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COMMENTARY 876.1: Family Values

by Michael Josephson on April 18, 2014

in Commentaries, Parenting, Family

Post image for COMMENTARY 876.1: Family Values

Our values — the core beliefs that drive behavior — determine our character, our ethics and our potential. Thus, the most important thing we can do for our children is to stimulate them to develop positive values that will help them become wise, happy and good. This is no simple matter. The first step is to achieve greater clarity about we really believe and what we really want our children to believe. Often there is an inconsistency between what we say we value (our stated values) and what we actually value as revealed by our choices (our operative values). We also need to recognize the complexity of our value structures. Our life goals are [click to continue…]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 875.5: Who Am I to Judge? – The Ethics of Moral Judgments

COMMENTARY 875.5: Who Am I to Judge? – The Ethics of Moral Judgments

April 17, 2014 Commentaries

Almost every week someone indignantly attacks my integrity because I offended them with a real or perceived opinion they didn’t like. The underlying assumption is that stating an opinion on any controversial matter violates the sacred duty of neutrality. First, I’m a teacher and a commentator, not a judge or journalist. Although I strive mightily […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 875.4: Appreciating Appreciation

COMMENTARY 875.4: Appreciating Appreciation

April 16, 2014 Commentaries

There’s a song called “Thank God for Dirty Dishes” that makes the point that if you’re lucky to have enough food to make dirty dishes, you should be grateful. So instead of grousing about your property taxes, be thankful you own property. When you have to wait in line at the bank or are stuck […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 875.3: Teaching Our Children to Be Better Than Us

COMMENTARY 875.3: Teaching Our Children to Be Better Than Us

April 15, 2014 Commentaries

Do parents have moral standing to impose standards on their children that they themselves did not follow when they were kids? Is it ever ethical for parents to lie to a child about their youthful experiences? These are important questions because it’s a parent’s duty to teach, enforce, advocate and model good behavior for their […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 875.2: Establishing a Culture of Kindness

COMMENTARY 875.2: Establishing a Culture of Kindness

April 14, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Though intensive media attention on bullying has died down, the problem persists in many forms, and it continues to diminish the lives of tens of thousands of young people every day. According to a recent survey, roughly half of all high school students said that in the past year they were bullied in a manner […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 875.1: The Guy in the Glass

COMMENTARY 875.1: The Guy in the Glass

April 11, 2014 Commentaries

Years ago I came across a poem entitled “The Man in the Glass” by Dale Wimbrow. I looked it up on the Internet and discovered a website maintained by his children that contains the original version written in 1934 and published in The American Magazine as “The Guy in the Glass.” It contains timeless truths […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 874.5: Sweet Adversity

COMMENTARY 874.5: Sweet Adversity

April 10, 2014 Choices

No one wants pain, troubles, or hardship, but it’s inevitable that we’ll have plenty of each. And they won’t come at times of our choosing or in manageable doses. Adversity is never welcome, but it’s not necessarily our enemy. As a blade is sharpened by friction with a harder stone, our character and the quality […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 874.4: What Do You Want to See More of and Less of?

COMMENTARY 874.4: What Do You Want to See More of and Less of?

April 9, 2014 Commentaries

Inspirational author and speaker Stephen Covey once said, “Start with the end in mind.” So whenever a company wants to launch an ethics initiative, we at Josephson Institute use a simple exercise: “Look at your organization today – its managers, line employees, and customers – and list behaviors and attitudes you’d like to see more […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 874.3: Mental Sunshine and Flowers

COMMENTARY 874.3: Mental Sunshine and Flowers

April 8, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Dave had to undergo painful throat surgery. Since he wasn’t a young man and made his living as a professional speaker, the experience was frightening and traumatic. He told me his surgeon was skilled and the hospital workers were competent, but the cold indifference of the parade of nurses and doctors who came in and […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 874.2: Learning and Believing

COMMENTARY 874.2: Learning and Believing

April 7, 2014 Commentaries

One of the marks of our species is our limitless capacity to learn. Sometimes we learn how to do something we’ve never done before. Sometimes we learn facts about the world, about other people, and about ourselves. These sorts of things make us smarter and more skillful. But what’s really important are the things that […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 874.1: Surviving Grief and Tragedy — The Spark Within

COMMENTARY 874.1: Surviving Grief and Tragedy — The Spark Within

April 4, 2014 Commentaries

Here’s the bad news: Virtue isn’t a golden ticket to a pain-free life. Bad things happen to good people as often as they happen to bad people. It seems unfair, but in the natural order of the world, suffering is random. To expect otherwise is to sentence oneself to despondency, disillusionment, bitterness, and anger. Here’s the good […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 873.5:  Do Bad People Think They’re Good?

COMMENTARY 873.5: Do Bad People Think They’re Good?

April 3, 2014 Commentaries

When she was six, my daughter Carissa asked, “Do dumb people think they’re smart?” Answering her own question, she added, “They probably do because they’re dumb.” This made me think: “Do bad people think they’re good?” I wouldn’t be surprised if most do. In fact, I think all of us are ethical in our own eyes. The […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 873.4: Understanding Change: The Elephant and the Rider

COMMENTARY 873.4: Understanding Change: The Elephant and the Rider

April 2, 2014 Commentaries

It took me a long time to realize the limitations of logic. For much of my life, including a 20-year stint as a law professor, I relied on discourse and reasoning to understand and resolve problems. I believed that I should suppress feelings that could result in irrational behavior, and I had little patience for […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 873.3: The Parable of the Carpenter

COMMENTARY 873.3: The Parable of the Carpenter

April 1, 2014 Commentaries

A master carpenter who had worked for the same builder for nearly 50 years announced he was retiring. The builder told him how much he appreciated his work and presented him with a $5,000 bonus. Then he asked if he would build just one more house. He owned a magnificent lot with a spectacular view […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 873.2: Curing Victimitis

COMMENTARY 873.2: Curing Victimitis

March 31, 2014 Choices

Watch your thoughts; they lead to attitudes. Watch your attitudes; they lead to words. Watch your words; they lead to actions. Watch your actions; they lead to habits. Watch your habits; they form your character. Watch your character; it determines your destiny. These words of unknown origin tell us that our silent and often subconscious […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 873.1: Desiderata

COMMENTARY 873.1: Desiderata

March 28, 2014 Commentaries

In 1927, Max Ehrmann gave us timeless advice in a poem called Desiderata (Latin for “things desired”): Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 872.5: Clichés and Milestones

COMMENTARY 872.5: Clichés and Milestones

March 27, 2014 Commentaries

One of the things I hate most about clichés is that whenever I experience milestone experiences, I have to admit they are true. There’s nothing unique or original about my feelings except that they are mine. So, when I witnessed my daughter Samara turn 18, my mind and heart flooded with trite and corny thoughts […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 872.4: Shopping Carts and Rationalizations

COMMENTARY 872.4: Shopping Carts and Rationalizations

March 26, 2014 Choices

When we think about character, we tend to envision really big things, like taking heavy risks, committing bold acts of integrity, being grandly generous, or making tough sacrifices. Such noble choices indicate character, but for the most part, our integrity is revealed in much smaller events, like apologizing when we’re wrong, giving to causes we […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 872.3: Just Keep on Knocking

COMMENTARY 872.3: Just Keep on Knocking

March 25, 2014 Commentaries

In the summer of my junior year in college I took a job as a door-to-door salesman for the Fuller Brush Company. My mother had just lost a long battle with cancer, and I wanted to earn enough money to have a photo of her turned into a painted portrait to give to my dad. […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 872.2: Advice for Parents of Middle Schoolers

COMMENTARY 872.2: Advice for Parents of Middle Schoolers

March 24, 2014 Commentaries

First, remember, with emerging demands for independence, worries about peer acceptance, pressures of school and extracurricular activities, and a continuous search for self-identity, adolescents are on a physical and emotional roller coaster. Like every generation before them (including yours), young teens are often arrogant and over-confident about their knowledge and your ignorance, and deeply insecure […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 872.1: How Happy Are You?

COMMENTARY 872.1: How Happy Are You?

March 21, 2014 Commentaries

On a scale of one to 10 — with 10 being “It’s as good as it gets! I’m even happier than Charlie Sheen thinks he is,” and one being “Life sucks; it can’t get worse” — how happy are you with your life? Researchers say that when asked to grade their lives on a happiness […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 871.5: Delusions of Grandeur

COMMENTARY 871.5: Delusions of Grandeur

March 20, 2014 Choices

Think of the most ethical person you know. Do a lot of people come to mind or only a few? Are you having trouble thinking of anyone? If I asked that question of the people who know you well, how many would name you? Almost all? About half? Just a few? Unless this commentary makes […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 871.4: Respect Means Knowing When to Back Off

COMMENTARY 871.4: Respect Means Knowing When to Back Off

March 19, 2014 Commentaries

I’ve talked before about the ethical obligation to treat others with respect by attentive listening. Today, I want to talk about the flip side of respect: the duty to back off and accept the fact that while others should listen to us, we can’t demand that they agree with us. Such unreasonable demands are especially […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 871.3: The Unexamined Life

COMMENTARY 871.3: The Unexamined Life

March 18, 2014 Commentaries

Today, Socrates is thought of as one of the world’s great philosophers, but to the leaders of Greece he was annoying and dangerous. Claiming that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” he roamed the public places of Athens asking questions that challenged assumptions and beliefs and demanded that people think about social justice and […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 871.2: The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

COMMENTARY 871.2: The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

March 17, 2014 Commentaries

Observing the recent birthday of Dr. Seuss caused me to reflect on some of the profound lessons this modern-day philosopher taught with his exotically imaginative stories. For example, whether I’m looking at my clock, my calendar, or observing how quickly my children change, he captures the surprise and wistful sadness I often feel: “How did […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 871.1: Things Are Just Things

COMMENTARY 871.1: Things Are Just Things

March 14, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Years ago, a listener told me her mom died leaving only a general will and a house full of personal items with sentimental and, in some cases, significant financial value. My listener said tensions were building among her and her two sisters as they approached the problem of allocating their mom’s stuff. Each sister had […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 870.5: Coaching for Character

COMMENTARY 870.5: Coaching for Character

March 13, 2014 Commentaries

I’ve spent lots of time with some of the world’s most successful coaches. I discovered that many of them think about character a lot, especially traits that are important to winning – like self-discipline, perseverance, resiliency, and courage. They pay less attention to virtues like honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, respect, and fairness — aspects of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 870.4: Kids Like to Win; Adults Need to Win

COMMENTARY 870.4: Kids Like to Win; Adults Need to Win

March 12, 2014 Commentaries

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you have to acknowledge the powerful cultural influence that sports have on our culture. The values of millions of participants and spectators are shaped by the values conveyed in sports, including our views of what is permissible and proper in the competitive pursuit of personal goals. Professional sports […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 870.3: Tell Someone They’re Valued

COMMENTARY 870.3: Tell Someone They’re Valued

March 11, 2014 Caring, Compassion

The students at Sandy’s high school were badly shaken by the news that a classmate had killed himself. The suicide note said, “It’s hard to live when nobody cares if you die.” Glen, a teacher, realized this was a teachable moment about the importance of making people feel valued. He asked the class to imagine […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 870.2: Fleas and Revolutionaries

COMMENTARY 870.2: Fleas and Revolutionaries

March 10, 2014 Attitude

Positivity is a powerful change agent. For one thing, people who go through life with the positive perspective that the glass is half full are much happier and more productive than those who see it as half empty. It has nothing to do with how much water is really in the glass. What matters is […]

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