BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

Hello! Make yourself at home.

Please keep your pants on, though.

I’m Brent. I’m a writer for the Huffington Post, mindbodygreen, SUCCESS, Good Men Project and others, as well as the author of the weekly column, “Advice for the Modern Man.”

This website is my spot to explore human nature, inspire personal growth (for you and me, hopefully) and argue vehemently for worthwhile causes, like the sanctity of sports superstitions.

And so you know where I’m coming from…

“It’s not a lie if YOU believe it.”
–George Costanza

I’ve always been a quotes guy. And that quote above, from one of this generation’s wisest sages, is among my favorites.

On the surface, it’s a funny line from a funny TV show, a mindset for tricking your girlfriend into believing you don’t watch Melrose Place. But if you dig past the laughs and clever wordplay, you’ll discover it reveals insight into the human condition.

*****

I started college as a psychology major. But one semester of biopsychology scared me (straight) into my counselor’s office, searching for a new path of study. Journalism, it would be.

Still, human behavior never stopped fascinating me. The more I evaluate it, and the more I examine myself and those around me, the more I come back to that Costanza quote.

While there are undeniable laws of the universe, from gravity and terminal velocity to the fact that chocolate — not jelly — is peanut butter’s true soul mate, most of what goes on in the world is up for individual interpretation. There is no single truth.

The content of our experiences matters less than how we interpret them; it’s that perception that defines our reality.

But what shapes those interpretations? Why do we feel the way we feel? What drives our thoughts and actions? And how can we make sense of those emotions, beliefs and passions to better make sense of each other and ourselves?

These are the answers I’m interested in, so those are the questions we explore here. Every week, I post articles on everything from life and love to social etiquettes and Seinfeldian dilemmas.

You’ll laugh (hopefully), cry (occasionally) and think (intently). And to quote another spiritual guru, the great Jim Valvano, that’s a heck of a day.

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Get to know me…

Hometown: Houston, TX

Current city: Houston, TX

Relationship status: Married

Siblings: Older brother. Who’s a rabbi.

Favorite TV show: Seinfeld

Favorite Seinfeld monologue: Kramer recounting his Batman-like effort to save his girlfriend’s pinky toe. “People kept ringing the bell!”

Steak temperature preference: Medium-rare

Most-watched childhood movie(s): Trading Places, followed by Revenge of the Nerds

Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption holds the slightest of edges over A Few Good Men. While I’ll flip to A Few Good Men whenever I see it on the guide, I’ll only watch Shawshank all the way through.

Movie quote to live by: “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” –Red, Shawshank Redemption. Obvious, but I don’t care.

Kitchen competency: Cooking skills? None. Baking skills? I can make my grandmother’s brownies. They’re made from scratch, and they’re spectacular — but it’s all because of the recipe. I’m a good cleaner, though.

Least favorite word(s): Too many to list, but off the top of my head…

For its meaning? Realistic.

For the way it sounds? Waft.

For its meaning and the way it sounds? Urethra. All anatomy and pregnancy-related vocabulary makes me cringe.

Best sports memory: It’s a tie — Texas 41, USC 38 in the 2006 National Championship game; the Houston Rockets over the New York Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals to claim the city’s first major title — five days after O.J.’s Bronco chase.

Worst sports memory: Also a tie — Michael Crabtree’s game-winning catch in Lubbock to end the Longhorns’ perfect 2008 season; the Kansas City Chiefs knocking the Houston Oilers out of the 1993 playoffs.

You’d think I’d be haunted by the Oilers blowing a 32-point lead to the Buffalo Bills the year before (and I am), but that loss to K.C. was devastating. Houston had started the year 1-4, won their final 11 games (as their coordinators fought on the sideline!) and looked poised to make a Super Bowl run. Then Joe Montana and Marcus Allen came into the Astrodome and broke the city’s heart. I almost broke our TV with a 7-iron.

Smartest monthly purchase: Dollar Shave Club blades

Favorite candy: Reese’s peanut butter cups. Was there any doubt?

Favorite brand of peanut butter: Peter Pan. My wife prefers Skippy. Neither of us will budge, so as she puts it, we will forever be a “Two Peanut Butter Household.”

Preferred peanut butter consistency: Creamy. Though I’m not turning down crunchy.

First car: Third-generation Toyota Corolla hatchback (my aunt -> my brother -> me) with a manual transmission. I loved that thing.

Most embarrassing car: Also a family heirloom — a 1987 Buick Century, passed down to me from my great-grandmother. It was a classic great-grandmother ride, with a pull-down gear shift in the steering wheel, seating for six (three in the front seat) and all of 12,000 miles on it, despite the fact that I got it when it was over seven years old. It was free, though, so for that, I’m grateful.

Biggest pet peeve: People who, for no legitimate reason, drive under the speed limit. And I am not a fast, aggressive driver. I just believe in safety, consideration for my fellow motorists and not leaving any legal horsepower in the engine. GOOD LORD, YOU’RE NOT IN A SCHOOL ZONE…GO!!!

Favorite dessert from a box: Duncan Hines yellow cake with chocolate icing. It HAS to be Duncan Hines mix.

I’m ashamed to admit this, but…: There’s been a time or two when I’ve been on an elevator, and instead of scrambling for the “Open Doors” button, I look down to pretend as if I don’t see the person walking toward me.

Least desired cause of death: Getting mauled by any member of the animal kingdom. I will not get in the ocean for fear of being eaten by a shark. That’s their world.

I’m irrationally afraid of: Being eaten by a shark.

I’m also irrationally afraid of: Forgetting to wear a belt.

If I were on Death Row, my last meal would be: Filet mignon, twice-baked potatoes and mac and cheese topped with bacon with King’s Hawaiian original sweet rolls. Actually, just put bacon on everything.

Then put the previous sentence on my tombstone.