Money isn’t everything

moneypic1“Money has never made man happy, nor will it; there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.”

– Benjamin Franklin


Money has a role in our lives, but put it in perspective.

Yes, it’s important to earn a living and take responsibility for supporting your family and yourself, but seldom are people happy when they make their life’s focus the pursuit of money.

Other priorities are more important. Choose a career you enjoy. Spend time with family and friends. Develop a hobby. Take care of your health. Simplify your life and appreciate its simple pleasures.

Money can be helpful – and it’s great to live in a nice home and surround yourself with nice things. At times, money can even be important.

But be careful living life like money is everything.

Love might be right in front of you

holdinghandsLove is friendship that has caught fire.”
– Jeremy Taylor




Popular culture often romanticizes falling in love. The fantasy is that you see a stranger across a crowded room, flash a smile, and know instantly in your heart that you’ve found the love of your life.

Does love at first sight really happen? Perhaps. But it is not the only – or most likely – scenario for meeting a special partner. People who expect an instantaneous romantic connection often are disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Sometimes, love is not a lightning bolt; it’s more like the rising sun. At first you don’t see it, but slowly it emerges, warm and full of light. Such an experience often happens between friends or with someone you take the time to get to know. You enjoy spending time together, comfortable and without expectation. You have fun, share common values and goals, and naturally treat each other with kindness and respect. It builds over time until the truth is shining before you. Relationships built on such a foundation often are truly special.

The world is full of people who have unknowingly dismissed deep and long-lasting magic with someone already in their life because they are waiting on a lightning bolt from someone new.

Maybe love is closer than you think.

Will you choose the window or the mirror?

WindowIt is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

– Harry S. Truman




In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins outlines what he calls the Window and the Mirror model of leadership.

To paraphrase, Collins says that when something positive happens in your life, envision a window so you can look out and acknowledge the people who contributed to your success. When things don’t go well, envision a mirror and seek to reflect on what you could have done differently.

While Collins’s intended audience is business professionals, his philosophy can apply to anyone. Sharing credit for your successes – particularly in a team setting – and taking responsibility for your failures is a sign of maturity and the mark of a leader.

The next time you evaluate a life experience, think carefully when choosing to use the window or the mirror.

Live for more than yourself


Helpothers“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Few things are more rewarding than helping someone in need.

At times, focusing on others seems difficult because we are so consumed with taking care of ourselves and our loved ones. But something special often happens when we extend our reach to those who need a helping hand.

In his terrific book “Being Mortal,” doctor Atul Gawande quotes a Harvard philosopher, Josiah Royce, who observed that simply existing – “merely being housed and fed and safe and alive” – is unfulfilling.  Royce says that a truly rewarding life demands we do more than just safely exist; we must embrace something beyond ourselves.

If it’s not part of your vocation, help someone else. Volunteer. Pursue a cause outside your own and you’ll discover one secret to a truly fulfilling life.

Be True to Yourself


“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
– Pope Francis




My daughter has no shortage of people who offer her advice.

Fortunately, most of these people have good intentions. Sometimes, though, people go beyond giving friendly advice and will bluntly try to tell her how to live her life. I’ve told her to be polite and smile at these folks — and ignore them.

I’ve experienced my own share of overbearing advice givers. Sometimes the advice is unwanted but harmless enough: people want me to change the clothes I wear, the style of my haircut, the hobbies I pursue or the music I enjoy. Other times, the “advice” is about more serious life decisions: what career to pursue, who to marry, or even which side of a moral fence to stand.

In the noise, it’s easy to lose confidence in our own decision making. It’s even easier to follow the advice of someone just to make them happy, even if it’s not what’s truly in our heart.

I tell my daughter that when making a decision, it is wise to seek out opinions of others and weigh all options. But in the end, we must live our own life, and in doing so it’s important to be true to ourselves, free of the expectations of others.

Simply put: live the life you want, and don’t care too much what other people think. Those who truly care about you will understand and support you.

Choose wisely, and choose for yourself.

Simplify your life


“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand….”
Henry David Thoreau


Even before she was a teenager, my daughter’s closet overflowed with clothes. It was difficult to see everything because clothes hung on top of clothes. It was only after cleaning out the closet, discarding old blouses and pants and shoes – and reducing her total clothing count – that we could fully see and use her entire wardrobe. Less actually became more.

Sometimes, life is the same way.

We often overflow our lives with so many things, not only material possessions, but activities, personal commitments, professional responsibilities, hobbies, people, pets, worries and other items. In some ways, the concept of decluttering runs counter to our culture of making ourselves incessantly busy and acquiring stuff.

Simplifying our lives is a wise alternative. Doing so frees us to spend time and energy on the truly important, which often comes to light when the noise is stripped away.

Declutter your life. Simplify.

Less will be more.

The importance of perseverance

OspreysupercroppedFall down seven times, stand up eight.
Japanese proverb





One evening, my daughter was growing frustrated with her math homework.

She had tried several times to solve an equation but couldn’t get the correct answer, despite working intently on the problem.

I watched her struggle a bit – but she didn’t give up. She took a deep breath, worked on it some more and eventually found the answer.

She persevered.

For most of us, life frequently brings simple frustrations, and occasionally, far more complex problems. Our willingness to continue to try our best, even if we don’t succeed at first, goes a long way in determining not only our immediate success but our long-term happiness.

One of my daughter’s favorite book series is the Harry Potter saga written by J.K. Rowling. The author sent her manuscript for the first book to 12 different publishers before one accepted it. Imagine how easy it would have been for Rowling to give up trying to find a publisher after her first rejection (or her tenth). She could always say she tried but didn’t succeed. Instead, she persevered — and went on to write a total of seven Potter books, the best-selling book series of all time.

Life knocks all of us down sometimes. Some people choose to stay on the ground and quit. Other people stand up, dust themselves off and try again. Those who rise give themselves a new chance to succeed.

You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish if you persevere.

The importance of attitude

j0433335“What you think you become.”
– Buddha



I once challenged my daughter with this question: why do some people seem happy all the time while others are always so grumpy?

She correctly identified the one key difference in some people: their attitude.

Everyone faces challenges, even people who live a seemingly charmed life. Often, our success is not determined by the challenge itself but how we react to it.

Some people let simple annoyances bother them to no end. Other people face daunting challenges yet always seem in a good mood. We frequently hear of people battling a life-threatening illness do so with a positive attitude, and many such patients credit it with helping them win the battle. Imagine how powerful a good attitude can be in overcoming life’s simpler problems.

Having the right attitude in almost every situation can make a huge difference in anyone’s life.

I often remind my daughter: don’t underestimate the importance of your attitude.

To learn about life: travel and read

reading“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
– Mary Anne Radmacher





Since my daughter was a little girl, I’ve encouraged her to attend college. Equally important, I’ve strongly recommended that she travel to new places and read regularly.

Traveling domestically (and abroad, if possible) exposes a person to new cultures, ideas, customs, religions, food and music. Most people return from a trip a different person than when they departed, as travel provides perspective on their own culture and life.

In some ways, reading is another form of travel: a good book can transport the reader to another time or place, revealing new ideas and perspectives. Not everyone can afford college or is well suited for it. (Abraham Lincoln did not attend college and said everything he learned, he learned from books.) But anyone can read, and it’s like traveling without having to leave home.

I continue to tell my daughter that regardless of her formal education, the dual pleasures of traveling and reading will bring the mysteries of the world a little sharper into focus.

Find time to read. Find a way to travel.

Asking questions about faith


“Faith is a gift….”.
Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks in the film Angels and Demons



At age 11, my daughter asked if God really existed. She also wanted to know if Heaven was real.

I have always been honest and candid with my daughter, but my answer probably was not satisfactory to her: I said that only she could answer these questions.

My daughter was attending Christian church services each Sunday and heard the pastor’s frequent messages about Jesus and his teachings, and about God’s relationship with humanity. His sermons never called into question God’s existence (although he was far less clear about the nature of heaven). My daughter was attentive, and she wanted a concrete, iron clad assurance about God.

I told her she was really asking a question about faith.

My daughter’s pastor once gave a sermon about Blaise Pascal’s philosophical “wager,” which says that every person must bet if there is a God or not. If you believe there is a God and you are correct, then the payoff is huge; if you are wrong, then you don’t lose anything important. But if you bet there is no God and are wrong, your penalty is eternal damnation, which is the ultimate lost wager. The thought, then, is to go ahead and bet there is a God.

But I don’t want my daughter to come to religious faith out of fear.

I also don’t want to spoon-feed her answers to these questions. Instead, I  encourage her to examine her own life and come to her own conclusions.

When it comes to faith, I cannot give my daughter the answers. But I am glad she’s asking the questions.


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