Tag Archives: character

Why It Doesn’t Matter Much Whether You’re a Man or a Woman, for Happiness and Good Habits

genderWhen it comes to figuring out happiness and good habits, I don’t think it matters much if you’re a man or a woman.

It’s easy to assume that certain aspects of ourselves matter more than they do. For instance, birth order. People believe that birth order has a big influence on personality — but research has disproved this. Birth order just doesn’t matter for personality.

Now, whether you’re a man or a woman matters in some situations, sure.

But in general, in my observation, for any particular person, individual differences swamp gender differences. Continue reading

What Does Character Have To Do With Romance?

By Edwin A. Locke, Ph.D. and Ellen Kenner, Ph.D


Cynthia was immediately attracted to Harry’s good looks, easy smile and charm. She thought, “This is the guy for me.” A few dates, and she was smitten. A few more dates and everything fell apart. Harry lied to her, had an affair with her best friend, and borrowed money from her, which he did not pay back. What went wrong?

We all make automatic, subconscious judgments of the people we meet usually based on readily observable characteristics—the kind that Cynthia saw in Harry. Sometimes our first impressions turn out to be sound, but often they do not. We can miss the deeper layers due to infatuation, which involves excessive focus on one (or more) traits such as looks. What exactly are the deeper layers? The most important one is moral character.

Consider the virtue of honesty. Let’s say the person you’re attracted to is good-looking, charming, intelligent and dishonest. What’s going to happen? That person’s charm and intelligence will be used to deceive you. This will make trust impossible and without trust there can be no emotional intimacy.

What about integrity? A person who says one thing but characteristically does another (for example, expresses loves for you and then sleeps around) is also untrustworthy.

How about independence? Does this person have real, authentic values or are they just a mirror of everyone else’s values?  How can you love a person with no real identity?

Consider productiveness. Does this person take the responsibility of earning a living (if not engaged in full-time child-rearing) or do they mooch off friends and relatives and drain your life savings?

What of justice? Does this person praise your virtues and defend you against those who disrespect you or does this person toady up to your foes for prestige or approval?

Does this person respect reason or are facts (such as responsible money management) something to be invented or dismissed based on the whims of the moment?

Does this person respect his or her own moral character and take earned pride in it or scorn the whole idea of caring about what’s right or wrong? Moral character is the foundation of romantic love. Of course, there are many personal factors involved in romance, but without a moral foundation, those personal factors will gain you nothing but unhappiness as Cynthia found out with handsome Harry.

Take a close look, over time and across many situations, at your potential partner’s moral character. Choosing a person of good character is the first step toward romantic happiness.

© Copyright 2011


Edwin Locke, PhD, a world-renowned psychologist, and Ellen Kenner, PhD, a clinical psychologist and host of the nationally-syndicated radio talk show, The Rational Basis of Happiness®, have co-authored The Selfish Path to Romance: How to Love with Passion and Reason. Both are experts on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. For more information visit www.selfishromance.com.

Character Is Our Bailout

I’ve known Gary King for over 15 years and I can say he is one of the wisest, kindest human beings I know. He also has a transformative message for the world right now. He is a world-class speaker on the subjects of honesty, forgiveness, self-esteem and character. I’ve invited him to share a preview of his upcoming book with us. This is never before been seen in writing so enjoy! His message is so timely I made him do this!

For more information on Gary and his work, please visit his site.

Character Is Our Bailout

If you watch the news or read the newspaper you will be very aware of the current Buzz word, "Bailout." It appears in print constantly and is repeated on news broadcasts every minute worldwide. Bailout, Bailout, Bailout! Enough already!

My personal experience with bailout goes back to when I was 16 years old and a high-school senior. My Friday night routine was to hang out with my two older friends and cruise around in a shiny red 59 Chevy convertible. One of those nights my two friends decided that it would be cool and adventurous to drive in the exit of a “dollar-a-carload” drive-in movie theatre to avoid a single extra dollar payment. My feeling was, "this could be trouble," but as peer pressure goes, I kept my mouth shut. Much to our surprise, as soon as we entered the theatre, a county sheriff stepped out of the bushes, shined a flashlight in our eyes and proceeded to inform us we were under arrest for trespassing. We were handcuffed, put in a paddy wagon, and hauled off to the county jail with instructions that we were to be jailed until Monday morning and then appear in court. The only other option was a bailout.

I promptly called my father who was a recognized local business man employed by the city. I told him what happened and explained the bail was $100.00. He said, "I’m not bailing you out," and hung up the phone. Although at the time this seamed harsh and unreasonable treatment by my own father, I learned a very valuable lesson about taking responsibility for my actions and owning the consequences. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away in 1968 and I never had a chance to share with him how grateful I was for the lesson he bestowed upon me.

If on that Friday night, I would have had a more defined strength of character, I would have just simply said, "drop me off right outside the theatre. I will fend for myself." At that point, bailout would not have been a necessity or choice.

I feel an obvious psychological dynamic at play with the idea of bailouts, rewarding bad or criminal behavior, which promotes negative behavior. Personal character is typically defined as showing high moral and ethical qualities. Character takes in such personal traits as high self-worth, honesty, integrity, forgiveness and gratitude just to name a few.

It appears that we have become a society of situational ethics and integrity. Being honest and ethical is no longer a predetermination for public life. Ethics seem to be decisions made in the moment based on the potential upside or downside of any given situation. Narcissism is the new substitute behavior and indifference is the by-product. Low self-worth is alive and thriving with unhealthy consequences. I believe very few people realize that behavior compounds just like money earning compound interest. Yesterday’s behavior becomes the foundation for tomorrow’s behavior.

As a speaker and author, I travel internationally speaking on honesty, integrity, self-worth and forgiveness. My career path is a result of a near-death experience in the mid-1980s. I grew up with no self-worth and strived to be accepted and loved. I very much lived a situational life until my near-death experience. At that point I had a massive shift in consciousness and paid very close attention to everything I thought and did, especially in regard to every word that came out of my mouth.

Self-worth gets reinforced by everyday life and typically can produce some very unhealthy behavior, especially during early childhood. For example, I grew up thinking I was ugly. My best friend used to call me, "Mole," based on a birthmark on my left cheek. He only had to call me that once before I developed an ugly complex!

I routinely speak to groups of woman who claim they continuously look in the mirror to see what in their appearances is wrong or needs improvement. When I ask what happens if they look in a full length mirror naked, there is painful silence. Well, this is a tough problem to solve. And, the solution I offer can be as simple as a decision to look beautiful and radiant, not to get plastic surgery. The point I try to make is to stop looking for what is wrong. There is no perfect breast size, body shape and size. Start looking for what is right.

As young adults, we grow up believing in and striving toward financial success, a great relationship and optimum health. Along the way, we develop beliefs, and they shape our destiny. One of those beliefs can turn out to encourage the act of lying to produce additional financial gain. When a belief in lying becomes ingrained, lying becomes routine. If that happens, lying can spill over into the way we behave in relationships.

People continue to challenge the thought of being honest all the time, not just when it is convenient. They embrace the thought that they are honest even though they tell white lies, withhold the truth, lie to themselves, steal from their employers, have affairs, lie to their children, for their children and in front of their children. It is almost as if they think there is such a thing as being half pregnant. Remember, there is no such thing as an inconsequential Lie, they all count as Lies. And, all lies produce guilt. Guilt can cause addiction to everything imaginable from sex to drugs, crime, alcohol, and all forms of debt. As a result, now your precious health can be extremely compromised as well.

It is amazing how many people attempt to have healthy love relationships when in reality they have not forgiven their last partner, parents, friends and employers. Forgiving yourself and others, all the time, not just when it is convenient is a critical part of your character. I have been doing forgiveness research during my speaking engagements in the form of a statement designed for audience response. What I do is this. My sense is that everyone in the room has someone to forgive including yourself. I ask that if my statement is not accurate for you, please raise your hand. In the two years I have made the statement to thousands of people, only seven people have raised their hands.
People tend to believe that forgiveness is the same as sanctioning another person’s bad behavior and letting them off the hook, or that that person is not personally worthy of forgiving him/herself. On the contrary, forgiveness is a gift to self because we are worthy.

Personal character or lack thereof can also affect our culture. As I stated earlier, indifference appears to have become an epidemic. Situational ethics and integrity have taken a foothold everywhere.

Indifference has a rather simple starting point. Take these two examples. Imagine you are traveling on the interstate highway at the posted speed limit, from behind comes someone traveling approximately 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit and he or she looks over at you like you are ignorant and are a nuisance. You are standing in a line to board a flight, the person in front of you is talking on a cell phone and continues to talk as he or she passes the check in person, then walks down the jet way onto the flight passing by the flight attendant, still on the cell phone, then attempts to load hand carry in the overhead, still on the cell phone, the aircraft door closes, the flight attendant asks the person to please shut off the phone, the person talks until the flight attendant asks a second time only to get a rude response from the passenger.

These are just two simple examples of everyday indifference to values, rules of law, authority and pure common sense and personal courtesy. There are literally thousands of these situations talking place every hour of every day.

Now let’s look at some far more serious issues of indifference. In the world of professional sports, it is almost a daily occurrence that the media releases a story concerning a major sports personality who is pushing the envelope of honesty, winning at any price by some form of cheating, and worse yet, attempting to lie his way out of the situation rather than taking responsibility for his actions.

Of course, in the corporate world we find many cases where the standard operating procedure is lying as an accepted behavior, and worse, as expected behavior. As I mentioned earlier, greed appears to be a by-product of capitalism and the average business model is "anything goes as long as we make a profit." And, as if those examples are not harsh enough, loyal employees even get terminated via e-mail.

Now for indifference at the highest level concerning elected leaders and public officials. When a president dismisses unethical or immoral conduct, when a governor knowingly delivers one message and lives a completely different lifestyle, when a senator or member of congress operates with clear personal gain in mind, everyone is affected. The message becomes very clear: The country’s leadership approves of indifference. The result is no universally practiced ethics or morals. Indifference becomes a way of life which leads to a deterioration of personal character, morals and values and seriously compromises our culture.

How can you be part of the change?

Our teenagers are our future leaders, Do you realize that the national statistic for cheating in middle school, high school and college falls between 63% to 90%? Have you ever stopped to think about the number of bright yellow school buses that exist in the United States? There are actually 440,000 school buses in our country. Have you ever noticed that almost all school buses have one thing written down the side in large black letters? It’s the name of the school district they serve. Do you realize that if a school bus had large black letters saying ”Real Winners Never Cheat” down the side of the bus, behavior would change as a result? (www.SchoolBusSolutions.com)

Do you know someone on a school board? Are you a teacher?

There are three decisions that will reshape your life forever and create the potential for health, wealth and happiness. These are decisions not work projects:
1. Live an authentic life. Be honest all the time not just when it’s easy.
2. Look in the mirror and like what you see. Try it. You will be amazed what happens over time.
3. Forgive yourself and others always. It’s a gift for you because you deserve it.

And, check in with yourself by taking the "24-Hour Truth Challenge." Commit to being honest and authentic for 24 straight hours, to yourself and everyone else. You will become very aware of your personal behavior especially if you are struggling after two hours of your truth challenge. You will also notice an internal feeling of freedom and inner strength based on being authentic.

There is nothing more important than your character. Character is truly our Bailout.

Does suffering build character?

Saturday night, my husband David and I had a different kind of date: we went cruising the aisles of a hardward store for paint to replace the 10 year old stuff on our bathroom walls. On our way out, with sample Athenian Green, Spring Hill, and Mint Hint paint pods in hand, we saw a gray-haired man standing at the “Installation and Services – Free Estimates” table. For some reason, I felt drawn to him.

“How’s it going?” I asked. “Business okay?”

“Well, yes…” he answered tentatively. “But people are cutting back.”

“I know,” I said. I proceeded to share David and my plans to disconnect one of our telephone land lines, which we probably should have done away with years ago. Even though I use one of the lines for my business, we hardly use the home line at all.

“We got rid of ours a while ago,” he said, “And I disconnected my cell phone. Now my wife’s the only one who has one.”

After talking for a bit longer about economy-related issues, David and I signed up for a free estimate. We said goodbye, and I felt surprisingly happy and hopeful.

Why? Not because I thought we might decide to pay someone else to paint our bathroom for us. Not because I felt more fortunate than this man, who had to give up not only his cell phone but his land line as well. Not even because we may have helped a struggling worker earn a little commission on signing us up for an estimate.

Then why? Maybe it was because I had felt connected to him, and the ember of friendship warmed me.

Suffering may or may not build character, but it certainly seems to be building community. Everywhere you go now, it seems everyone, even perfect strangers, are commiserating about the economy, and trying to shore one another up. Just as cancer brings together individuals from all walks of life, stripping away that which before separated or even divided us, this recession has linked us through a massive invisible web.

Like a spider’s web, it has made many of us feel trapped, frightened, and even desperate. But there seems to be some small consolation in being in this together. And just by sharing our stories – or more important, listening to one another – I know I feel safer, less isolated, and more confident that things will get better.

I’m not Pollyanna, and am not trying to sugarcoat this terrifying crisis. I certainly wouldn’t want to minimize in any way what millions of individuals and families are losing. But as the Chinese symbol for “crisis” illustrates, crisis is comprised of both danger and opportunity. The danger is obvious. The opportunity, less so.

What I see is the opportunity to build community, get back to the basics, and redefine what we think of as “enough.”

To return to faith, hope, and charity (sometimes thought of as love) as the greatest virtues.

To learn to walk closer together in faith, not fear.

Always hope,
Author of Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know
This post originally appeared in Lori’s CarePages blog, "Hope for Cancer: what helps. what hurts. what heals."

Day 19: Look at the Character Strengths You

January 26-30, 2009
Week 4 : Keeping Going, as Long as It Takes

Look at the Character Strengths You’re Cultivating

Of course you want to lose those 40 pounds, quit your job and start over, get out of debt, or whatever your intention is. Those are worthy goals that will reap specific rewards —greater health, more meaningful work, less money stress. But, as you know, the work of actually doing them can be tedious, boring, fear-creating, challenging, or any number of other unpleasant adjectives. By paying attention to the positive qualities of heart and mind that you are developing as a result of sticking to your goal, you give yourself greater incentive to hang in there.

What are the character strengths you’ve been cultivating as you work this change? Self-regulation, the capacity to say no to harmful impulses? Self-trust, the awareness that you can rely on your own word? Resilience, the ability to pick yourself up and begin again, no matter how many times? Determination to succeed? Humor? Compassion? Humility? Patience? Forgiveness? Courage? All of the above?

In many ways, developing these qualities are the real rewards of change. To my mind, they are more important than your resolution or intention itself because they are transferable. These attributes and others like them are the ones we need in order to create meaningful and satisfying lives, the two building blocks of happiness.

That’s why I say changing anything in ourselves, no matter how small, is a powerful act. Through it, we grow aspects of ourselves we would not otherwise develop. That is because character strengths are only formed through some kind of challenge, a rising above our previous limitations.

To Try: Take a few moments to write down what qualities you’ve grown in yourself with this change. It’s a way of acknowledging your efforts and inspiring you to keep on going. Now how are you going to celebrate your newfound qualities? They are your true treasures, and can never be taken away.

Ready to get started? Post your intent and find community support and content to help you achieve it!

Adapted from This Year I Will…: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True


The Characteristics of Soul

At the dawn of spring, I am reminded by my children the joy of anticipating new life.

They will usually see a flower or two that has made its way through the soil to a world beyond itself. What starts out as a seedling or bulb is transformed by nature’s capacity to evolve.

Inside each of us lies dormant an awareness, an identity, an ability to grow beyond what we appear to be. Every moment, we are being challenged by others and by circumstances to create a life that exceeds our present state of living.

To move toward our highest good takes a willingness on our part to let go of what we know to what can be known in and through us. You and I are part of the Created Order we see around us, and we are participants in Creating Order out of what we have been given to care for.

With this in mind, let us turn to ways our soul can be described in the characteristics that make up a flower:

1. The Ground.

The ground nurtures, protects, and gives birth to a flower. Inside the womb of the ground, life is taking root long before we can see it. Because we cannot see a flower that has been planted in the earth, does not mean life is not being created. To be full participants in our world means to be fully connected and rooted in the world we have been given.

2. The Stem.

The stem begins its growth in the earth below and into the sky above. This part of the flower is the connecting characteristic of the plant. Much like humanity, we are in this world without being fully of it. This creates a sacredness to our lives. It is our unique ability to live and grow in a way no one ever has, is, or ever will.

3. The Flower.

In full bloom, a flower is the illumination of all the life that has preceded it. The radiance and color that pour out of it create life. Notice the next time you look at a flower how you are affected by it. You may notice your heart open and be filled with joy. Or, you may notice more energy and clarity in your vision for being blessed with great beauty.

4. The Spirit of a Flower.

The spirit of a flower is the life force moving in and through it. It is the essence of a flower that identifies with your spirit. This part of you opens from the inside out and becomes ONE with the spirit of a flower. It is the same energy that runs in and through you. Like a flower, you begin to radiate your own soul from the essence of your own being.

Each spring, take the time to notice the part of you opening up to new life. Just like flowers, we grow from the inside out. What illuminates in our life began inside us. We nurture these inner qualities of attention until they eventually take root and grow into our daily lives. The growth that follows is created from what we attend to or hold our attention on within us.

Like the pedals of a flower opening to the world around it, we create a presence of awareness. In full bloom, the beauty or the lack thereof touches the lives of everyone around us. As our inner patterns of attention move through us, the world illuminates the seeds of awareness contained within us for so long. Here, a life is created. It is the life of our soul.


Sam Oliver, author of, "The Path into Healing"
www.soulandspirit.org and www.pathintohealing.com

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