COMMENTARY: The Beginning of Positive Thinking

I am a strong believer in the power of positive thinking, which is the title of a best-selling book published in 1952 by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, a controversial preacher and pastor who popularized the idea that if you can change your attitude, you can change your life. He urged people to consciously train themselves to be optimistic and enthusiastic, …

Perseverance - yellow flower sunlight

COMMENTARY: Can Prolonging Life Be a Mistake? Who Are You to Judge?

Revised 8/8/15 I once heard a story about an emergency medical technician I’ll call Jake who was summoned to help an unconscious woman. When he arrived, she had no pulse. From her color and dilated eyes, he could tell she’d suffered serious brain damage. Still, he did his job exceptionally well, trying over and over to restart her heart. She …

COMMENTARY: Enough Is Enough

What does it take to make you happy? How much do you have to have to be grateful? To the barefoot man, happiness is a pair of old shoes. To the man with old shoes, it’s a pair of new shoes. To the man with new shoes, it’s more stylish shoes. And, of course, the fellow with no feet would …

COMMENTARY: The Road to Significance

The most traditional way to measure the quality of one’s life is to evaluate success by listing accolades, achievements, and acquisitions. After all, in its simplest terms, success is getting what we want and most people want wealth and status. Yet, as much pleasure as these attributes can bring, the rich, powerful, and famous usually discover that true happiness will …

COMMENTARY: Is Happiness Around the Corner?

For lots of people, happiness is just around the corner. They just need to get their degree, a particular job, a promotion, or a raise. Maybe they’re waiting to get married or have a child. Perhaps they will be happy when they retire. Alfred D’ Souza said, “For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to …

COMMENTARY: A Person of Character

Let’s face it, it’s not easy to become a person of character. It takes a good heart, but it also requires wisdom to know right from wrong and the discipline to do right even when it’s costly, inconvenient or difficult. Becoming a person of character is a lifelong quest to be better. A person of character values honesty and integrity …

COMMENTARY: Clichés and Milestones

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 and emotions: “Where did the …

COMMENTARY 987.4: Keep Your Fork

When a pessimist is told there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, he’s likely to assume it’s an onrushing train. According to journalist Sydney Harris, “A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he’s prematurely disappointed in the future.” Pessimism and cynicism are fashionable these days, but it’s the people who see and …

COMMENTARY 987.3: Appreciating a Parent’s Love

While window-shopping in New York City, I saw an old gold watch that reminded me of one my father gave me when I graduated from college. It had been engraved with the simple inscription “Love, Dad.” But it was stolen during a burglary years ago, and I hadn’t thought much of it or the inscription since. I always knew my …

Memorial Day Thank You

Thank you for your dedication, your duty, your unwavering loyalty and most importantly your unbelievable sacrifice. Americans have the freedom to be Americans because of you. There are many ways to serve. None is more significant or worthy of appreciation than sacrificing personal comforts and gain to serve in the military. Remember, we have this long weekend not simply to …

COMMENTARY 980.5: Blessing or Curse?

A man and his companion lost their way in a forest. The companion despaired, but the man said maybe some good would come of it. They came upon a stranger who needed the man’s help. The stranger turned out to be a prince who gave the man a beautiful horse. His neighbors praised his good luck and said, “How blessed …

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COMMENTARY 979.5: Appreciating Appreciation

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 in traffic, just be grateful …

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COMMENTARY 976.3: The Saga of the Lost Wallet

I suspect it’s an indication of low expectations that I was so delightfully surprised when I found a note on my door Saturday afternoon from a person who said they found my wallet a few hours earlier. Apparently, after pulling out my credit card to get gas, I put my wallet on the top of the car for a moment …

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COMMENTARY 973.3: Gifts From the Heart Are Gifts of the Heart

According to legend, a young man roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal-clear water. The water was so sweet he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher. After a four-day journey, he presented the water to the old man, who took a deep drink, smiled …

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COMMENTARY 971.3: FINDING A HEALTHY BALANCE: To live and enjoy a good life, find a healthy balance between wanting more and appreciating enough. Realize that what you have is worthy of gratitude and appreciation, even as you strive for more.

It’s both a strength and weakness of human nature that we’re never satisfied for long. Whatever we have, wherever we are, most of us want more and better. When focused on money or power, our insatiability can turn into happiness-crushing greed, avarice, and obsessive ambition. But in many other areas of our life, our desire for more and better can …

Happiness - always under construction

COMMENTARY 968.3: So, What Makes Us Happy?

There is an ever-growing body of knowledge about the nature and causes of happiness. For one thing, it’s clear that happiness is a feeling, not a circumstance. Happiness is more than just fun or pleasure. It’s a more durable sense of well being. Our happiness depends not on what happens to us, but what happens in us. In other words, …

COMMENTARY 967.2: What I Believe

Here’s a portion of my personal list of beliefs that you may want to pass on: I believe I’m a work-in-progress, and there will always be a gap between who I am and who I want to be. I believe every day brings opportunities to learn and do something meaningful. I believe the true test of my character is whether …

COMMENTARY 966.5: Making Resolutions of Principle

The tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions reflects one the very best qualities of human nature – the ability to reflect on and assess our lives in terms of the goals we set for ourselves and the principles we believe in. It’s still not too late to formulate a self-improvement plan to make our outer lives and inner selves better …

COMMENTARY 965.2: Don’t Brag, But Be Proud

Today, after winning a big game it’s common for athletes and fans to chant, “We’re number one,” in a classless display of self-praise that comes off as conceit and disrespectful taunting. I sometimes feel that way about materials praising America. Still, national pride is important. Reminders about the high principles on which this nation was based are essential to keep …

COMMENTARY 963.3: Will This Be a Good Christmas?

Will this be a good Christmas? To lots of kids, the answer may be embedded in the response to the question: “Whaddja get?” On the other hand, retailers and Wall Street investors will look to sales and profits. What a pity that the spiritual and social potential of this holiday can be so easily lost. Of course, Christmas is a …

COMMENTARY 963.1: If I Could Give You Anything

It’s a tradition during a bat or bar mitzvah ceremony for parents to deliver specific blessings to their child. I wrote a poem for my daughter Abrielle a few years ago. I want to share it with you as I think it captures the sort of thing most parents wish they could give their children. If I Could Give You …

COMMENTARY 960.4: What I Know About Life

The older I get, the less I know — but I know some things: I know that I’m a work in process and that there will always be a gap between who I am and who I want to be. I know that I don’t have to be sick to get better and that every day brings opportunities to improve …

COMMENTARY 959.5: Give Yourself the Gift of Gratitude

For some, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a holiday season filled with joy and happiness at the prospect of spending time with family. For others, it’s a sadder time blemished by bad memories or dread. Some people see their lives filled with abundant blessings and find thankfulness easy and natural; others are so pre-occupied with tending to past wounds or …

COMMENTARY 959.4: Thanking Your Parents on Thanksgiving

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I hope you will think about your parents with your most gentle and generous thoughts and be thankful. Even if you didn’t have ideal parents or a perfect home life, if either or both of your parents are still with you, make an effort to experience and express genuine gratitude. It’s natural to take for granted what …

COMMENTARY 959.2: Converting Pessimists Into Optimists

Every full life has its bright days and its dark days, its triumphs and defeats, its calm and stormy seas. All these high and low experiences could justify viewing the past through the lens of gratitude or disappointment. And the way we characterize our history will determine whether we look toward our future with hopeful expectations or anxious trepidation. Scientists …