COMMENTARY 971.5: I Just Talk to People

Marta was a hard-working single mother. When her minister sermonized about “living a life that matters,” she worried that working to raise her kids and going to church wasn’t enough. So, on the bus to work she made a list of other jobs she could do and volunteer work she could try. Sylvia, an elderly woman, saw the worry on …

00 Thrive teen years

COMMENTARY 971.2: Rules to Survive and Thrive the Teen Years

One of the toughest jobs in the world is being a teenager. Everything is in transition. Everything is intense — even apathy. Kids on the brink of adulthood have to cope with inconsistencies and conflicts. The desire to be special and different clashes with the need to belong and fit in. The desire for independence collides with an aversion to …

COMMENTARY 970.4: Good Relationships Make a Good Life

If we interviewed 100 happy people, I think the most prominent common denominator would be good relationships. Despite the widespread promotion of materialism and vanity in our culture, wealth and beauty are not enough to produce happiness. In fact, they’re not even necessary. What’s more, bad relationships — at work, at home, or among friends — are a surefire source …

00 Legal loopholes

COMMENTARY 970.3: Loopholes and Slippery Slopes

As a former law professor, I know all about loopholes. I trained students to find omissions and ambiguities in wording — a perfectly legal way to evade the clear intent of laws and agreements. After all, that’s what lawyers are paid to do. And, despite commonly expressed disdain when lawyers do this, that’s precisely what most clients want and expect when …

COMMENTARY 970.2: A Government Program That Is Working

I was pleasantly surprised that my visit to detention camps for juvenile girls run by the Los Angeles Probation Department turned out to be encouraging and uplifting. Instead of finding a cadre of angry and hostile girls in a punitive prison setting, I saw clean classrooms attended by very

00 Finding God

COMMENTARY 970.1: Finding God in the Park

Abe was fiercely independent, even at age 85, but after a mild stroke his son insisted he move in with him. Abe missed going to the park near his old apartment, and one Saturday he set out to find it. When he became disoriented, he asked a young boy named Timmy where the park was. Timmy said he’d like to …

0 Leadership  MJ quote Ghandi

COMMENTARY 969.2: Leading by Inspiration

Why are negative management practices so prevalent? They include yelling, cursing, insults (sometimes masked in sarcasm or masquerading as jokes), criticizing subordinates in front of others, threatening demotion or termination, and talking to adults as if they were children. Why are so many managers oblivious to the demoralizing effect of focusing on weaknesses and shortcomings without

MLK civil rights hoses

COMMENTARY 969.1: Remembering the Civil Rights Movement

I grew up in the 1960’s and remember the tumultuous times in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., made his historic mark on American society. Dr. King was always one of my heroes. So I was delighted a few years ago when I was asked to deliver an address about his legacy. I wasn’t ready, however, for the range and depth of …

COMMENTARY 968.5: Deal or No Deal?

Sarah’s mom agreed to let her 16-year-old go to a party if she promised to be home by midnight. But as the Cinderella hour approached, Sarah did a quick risk/reward calculation. She knew her mom would be angry and probably ground her, but she was having so much fun she decided it was worth it. Sure enough, when she got …

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 967.5: Give Good Memories

In a society preoccupied with the quest for material possessions, it’s easy to overlook the fact that our most valuable possessions are our best memories. Good memories are a form of wealth. They are not simply something we own, they become part of who we are. Through our memories we can literally re-live and re-experience past pleasures. So, if you …

COMMENTARY 967.4: Getting Through to Kids

A listener wrote to say she was selecting some of her favorite commentaries to put into a notebook for her 12-year-old son. She said she was going to underline portions she thought were particularly pertinent. I love it whenever someone wants to share my thoughts, especially with children, but I’ve come to realize how difficult it can be to successfully …

COMMENTARY 967.1: One Way to Change Your Life – Change Your Expectations

Einstein said it’s a form of insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. So, if you want something different, do something different, or change your expectations, or both. In my own life, I’ve found that adjusting my expectations has made a big difference in my ability to enjoy my life. Unmet expectations …

COMMENTARY 966.4: The Cowboy Code

I grew up in much simpler times. Television was in its infancy, and the idea of a hero was exemplified by a white-hatted cowboy. There was a clarity and simplicity to this hero’s moral code that left no doubt there is a right and wrong. As I became more sophisticated, it was easy to ridicule these simplistic approaches to ethics …

COMMENTARY 963.5: The Missing Baby Jesus

In a lovely essay*, Jean Gietzen wrote about a family experience in 1943. It was just before Christmas in North Dakota and her family had just bought a nativity set with small figurines. But Jean’s mother was deeply disturbed to discover the set included an extra Baby Jesus. “Go back to the store,” she instructed, “and tell the manager to put …

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 962.4: Listening: A Vital Dimension of Respect

We demonstrate the virtue of respect for others by being courteous and civil and treating everyone in a manner that acknowledges and honors basic human dignity. An important but often neglected aspect of respect is listening to what others say. Respectful listening is more than hearing. It requires us to consider what’s being said. That’s hard when we’ve heard it …

COMMENTARY 962.3: The Trust of Our Children

There’s no doubt about it: Trust is an asset to any relationship and distrust an enormous liability. But thinking of trust in terms of its practical value can demean and distort its true significance as an endorsement of our character and as a sign of our worthiness. I get my clearest vote of trust when I stop to appreciate the …

COMMENTARY 962.2: The Value of Trust

A teenager wants to go to a party, but she’s sure her mom won’t let her. So she and her friend concoct a false cover story. What’s the big deal? Most kids lie to their parents from time to time, and their parents probably lied to their parents. Despite rhetoric about virtue being its own reward, a great many adults …

COMMENTARY 962.1: Don’t Miss the Chance

A listener got me thinking about the challenge of dealing with aging parents who become more and more needy and the conflicts one is bound to feel. It motivated me to write this poem: Don’t Miss the Chance They said I was lucky my mom lived near, But she was pretty old and it wasn’t so clear. Sure, I was …

COMMENTARY 961.4: Listening: A Vital Dimension of Respect

We demonstrate the virtue of respect for others by being courteous and civil and treating everyone in a manner that acknowledges and honors basic human dignity. An important but often neglected aspect of respect is listening to what others say. Respectful listening is more than hearing. It requires us to consider what’s being said. That’s hard when we’ve heard it …

COMMENTARY 961.3: The Trust of Our Children

There’s no doubt about it: Trust is an asset to any relationship and distrust an enormous liability. But thinking of trust in terms of its practical value can demean and distort its true significance as an endorsement of our character and as a sign of our worthiness. I get my clearest vote of trust when I stop to appreciate the …

COMMENTARY 961.2: The Value of Trust

A teenager wants to go to a party, but she’s sure her mom won’t let her. So she and her friend concoct a false cover story. What’s the big deal? Most kids lie to their parents from time to time, and their parents probably lied to their parents. Despite rhetoric about virtue being its own reward, a great many adults …

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“The first duty of LOVE is to LISTEN.” -Paul Tillich

“The first duty of LOVE is to LISTEN.” -Paul Tillich. Listening doesn’t mean obeying, it means making a true effort to hear and understand what the other person is saying and feeling. Think how much better relationships would be if parents really listened to their children; if children – minors and adults – really listened to their parents and if …

COMMENTARY 960.1: There Are Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who think those who think there are two kinds of people in the world are self-righteous jerks. A listener called me to task concerning a story about a man who told his son there are two kinds …

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 …