COMMENTARY 979.1: Surviving Grief and Tragedy — The Spark Within

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 news: The magic power that …

COMMENTARY 978.4: The Parable of the Carpenter

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 and wanted to build a …

COMMENTARY 976.2: Motive, Tact, Tone, Timing

Trustworthiness is essential to good relationships, and honesty is essential to trustworthiness. Being honest isn’t simply telling the truth, though. It’s also being sincere and forthright. Thus, it’s just as dishonest to deceive someone by half-truths or silence as it is to lie. But what if honesty requires us to volunteer information that could be damaging or hurtful? For example, …

COMMENTARY 975.4: A Parent’s Love for the Family Treasure

There are all kinds of love. The passionate romantic love immortalized and often fantasized by poets and novelists; Platonic love among friends, the love of humanity preached by missionaries and ministers, the love of country, and even the love of our work. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced all of these forms but none has impressed me more than the deep, enduring …

Avoiding Unkind Words

People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou When I had four teenagers

COMMENTARY 971.1: HOW AND WHEN TO CONVEY HARD TRUTHS — Motive, Tact, Tone, and Timing

Trustworthiness is essential to good relationships, and honesty is essential to trustworthiness. Being honest isn’t simply telling the truth, though. It’s also being sincere and forthright. Thus, it’s just as dishonest to deceive someone by half-truths or silence as it is to lie. But what if honesty requires us to volunteer information that could be damaging or hurtful? For example, …

A Personal Note from Michael

As I celebrate my 73rd revolution around the sun (December 10) I am immensely grateful, not only to still be alive, but because the Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS!  program have emerged from our most challenging year ever poised to reach new levels of impact on the character of our kids and the ethical quality of the country. There …

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” …

COMMENTARY 953.4: Money Is the Icing, Not the Cake

Despite the advice of preachers and philosophers warning us of the shortcomings of money, it’s hard to argue with Gertrude Stein’s observation: “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” Although money is better at reducing suffering caused by poverty and relieving anxiety caused by debt than it is at making us happy, it can buy lots of things that make …

Five Things to Teach our Children

Five Things to Teach our Children. 1. Be a good friend 2. Be kind even to those who don’t deserve it. 3. Learn from every experience. 4. Do your share even when others don’t do there’s. 5. Start and finish a job even when you don’t feel like it. Michael Josephson Do you have any others to add?

The passing of Ron Kinnamon – a great man and great friend

Personal Note: I just learned that a very dear friend, Ron Kinnamon, one of the original board members of the Josephson Institute and a founding father of CHARACTER COUNTS! passed away on July 30. Ron was not only a tremendous personal friend and friend of the Institute he was also one of the finest men I’ve had the fortune to …

Greatest Quotations on Mothers and Motherhood

— compiled by Michael Josephson — All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. ~ Abraham Lincoln The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests. ~ Author Unknown An ounce …

COMMENTARY .2: How Much Are You Willing to Pay for Money?

Disdain for money is a common theme among moralists and philosophers. But money’s not the problem. It’s what people do to get it and what they do with it when they get it. In Fiddler on the Roof, a poor man sings of his daydreams of the wonderful life he’d have if he were a rich man. And surely it …

QUOTE & POSTER: Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. – Melody Beattie

Poster: Five things to teach your children

1. Be a good friend. 2. Be kind even to those who don’t deserve it. 3. Learn from every experience. 4. Do your share even when others aren’t doing theirs. 5. Start and finish a job even when you don’t want to.- Michael Josephson  Click to see poster.

COMMENTARY 893.1: A Parable About Leadership

Listening to politicians’ nasty rhetoric, one might think that leadership has to be aggressive and confrontational, but consider this parable about leadership. A student assigned to write an essay about an effective leader wrote this story: “I’ve been taking a bus to school for years. Most passengers keep to themselves and no one ever talks to anyone else.

COMMENTARY 892.5: Worth More Than a Million Dollars

If you had the choice of winning $1 million in the lottery or saving a stranger’s life, which would you choose? I suspect many of you think you should say, “saving a life,” but what you are really thinking is how much better your life would be if you were rich. If the test was which act improves the world …

COMMENTARY 886.2: The Paradoxical Commandments

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 …

Memo From Michael: Getting the Most Out of Christmas

Though I am Jewish, I have always loved Christmas and what is commonly called the Christmas Spirit. Of course, I don’t mean the crassly commercialized version of the Christmas Spirit that stresses consumerism, but the spirit of love, forgiveness, family, friendship and — remember this phrase? — “Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men.” To those who celebrate Christmas, …