Are you examining your life?

– -Is it really true that the un-examined life is not worth living? – Today, Socrates is thought of as one of the world’s great philosophers, but to the leaders of Greece he was annoying

The Case for Endless Gratitude

This is a video you should watch regularly – perhaps once a month — really!  It introduces a perspective on gratitude that can enrich your life. TED presentation by Louie Schwartzberg – Gratitude and Beauty

Build Bridges That Others May Use

Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” In a world increasingly dominated by unapologetic selfishness,

Personal Message from Michael

I hope the past year will go down in your book of life as one filled with great pleasures and grand memories. But whether the year was good, bad, or indifferent, I hope you’ll enter

COMMENTARY: 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: What is a Good Christmas?

Will this be a good Christmas? How will you measure it? For lots of kids, the answer may be embedded in the response to the question, “Whadja 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 a holiday can be so easily …

COMMENTARY: 12 HARD-WON LIFE CHANGING INSIGHTS

Perhaps the only major advantage of getting older is the prospect of getting wiser. I think I’ve learned a great many things over the years but here are a dozen of my most treasured insights. I am still a work in process; that as long as I can think I can learn. I still have a lot to learn but if …

COMMENTARY: The Treasure of Old Friends

In my lifetime, I’ve had the good fortune of having a handful of good friends. Each of my four teenage daughters have many hundreds. At least that’s what they call

COMMENTARY: 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: 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: 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: Lessons From a Carrot, Egg, and Coffee Bean

Let’s face it. Painful personal trauma and tragedy – like illness or injury, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or an unexpected breakup of a relationship – are unavoidable. The question is: Will these private calamities erode our capacity to be happy or cause us to become stronger and better able to live a meaningful and fulfilling …

COMMENTARY: 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: 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 …

COMMENTARY: Live Backwards

Ben just came to town as a new rabbi. Unfortunately, his first official duty was to conduct a funeral service for Albert, a man who died in his eighties with no relatives. Since Ben didn’t know the deceased personally, he paused from his sermon to ask if anyone in the congregation would say something good about Albert. There was no …

COMMENTARY: The Power in Me

When my daughter Samara was 8, she wrote a poem as a song for some friends who were thinking of starting a band. When she showed it to her mom she said, “Don’t show it to Daddy because he will want to read it on the radio.” She was right. I did want to share it, but she asked me …

COMMENTARY: Reflection, Repentance, and Atonement

Yom Kippur is the highest of the High Holy Days in the Jewish religion. The essence of this sacred day – the true root of the holiday – includes but goes well beyond fasting and praying. It requires believers to make a personal, unflinching assessment of their character and conduct, not as an end in itself, but as part of …

COMMENTARY: You Change One Thing, You Change Everything

Looking back on your life, what would you change if you could? In the classic 1939 film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the main character, a small town bank officer played by Jimmy Stewart, is about to commit suicide when an angel shows him how different the lives of people in Bedford Falls would’ve been if he hadn’t been born. The …

COMMENTARY: On the Passing of a Loved One

Just a few hours ago, I received a note from one of my oldest and dearest friends that his mom passed away. I was moved by the gracious way he gave the news and described her life and while all the feelings evoked by the news and the way he conveyed it are still enveloping me I want to share …

COMMENTARY: We Are What We Think

In the early 1900’s, a little-known philosopher named James Allen wrote a powerful essay called “As a Man Thinketh” in which he argued that we are what we think, that a person’s character is the sum of his thoughts. He declared that the power to control our thoughts (whether we use that power or not) is the ability to mold …

COMMENTARY: The Values Our Kids Learn From Others

Blessed with the opportunities and obligations of raising four young daughters, my wife Anne and I are profoundly aware of the importance of instilling good values that will help them become capable, honorable and happy adults. I think we’re doing a pretty good job, but we know that isn’t enough. Frankly, we’re worried about the values and character of your …

COMMENTARY: The Ultimate Gift

Jimmy was nine when his mom told him his little sister was sick and would die if she didn’t get a blood transfusion – and Jimmy was one of the only people in the world who had the rare blood type needed. She asked if he would be willing to let the doctors give some of his blood to his …

COMMENTARY: Be What You Want to Be

“What will you be when you grow up?” It’s a serious question. As kids, we knew we were going to be something and that to be something was to be someone. Even as our ambitions changed, we knew what we were going to be was important and our choice. When I entered UCLA Law School in 1964, I wanted to …

COMMENTARY: Coach Wooden the Philosopher

According to Henry David Thoreau, a philosopher is a person who seeks to understand and solve the most serious problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically. A true philosopher, Thoreau added, is so committed to wisdom that he seeks to live wisely and so lives a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. By this definition, John Wooden, my …

Labor Day: The Key Is Balance

Labor Day comes just a week before the anniversary of 9/11. One legacy for those of us who have vivid memories of seeing the massive twin towers collapse into a plume of dust is a strong ever-present sense of vulnerability, offset by recognition that life is a gift that must be savored and appreciated in its smallest increments from days …