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Jason Merchey, author, philosophical thinker, and Master’s-level psychologist shares his perspectives on classical and modern applications of values, wisdom, ethics, and personal growth. The goal is to provide insight into what “a life of value” is and how one can live it. Quotations, proverbs, idioms, and historical facts often provide grist for the mill! Occasional guest blogs are featured as well.

American Values: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

American values July 19th, 2018

Why is the tragically stupid effort at separating asylum seekers and folks trying to cross the border illegally now a thing? What does it say about America? What have our values been in the past, and what should the wise person make of that? What are America’s real values? This blog is about the fraying social fabric and the society-wide cognitive dissonance it accompanies. I am trying to really understand what full scope of American values are. Here is a taste: “I’ve recently been thinking and writing about the growing fragmentation of the social compact, of whatever it was this country had ever meant when it called itself a democracy: the shredding of the vision of government of the people, by the people, for the people” ~ Adrienne Rich.

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Making Moral Choices on a Daily Basis

moral choices July 16th, 2018

Socrates is purported to have claimed at his trial (for which he received the death penalty), “Are you not ashamed of caring so much for the making of money and for fame and prestige, when you neither think nor care about wisdom and truth and the improvement of your soul?” This blog is about considering the moral consequences of all you do in life, from (as Socrates pointed out) work to entertaining yourself to eating to voting. A few additional interesting and unique quotes about the consequences of our behavior and the moral choices we make will be presented.

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The Meaning of Life Always Involves Value/s

meaning of July 11th, 2018

The following is a guest blog about the meaning of life by philosopher Iddo Landau, Ph.D. He teaches philosophy at the University of Haifa, Israel. This essay is adapted from his new book, Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World, by Oxford University Press.

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Roy Campanella’s Amazing Inspirational Quote

inspirational quote July 10th, 2018

I heard the following amazing story the other day while attending church with my wife. The priest shared it, and it felt like it was essentially a long inspirational quote. I came home and was able to find it online, and am happy I did! It tells the story of the amazing life of Roy Campanella, a Hall of Fame catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and fellow African-American player when Jackie Robinson played. Not only was his career remarkable, his spinal injury and the way he lived his life afterward were also deeply significant. He read a long inspirational quote on the wall of a rehab facility one day, and it floored him. In this blog, I share quite a bit of background about the buoyant, heralded player, human being, quadriplegic, and author Roy Campanella.

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Perfectionism, Mental Health, & Values

perfectionism July 9th, 2018

Perfectionism is essentially defined as an obsessive and unrealistic concern with being perfect, performing extraordinarily highly, consistently scoring ahead of the curve, and appearing above criticism to others. It’s living a life where one judges one’s actions with a magnifying glass, rarely satisfied with the performance. It can lead for performance anxiety and other “maladaptive” behaviors. It sucks, basically. It has a bit of a silver lining – one can turn out a great piece of writing, look friggin’ great, or really impress someone – but it’s a high price to pay. One perceives oneself as “missing” the bulls-eye twenty times for every hit. It’s sort of like living with a critical parent in your head. As I write this, not far from midnight, I am tired and barely able to accomplish the task, but I won’t go to bed, feeling like I am not trying hard enough, or not tough enough to hack it. In this blog, I explore perfectionism, and point out that it is related to values. 

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What Does “Moral Values” Mean?

moral values July 5th, 2018

Values is a neutral term; one could value relaxation, competition, humor, sexual conquest, helping others, or swindling them successfully (subterfuge and personal gain). It means what it sounds like it means – a value is something which a person holds in high regard, pursues, and even loves. Values tend to include hallmark ones such as truth, justice, humility, goodness, and kindness. In this blog, I explore the idea of moral values, asking what the term means, which values probably qualify as moral values, and how one implements them in one’s life.

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Mental Illness is Also a Social Problem

July 3rd, 2018

I just watched a neat program, “The Face of Evil”, hosted by a journalist I like, Chris Cuomo. In the episode, he interviewed a notorious murderer he grew up fairly close to in New York, Jeremy Rifkin. About this horiffic form of mental illness, Cuomo said, “Cases like Rifkin’s have stuck with me, leaving me to question how such a thing could occur. What makes someone who looks and acts like the rest of us most of the time, suddenly turn into a monster?” I see the positive values of love, magnanimity, optimism, and honor, but am also fascinated by how things can go so awry in a human heart and mind. When suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in a society and gun violence is on the rise, there is a significant problem. In this blog, I want to examine mental illness, focusing especially on “social disease” such as sociopathy, suicide, and mass shootings.

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Quotations About Hope, Optimism, Doubt & Skepticism

quotations about hope July 2nd, 2018

The question I want to explore in this blog is whether life is worthy of hope and optimism. Conversely, perhaps you tend to feel that humankind’s existence is more fraught with difficulty, absurdity, despair, and deserves a skeptical and doubtful attitude. One can marshal quotations about hope and quotes about doubt to cast a favorable light on one’s predetermined conclusions. I urge you to suspend your judgment and view the following quotations about hope and skepticism with an open mind. I am of the opinion that the philosophical question of what the nature of life is is a bit hard to definitively determine. Well, here we go – a look at some very unique quotations about hope and an equal measure of apt doubt, skepticism, and pessimism quotes.

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Will Durant Quotes About the Meaning of Life

quotes about the meaning of life June 30th, 2018

Will Durant was one of America’s greatest intellectuals. He lived from 1885 to 1981. In his long, varied, and distinguished career, he taught, wrote, earned a doctorate in philosophy, and came to know many of the most important and elusive truths. His interest in history was as salient than his love of philosophy, for he is best known for his book the massive, 11-volume set The Story of Civilization, his take on significant historical happenings and patterns (which he published with his lifelong interlocutor, his wife Ariel). They won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the work. Only slightly less remarkable was The Story of Philosophy, which detailed the lives and works of a dozen of the most impactful philosophers throughout history, such as Plato and Nietzsche. Durant was truly a remarkable man; we are so lucky he lived to the ripe old age he did, and that he was a philosopher, historian, teacher and writer – and not a banker or a tennis player or a gambler. This blog is about Will Durant’s quotes about the meaning of life from his superb book on the subject.

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Twenty Quotations Which Illustrate Values

quotations which illustrate values June 27th, 2018

What is meant by the phrase values of the wise?  I admit, it isn’t as intuitive as a phrase such as the values held by wise people or even that which those who are wise find valuable. But that is what it is meant to convey. When I see a person who is careful, open, clever, developed, self-controlled, passionate, lighthearted, loving, and perceptive, I think: wise. Wisdom. This blog features twenty unique and incisive quotations which illustrate values. Not just any values: values of the wise.

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