Shopping carts and character

– There are two kind of people: those who return their shopping carts and those who don’t. – When we think about character, we tend to envision really big things, like taking heavy risks, committing bold acts of integrity, being grandly generous, or making tough sacrifices. Such noble choices indicate character,

We’re all ethical in our own eyes

-When it comes to our self-perception of our ethics, most of us have delusions of grandeur. – Think of the most ethical person you know. Do a lot of people come to mind or only a few? Are you having trouble thinking of anyone? If I asked that question of the people who know you well, how many would name …

How Happy Are You?

– On a scale of one to 10 — with 10 being “It’s as good as it gets! I’m even happier than Charlie Sheen thinks he is,” and one being “Life sucks; it can’t get worse” — how happy are you with your life? Researchers say that when asked to grade their lives on a happiness scale, most

We Shape Our Own Character

Character may determine our fate, but character is not determined by fate. There’s no doubt that our character has a profound effect on our future. What we must remember, however, is

Build a Bridge for Others

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,

Earning and Retaining Trust

– How does one earn trust? Let’s start with the basics: To be trusted, one has to be trustworthy. Trustworthiness, however, is a more complex concept than most people realize. It embodies four separate virtues: integrity, honesty, promise-keeping and loyalty. A failure in any one of these areas

Just Keep on Knocking

-What to do when no one is answering their door. – In the summer of my junior year in college I took a job as a door-to-door salesman for the Fuller Brush Company. I sold household supplies, razor blades and, of course brushes. In those days, well before the internet, this kind of selling was common and there was a …


COMMENTARY: Christmas – Christianity’s Gift to the World. 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 …

COMMENTARY: Tis the Season to be Jolly — Even While Shopping

People are not at their best in crowds. It’s as if every survival-of-the-fittest primordial instinct comes out to obliterate thousands of years of civilization. Pre-and post-holiday shopping, and the inevitable lines, test our character. My wife’s a professional shopper. She has strategies on where to park and how to find the fastest moving line (which I’ve discovered is not always …

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: Surviving Critical Relatives at Family Gatherings

I realize that not everyone lives in a Norman Rockwell world where family gatherings are sources of warmth and good memories. For some, the prospect of holiday get-togethers generates dread and anxiety; they are something to endure, not enjoy. One reason is that family members can be tactless and downright cruel when expressing their opinions about perceived foibles, flaws and …

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: 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 …


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: Leading by Inspiration

Leadership is not a matter of authority, it is a matter of influence. A true leader teaches others to understand more, motivates them to be more and inspire them to become more. – Michael Josephson. It seems

COMMENTARY: 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 …

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.

COMMENTARY: Dying From the Cold Within

One of the great challenges to our humanity is acknowledging and overcoming our natural tendency to think less of and discriminate against people who are different from us racially, ethnically, religiously, or ideologically. Despite persistent rhetoric about prizing diversity, political debates often reflect disdain and contempt for those we disagree with, and prejudices of all sorts are more readily stated. …

COMMENTARY: 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

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: 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