The New Better Off

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December 7, 2017

Courtney Martin delves into America’s dysfunctional relationship with sex, money, and power — and calls for a rethinking of sex education, to reflect the actual complexity and broad range of how human sexuality gets expressed and must be honored.

Ana Barrios, 30, stands at her living room in Barquisimeto, Lara state, Venezuela on October 23, 2017.
BY
November 30, 2017

Tools for a more honest perspective on where we stand on the socioeconomic spectrum — and on rewriting the story we tell ourselves about how we got where we are, and what we can do for those less fortunate.

BY
November 23, 2017

What if we trusted what our bodies tell us about our experiences? On the frustrating gap between our emotional intuition, and the reality that we perceive.

BY
November 16, 2017

In doing good community work, Courtney observes, our focus on ingenuity, success, and failure is sometimes misplaced. Instead, she looks to her mother and the film festival she founded for guidance — on providing for our communities with humility and unfussy boldness.

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November 9, 2017

There’s wisdom on the well-worn phrase “Think global, act local” — but does it come with a spiritual cost? On the heartbreaking tension between local loyalty and the greater good.

BY
October 26, 2017

The fruit of working for racial justice lies in the discomfort and the mess — but only if we acknowledge the lessons those tensions have to teach us. On negotiating the tricky path of making change with authenticity and constant self-reflection.

BY
October 19, 2017

#MeToo testimonies are flooding our social media feeds. And for men, realizing complicity can be uncomfortable. Our columnist sees this collective discomfort as a spiritual challenge — one that men must meet earnestly, first in themselves, and then in each other.

BY
October 12, 2017

From college dorms to cohousing communities, living with other people can be chaotic and messy. Our columnist considers that these tensions may actually be healthy and essential to building resilient community.

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October 3, 2017

President Trump called the mass shooting in Las Vegas “an act of pure evil.” Courtney questions why we use the word “evil” to explain such violence. And, she argues, why we should stop making that moral bargain.

BY
September 28, 2017

At a certain point, we come to the realization that our mothers have interior lives entirely separate from us. On the conceptual challenge of seeing our mothers as whole human beings.

An inmate sits in his cell at San Quentin State Prison's death row on August 15, 2016 in San Quentin, California.
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September 21, 2017

An unexpected letter landed on our columnist’s doorstep the other day. It contains a surprising lesson on the meaning of community — and an opportunity to open up to a fellow flawed and striving human being.

Demonstrators participate in a march and rally against white supremacy August 16, 2017 in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
BY
September 7, 2017

White supremacy is newly palpable in unsettling, violent ways. But what if our public conversation about race can encourage a new, redeemable, and joyful whiteness to come to the fore?

People gather around the communal dining table.
BY
August 10, 2017

We need to get wiser about efficiency — about when it’s a good thing, and when it saps us of the slow and messy connections that help us learn, grow, and thrive.

BY
August 3, 2017

In her cohousing community in Oakland, our columnist is experiencing something all-too-rare: deep friendships across generations. What if we turned more actively to the wisdom — and plain old good company — of our neighbors, older and younger?

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July 27, 2017

Our columnist gets honest about missing true solitude as a mother of young girls, and reflects on how crucial it is for women to carve out space to nurture no one but themselves.

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July 20, 2017

After reading Hanya Yanagihara’s novel “A Little Life,” our columnist grapples with the reality of suffering that doesn’t make us stronger.

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July 13, 2017

Can being lost be productive? Our columnist on lingering in the mystery of our purpose — and surrendering to the paths that choose us.

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July 6, 2017

Shame and defensiveness about racism are not the path to change. Our columnist extends a challenge to white progressives, and to herself: to face the reality of deeply embedded racism directly, and to resolve to change the prejudices that remain.

Intense rehearsals kept students focused while performing under the direction of Alonzo King LINES Ballet instructors.
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June 28, 2017

Do we second-guess ourselves to the point of poisoning the trust in our own abilities?

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June 22, 2017

Might our obsession with every tweet and news bite be too much? The difference between misguided fixation and engaged awareness — and how to redirect our attention to what really matters.

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June 15, 2017

The personal growth that comes from activities we do for joy, rather than status or reward — whether it’s painting murals or sprucing up cars, pick-up basketball or beekeeping.

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June 8, 2017

In the shadow of tremendous loss, a message about the gifts we are to each other, the raw truth of who we are, and what really matters.

BY
June 1, 2017

Sometimes we need to trick our hearts to make great art — and do the things that most scare us.

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May 25, 2017

A reflection on the emotional drain of civil conversation, and how we can reframe our thinking to see the best in each other — even those we deeply disagree with.

BY
May 12, 2017

Parenting is a joy and a gift — but we should also give parents space to acknowledge the lost freedoms of youth that they miss. Courtney looks wistfully back to what life was like before her daughters, alongside the huge love and gratitude she feels for motherhood.

BY
May 5, 2017

Can we learn to be tender even if we can’t fix each other’s pain? How would our world be different if men had permission to be vulnerable in public?

BY
April 14, 2017

Creating a false division between life and work has its own pitfalls.

A CNN employee runs after a Supreme Court ruling was made on race-based college admissions on June 24, 2013 in Washington DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
BY
April 7, 2017

College rejection and acceptance letters are in the post this time of year. Our columnist drops truth on how rejection can teach us to find value in ourselves, and not in the affirmation of the decision-making process of an admissions department.

BY
March 31, 2017

What if we learned to trust in the resilience of our relationships, and recognized the occasional necessity of butting heads with the ones we love?

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March 24, 2017

The elemental closeness of a mother to her children, and to her own body.

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March 17, 2017

Passing the baton. Gathering with others. Taking the long view. Lessons on persisting and persevering, even when we feel exhausted by it all.

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March 10, 2017

Courtney Martin on the questions we learned to be afraid to ask, and how our quest for the answers shapes our lives moving forward.

A child with microcephaly receives aquatic physiotherapy treatment with a doctor in Recife, Brazil.
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March 3, 2017

It can feel painful to reflect on our mortality — especially the mortality of our loved ones. But maybe embracing the reality of death can help us to fear it less, and appreciate the wonder of life all the more.

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February 24, 2017

Courtney offers up a fear- and judgment-free space, and draws forth the perspectives of women who don’t have kids, by choice or otherwise.

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February 17, 2017

Whether to have children is one of the most life-defining decisions we will make. And there is joy and meaning to be found on either path — as well as endless challenges and frustration. Courtney Martin on why the best place to turn for guidance is inward.

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February 10, 2017

Anger can be a powerful motivator. But we must also remember to build something bolder on the foundation of expansive love.

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February 3, 2017

Are we unconsciously selective about the causes we mobilize for? Courtney Martin asks the uncomfortable question: when do we choose to show up, and for whom?

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January 27, 2017

Courtney shares the practical insight of a wise elder — on the tumultuous history we’ve lived through, and the work we must do to shape our future differently.

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November 4, 2016

Real love for our nation calls us to look at ourselves, as citizens, whole. A long view on the future of a beloved and broken America, and our potential to shape it moving forward.

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October 28, 2016

If you could speak to a passed friend or family member, what would you say? An exploration of the healing that can happen when we stay in relationship with the ones we love, even beyond the end of life

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October 14, 2016

Like all of us, Courtney Martin wants the best for her family, and rightly so. But from education to strollers, the best is often only accessible to a certain group. She reimagines responsible parenting as embodied care for one’s own, as well as for the families of strangers.

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October 7, 2016

Courtney Martin on C. Nicole Mason’s new memoir and turning toward what’s uncomfortable to witness, and then acting on what we feel.