Personal Growth

Personal Growth

Motivational Quotes About Helping Others

helping March 18th, 2018

Does your life matter? Does mine? Do they matter to other people? Do they matter in the larger scheme of things? Significance may be the ultimate issue, and an important yardstick of successful living. Our feelings of self-worth are intimately tied to our sense of significance. What gives the strongest boost to our feelings of self-worth? Isn’t it the knowledge that we are making a meaningful contribution to the world around us? That we are helping others? That we are doing things which somehow matter?

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True Success is Primarily About Character

true success March 15th, 2018

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 March 11th, 2018

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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How to Find Happiness in Modern America

happiness March 9th, 2018

Attitude is everything, so they say. There is truly something to that. According to one strain of research, our happiness is about 50% “determined” by our genes. There is little we can do to stray very far from our “set point” level of happiness. A death will bring us very low, and that “new car smell” will give us a happiness bump for days, perhaps weeks. A promotion will engender some greater satisfaction, but it’s effect, too, will fade (perhaps only leaving a somewhat larger paycheck and potentially greater stress associated with increased or different responsibilities). The point is, If genes account for 50% of one’s level of happiness, what does that leave us with? This is a blog about psychological research, applied philosophy, and values and virtues such as personal growth, free will, and responsibility.

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Meaning in Life is About Involvement

meaning in life March 7th, 2018

I was reading a piece by the very influential philosopher (and fellow generalist!) Robert Nozick, as part of my class on meaning in life. The excerpt comes from his book Philosophical Explanations. In this blog, I want to share some of my understanding of Nozick’s approach to finding meaning in life. In a word, it’s about connectedness to things outside yourself which have intrinsic value. People, pursuits, ideas, causes – it’s about getting out there and transcending yourself. The quotes set apart in blue are his, though not necessarily from this book. Just relevant thoughts by the late, mostly-great philosopher, Robert Nozick.

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Fulfillment and Happiness Are Worthy Goals

fulfillment and happiness March 5th, 2018

According to half of the population, it’s all about happiness. Whatever gets you through the night, as it were. Football, nachos, sex, rest, hanging out by the pool – these are considered lower-level forms of happiness. The extremely influential 19th-century philosopher and more-or-less libertarian John Stuart Mill, however, noted that in this “utilitarian” pursuit of the greatest happiness by the greatest number, much is lost. He favored higher pleasures, and noted that it is better to be Socrates unsatisfied than a pig satisfied. American writer George Will put it this way: “Modern Americans travel light, with little philosophic baggage other than a fervent belief in the right to the pursuit of happiness.” We can do better, and go deeper; somewhere between pigs and philosophers lies the truth. In this blog, I will explore the fundamentals of finding fulfillment and happiness, considering them as worthy goals for a person who wishes to live life in the best possible way. Psychology and philosophy will assist me, as usual!

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Humility is the Opposite of Certitude

humility February 22nd, 2018

We are smack-dab in the middle of the white-hot debate about guns, mass murder, 2nd Amendment rights, the power of gun manufacturers, democracy, and peace in America as of this writing. I sometimes lock horns with my intellectual and erudite interlocutor, Robert L. Lloyd, Ph.D., and this topic is no different. Though we both own, gosh, ten guns between us, I tend to be less of a 2nd Amendment supporter and I see public violence a bit differently. The larger issue  beyond what works and what doesn’t, how politics either facilitates or impedes social progress, or whether America is looking at a bright future or if we are witnessing the sclerotic attempts at social change that characterize all empires in decline  is virtues of civility and humility. In this blog, I recapitulate a bit of our dialogue on guns specifically, but conceptualize the heart of the matter as certitude, intellectual humility, willingness to hear the other, compromise, and unity. Many additional quotes about humility, quotations on certitude, and tolerance quotes are brought to the fore.

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Meaning in Life According to Irving Singer

meaning February 21st, 2018

Irving Singer (1925-2015) was a prominent philosopher at MIT. I read his book Meaning in Life: The Creation of Value, and liked it about a B+ on an A-F scale. It is rife with quotes about meaning, fulfillment, ethics, value, values, philosophy, and self-examination. In this blog, I will reflect on a few quotations, but will also provide all the quotes about meaning I found in the book, which are many. Enjoy! 

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Is Education 2nd or 3rd Place at Elite Universities?

education February 17th, 2018

I am on a liberal education trip these days. I have zipped through books with titles such as In Defense of a Liberal Education; Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life; and Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. It’s a fascinating subject, considering I like things ancient, think Good Will Hunting and Dead Poet’s Society were fantastic movies (can you tell that I miss Robin Williams!?), and spend a heckuva lot of time reading and recording fantastic quotations about values. My latest acquisition is by scholar William Deresiewicz and is entitled Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite. In this blog, I highlight some interesting quotations about education and reflect a bit on the Ivy League, America’s values, and what education means.

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Meaninglessness and Finding Meaning

meaning of life February 10th, 2018

This blog is an analysis of the short essay of Richard Taylor’s, “The Meaning of Life”, from his book Good and Evil (2000). Questions of meaninglessness, meaning, will, existentialism, free will, determinism, despair, and hope are touched on. In the end, the questions are asked, what a human is meant for, what makes him truly happy; what makes her have the will to go on? It is an easy argument to follow, and the culmination is fairly hopeful. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus is integral to the essay. Quotes about meaning bookend it.

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