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.Read More
October 18th, 2022
April 29th, 2022
Can wisdom be understood, developed, and improved?
Does wisdom really underlie success, fulfillment, and happiness?
What are the characteristics and skills of wise individuals?
Can one be happier and more fulfilled by “loving wisdom”?
Should books about wisdom ideally be secular, or religious in nature?
What do I need to know to successfully put wisdom to use in my everyday life?
Four-time author and philosophical thinker Jason Merchey answers these and many other important questions in his 2022 book, WisdomRead More
February 26th, 2022
Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought is a fascinating research-based yet personal take on that place where philosophy, psychology, well-being, personal growth, spirituality, politics, and American culture come together. It is 389 pages, boasts an attractively-designed soft cover and cream colored pages, and is quite unique. It communicates “This is what wisdom is; here is how it is useful for me; within is inspiration for how it can be useful for you—and the United States as an ailing society.” It is available now on Amazon.com and other online retailers for $10 and $15. This book about wisdom was called “an elaborate portrait of an incomparable quality that seems to be lacking in today’s world” by the book reviewer IndiesToday.Read More
February 23rd, 2022
The phrase “values of the wise” can be a little confusing at first glance. Made less succinct but clearer, the phrase essentially means those values and virtues which wise persons throughout history and across many cultures tend to find worthy, good, and worth pursuing. In other words, these are the values which wise people possess. Well, this is arguable, but it is my belief. At least, these 28 values represent a sampling of good and useful values and virtues. Some values such as love, happiness, and a tolerance for ambiguity aren’t specifically included, but a list of 50 or 100 values would be unwieldy. I find evidence for these values and virtues being worthy and valid in the form of quotations. This blog will list and describe the 28 values of the wise.Read More
November 9th, 2021
If it is true that wisdom is much more complex and multifarious than, say, courage or passion, then it seems as though some aspects of a person’s wisdom would be more advanced than others, which would be relatively underdeveloped. I picture a bar graph for each individual with some levels (bars) being more highly developed and prominent than other levels. Life is a challenge, and a wise person knows where they’ve been, knows what they are about, and knows what it takes to get where they are going. Developing wisdom as you go is a concept I want to reflect on in this blog.Read More
August 27th, 2021
There is something called Socratic dialogue. Essentially, two individuals engage in a conversation – a dialectic, as it is known – and they try to figure out the nature of the question and try to formulate an answer that is logical, rational, true, and correct. It’s not easy, but it is probably better to have a knowledgeable person work in concert with you if you are trying to figure out truth. This takes wisdom, obviously. Though it is not quite ready to be “an app,” there is something about the Socratic method that can be learned and useful to an individual even sans interlocutor, if you will. Thus, I will share with you my notes on what Socratic dialogue is all about. May it lead you one step closer to wisdom!Read More
July 18th, 2021
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:Read More
December 22nd, 2020
Cultivating virtue helps us to live well, and within reason. But how are we to understand the kind of guardrails reason provides? Why suppose that reason can govern action and emotion in the way that modern Aristotelian theorists of virtue seem to suggest that it can? After all, there is an impressive body of empirical research suggesting that people frequently fail to live up to their own ideals. In this blog, Professor Candace Vogler writes about reason, virtue, and living wisely.Read More
June 20th, 2020
Strength quotes are one of the best ways to keep on keepin’ on, to push forward, to keep at it, and to overcome obstacles. Many great minds and historical characters of note faced insurmountable odds. Think of what Epictetus, Frederick Douglas, Fannie Lou Hamer, Nelson Mandela, and Bernie Sanders had to endure, and yet, they found the strength to keep going and continue trying; they persevered. Perseverance, dedication, stick-to-itiveness, will power, determination, stamina, and fortitude are allied values to this. Strength and courage combine to make a “ValueSet,” meaning, two values that are closely aligned in the values of the wise scheme.Read More
April 26th, 2020
My father was a brilliant surgery resident at the famed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA when he was oh, probably, 27 years old. He ended up specializing in and completing another residency in family practice (long story!) by the time he was 31, or thereabouts. Coming from relative poverty, a loveless and sometimes-physically-abusive home, and facing anti-Semitism growing up in the 1950s, I remember him telling me “I went off to college at age 18 with only a suit.” As in, no money, no furniture, no books, no nothing. My father busted his butt and was an admired and even loved physician in the rough part of L.A. when I was growing up. He was asked to be the head of four Kaiser Permanente when he was, oh, about 40. Instead, he opted to remain at Kaiser-Montebello and be the Physician-in-Charge at that clinic. Mort Merchey spoke Spanish with probably 50 percent of his patients—who always remembered him generously during the Christmas holidays. As if that weren’t enough, he also was a Captain in the Reserve Corps of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a huge organization. My pop knew how to shoot his Magnum .357 as well as any uniformed deputy could. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he did pretty darned well, considering where he came from. He makes me look like a slacker in comparison, that’s for sure! He was smart, good-looking, funny, amiable, and competent. Driven to school in his true-blue Mercedes convertible in the mornings, needless to say, I had the greatest respect for my dad’s professional and educational achievement.
This story does not, however, have a happy ending, exactly. My dad suffered greatly in retirement. This happens with many people, perhaps especially those who are like him.