Social Values

How to Be Happy

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happy-girl-300x225If you ask people what they strive for in life, many people will say that they wish to be happy.   Of course, this makes good sense.  But what do we mean by happiness?   And how can we attain it?  The answers to these questions are not so clear.

So we want to be happy.   How can we make this happen?    One way to live a happy life is by continuously asking ourselves what I like to call “The Most Important Question”.  What is that question?

Is what I am doing good?” Read More

What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

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whatwouldyoudo-imgSeveral years ago, I bought my wife a silver bar bearing the question, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” It was meant to be an inspirational gift. Its message, of course, is quite clear: We tend to avoid challenging projects out of a fear of failure. Failing breeds shame, humiliation and other bad things. If we could only get rid of our fear of failure, who knows what we could accomplish? Read More

Is Vulnerability a Form of Weakness?

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Young sad woman - low key portrait

What is your Achilles heel?   According to the ancient Greek myth, the warrior Achilles was destined to die in battle.  His mother, the Goddess Thetis, dipped him in the River Styx, which produced powers of invincibility.   However, in order to dip Achilles into the river, she had to hold him by his heel.   As a result, the heel was unprotected, and Achilles later died in battle from an arrow to his heel.

When we are vulnerable, we are open to being wounded.   And so, in one sense, our vulnerable spot is our weak spot. Read More

Acting Out of Care: Why Self-Interest and Caring for Others are Not Incompatible

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Moral Identity DevelopmentBecoming a moral person doesn’t have to mean we have to sacrifice ourselves. When we come to identify our life projects around contributing to the good of others, doing the right thing becomes a source of self-satisfaction.

We often think of morality in the negative. We tend to imagine a big finger shaking at us, saying “don’t do this” or “do that”. We tend to think of moral rules as restrictive – as something that constrains our freedom. So, “don’t do that” means “don’t do the thing that you want to because it is bad”; “Do that” means “do this thing that you don’t want to do, but which is good.” Yes, moral rules are sometimes like this. To do the right thing often requires that we do something other than what we might otherwise want to do. Read More

An Open Letter to Teens (and Parents) About Sex

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The following is a letter to teenage children about sexuality.  This letter is for all teens, regardless of their age, sexual orientation or political persuasion.  It was written in a spirit that I hope will be seen as free from any particular political agenda, liberal, conservative or otherwise.   My hope is that the values expressed in this letter will be something that many of us can agree upon.  However, if we differ, my hope is that it will at least lead to meaningful conversation.  -MFM.

In our current culture, it is generally assumed that engaging in sexual activity is something that will naturally occur during adolescence.  Read More

Don’t Be Shameless! Why Good People Feel Shame

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We tend to have ambivalent feelings about shame.  On the one hand, no one likes shame.  Shame among the most painful emotions we can experience.   We tend to think that shame is a harmful emotion.  As a result, many parents try to protect their children from feelings of shame.  Shame is painful that we even shy away from talking about it.   On the other hand, shame is a moral emotion.   Feelings of shame help shape the moral behavior of children and adults.   Our desire to avoid the painful experience of shame is one of the many things that motivate us to try to be moral persons. Read More

Teaching Your Kids to Have “Awesome Sex”

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In a post on his blog, Ferrett Steinmetz wants his daughter to have awesome sex.  Is that a good or a bad thing?  In my view, it depends entirely on what one means by the phrase “awesome sex”.

There is a lot that I like about Steinmetz blog post.  First, Steinmetz is no hypocrite.  He enjoys sex; he wants his daughter to experience the same joy that he experiences from sex.  Why would wish to deny something to our sons and daughters that we hold to be dear?   Wouldn’t we want our children to enjoy the pleasures of such experiences? Read More