COMMENTARY: 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, …

Gandhi’s 7 Social Sins (English and Spanish)

The Seven Social Sins (Aqui esta en castellano) Wealth without work – Riqueza sin trabajo Pleasure without conscience – Placer sin conciencia. Knowledge without character – Conocimientos sin carácter Commerce without morality – Negocios sin moral Science without humanity – Ciencia sin amor a la humanidad Worship without sacrifice – Religiosidad sin sacrificio Politics without principle – Política sin principios …

COMMENTARY: Testing Your Integrity

In the past year, did you keep the money if a cashier gave you too much change? Did you lie to your boss, a customer, or a significant other? Did you use the Internet for personal reasons at work? Did you distort or conceal facts on a resumé or in a job interview? Did you inflate an expense or insurance …

COMMENTARY: Pounding In and Pulling Out Nails – Dealing With Hurtful Words

When one of my daughters was confronted with the fact that she had really hurt another child with a mean comment, she cried and immediately wanted to apologize. That was a good thing, but I wanted her to know an apology can’t always make things better. So I told her the story of Will, an angry  nine-year-old whose father abandoned his …

COMMENTARY: 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: 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: 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: The Make-Up Test

Chad and his three friends were college seniors and doing well in their classes. Even though the final physics exam was on Monday, Chad persuaded his buddies to take a weekend trip several hundred miles away. He told his worried friends they could study in the car, during the trip, and when they got back Sunday night. Instead, the boys …

COMMENTARY: I Just Have to Outrun You

During a camping trip, Sam and Tom saw a bear coming their way. Sam started to take off his backpack and told Tom he was going to run for it. When his surprised friend said, “You can’t outrun a bear,” Sam replied, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.” Sadly, this look-out-for-number-one mentality is …

COMMENTARY: 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: Ask What Can You Do for Your Country

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy, invoked my generation to “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” We are fortunate to live in a free and democratic society where millions of civilians and soldiers serve their fellow citizens.Today is Veteran’s Day and the weekend provided the nation a special …

OBSERVATIONS: 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

To Americans, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month has special meaning as a time to acknowledge and honor the men and women who have served their country in the military. Government employees and many others benefit from a special holiday – Veteran’s Day – a formal recognition of the sacrifices and service of their fellow …

COMMENTARY: 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: 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: 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: 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: An Uncomfortable Moment of Truth

When my daughters were younger and wanted to spend time with me, I used to take each one on an out-of-town trip for alone time. An especially memorable one was with my youngest daughter Mataya when she was seven. We went to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and had a wonderful time touring and talking about American history, the Liberty Bell, …

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: 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: The Intimidating Power of Integrity

A teacher once wrote telling me that a parent with a great deal of clout at her school asked her to change attendance records to make her child’s record look better. The teacher said she thought long and hard about the request but eventually refused, knowing it would make the parent angry. I commended her moral courage. I wish it …

COMMENTARY: The Ultimate Display of Citizenship

The holiday we now celebrate as Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day in tribute to the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. Sadly, the “war to end all wars” didn’t accomplish that goal. In 1954, Congress officially changed the name to Veteran’s Day. Too often we think of the term “citizen” only in terms of rights. …

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: Every Good Decision Starts With a Stop

Most of us are regularly confronted with choices that can have serious and lasting impact on our lives. What’s more, most really bad decisions — the ones that mess up our lives — are made impulsively or without sufficient reflection. Thus, the wisdom of the oldest advice in the world: “Think ahead.” The maxim telling us to count to three …

COMMENTARY: Control Your Choices and Control Your Life

Our choices reveal our character, but more importantly they shape our character. Thus, the more aware we become of the choices we make every single day — choices about our attitudes, words, actions and reactions — the more power we have over our own destiny. Senator Bob Bennett of Utah said, “Your life is the sum result of all the …

COMMENTARY: Bologna Sandwiches

When Jason, a construction worker, took a sandwich out of his lunch bag, he looked at it and threw it on the ground yelling, “Bologna again! I hate Bologna.” A co-worker said, “If you hate bologna so much, just ask your wife to make you something else.” Jason replied, “That’s the problem. My wife didn’t make the sandwich. I did.”

COMMENTARY: “If” by Rudyard Kipling

It’s a pity that so many great poems are turned into commercialized clichés because, when we’ve heard something before, we don’t concentrate hard enough to listen to its messages. A good example is the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It includes some of the best advice a parent could give a child, including: If you can keep your head when …