that person fed them back.



I love telling this story, especially when people are surprised at the ending or don’t try to find loopholes in the premise. Often people will say, couldn’t the people in Hell have done the same thing?

Well, of course it is just a fable, but I would imagine if it were true that human nature easily explains the situation. I figure that in Hell, maybe people did try that idea. But then someone spills a spoonful and burns someone, or tries to take two turns, or doesn’t give a fair amount or that they just insist that the other person trusts first before they return the favor. Bitterness, selfishness and distrust would probably be long forgotten reasons why sharing is not even an option after a while. And really, that explanation makes the story all the more relevant.

And I have found the originally intended moral equally accurate. Different people have different circumstances, but trust and taking care of each other is how we make Heaven on earth. On the flip side, people who are always looking out for number one usually create their own personal Hell.

Many people will quickly jump to saying they try to be selfless but others take advantage of them. On one hand it is true that this does not really work if others do not cooperate, so surrounding yourself with the right people is important, and a long lesson in itself. But also, getting angry when others do not return the favor is contractual thinking. That kind of thinking usually leads to resentment and revenge, as opposed to forgiveness and restoration, which are yet again good explanations of how one place becomes Hell and the other becomes Heaven.

“Get wisdom, get understanding;

do not forget my words or turn away from them.

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;

love her, and she will watch over you.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.

Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

Proverbs 4:5-7 NIV


This blog post has been a long time coming. In some ways it is the foundation for everything else I write and do. On almost every post I make, I feel like I need to make a disclaimer, which is this:

I do not always know the sources of what I say. Sometimes it is something I heard decades ago, sometimes it is a basic idea I have expanded upon and sometimes it is all me. But the thing is, I ultimately do not feel any of what I say belongs to me.

Wisdom is wisdom. We do not create it, we only discover it and pass it on, therefore I believe no one can really claim it. 

Sure, you can copyright a quote, but a quote would be of no value if it did not highlight a truth far beyond the author.

And as the scripture above shows, people have been seeking wisdom and passing it on for thousands of years. Wisdom is different than knowledge and intelligence. Wisdom is about how to live life well. Wisdom is proven right in action. I have seen many extremely intelligent people who can accomplish great tasks and understand complex ideas, but struggle to make wise decisions or live well.

Some people would say that wisdom is the integration of intelligence and experience, but I have often seen the simple and the young able to understand a problem better than those who have a lifetime of complicated theories and baggage cluttering their minds.


I have been fascinated with wisdom since childhood when I read about King Solomon who, when granted one wish from God, requested wisdom to serve his people better. Pleased with the heart of the request, God gladly granted it and Solomon additionally received riches, honor and life as a result of his wisdom.

I imagine I may be a bit annoying at times when I have a saying or cliche that has been passed down for ages to apply to most any situation. But I believe those sayings have been handed down for generations because they have proven true. Often wisdom teaches lessons that are contrary to what we would expect or hard for us to accept. Some people insist on learning these lessons for themselves, but there is an enormous wealth of experience from everyone who came before us, and they usually hand it out generously only to find it rejected. I for one figured it was smart to learn from others so that I could stand on their shoulders and add to the collection.

Another key facet of wisdom is the deep understanding and acceptance of how much you do not know. The usual lack of this understanding is one of the main reasons why teenagers can be so infuriating. Children know there is a vast world of things they need to know that they do not. Adults eventually come back to this awareness. Teenagers are in a sweet spot of being exposed to vast amounts of new information, often knowing things that others do not, and mistaking this for being more enlightened than they really are.

Awareness of how much you do not know is very humbling. I would expect any purveyor of wisdom worth their salt to walk a fine line between knowing the value of the wisdom they have accumulated, while being modest about their own accomplishment.

I mentioned earlier that I often spout trite sayings to apply to various situations. Please bear in mind that I am fully aware that every situation is more complicated, real and heartfelt than some of those sayings may imply. Also, if you pay attention, almost every clever piece of wisdom has a counterpoint. 

There are sayings about persistence and sayings about knowing when to quit.

There are sayings about breaking from tradition and reasons to respect it.

There are times to speak out and times to bite your tongue.

…And a time to every purpose under heaven. Turn, turn, turn.

Wisdom is also all about understanding balance and discernment. Because those little tidbits are often one sided, they are excellent for highlighting and simplifying the priorities for decision making, but knowing when they apply and when they don’t is a further role of wisdom.

As you can see, wisdom is complicated. I have been daunted from writing this for a while for many of the reasons above. To write about wisdom is inherently a bit arrogant. To that I say, go ahead and take my words with a grain of salt. If they are valuable it is only because they are true. Wisdom is also a multifaceted and difficult thing to express, so I’m fairly certain I will fail to fully capture all I would want to say on the subject. Oh well, wisdom has recently taught me it is often better to do something that may have flaws than to do nothing at all.

And lastly, I am sure I will not be able to fully convey just how valuable wisdom is, yet I will try.

Above all else, gain wisdom. It will guard your life. Though it may help you gain fame and fortune, it will also teach you those things are not the most important. It will allow you to find happiness and peace, yet give you courage and guidance to give up those things for even greater treasures. If you want a life worth living, my first and simplest advice to you is to seek wisdom.

I saw a meme on Facebook not long ago mocking teenagers for complaining about how hard their life is when they do not realize how hard adults work and how much adults have to put up with. This is not an uncommon sentiment, and honestly, I’ve thought something similar on occasion.

But a fairly insightful teenager recently made a very good point. It is easy for adults to look at what what a teenager has to do and mock them because adults have so much more responsibility. But the difficulty of a situation is not simply how heavy the burden is, but how heavy the burden is based on the strength that you have.

Would it make any sense for an adult to mock a toddler for struggling to carry 50 lb weight? Of course not. We know the adult is stronger and can carry more weight. That 50 lb burden weighs the same for both, but it may be a fourth of the body weight of the adult and double the body weight of the toddler. The challenge is relative to the strength.

Therefore, the insightful teen pointed out, while teenagers may struggle with the responsibilities of school and peer drama and chores, which may be easier than adult responsibilities, have you considered that they do not have all the life experiences, wisdom and skills that the adults possess which make those tasks seem easy? It is common knowledge that teen brains and bodies are developing rapidly at that age, while their emotions are running rampant and difficult to control. There are so many fundamental questions about life that they are still trying to figure out, and this means that they do not have a stable foundation to make sense of the world. Furthermore, did the previous generation have to worry about 24/7 cyber bullying or the threat of school shootings and terrorists?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means trying to make excuses for teenagers to justify not doing things. Doing hard things is crucial to their development and ability to gain those skills to rise to the challenges of adulthood. But, as I have said before, we can seek to understand people, without excusing bad behavior. Looking only at their burden and talking about how it is easy it is compared to yours only serves to puff yourself up and tear them down. But recognizing the true challenge of being a teenager will improve the ability to connect, empathize and encourage them to do those hard things.