Lottery Winners and Paraplegics 713.3

The field of Positive Psychology pioneered by professor Martin Seligman is just over ten years old. Prior to his declaration that psychologists should study what works in life, including the factors that produce happiness and success, almost all research focused on mental illness and dysfunctional personalities. Positive Psychology unleashed waves of useful scientific wisdom, including the conclusion that happier people …

Is Happiness Around the Corner? 713.2

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 …

There’s a Difference between a Happy Life and a Good Life 713.1

Charlie Sheen recently took his place at the head of the line of celebrities who have publicly discredited themselves, ruined their relationships, and damaged their careers by addictive and self-destructive behavior. I’ve been reluctant to give even more attention to an essentially trashy story, but I see an important lesson in the way he continues to defend his unhealthy lifestyle …

We Don’t Need Anti-Bullying Programs 712.5

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 students 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 that seriously upset them. A similar …

The Paradoxical Commandments 712.4

In 1968, when Kent M. Keith was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, he wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments” as part of a booklet for student leaders. He describes the Commandments as guidelines for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity: 1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. 2. If you do good, people will accuse you of …

Firefighters, Cops, and Soldiers 712.3

A few days ago, a massive crowd gathered in downtown Los Angeles to pay tribute to firefighter Glenn Allen, who died in action. It was an impressive and solemn ceremony well covered by the local media and attended by thousands of fellow firefighters and the city’s leading politicians. The testimonials on behalf of the 61-year-old firefighter were eloquent and sincere …

A Story Fit for a Legend 712.2

The UCLA Bruin basketball team was thumping the Arizona Wildcats by 20 points with about one minute left, so Coach Ben Howland put in all his bench players, including stocky, six-foot guard Tyler Trapani. Tyler, a junior, is a “walk-on,” which means he wasn’t recruited and does not have a scholarship. He’s been on the team for three years and …

The Illusion of Success 711.5

A common management strategy to spur achievement is to set aggressive performance objectives that, like the mechanical rabbits that pace racing greyhounds, push employees to maximum effort. Using “stretch goals” can be successful, but unreasonably high performance goals often spawn dishonesty and irresponsibility. Believing that “it’s a matter of survival,” a disturbing number of employees conclude that distortion, deception, and …

The Parable of the Carpenter 711.4

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

Cheating Is Just Wrong 711.3

If you have a child in high school, there’s a pretty good chance he or she cheats at school. In fact, a recent study by the Josephson Institute reveals that 59% of high schoolers admit they cheated in the past year. Yet neither schools nor parents seem to take this seriously. Instead they often tell kids: “You’re only cheating yourself.” …

Presidents’ Day 711.2

As Arabs in many countries are risking their lives in their struggle for democracy, many Americans take for granted our heritage and the freedoms others strive for. Take Presidents’ Day as an example. We used to celebrate the birthdays of two of the greatest leaders in U.S. history, true American icons George Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). …

My First Gala 711.1

I’m going to my first gala. According to the dictionary, a gala is an elaborate or lavish social event. The event is the Movieguide Awards, created to recognize and promote inspiring, spiritual, values-based movies and TV shows. Okay, that’s right up my alley, but the truth is I’m not a gala kind of guy. For one thing, there is no …

Desiderata 710.5

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 others, even the dull and …

Experience What’s Left with Passionate Intensity 710.4

Recently, I attended my 50th high school reunion. I had mixed emotions trying to catch up with folks who looked like their own grandparents. I recognized more names than faces, but after a few words I remembered events and interactions when we were all teenagers exploding with hopes and potential. Once I got past my own sense of disbelief, I …

Good News and Bad News 710.3

There’s good news and bad news in newly released data from a 2010 Josephson Institute of Ethics survey of more than 43,000 high school students. The good news is that rates of stealing and cheating dropped about 5 percent since 2008. The bad news is that far too many high schoolers engage in dishonest conduct: 27 percent of the students …

Thanks for Making Me a Better Person 710.2

They said it wouldn’t last. When I married my dearest Anne 18 years ago, lots of people thought the differences in our ages (she’s more than 20 years younger) and religion would ultimately drive us a part. Not even close. Lord Byron said: “Love is friendship with wings,” and my love for Anne continues to soar. I’m not sure love …

Confessions of a Lincoln Groupie 710.1

I am an Abraham Lincoln groupie. He is my biggest hero. I have a huge collection of books and Lincoln memorabilia, and my daughter Abrielle was named after him, as was one of our family dogs. And by blind chance, my son Justin was born on his birthday. I often visit the Lincoln Memorial and stand in awe of his …

The Secret About Secrets

When considering doing something you think should be kept secret from someone whose trust you value there are two basic considerations: