WORTH READING: Recommended Books on Understanding and Parenting Teenagers

Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen by David Walsh, Ph.D. (2004) Reviews from Amazon: “A powerful, practical book on the teenage brain. Walsh is a storyteller with the gifts of simplicity and clarity. This book is an easy read, but its message is fresh, nuanced, and important. I recommend …

WORTH READING: Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy

by Leo Babauta “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart Many days, I try to humble myself and hold a 2-minute gratitude session. I simply sit or kneel, with no distractions, close my eyes, and think about what I’m grateful for and who I’m grateful for. I don’t do it every …

Achievements and Challenges: A Personal Note from Michael

Dear Friend, This has been a year full of great achievements and challenges. On the achievement side, the Josephson Institute and CHARACTER COUNTS!  have expanded our impact on children and the nation through the introduction of CHARACTER COUNTS! 4.0 (a major upgrade in strategy and services). We have begun to restore the best of Puerto Rico’s ethical culture with Tus …

WORTH READING: The Truth About Money and Happiness

From Tejvan Pettinger at PickTheBrain.com: It is an oft repeated axiom that money cannot buy happiness. While this is certainly true, poverty will not buy happiness either. Some people become very wealthy, yet struggle to enjoy their lives. On the other hand, others manage to go through life with very few money problems simply because they are able to make …

WORTH READING: Who is happier: Lottery winners or paralyzed accident victims?

According to Eric Barker at the Business Insider, Lottery winners… but not by nearly as much as you might guess. Some time after winning their money, lottery winners weren’t all that much happier than people who hadn’t won — and accident victims weren’t anywhere as unhappy as the researchers had assumed.

WORTH READING: THE ASPEN DECLARATION. In July 1992, the Josephson Institute of Ethics hosted a summit in Aspen, Colorado bringing together ethicists, educators and youth-service professionals to identify shared ethical values that could be the foundation of character education programs. The result was the Aspen Declaration, the seminal document for the CHARACTER COUNTS! movement which presently engages about 7 million children and families worldwide. (click to see the Declaration)

Click to see 12′ x 25′ mural by Nadi Spencer at Monson Sultana School in Tulare County, CA

OBSERVATION: The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality. – attributed to Dante

This quotation was frequently used by President Kennedy to make the point that on important moral issue it is wrong to sit on the fence and refuse to take a side. Martin Luther king, Jr. used a variation of the quote  (“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”). He added, “He who passively …

OBSERVATION: The precept ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’…is an abdication of moral responsibility. It is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself. – Ayn Rand

When I graduated law school in 1967 it was popular to rail against people who made moral judgments. We called finger wagging moralists presuming to judge people and life styles as right or wrong “moral imperialists” and adopted, instead, a form of ethical relativism implying that there was no true universal right or wrong, just equally valid or invalid opinions. After all, we …

WORTH READING: A “Thank you, Dad” poem

Thank You, Dad for always being there for being strong yet showing you cared. For being my protector and setting the rules for the rides, the money, and the help with school. For all the times I was grounded for my own good I may not have been happy, but I always understood that I am lucky to be one …

WORTH READING: Learn more on how to identify and deal with toxic relationships and emotional vampires.

Life coach Cheryl Richardson describes six types of toxic qualities in people. The Blamer: This person likes to hear his own voice. He constantly complains about what isn’t working in his life, and yet gets energy from complaining and dumping his frustrations on you. The Drainer: This is the needy person who calls to ask for your guidance, support, information, advice or …

WORTH READING & WATCHING: A Perspective of Service from a P.O.W.

It’s hard for some folks to take off their political glasses with lenses that like or dislike, see or not see, according to political predispositions. I think it’s important to remove these glasses when thinking about the nature of the experience that men and women who serve in the armed forces may be subjected to. This story, oft told by …

WORTH READING: Here’s to the Heroes

Here’s to the heroes Those few who dare, Heading for glory,’ Living a prayer. Here’s to the heroes Who change our lives. Thanks to the heroes, Freedom survives. Here’s to the heroes Who never rest. They are the chosen, We are the blessed. Here’s to the heroes Who aim so high. Here’s to the heroes Who do or die. Here’s …

A Personal Note

Change is risky. Some will always love the old way while others crave new things and variety. This new format for our newsletter and the blog behind it are the result of the change caused by the loss of one of my major platforms for communication – daily broadcasts on KNX radio in Los Angeles. This format represents our attempt …

Converting Pessimists into Optimists 743.3

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 …

Mataya’s Coming of Age 719.2

This weekend family and friends gathered to witness our daughter Mataya’s bat mitzvah*, the symbolic transition from childhood to adulthood. It was our fourth bat mitzvah in five years, and frankly, we’re glad we’re done. Anne and I make them major productions. Anne has the hard part. She plans a party equal to a significant wedding and personally creates a …