is a columnist for On Being. Her column appears every Friday.
Her newest book, The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream, explores how people are redefining the American dream (think more fulfillment, community, and fun, less debt, status, and stuff). Courtney is the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network and a strategist for the TED Prize. She is also co-founder and partner at Valenti Martin Media and FRESH Speakers Bureau, and editor emeritus at Feministing.com.
We’re confronted with choices of wanting to do what’s best for our children and our communities. But sometimes they come into conflict with each other. What do we do then? Courtney Martin on the intersections of public and personal life as she makes school choices for her daughter.
The digital sphere is a frontier where we assert our identities, and, in times of trauma, express our grief. With an appeal to the humanity behind this instinct, Courtney Martin questions how our empathy might become more than performance.
Being a published writer, especially of books, is a celebrated marker of accomplishment in our culture. But is it the only way to leave our mark? Courtney Martin with some helpful advice for the struggling writer, or for uncovering a better channel for our creative drive.
Paul Kalanithi’s latest book spurs a pregnant mother to recognize the myth of meaning-making. Our columnist on reckoning with ambiguous endings, and the spectrum of imperfection on which we must all live and thrive.
A mentor-mentee relationship, like any good one, requires commitment, openness, and honesty. Courtney Martin gives counsel on building relationships of mutual joy and learning with those in our lives whom we admire.
The big stage of TED can provide a platform for dreaming big, talking big, and a big ego. As our columnist prepares to present at TED2016, she looks to Pema Chödrön and the bigness of her own ideas to make a difference through the massive platform.
Cross-generational relationships may be one of our greatest untapped resources today. But, people in their “third act” of living are creating new encounters and meaningful differences among youth and our communities.
What happens when our sense of identity doesn’t line up with how others see us? Our columnist reflects on the complicated work of asserting our identity, which often means wearing the parts we’d like to shed with pride.
The uproar over the Academy Awards failure to nominate any actors of color this year is surfacing questions of the value of “diversity.” But, as our columnist points out, in trying to adjust our aperture of belonging, we must describe the fullness of one’s identity.
The most romantic relationships just may be our platonic friendships. But, as we age, it gets more difficult to establish new friendships with those of the same sex. Our columnist celebrates the inimitable joy of platonic courtship and female attachment.
For a brief, unexpected moment this past Tuesday, politics let down its guard. And so did much of America. President Obama’s display of a emotion opens up our columnist to her own humanity and faith in politics… if only for a fleeting moment.
There is no norm when it comes to the prototypical family unit. And, family as we all know is at once our breaking point and our healing refuge. With the holiday season behind us, Courtney Martin asks us to embrace the family we have and resist the idealized version that never existed.
In periods of fear, the catalysts of panic can sometimes be ourselves. Courtney Martin on the importance of mitigating our own fight-or-flight response in order to retain our compassion and humanity toward one another.
Genuine gratitude isn’t necessarily about happiness or a soft, warm glow. It’s messy and gritty and physical. From appreciating the glowing moon to marveling at the strange miracle of the human body, a celebration of thankfulness.
To turn down an opportunity seems counterintuitive. But how can we transform an excess of asks into opportunities for other people to shine? A column on living the less-harried life that “keeps us weighted down with self-importance.”
In the absence of a religious tradition, is there a fundamental need for prayer? Courtney Martin on finding comfort in praying to her late, burly grandfather rather than a god to whom she couldn’t relate.
It’s easy to mentally sanitize and romanticize the creative process, but the real work is done in the clutter and the mess of daily living. An enconium on imperfection, self-doubt, and the importance of pushing through.
We often think of “genius” as a belonging to individuals, not as something nurtured by community. Courtney Martin challenges this idea, thinking back on the writers group that continues to inspire her work today.
The once thick, black line between personal and professional connections appears to be fading. Its replacement is a new kind of network rooted in our relatedness and built on the generosity authentic friendships.
What if we stopped focusing on scale so much, stopped equating size with success? Courtney Martin looks to a new better off where we invest in people and businesses within walking distance for a more stable economy and community.
Studies show that increasingly fewer people are friends with our colleagues at work. Longing for more authentic work lives, a new wave of workers are shedding their corporate personas, turning to freelance work, and curating their own working communities in refreshing new ways.
Success so often is identified by how children transcend their parents’ class and collar. Rather than continuing this cultural narrative, could the future of work in America be more than just pulling up our bootstraps and climbing the ladder?
The frenetic pace of life can be overwhelming, making ritual even more necessary. But it doesn’t have to be religious, or even spiritual in nature. Daily tasks can ground and center us, clearing our minds and helping us focus on the profundity in the seemingly mundane of this world.
Does destiny and fate truly exist? An age-old question, to be sure. Courtney Martin ponders that question and traces how each of our paths may be shaped by willful action and serendipitous encounters along the way.
In an age of iPhone and Instagram ubiquity, we capture and curate in ways unimaginable only a few decades ago. And this connects us in unexpected ways. But, it also can have a cost, one that pulls us out of the moment.
Rituals provide structure for the full spectrum of our emotional lives – but for those who don’t identify with an organized religion, how are rituals developed? Courtney Martin ponders the “muddy, sacred” experience of creating rituals.
We acquire and we accumulate. But why? What is the story we’re trying to tell through the possessions we own. Our columnist Courtney Martin considers the multiple philosophies of ownership — and points toward that which is truly valuable.
In a culture of accumulation and hoarding, many are experiencing a growing exasperation with owning things that, as it turns out, aren’t necessary. Could the “sharing economy” help restore spiritual calm?
Women and men so often beat themselves up when it comes to work/life balance. But another story is playing itself out, one about the unacknowledged gifts that help clarify the meaningful choices of being a person, and a parent.
In times of trauma, modern-day technology connects us instantly. But could it be that genetic memory metabolizes much more slowly? Courtney Martin juxtaposes modern day urgency with a long view of legacy.
An inspirational profile of one of those modern-day heroes, SAS, a doctor whose key insights turned the tide of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone — an exemplar of quiet commitment and unending courage who saved thousands of lives by bridging worlds.
How can we encourage our children (and ourselves) to work hard at mastering skills that evade us? Courtney Martin on delaying judgment, giving time to develop grit and resilience, and flailing at those things we’re not naturally good at.
More than 25 percent of us may be jeopardizing the “good life” by blindly pursuing more to keep up with the Joneses? Courtney Martin on operating on income autopilot and re-interpreting our financial wealth.
Becoming a mother can be a startling experience — a belonging to a communion of motherhood and the stark reality that one’s identity will never be the same again. For this upcoming Mother’s Day, Courtney Martin contemplates the fragility, fierceness, and myopia of motherhood and the ineffable beauty of being a mother.
To bear witness means to be present. Beyond the truncated arc of our broken news cycles and the busyness of our lives, Courtney Martin suggests that we root ourselves in a deeper commitment in our own humanity — and of others — and continue to stand up against injustice.
Forgiving yourself for your stupid mistakes can be really difficult. By doing so, though, Courtney Martin argues that you will not only honor those who love you deeply and you will stop beating yourself up in the process.