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Jason Merchey the writer, 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.

Seize Happiness, Peace and Prosperity

peace and prosperity September 17th, 2019

Most of us are obese, smoke, drink to excess, don’t have $10,000 in our bank accounts. Cancer and autism are grave threats. Heart attacks, car accidents, and opioid addiction/overdoses plague us. Stress-related illness plagues us. Like our arteries, we don’t have the flexibility and resilience to absorb many more problems. Indeed, “The Doomsday Clock” now indicates we are two minutes to midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists call this state of dysfunction and dystopia “the new normal.” I don’t think Obama wrought the decay and dismay we see reflected on CNN and Fox, but nevertheless we are mired in it. It sometimes seems all-consuming. I reject the materialism, speed, unfulfillment, anxiety, and restlessness that plagues me. I don’t want to be Type A; I don’t want to die of a stress-related illness; I don’t want to see another child in a border detention camp. I want to make the most of the time I have left. I wish for peace and prosperity, health and well-being, relationships and charity, joy and security to be my goals, and it probably involves realigning my life to be less tuned in to social media, news, and money. This blog is about a modern urge to, as Timothy Leary put it, “turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

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True Success is Primarily About Character

true success September 11th, 2019

Success is a complicated word to define, is it not? Does it mean fame? Is it really about dominance in some field or endeavor? With whom is one competing: peers, the self, one’s superiors, the community? Is the accumulation of money the operative idea? Generativity, such as raising good children or leaving the world better than one found it? I have had the pleasure of reading the older but still extraordinary book True Success, by the philosopher, former professor, person of faith, and founder of the Morris Institute for Human Values, Tom V. Morris. I will share some quotes about true success, as well as try to shape or clarify the concept (and compare my views to Dr. Morris’) in this blog, and here is the first: “To the extent that we want to have goals that are right for us and that will help make the contribution we are put in this life to make, we can be said to have as a goal true success.

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Quotes on Meaning Provide Inspiration

quotes on meaning enlighten September 8th, 2019

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian author of the epic War & Peace, discovered that “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”  Tolstoy was an interesting figure.  Not only did his belief in passive resistance influence Gandhi later in the twentieth century, Tolstoy contributed to the world’s understanding of meaning in life.  Though he was wealthy, noble, and famous, he was not happy.  At age 50, according to Irving Singer in the book Meaning in Life, he had a “breakdown,” a mid-life crisis as it were.  Singer noted that the conditions that preceded the author’s despair, “in some respects resemble the condition of many affluent baby boomers in present-day America who feel a sense of emptiness even though they may have satisfied their own personal ambitions and lived up to the demands of their society. …they are perturbed by the possibility that their lives may be ‘meaningless.’”  I believe Tolstoy’s and others’ quotes on meaning, echoed in his wise words, can be helpful to us as we move through the world.

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The Values I Bring to My Work

the values I bring to my work August 25th, 2019

You have heard of the “Protestant work ethic”, I imagine. Or, “Diligence is the mother of good luck.” The Hard Rock Cafe’s motto is “Love Ever; Hurt Never”. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” claimed Benjamin Franklin. The fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper” by Aesop teaches the value of hard work and earnestness. I, too, have values I bring to my work as a real estate investor. Some I aspire to; some I adhere to better than others; some I actualize on a daily basis. Most would probably fit into the scheme I call “the values of the wise“: values that the quintessential wise person would probably tend to have. My area of professional focus has for a decade been real estate investing (REI). Brian Buffini believes that “Real estate is the purest form of entrepreneurship” so here are some thoughts on the values I bring to my work as an investor:

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Empathy: The Wellspring of Goodness

empathy August 17th, 2019

What do we think when we pass a homeless person begging for money? Do you judge and ignore, or does their situation sink in as you are on your way to a meeting or a museum?

How do we feel when a person of another race is a victim of a hate crime, or killed by a police officer for unjustifiable reasons – and does it sink in if you’re white?

What is the meaning of a woman being discriminated against trying to get a job, or raped as she serves in the military, and does it sink in if you’re a man?

Empathy is one of humanity’s highest aspirations. Truly, it is the fount of kinship; it is the better part of our mottled souls; it is the mother of kindness; it is the foundry of care; it is the wellspring of goodness; it is the origin of forgiveness.

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Only Fools Vote Against Their Best Interests

only fools vote against their best interests August 16th, 2019

“A new report reveals that almost all of the states where people earn the least are controlled by Republicans, while the states where people make the most money are almost exclusively led by Democratic politicians.” So writes Michael Harriot. This raises some interesting and haunting issues. In a nutshell, Republican voters who are poor are fools. Only fools vote against their best interests. It’s not by chance that this came about, though. The GOP is an abomination, and Trump is only the natural result of that. Here is my reasoning as to how this all happens. Functionalism and conflict theory are very helpful in understanding this gross phenomenon.

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Social Problems: Gun Control and Mass Shootings Analyzed

gun control August 12th, 2019

In this blog, I will aim to parse the gun violence issue. I thought to do so because I came across a compelling essay by Nicholas D. Kristof entitled “How to Win the Gun Control Argument.” I then went to go look it up by name in a Web search, and guess what popped up in the #2 slot? An article from the exact opposite perspective entitled “Winning the Gun Control Debate”. That is obviously enough to give one a headache. However, wisdom is the ideal guide to analyze the competing claims, complex issues, and difficult aspects of the gun control/gun violence social problem that currently plagues us. Next to the opioid epidemic, I would say that gun violence is a massive concern for American society – as it is for New Zealand, Norway, and every other country, practically. We live in difficult times, and at their worst, humans are basically clothed chimpanzees with semi-automatic rifles.

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Finding Meaning in A Persistent Vegetative Mental State

August 8th, 2019

If you give me twenty minutes, I will blow your mind. What follows is a look at the amazing story of a man known as “Sixty-Six Garage”, and what it means to me about values such as wisdom, caring, social welfare, brotherly love, absurdity, existentialism, God, joy, and pain. Even if you don’t stick around for my commentary, the fifteen minutes it takes to learn about Sixty-Six Garage will be well-worth it. It’s an amazing and illuminating story for lovers of science, believers in God, and folks who pay taxes. Undoubtedly you are one of those three types 🙂

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Wisdom: Complex, But Invaluable

wisdom August 4th, 2019

This is an awesomely complex world. It seemed challenging and at times, overwhelming, to our distant ancestors who were trying to live life as bipedal social animals on the terra firma of the African savannah two million years ago. I don’t think life has gotten any easier or simpler since those stressful days. There have been many philosophies, belief systems, religious frameworks since, as humans have tried to understand what life is about, how to relate to each other, and what it all means. What is the one arrow humans have in their collective quiver that can possibly cut through all the noise and the clutter? Wisdom.

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Mueller Lacked the Courage to Stand and Be Counted

Mueller August 1st, 2019

Robert Mueller is reputed to be an upstanding American who exemplifies duty, courage, wisdom, justice, and honor. Last week, Mueller testified in front of two House committees, the Judiciary and the Intelligence Committees. I have been mulling over some thoughts and feelings I have had since that deeply disappointing day. I wanted to examine the behavior and the values evidenced by Mueller, asking whether he was demented, cowardly, or extremely unwise. I will attempt to validate the eminence of values such as duty, courage, wisdom, justice, and honor, though Mueller seemed to come up short in every category on that fateful day. 

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