Josh Misner, PhD

Mindful Living in a Distracted World


Forgiveness & Redemption

Everything I Know About Forgiveness, I Learned From My Dog

Allow me to begin this story by emphatically declaring that I am much more of a cat person than a dog person. I’ve always identified with the following quote from Robert De Niro’s character in Meet the Parents:

You see, Greg, when you yell at a dog, his tail will go between his legs and cover his genitals, his ears will go down. A dog is very easy to break, but cats make you work for their affection. They don’t sell out the way dogs do.

I genuinely admire the way I have to earn a cat’s love and affection. In fact, I have a cat at this moment who did not warm up to me for at least a few years, but once I earned her trust slowly and methodically, I became her best friend (until I rub her belly, and then all bets are off). Continue reading “Everything I Know About Forgiveness, I Learned From My Dog”

The Bookmarks to Our Life Stories week, the online world was introduced to a young man named Carter Gentle, a brave little boy with a congenital heart defect who has undergone multiple open-heart surgeries, and when looking at his chest riddled with scars, Carter cried when seeing them out of the fear of being judged by others as hideous or ugly. Carter’s dad, though, acted nobly by sharing this story online, so that his son could hear from the rest of the world how beautiful he is because of the stories his scars tell us about uncommon strength. In less than 24 hours, Carter had over half a million people reassure him that his scars were not only nothing to be ashamed of, but stories of which he should be proud. As of this writing, that number is in the millions.

As Carter’s story spread, others came forward to share their scar stories, as well as how they came to terms with what those scars represented to them. The sharing of this story has given way to a crucial conversation on the definition of beauty as it relates to personal “flaws,” and more importantly, how we, as a society, allow our culture to define what is flawed. These conversations have been ongoing in my family for the last seven years or so, thanks to one event that could be considered any parent’s nightmare. Continue reading “The Bookmarks to Our Life Stories”

A Powerful Lesson in Doing the Right Thing

Note: I ran across this amazing and powerfully written story of father strength, conviction, and the ability to see past blind rage to do the right thing, and I knew I had to share it here…


by Mel Lazarus

“Daddy’s going to be very angry about this,” my mother said. It was August 1938 at a Catskill Mountains boarding house. One hot Friday afternoon, three of us—nine-year-old city boys—got to feeling listless. We’d done all the summer-country stuff, caught all the frogs, picked the blueberries and shivered in enough icy river water. What we needed on this unbearably boring afternoon was some action. Continue reading “A Powerful Lesson in Doing the Right Thing”

The Mighty Fork: More Powerful Than Sword or Pen


The year was 1986.  Top Gun and Ferris Bueller dominated the silver screen, while Whitney Houston and The Beastie Boys ruled the airwaves.  Walking into my 6th-grade classroom on the first day of school, I was a punk.  Being only my second year in public school after transitioning away from a strange combination of home school and private school, my rebellious spirit had blossomed into full-fledged obnoxiousness.  I had a chip on my shoulder, the last thing a four-and-a-half-foot boy should be packing around, but my mouth overflowed with biting sarcasm.  Not a day went by when I wasn’t in trouble with my father and on the receiving end of a two-by-four swung at my backside like a designated hitter warming up for the Yankees. Continue reading “The Mighty Fork: More Powerful Than Sword or Pen”

Write Your Own Obituary

Deep in thoughtThe topic of death terrifies most of us. Facing our own mortality is neither a pleasant thought, nor is it one that most of us would choose to entertain on a daily basis. Even as I type the word “death,” I am suddenly reminded of the absolute truth that all of us will die, including myself and all of those whom I love — or not.

With this week’s passing of Westboro’s infamous Fred Phelps, I am reminded once again that death comes for us all. It matters not how we live our lives, for death is an immutable event and one of life’s few universal commonalities, though the chosen trajectories of each life may dictate the timing of our day of ultimate atonement. Continue reading “Write Your Own Obituary”

Coming Back Around: Catching Up With the Ticket Agent at the Delta Counter

When I originally wrote the article, “To the Ticket Agent at the Delta Counter,” I was not prepared for such an overwhelming public response. In fact, I only wrote the article because my wife suggested I do so as a lesson in seeking forgiveness and being a good example to my children. 

I will admit freely that, while writing the article, I had the same response as many have stated they had while reading it: I cried. For once, however, I didn’t cry solely because I tend to be overly sensitive. I cried because, as I wrote the story, I realized the importance of what I was writing. This was not just a letter to a man whom I would probably never meet again. It was not just a letter that might survive me and provide evidence to my children and future grandchildren that, once upon a time, there lived a dad who tried to do the right thing when all of his instincts told him to just drop it and move on with his lousy day.  Continue reading “Coming Back Around: Catching Up With the Ticket Agent at the Delta Counter”

To the Ticket Agent at the Delta Counter

In Chicago, we marveled at the snowfall on the tarmac. Looking out the window, I joked to my teenage daughter, “Who’s going to shovel all that snow off the wings before we take off?” A little part of me inside grew worried by the minute, because I knew that the harder the snow fell, the better the chances were for a delay.

Sure enough, our delay came. I refused to let it bother me, as I was intentionally trying to demonstrate patience to both my daughter and six year-old son accompanying me on our trip back home. This was a remarkably hard task, considering that, in the last three days, I acquired a cumulative four hours of sleep. Regardless, I kept cool with an ounce of pure determination, mixed with a dash of stubbornness.

I ended up sleeping through most of the pre-flight delay, as did my children, but it wasn’t until about 30 minutes before landing in Salt Lake City that panic set in. The flight attendant announced that, because of the delay, we would arrive at 11:00. Looking at the boarding pass for my connecting flight, I realized it was scheduled to take off at 11:02.

Two minutes. Continue reading “To the Ticket Agent at the Delta Counter”

The Sea Urchin Inside Me

Never doubt that words can have a transformative effect.  At times, they transcend the intangible world of abstraction and become living, breathing entities.

Recently, my father showered me with words, most of which fluttered about like harmless New Year’s Day parade confetti searching for a place to land, but there were some that landed in my soul.  Those ones, strangely enough, morphed into a sea urchin.  Even now, as I type this, I feel its thorny spines remind me of the pain his words inflict with each breath I take, as they push back against my straining chest cavity. 

Few relationships in life carry so much transformative power.  Continue reading “The Sea Urchin Inside Me”

A Lesson in the Importance of Failure

Thomas Edison once said: “I haven’t failed.  I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” 

I’m sure I could go on from here to recite the virtues of one famous sage after another, all of whom tried to convince people like you and I that failure is something not to be afraid of because it is inevitable, but let’s face it.  

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