Tony Bernhard, used with permission
Source: Tony Bernhard, used with permission

This month marks my five-year anniversary of writing for Psychology Today online. It’s hard for me to believe, but this is my 184th piece. I thought I’d celebrate by sharing with you my ten personal favorites. Some of them were very well-read. Others not so much.

Well-read or not, these are the pieces that have meant the most to me, starting with the most recent one.

A Day in the Life with Chronic Illness

(January 2016)

Of course this would be one of my favorites: it’s my life, right here in print! And from the dozens of the over 21,000 people who’ve read the piece, I’ve learned that it describes many other people’s lives too.

A Holiday Lesson on Interdependence from Martin Luther King

(December 2015)

I tell a personal anecdote in this piece, but that’s not why it’s a favorite. It includes a quotation from Dr. King that, for 20 years, I read to my law school classes when his birthday rolled around. Now I’m “reading” it to you in written form. The quotation never fails to inspire me to pay more attention to the world around me.

You Can’t Fix Everything

(April 2015)

As a “recovering fixer,” I vow to do better every time I read this piece. That’s why it’s one of my favorites.

My Other Mother: Being Raised by “The Maid”   

(May 2014)

This highly personal piece is about Iola, the woman who helped raise me. Officially, she was “the maid” (a phrase I can only put in quotations). It’s a tale of love, tragedy, and unexpected sacrifice on the part of my birth mother.

Six Common Misconceptions about the Chronically Ill

(December 2013)

This is one of my most popular pieces. It’s a personal favorite because it reminds me why I write: to educate others and to help those with chronic pain and illness feel less isolated and alone. I treasure the comments I’ve received on this piece because so many people have said that reading it made them feel that at least one person understood the obstacles they face every day.

Confessions of a Sick Person

(October 2012)

The reason I love this piece is simple: It’s fun to confess! In fact, it was so much fun that I wrote a follow-up piece containing more confessions, and then used both pieces as the starting point for a chapter in my latest book.

Adoption Diary, Part 3: My Daughter in Her Own Words

(September 2012)

This was the last of a three-part series I posted on the adoption of my daughter, Mara. She wrote this article, not me. I love that it’s the most-read of the three pieces. I doubt you’ll be able to get through her story without tears coming to your eyes.

What is Karma and Why Should It Matter to Us?

(May 2012)

I periodically re-read this piece to remind myself that, according to the Buddha, karma is about our intentions. Whenever my intention is to be kind, compassionate, or generous, I’m planting a behavioral seed that will make it easier for me to be kind, compassionate, and generous in the future. In other words, I’m forming my character. People have told me that this piece freed them from the view that karma is some kind of mysterious and scary external justice system, waiting to pounce if they misbehave.

The Perennial Question: Who Am I?

(March 2012)

I like to shake up my world view, and I think this piece accomplishes that. When I stop tying my happiness to labels, such as “law professor” or “author” or “chronically ill person,” I feel free to let my life unfold as it may.

A Lesson in Loss from Susan Saint James

(April 2011)

This was the fifth piece I wrote for Psychology Today. It’s based on a comment made by Saint James while she was being interviewed after losing her teenage son in an airplane crash. Her words continue to help me handle loss—not just the loss of those I care for, but all of life’s losses, including those associated with chronic pain and illness.

People have written to me about how Saint James’s comment has help them personally. Some have even used her words in speaking to friends when trying to help them through the pain of losing a loved one. I rarely watch TV during the daytime, but I’m grateful I happened to have it on the day she was being interviewed.


I hope you’ve come across some articles here that interest you. I greatly appreciate the many people who faithfully read my work.

© 2016 Toni Bernhard. I’m the author of three books:

How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide (2015)

How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow (2013)

How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers (2010) 

All of my books are available in audio format from Amazon,, and iTunes.

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