“Justice means giving each person what he or she deserves or, in more traditional terms  giving each person his or her due.” (Manual Velasquez, Clair Andre, Thomas Shanks, S.J., and Michael J Meyer/Justice and Fairness/ Markkula Center for Applied Ethics/2/22/2021) But isn’t there more to justice? What is justice anyway, and how can we make it part of our lives? How can we make justice a reality?

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.”

Psalms 89:14
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Justice dates back to Genesis in the bible, but it was debated and as a philosophical term starting with Socrates, and it continued with Plato and Aristotle. Justice was not an individual virtue but a “city” virtue or rather a societal issue according to Greek philosophy. In searching for the meaning of justice, you will also be drawn into the subject of law and its meaning of justice – according to the courts. However, that is not what this blog is about. 

Because we are looking for the definition and the virtues of strength, we must look how to incorporate justice in our own lives. Plato said that justice is the result of the weaker needing protection and not for the interest of the strong. I can see where that is a definite argument, however, justice is the ethical decision making process – and mutually recognizing the basic dignity of another person.

Justice also deals with our rights. As it is written in The Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Here in America, when I was a child, that was drilled into us at an early age. But there are other rights as well, the right to practice whatever religion we wish, we have the right to follow our dreams, we have a right to be respected, however, that is not only our rights, but everyone’s rights, so if we want to be respected and be able to enjoy our rights, we have to respect the rights of others.

As with all the strengths we have reviewed so far, Justice has a list of virtues: Fairness, equality, diversity, the ability to make right, and right relations to others.


The idea of fairness is the idea of a level “playing field.” However, with such diversity in our society, a level playing field is difficult to impossible to come by, only because we try to level the playing field globally instead of locally. We need to focus on what is happening around us – locally – and focus on the actions and processes that are morally, honorably and equitably right. If everyone does this around the world, the playing field will become level.

The issue is that we like to take sides, when there is injustice and unfairness, we want to make sure that the “right” side wins. However, sometimes we don’t know the whole story, and we are consumed with what is right in front of our eyes.

“Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either.”



Equality goes hand in hand with fairness. One again, we need to treat everyone fairly, they need to be given the space to be the people they want to be; not constrained by social and stereotypical harnesses that we have created as pigeon holes in our society.

Equality means that we must not see race, we must not recognize gender, we must not interfere with religion, and we need to start looking at people as people.

When I was in the Navy, My Masterchief needed someone to look after his daughter. My wife was a stay-at-home mom, and so she offered to take care of his child while we were at work. My boss said that he would come to drop his daughter off, and then we would go to work. The first day came and my Masterchief knocked on the door, and my wife answered. Everything went well and we were off to work. That night after his daughter was picked up, my wife asked me, “Why didn’t you tell me he was black?” She was just surprised that I never brought up his ethnicity.

I try not to make race an important factor, because we are one people; however, the elevation of one race above another is reprehensible. If you don’t believe me, study Germany of the 1930’s


When you talk about equality and fairness: diversity wants to play. Diversity is a beautiful thing, when I was studying social studies in elementary school, we were exposed to a concept of “melting pot.” In other words we were supposed to be a mixture of ethnic groups – I didn’t understand diversity when I was a kid, and people melting into a pot, turned my stomach. However, as an adult, I have discovered the rich fabric of the United States.

Once again, I point to Germany of the 1930’s if you like to have “racial purity.” It didn’t work then, it won’t work now. We need to remember that we are all humans, and I don’t care what human origin story you subscribe to, whether it is God created man in his own image, we crawled out of a swamp or space seed. We all live on this planet together – we should have one race – the human race: in all its diverse beauty.

To make it right

“We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is responsible for his actions.”

Ronald Reagan

Justice is a virtue which makes us get along harmoniously, it is also giving everybody what they deserve in each situation. In other words when something or someone is wronged, we must make it right. 

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My heart breaks when I hear that there was another police shooting. My heart breaks, because there is an officer that is now questioning his actions, he is under a microscope and his every move up to that moment is being scrutinized: Plus he has to live with that the rest of his life. My heart breaks for the family that has suffered this loss, they have to bury their loved one, and there will be a hole in that family forever. My heart breaks for society, because we are moving farther from Dr. King’s dream.

As it turns out, Officer shootings of black individuals are newsworthy. That is how they get the ratings. A black man gets shot, it’s all over the news. According to https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/ white people have been shot more frequently.  From 2017 to 2021, the total whites that have been shot are: 1,672. Total blacks that have been shot are: 900. Total hispanics that have been shot are: 646. The most interesting is last year; 432 whites were shot to 226 blacks; that is almost twice as many whites to blacks.

The sad part about this is: If we factor in other races that were shot and unknown; 4044 people were shot to death in the United States between 2017 and 2021. Why aren’t we marching in the streets for them – because it is not newsworthy.

Right relations to others

Relationships with other people are essential to our existence. We need to not only have relationships with loved ones and friends, but with our neighbors as well. The main reason we need to have right relations is because we will always treat those we have right relations with, with the virtues of justice. 

“It is reasonable that everyone who asks justice should do justice.”

Thomas Jefferson

Justice is the virtue of treating everyone with fairness and equality; recognizing the diverse nature of our society and when we do wrong we need to make it right, so that we can have right relations with others. Justice is a strength, and it contributes to our strength. However, justice is not easy, justice can be hard especially if we don’t see justice, but for our own strength we “… should do justice.”






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Humanity Is the third item in our list of what it means to be strong. It is a virtue that seems to have some lacking in our society as a whole. There are three attributes that make up humanity. They are all important. There is: Love, Kindness and Social Intelligence. It might seem easy – to love, to be kind and to know how to behave when out in public, but it is far deeper than that. So how do we show our humanity?

I took the VIA online survey at: https://www.viacharacter.org/account/register#nav%20http://VIAME.org. Which determines the rank and order of your character strength. I never took this test before, but for this post I did and I will tell you how I did for each section.

Now, why do I even care about my character strengths? Well this blog is dedicated to helping you (and me) to become the person other people want to be around. Assessing my character and giving you the link to do the same, will help us to attain our goal.


“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

This actually ranked number 1 in my character strengths. So what is love? Is love just a chemical reaction of dopamine and norepinephrine pumped into our bloodstream and affecting our brains, or is it something more than that?

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Love is a mutual sharing of comfort, acceptance and warmth. However, love is not romance. I know that might come as a shock to some of you, but you can love someone and not be romantically connected to them. Love is affection between two people that depend on each other. 

That is why the qualifier “we are just friends” makes little to no sense in this context, because affection does not and cannot differentiate between friends and lovers. Love is mutual affection between two like minded people, people that depend on one another for support. Romance is shared between two people at a deeper more intimate level. Casual sex is neither.

We get stuck – as a society – on the oversimplification of love. What I mean by this is that we constrain love to a relationship between two people. “Well, you cannot say that you love me and love that other person.” Why not? Love is not romance? Therefore, you cannot be romantically involved with more than one person. Another thing, love is not a crush, unrequited affection or putting someone on a pedestal; it might look like love, you might get that hormone rush, but it is not love. Just to be clear; Romance requires love, but love does not require romance.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18 ESV

Another part of love is loving yourself, this can be the hardest thing to do and it is actually something I struggle with quite a bit. I know who I am, and sometimes I feel if I met myself on the street, I would cross the street just to avoid me. I know this is not healthy and I am working on it. There is an exercise that I found which might just help. Three times a week, take time out and reflect on what you can give yourself credit for. Tell yourself that you did a great job. 


There are quite a few attributes to kindness. When I was researching for this post, I came across lists and lists of what kindness is, and what it isn’t. Kindness is doing things for others, without the hope of anything in return. Being neighborly – like the Good Samaritan.

Just a brief sampling of kindness: Benevolence, care, compassion, concern, courtesy, friendliness, gentleness, goodness, goodwill, grace, gracious heart, helpfulness, hospitality, neighborly, patience, philanthropy, sympathy, tenderness, thoughtfulness, tolerance, and unselfishness. 

Kindness does take practice, as with anything worthwhile. If you are feeling like you are not measuring up in the kindness department, you can do the following: Offer grace – be forgiving and then let go of the anger: don’t seek revenge. Think of what you are going to say, before you say it; weigh it according to what is fair, kind and appropriate. Make sure your relationships are long term; in other words, don’t drop someone, just because you had an argument.

My best friend in Highschool was also my best man at our wedding: He stood up with me. We went into the Navy together, and when we got off active duty, we went to live in the same town that we left. My wife and I had kids, and he did not, but he was willing to babysit one night. My wife and I had not had a date in years. The restaurant we wanted to go to was closed, so we called him and asked if he minded if we took in a movie. When we made it home, he was very upset and we haven’t spoken since. Almost 30 years. I have tried to reach out to him, but attempts to reconnect have been thready.

Kindness and niceness are not the same. Kindness is sincere in actions, niceness shows a lack of insincerity. Kindness does favors and good deeds, niceness gets away with doing little as possible. Kindness is selfless, caring and compassionate; niceness looks out for himself

I ranked 9 out of 24 on the VIA online survey – it is a middle strength

Social Intelligence

“The single most important lesson I learned in 25 years of talking every single day to people, was that there’s a common denominator in our human experience. The common denominator I found in every single interview is we want to be validated. We want to be understood.”

Oprah Winfrey
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Do you have the ability to get along with others? When you are around people – can you act intelligent during interactions? Can you act on the feelings and thoughts as well as the behaviours of other people? If so, you have a high Social Intelligence.

There are actually six traits of someone that is Socially Intelligent. However, Social Intelligence is not a trait you are born with, it comes from interactions and experiences with people. The six elements of Social Intelligence are:

  • Verbal Fluency and conversational Skills: This is the ability to have a coherent conversation with anyone on any subject.
  • Knowledge of social roles, rules and scripts. Different social roles are not difficult to follow, they can steer conversation in whichever way it needs to go, and they do it effortlessly.
  • Effective listening skills. They listen more than they talk, they don’t think of how they are going to reply, they actively listen to the entirety of what is being said, then they give their response.
  • Understanding what makes people tick. They are people watchers, they learn how people react to certain situations, they can tell what people are thinking.
  • Role playing and social self-efficacy. They know how to fit into several social roles, they feel comfortable in any situation – they are self confident and effective.
  • Impressive Management Skills – The impression they make is of utmost importance. They want to be remembered, but in a good way.

Social Intelligence is knowing when to talk, when to listen and what to do. This requires timing, and making sure you do things that are appropriate, when they are appropriate. I ranked 8 out of 24 for Social Intelligence.

Humanity has a lot of moving parts, and as a virtue of strength, it requires us to be aware of how we fit into humanity. We have to show love, love for ourselves, love for our neighbor and love for our friends and those to whom we are romantically attached. We need to be kind and not just nice. We have to give without the hope of reward and we have to consider others when we do it. Finally we need to have Social Intelligence, we need to learn how to get along with others at any time and in any social situation. 


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The second virtue of strength is courage – But what is courage? Is it John McClane hunting down bad guys? It is Rambo taking out a town, because they drew first blood? King Arthur, the knights of the round table and Camelot? Is it the Cowardly Lion facing the Wicked Witch of the West? Yes those were all courageous moments in cinematic history, but is that all there is to courage? As it turns out, there are several other attributes to courage, it might not always be in the movies, television or make the news, but they are important – they are courage – they are strength.

According to Dr. Melanie Greenberg of Psychology Today and lionswhiskers.com, there are six types of courage, they are: Physical – feeling fear yet choosing to act, Emotional – following your heart, Social – Persevering in the face of adversity, Moral – Standing up for what is right, Intellectual – expanding your horizons, and Spiritual – Facing suffering with dignity or faith.

We are going to look at these one at a time:


“My father cared very much about courage, physical courage as well. He despised those who didn’t have it. But he never said to me, ‘I want you to be courageous.’ he just smiled with pride every time I did something difficult or won a race with the boys.”

Indira Gandhi

Walking into a dark street, keys in hand and ready to face whatever might be lurking in the dark. Physical courage keeps us from running away, it is the steady hand that pushes us through our fear and carries us to the other side of the situation that caused us to have fear in the first place.

Physical courage is also the most primal. It is the fight of our fight or flight response. When we are in a fight/flight response, our body feels stress, then our body releases hormones and stimulates our adrenal glands to release adrenaline – The person feels their heart start to race, their breathing gets more rapid. This is called the primal response, because it comes from our basal ganglia or better known as the reptilian brain. 

You see the basal ganglia is part of your limbic system, and so is your amygdala which tells the hypothalamus to get the adrenal glands to give you a boost of adrenaline – this way you can either fight to save your life, or run like hell.

“Courage is not the absence of fear. Only fools have no fear. Rather, courage is the intellectual mastery of fear by understanding the true risks and opportunities of the situation and keeping those things in balance.”

Julian Assange


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The truth will set you free. The courage to tell the truth can cause a pit in your stomach. Unfortunately, telling the truth can feel like we are exposing our belly as it were, and leaving ourselves vulnerable. But not only is vulnerability and honesty part of Emotional Courage, but also engaging in both positive and negative emotions.

You need to follow your heart. Emotional Courage can be displayed by confronting a family member or friend about something that is difficult to address. Such as: Infidelity, abuse or addiction. It is hard to approach someone about these issues, but if you are Emotionally Courageous – you will be able to step up. 


“I wanted you to see what courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it though no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Warner Books paperback edition 1982, p115 

What Atticus is talking about here, in this well read book, is the social courage of Mrs. Dubose, this is “real” courage to Atticus. Mrs. Dubose faced the world sick and alone at an old age, she also fought off addiction to die free from morphine. She was courageous in Atticus’ eyes, because she went against what society deemed necessary to alleviate her pain. She didn’t want to die hooked on drugs – even though it would have made her life easier.

You see Social Courage is not looking for approval from those around you, and following what the crowd says. If Mrs. Dubose followed what everyone else felt was alright, she would have died addicted to morphine, but because she didn’t allow that, she was regarded as a hero by Atticus.

Dr. Martin Luther King was also a socially and morally courageous man. Because he saw that racial inequality was rampant. He spoke out and led the Civil Rights Movement until the day of his death. He stepped out and was vocal to correct this injustice. 


“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”

Mark Twain

Moral Courage is almost a topic all on its own. It deals with morality and the courage to wield that morality for good. There are people that act moral, but underneath they lack the moral fortitude of a dung beetle. Moral Courage takes the road of looking out for the good of society and ethics without regards to what consequences it might bring. 

Moral courage may be described as Intrepid integrity, it refuses to compromise conscience for personal gain or for decisions of convenience. 

Once again I am looking straight at Dr. King. He understood what it took to be courageous. he was looking out for what society needed. 52 years later, we still have inequality in our nation. there is still a us/them mentality in our country.

We still favor segregation and lifting up one race over another. We still are looking at keeping one race over the other. I don’t care who it is – nobody is more important than another – I don’t care what the color of their skin is – because we are all made in God’s image. I believe Dr. King would be shaking his head in disgust. That will be a topic for another post.

“A courageous person not only fears rightly, but also is confident about the right things, in the right way and at the right time.”



“Intellectual courage is the quality that allows one to believe in one’s judgement in the face of dissapointment and widespread skepticism. Intellectual courage is even rarer than physical courage”

John Charles Polanyi

There is a fear when we are confronted with ideals that do not match with our own. I don’t care who you are or how you were raised, if someone has different ideals than you, you tend to reject them or at least the new ideas give you pause. When our core beliefs are challenged, sometimes we want to take up the sword and shield and fight against those beliefs.

I have to admit, I was and sometimes am a sword wielding shield carrying fanatic, following a man with blue paint on his face into battle (Braveheart reference). Seriously, sometimes we let rhetoric and ideals cloud our judgement when it comes to our belief systems.

If we “side” with someone with a different opinion and belief system, we fear the rejection of those with the same belief as ours. Because we congregate in like minded communities where people without our beliefs are kept at arm’s length.

When I was a teenager, being gay was worse then death. AIDS had just come onto the scene, and people were dying from the disease, and it was blamed on homosexuals. If you were gay, you were not only made fun of, but you were ostroscized. I am not gay, guys do nothing for me, but because I was of slight build and had no interest in sports, but I loved the theater and I was a classical muscian; I was labeled as gay.

Being a Christian, I believed homosexuality was wrong… Please note I said believed – as in the past tense. You see what Christians seem to forget is John 3:17, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” and 1 Timothy 1:15, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” So if Christ – The Son of the Living God – will not condemn, why do I have the right?

You see, making the statement above, in a conservitive Christian setting will almost get me burned at the stake, but it takes Intellectual Courage to speak out and say that I don’t have the right to judge, because I, like the Apostle Paul, am the worst sinner. 


Which leads me to the last type of courage: Spiritual Courage. Spiritual Courage has qualities that reach deep down into our spirit. Qualities such as: empathy, love, justice, a desire to preserve beauty in all its forms, creativity, ethics and morality Reaching out to others, offering a helping hand and being generous with time and resources. 

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There are times when we are faced with situations that incite hate, blaming others and violence. We have seen such actions in the past year. We have seen hate being incited, where the media has fueled the fire of hate and violence. Where Spiritual Courage comes in is where we take that information and actions we see and we stand against it. We have the courage to stand up to the hate mongers of our society.

Yes Spiritual Courage does also mean that we hold true to our core beliefs in the midst of trials and tribulations. That even if it is unpopular, we unabashedly stand up for our beliefs. People have been persecuted or put to death for their Spiritual Courage, I believe they have gained more than they have lost.

“One has to beckon the spiritual warrior inside oneself whenever it is deemed necessary for the task at hand. Courage is the fuel. Healing is the direction. Forgivenessis the balm. Love is the atmosphere Divine.”

Donna Goddard, The Love of Devotion

Courage is more than just killing bad guys, more than just saving the girl and riding off into the sunset. Courage is a multi-faceted gem. It is difficult, uncomfortable, cringeworthy but in the end it is worth it. To have strength, you must have courage in all of its beautiful and wonderfulness. It is scary at times but only a fool is not afraid. 



Running Plan B




Wisdom – the word conjures up mental images of an old man sitting cross legged atop a snowy mountain, doling out advice to all who seek it. But how does one obtain wisdom? It is spoken about in religion and secularism, it is a topic of modern psychology, but is wisdom really attainable, or is it a “chasing after the wind.” So how does one become wise? If wisdom is a virtue of strength, how can one become strong if they aren’t wise?

To be honest, wisdom it is often searched for, but rarely ever obtained. It has been the object of desire spoken about in the book of Enoch to the writings of King Solomon and also in the New Testament Spoken about by Jesus and written about by the Apostle Paul and the Disciple James. James said in James 1:5 (ESV), “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.”

Ecclesiastes 9:18 (NIV)

Religion and Christianity don’t have a corner on this market. Ancient Greek philosophers had more than a passing interest in wisdom. The ancient Greek ideas and philosophy have trickled down to modern psychology; Is having just a secular view of wisdom really wise, or do we need to have a religious view as well?

Wisdom is the perception into humanity and what it means to have a good life. So that means that wisdom encompases: Social intelligence, maturity, creativity, exceptional level of human functioning, personal and interpersonal competence, the ability to listen and evaluate and give advice. Wisdom also represents a superior level of knowledge; wisdom encompasses knowledge and with that extraordinary scope, depth, measure and balance.

So is Wisdom just knowledge? It might seem so, but actually it is more than knowledge. “Wisdom is the application of knowledge towards the achievement of the common good.” Knowledge is the foundation of wisdom, but knowledge is not wisdom. For Instance, it is knowledge to know and understand that a tomato is a fruit, however, it is wisdom that tells you not to put a tomato in a fruit salad. It can be said that wisdom is the practical application of knowledge in real world scenarios.

So how does one become wise – I mean truly wise and not just a specialist in a certain field or an expert? Wisdom comes from the search for truth, intellectual knowledge and practical knowledge. You cannot have wisdom if all you have is the intellectual knowledge, because you need to have the practical aspect as well. Then after you have that knowledge and wisdom, you can discern judgement and give advice: Which ultimately means you need to share your wisdom.  Wisdom has a vast capacity of knowledge and requires a balance of what you know and its application.

So how does someone become wise? The Oracle of Delphi was once asked who was the wisest person? To which the Oracle replied Socrates. Socrates didn’t consider himself wise and went out to find someone wiser than himself: He was unsuccessful. So what does that mean? 

I suppose with anything that is a vocation to excel at, you must be recognized as highly proficient.  When I was in High School, I was recognized as a musician. I was told this by several people that I looked up to and tried to emulate.The same thing should be said about being wise, not just knowledgeable. Don’t get me wrong, being an expert at something is a fine goal to be sure, but to be wise is to take that one step farther, but you cannot be wise in your own eyes, you must be wise to other people as well – It is a virtue toward excellence. 

Dr. Carol Morgan from Huffpost has 11 Ways Wise People Think, And You Can Too. She advises the following: Think before you speak, realize there is never a ‘right time,’ balance self-interest with the collective good, put things into perspective before you jump to conclusions, don’t blindly accept the status quo, keep your power – don’t let other people’s negativity upset you, don’t act impulsively – have a purpose and a goal, accept other people for who they are, the cover may be pretty – but the book might not be, don’t judge others – try to understand them instead and lastly, think positive thoughts and repeat affirmations. I would suggest reading her article at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/11-ways-wise-people-think_b_11994260.

There are a thousand ways for people to tell you how to be wise, and I have read several of the recommendations. However, it all starts with knowledge and after that, you need to gain understanding. I have read that only older people are wise, and I believe that to some extent, because they have gone through a lifetime of struggle. However, it is never too early to walk that road to wisdom, it may be hard – but wisdom will be found in the end.




Ursula M. Staudinger (2008) A Psychology of Wisdom: History and Recent Developments, Research in Human Development, 5:2, 107-120, DOI: 10.1080/15427600802034835



We all want to be strong. We want to be the idyllic hero sung about in the song by Bonnie Tyler. But what is strength? What strength is important? How do we get stronger?

I’m holding out for a hero ‘till the end of the night, he’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.

Bonnie Tyler, Footloose sound track, 1984

If you Google strength, you can get a variety of different definitions. There is strength that is defined by physics: Mechanical Strength, compressive strength and tensile strength. This is helpful in construction and manufacturing. There is also stress, strain, ultimate strength and yield strength – which will assist you in general engineering. There is absolute strength, relative strength, power or explosive strength and strength endurance – which helps if you are trying to be physically strong.

So as you can see, strength has many definitions, and I think Ms. Tyler was going for the last set I identified. However, this blog is not about physics, engineering or bodybuilding and athleticism. No this blog is to help you be the person that other people want to be around. 

Mental strength can be defined by six virtues that give strength to our character.

  • Wisdom or the gaining of knowledge
  • Courage which is the ability to accomplish goals no matter the opposition from the inside or the outside
  • Humanity – the ability to show love and kindness to others
  • Justice –  Strengths towards community and fairness to others
  • Temperance – self control
  • Transcendence – gratitude and hope 

Over the next few of weeks, I am going to go into depth each of these virtues and how we can ascribe them to our lives. 

Keep reading!






Pleasure and Pain

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Pleasure and Pain is a conscious and subconscious battle. We don’t like to experience pain, so our conscious and subconscious makes us avoid pain. If we do experience pain then we want the pain to be over as immediately as possible; but if the pain persists – the pleasure, when the pain is finally alleviated, will be greater. But how do we endure pain? How do we make it though to accomplish our goals? How do we condition ourselves to tolerate the pain?

When talking about self control and delayed gratification, one of the topics we must discuss is Freud’s Pleasure principle. Before we get into that principle, we must first clarify some ideas of Freud’s. Also, let me point out, I am not a Freudian, but I do find some of his ideas have merit, afterall he is the father of psychotherapy. 

The id, ego and superego are three parts of the personality according to Freud’s models. The id is what we are going to be discussing today. You see, according to Freud, the id is the personality we have starting out – at birth: our driving force. The id is a smaller part of our personality, and it acts as our motivator. The id represents our basic urges, and since this is the primal personality – it is crucial to survival: You’re cold, the id makes you go warm by the fire. You are hungry, the id makes you eat.

id, the bus driver, by tjamespickard

So if you are going around satisfying your urges, and your urges are unmanageable; it is like having this little guy – the id – driving your personality bus all over the place and you are out of control. Don’t get me wrong, the id is important to our survival, but remember it is a smaller part of your personality, so don’t let it take control.

So back to Freud’s pleasure principle. Freud said that the id didn’t like to be in pain. Now the pain that Freud was speaking about was the pain of discomfort, such as: hunger, loneliness,  thirst. When we feel this kind of pain, our id tries to take over and strives to relieve this discomfort. 

Delayed gratification and self control are things that the id doesn’t like. It wants what it wants and it wants it now: sound familiar. If you have ever spent anytime in the company of an infant, you will totally understand the id. When a baby is hungry what does it do? The baby starts to cry. When a baby is tired, it will cry. When a baby is wet or dirty, crying will ensue.

So right now, I am changing my eating habits. I am not calling it a diet, because that is a four letter word that should be held in the same contempt as the “f” word. Anyway, when I started this change, my id went crazy, “What do you mean you are changing how and what you eat, I was fine with what we were eating, we were happy – I thought everything was going good. You bastard!” Truthfully I am in the early stages, and I know that – in time – it will settle down. 

When we strive to push ourselves to be in more control, our id goes into panic mode. That is why when we diet (or whatever you want to call it), we always feel hungry. Our id is there saying, “I’m hungry right now.” If you are trying to quit smoking, your id will start giving you more nicotine fits. The id does not like to be in pain, it only likes pleasure. So how can we deal with – the id: this “tip of the iceberg” of our total personality? 

Now is when we start to move towards Freud’s reality principle. Which states that we must wait and delay gratification until it is appropriate to do so. So my reality is that the container of Oreos that my daughter brought into the house is only about eight feet from my present location. My id wants the sugar and the carbs that it will provide, however, I have eliminated that from my new lifestyle. My id is not happy – to say the least – however eating the Oreos are not appropriate for my goals. So I must not pay attention to my id and ignore the fact that those damned Oreos are calling my name.

So like the spoiled little kid that the id is; we cannot be giving into it at every turn – even though there is discomfort. Since the id hangs out in our subconscious most of the time, we need to pay attention to that subconscious, and to its urges; we need to stop with the behaviours that enable the id to take control. If you know you will give in to urges by doing specific actions, stop doing those actions.

With the action of changing my eating habits, I know that standing in front of the refrigerator and scanning the shelves is how to not be successful in my change of diet, and it is a way to give into my id. When I was quitting smoking, if I went out to the smoke break area, I would want a cigarette, so I would stop hanging out with my friends in the smoking area. Sometimes changing just one behaviour will make it easier not to give into your id. 

“But that causes pain Thom, you said you would tell us how to deal with that pain.” Dealing with the pain of denying oneself and having self control is difficult at best. There will be pain, and the pain can seem severe at times, however, nothing is permanent. Sometimes you will start to fantasize about what you are not getting. You start to think about that cookie, cigarette or whatever you are trying to have more control over. Moreover, keeping your mind on it, even in fantasies will only intensify the pain. However, if you can distract yourself, the pain will lose its intensity over time.

So you can control your basic urges. Remember that you don’t have to let your personality bus be driven by your id. By changing your behaviours and not thinking about them, you can control your pain, and delay your gratification. If you can distract yourself like the children did in the famous marshmallow experiment. You will be more successful in keeping your goals. Remember changing your lifestyle can be very hard – pain can be hard, but once you are in control; you will be even happier with yourself.

Delayed Gratification

So you can’t really talk about self control without talking about delayed gratification. The concept is simple, it is basically putting off an instant reward for a better reward after a length of time. “But I like things now, I want to have what I want, when I want it.” This is the general consensus of many people here in America. However, if we can just delay our need for satisfaction, for just a little while – something better might just be over the horizon.

So why is Delayed Gratification so important? 

A person with delayed gratification has the capacity to wait to get what they want. They see that there is a bigger reward if they can just resist getting a lesser or more immediate reward. Is it possible for a student to forgo going out with friends to study for an exam? Is it doable to wait to buy a car until you have saved the money for it? These are some hard questions.

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For instance – Let us pretend that you are on a diet, you have cut sugar out of your diet, and now it is your best friend’s wedding. The wedding cake was baked by the Ace of Cakes himself, Duff Goldman. You know that Duff takes pride not only in how the cake looks but how the cake tastes. You know that eating a piece of this wedding cake is going to be fantastic, and you might never get a chance to taste another cake like this. What do you do?

A person that can delay gratification can reach their goals easier than one that gets the immediate reward. Yes a cake baked by Duff Goldman will be fantastic to eat, but eating that cake could derail your goals of losing weight – not losing weight can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other issues; not only that, but it will degrade your self esteem and could affect your mental health… Thanks Duff!

Honestly I have no problem with Duff Goldman, he is a fine artist to be sure, and I am sure his cakes are fantastic.

Why is Delayed Gratification so difficult?

We, as a society don’t like to wait. We have credit, so we can buy now and pay later – instant gratification. We go through a drive thru, so we can get a third rate burger, salty fries and 64 ounces of soda, so we don’t have to park, go in for a sit down meal or go home and cook for yourself – instant gratification. We purchase lottery tickets in the hopes to win the big jackpot and get instant gratification.

Instant gratification is all around us. Boyfriends and girlfriends move in together instead of waiting for marriage. We are barraged with ads on TV, radio and the Internet to get “Instant approval.” We get surgery to make us slimmer in just weeks, instead of learning to diet and exercise. We even have instant food and microwaves to help us eat quicker. We just cannot get away from it.

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Instant gratification seems to be hardwired into our society. Overcoming that need to be instantly gratified is very difficult, however – the successful people in our society have mastered delayed gratification. I am sure they had fun, I am sure they enjoyed themselves, but not at the cost of their goals. They saw what was on the horizon and they decided to wait for it.

The Marshmallow effect

When studying about delayed gratification, you will run across a study done by Dr. Walter Mischel in the 1960’s – where he took a handful of children from the Bing Nursery School at Stanford University and gave them the marshmallow test. A researcher gave the children a marshmallow and told them that they could eat the marshmallow now or wait and get a second marshmallow when the researcher returned.

Several of the students ate the Marshmallow right away, getting the immediate gratification, while there were other students that waited, and when the researcher came back, they were rewarded for waiting. 

After reading Dr. Mischel’s thesis, I decided to conduct an experiment of my own on my two granddaughters. My wife made some tasty cookies and the girls have eaten them before: they loved those cookies. So I put one cookie on the plate – in front of each girl, and told the girls if they sat there and did not eat the cookie – they could get another cookie when I came back.

I left the room (I went and sat on the stairs) and I could hear the girls. they were doing everything they could to not eat the cookie. I started recording on my phone, so I could watch them for 15 minutes. They fidgeted with pencils, they played with their hands, they talked to each other: However, the cookies were untouched.

Now it can be argued that my granddaughters trust me and take me at my word; they know I will give them something if I say I will. But it can also be argued that they wanted another one of my wife’s delicious cookies. For me, it was a fun experiment.

Living in a fast food world, can we put our desires on hold and delay our gratification? Is it possible to wait to purchase an item, and wait till we have the money and not put it on credit? Can we put off studying for an exam, to go out with friends? Putting off the gratification of the immeadiate can – in the long run – be better for us. We might have to wait, but the rewards can be so much better for us.


The Marshmallow Test/Dr. Walter Mischel/Back Bay Books/2015  



Self Control and Willpower

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Self Control and Willpower are very important. Not only to setting and completing your goals, but in every aspect of your life. It has been shown not only to help people attain a successful life, but also a longer life. But what can we do if we don’t have self control? We can actually take steps to achieve self control: We need to identify the need for change, identify possible barriers, create a plan of action, monitor progress, maintain and manage, and cope with relapse

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV

I have to confess something – I have almost no self control. I am 52 years old and there are times when I go on automatic and freewheel down that hill of temptation – then I crash at the bottom into a container of Oreo cookies. I am not comfortable with the way I look, I find it difficult to fit into the clothes I wear, but when the urge strikes me, I forget what I look like and dive right into that bowl of ice cream, swimming in it, indulging in it, enjoying it. Then I look at myself in the mirror and think “What the hell Thom?”

Willpower is what controls our urges – self control. This “superpower” can be tied to success, wealth and longlife. Some of us are born with the ability to control ourselves, while others – like me – give into urges quite frequently. For instance, my wife has the willpower of a bull, whereas I only display “won’t power.” We both have decided to lose some weight, however, last night – my son-in-law came home with some ice cream. I folded like cheap lawn furniture, but my wife was resolute.

The Need for Change

Can you identify what you would like to change in your life. Is it that you are severely in debt? Have you gained a little too much COVID weight? Are you trying to stop drinking alcohol? Maybe you want to quit smoking? The point is you need to identify what needs to change. You cannot change something until you want to.

Unfortunately this need for change cannot be a need brought about by another person, because you will need to want to change. “But what if the life I have is perfect? I don’t have anything that I want to change.” Well if that is you, you are doing better than most of the world right now. 

Identify Possible Barriers

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Let us pretend that during COVID you started eating more junk food, you have sat on your couch – binging on 90’s sitcom reruns and eating Doritos, Cheetos and fast food take out. You start wearing sweats, because your jeans don’t fit anymore, and the living room is starting to smell like stale popcorn and beer. So maybe you have identified that you want to start eating better and exercise a little more.

What are some of the barriers that might prevent you from this goal? Well if you still have junk food in your house, this is going to be a hard barrier to cross. So you need to get rid of all of your junk food – toss out those cheesy flavored chips, processed cheese in a can and bags of puffed corn noodles. When you go to the grocery store avoid the areas that have the junk food. One nutritionist suggested that if you only shop the outside perimeter of the store. All of the junk and processed foods are on the interior.

Create a Plan of Action

So why is an action plan important? It is a physical representation of your desire to change. You want to put your goals onto paper, if you don’t want to use paper and pencil, there are dozens of apps online for goal planning. Putting your goals where you can see them is important so you are reminded daily – if not more often – what you are trying to achieve.

What does an action plan look like? There is no strict formula for creating your action plan. Your action plan should have a title, steps you plan to take and how long you want to take to accomplish your goal.

An action plan is great, but don’t let your action plan destroy your dreams. Make your action plan realistic. If you have been a pack-a-day smoker for twenty years, don’t expect to be smoke free in three months. Also don’t get discouraged if you are still working towards your goal, but the time has elapsed. Keep your action plan fluid, make adjustments as necessary.

Monitor Progress

Journaling is a great tool, because you need to track how you are doing, write down what struggles you had. Don’t get angry at yourself for your struggles – struggles happen and are part of your journey. Write down your successes. Celebrate your successes, but don’t let your celebration crash your progress.

Maintain and Manage

Once you meet your goal, you are not finished. You see the whole idea around self control and willpower is that your willpower is like a muscle – you are getting stronger. However, like working out at a gym, just because you have reached your goal, doesn’t mean you stop. You have to keep going. 


Sometimes it happens, we work hard at what we want to accomplish, and then… The bottom drops out of what we are doing, and we fall flat on our backs. We indulge in whatever we quit in the first place. 

About six years ago (I touched on this in a previous post), my wife and I went on the Palio diet. I lost 50lbs in about 3 months. It was amazing, but it was also a struggle. My wife lost a lot of weight as well. Then we went on a trip to see the birth of our granddaughter, and we could not maintain the diet. We fell hard off the wagon, and we went back to how we were before. 

We have tried to restart, but it has been unsuccessful. However, relapses are like that. We struggle so hard, but when the struggle is over, and we fall back into the same old habits, we plummet hard.

However, you can restart. It will be hard, just start from the top and go through it again.

Self control is difficult, denying ourselves is a hard practice, but if we are trying to accomplish a specific goal, then we need to be strong about it and persevere. If we can break it down and keep reminding ourselves what is important and what is needed to accomplish our goal, then we will become stronger for it. If you need, reach out and get some help, you don’t have to do this alone; however, You can do it, I know you can.





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“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Prov 14:30/NIV. Being envious of another person, another’s property, another’s social standing – what have you; is a path that should not be taken. However, many of us travel down that path – only to find disillusionment, pain and disappointment. But seeing someone and their success – it is hard to not want what they have. How do we deal with such feelings?

My son and I were talking the other day, and we got onto the subject of how rich actors were. He found the top twenty richest actors, and started reading down the list. We were surprised by who was on the list, and how much each of them made. 

This got me thinking – first why do people make those lists and second how do those people even get onto those lists. Taking a look on the internet, there are lists for richest youtubers, richest rappers, richest people and the list goes on.


People are curious, curiosity is good – However, sometimes that curiosity gets the best of us and we start down a road that is best left untraveled. We start looking at what people have and that accentuates what we don’t have. That is where envy starts to creep in. 

There is a reason that envy has made the list of seven deadly sins. Envy produces feelings in yourself that are damaging. You feel like you are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, or not lucky enough. So we strive harder and work harder than we did before, so that we can achieve what the other person has. 

This constant measuring of ourselves to another person will not bring satisfaction, because there will always be someone else that is better or has more; which intensifies your own lack of self confidence.

I am not saying that hard work is bad, in fact hard work is admirable – what I am saying is hard work for the wrong reason is bad: Because, you will never be satisfied.

I remember when I was still in college, I was approached by a nice dressed man and his female companion. They looked fancy, they wore nice clothes and drove a nice car. They told me that they could introduce me to a guy that helped them get rich and enjoy life to the fullest. I went to the “business meeting” and I was a little disappointed: It was an AmWay presentation. However, they got me there because I was envious of that couple’s “success.”

But envy doesn’t stop there. Envy causes, “I deserve that.” type of thinking, which can lead to antisocial behaviour, theft and even murder. 


So thinking about our conversation a few days later, I started thinking about the people on those lists. I have realized – and honestly it was not that big of a revelation – people get on those types of lists, because they worked hard for it. 

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Actors – actors don’t usually work “normal” hours. They work late into the night, they work early in the morning, they have to work in all sorts of weather conditions and in uncomfortable situations. Then the job is over. Now if you are not an “A” list actor, you will have to audition for your next role. The film or TV show that you worked so hard on – might not even see the light of day.

Musicians – when I was younger, I wanted to be a professional musician. But being a professional musician is difficult as well. You have to work hard playing in venues that don’t pay a lot of money, then if you get discovered, you will have to get radio play so that you can sell records, or if you are lucky you can get a big name star to let you open for them. Then after you have performed and been rejected for years, you might actually land in a top spot.

I can go on with business people, sales professionals, artists, writers and the list goes on. The reason for their success and how they got on those lists – hard work. They practiced their craft day and night, they met with obstacles, they were ridiculed for their efforts and told many times that they were wasting their time – but they kept at it. It was not immediate, it was not easy, but through determination they achieved what they set their minds to do.

Change your thinking

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Comparing yourself to another will only leave you feeling confused and disillusioned. Envy will never help you get satisfied. Look at yourself in a real perspective. If you have the desire to be great, don’t compare yourself to anyone. Look for a mentor that can show you the ropes, but not someone you will idolize, because once again that will lead you to a feeling of inadequacy which will once again take you down the road to Envy.

Dealing with the feelings of envy can be hard, because you want what someone else has. But this constant comparing yourself to someone can be damaging. Dr. Robert L. Leahy Ph.D. suggested that we compare ourselves to ourselves. try to do better then we did the last time.

Identify your thoughts that lead to envy. These are severely negative and put you into a negative light. If someone is more successful than you, you don’t have to claim it is not fair.  I hear all the time, “I wonder how they got there?” or “Knowing my luck…” or my favorite, “I don’t like him/her because…” All those are rooted in envy. We need to stop thinking about what is fair or not and start thinking about how you fit into society. 

The point is, stop comparing yourself to others, stop judging other people because they match up with what ideals you want for yourself – Start changing your internal dialog to: “How can I achieve my goals?” “I don’t need luck.” and “They might be different than me, but they deserve what they have.” You need to be generous with your thoughts and with yourself. Envy won’t make you happy – be content and at peace with yourself and you find life.


https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anxiety-files/201511/coping-your-envy-turning-envy-its-head 1/25/2021

Becoming a Creator

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What does it mean to be a creator? What does it feel like? How do you think like a creator, and create something out of nothing? There are attributes of a creator that can be mirrored, and reproduced. How you become a creator, think like a creator and create something out of nothing will be easier for some and harder for others. However, if it is hard for you, just stick with it, and soon creations will flow from your fingertips.

I know that most of those reading my blog are creators in their own right, most are bloggers themselves and I have read some beautiful poetry and read some mighty fine posts. However, I know that there are some, and I am speaking personally now,  that struggle with creation and sit with a blank screen or blank canvas and wonder what will appear.

There are attributes that a creator has, attributes we all can have if we want them: however, we must want them. Here are some attributes you can mirror: Inquisitive, future focused, OODA loop, accepting failure, network and generosity.


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Creators are curious, they love to have clarification of the world around them and they love to get answers they might not have had or thought of before.

Asking questions might not seem important, in fact, for a 5th decader like me, it seems almost inane. However, if you think about it, an inquisitive mind does learn more than an non-inquisitive mind. We are never too old to ask questions. I have read that a five year old will ask about 100 questions a day. If you have ever lived with a five year old – that seems like an underestimation. However, their curiosity is what helps them learn, adapt and create in the world they live in.

I live with two grandchildren. Both are under 6 years old. They are the most inquisitive little people I have ever met, and they keep me on my toes. They are also very creative, and their creativity is shown not only through art, but through their play. It is fantastic to me to hear the stories they tell to eachother, and watch them paint what they see in their world.

In contrast an adult over the age of 40 only asks about three questions a day. For me that would be: ”Has anyone seen my phone?” “Can’t you people turn off the lights when you leave a room?” and “Were you born in a barn or something? Close the door!”

All joking aside, we – who are over 40 – need to become more inquisitive. We need to look at the world without our own prejudices, with a pair of fresh eyes. We need to ask more open-ended questions and not just settle for a yes and no. 

Future focused

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Future focused people, don’t focus on the past. They don’t let past performances or failures hold them down. They are looking forward to new experiences. They have a blank canvas in front of them, but they don’t see just cotton or linen, they see a beautiful masterpiece waiting to be created.

The other thing with future focused people is that the issues and problems of today don’t weigh them down either. As I have indicated before, I had another blog years ago, but I used to let my current situations drag me down, like an anchor. I didn’t realize how truly boring I was. I was told that I was a good writer, but looking back – I see that I was too whiny. 

“But wait Thom, you just looked back – are you not as creative as you hope to be?” Future focused people do draw on the past, but it is not a focus. In a lot of my posts, I will draw on my past as an anecdote, nothing more. I have had to bury my bad feelings about my past, and that has freed up my future and my creative thinking.

OODA Loop 

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I have an entire article on OODA loop, and so I will not rehash – too much – what OODA loop is, however I will touch on how this can help creative people. If you want to read my article on OODA, here is the address: https://thecongenialmale.com/2021/01/15/ooda/

OODA is a great formula for a creative mind as well as a military strategist. Let me explain:

In the Observe part of the loop – a creative person will look around, they will see new things and items of interest. They will listen and allow their creative mind to grab ahold of the smallest fragment to create from.

Orient –  They will analyze and synthesize new information. They will draw on previous experiences for creation. They will use their past experiences and cultural bias to make sense of what they have observed. We cannot dismiss our cultural bias, even if that cultural bias is not politically acceptable – that bias does make up our past. We don’t have to create per our bias, but our bias will help us understand what we observe.

Decide – Once the creative person has made an observation and synthesized that information, now they can decide how best to use that information, or even if they are going to use this information at all. Once they have a clear path and decide on the information they have gathered, it is time to…

Act. The creative person will now, at this stage, put their heart into what they are creating. They will put pen to paper, brush to canvas, chisel to stone; They will create.

Accepting Failure

“Never get discouraged if you fail. Learn from it. Keep trying.”

Thomas Edison, https://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/37-quotes-from-thomas-edison-that-will-bring-out-your-best.htm, 1/29/2021
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Accepting failure is part of creativity. Most failures are just a way of learning. I used to tell my children, “The only time it is alright to fail, is if you learn from your mistake, if you haven’t learned, then it was a waste of time.”  I genuinely believe that. I suppose I was saying what Thomas Edison was saying, only with my own spin.

However, where people get stuck is that they give up after failing. They say that they just can’t do it, it is impossible and they don’t want to do that anymore. However, creative people think that it seems impossible, but maybe they should try a different approach. In fact, the only mistake that you cannot learn from, is the one that takes your life – sorry for being so morbid, but I could hear the questions from the audience. 

Failure is inevitable – There are few people that succeed the first time when trying something new. However, when creative people try something and fail, they try again and again until it is successful. Creative people find new ways to do things, new ways to express their creativity and when they succeed, they practice and practice their new way of doing things, until it is so second nature – it looks effortless.

Networking and Collaboration

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Creative people like to be around other creative people. They can really excite each other.

Look at Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin – became Mary Shelley after marrying Percy – and Claire Clairmont – All were literary geniuses. They collaborated – they networked. John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaborated. Both sets of collaborations created some very memorable works.

There is one networking story in history that really hits the nail on the head: That is the networking of Ernest Hemingway – a young writer from Chicago that was given the advice to move to Paris and join a writing community. He met James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as many others.

The fact is that creativity feeds off of creativity. If you are creative and you aren’t networking, then you are stifling your own creativity. Sometimes – in this digital age – we can only network and collaborate online, but that is better than nothing.


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This is where I ask each of you for $1000 dollars to prove to me that you are generous… Not really, because generosity goes further than just money. Yes sometimes we are called to be generous with our money, but what about time, intellectual property and expertise. 

As noted above Ernest Hemingway moved to Paris, but it would have been useless if he would not have been helped along the way by the generosity of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who introduced him to Scribner. Scribner was a publisher that published Ernest Hemingway’s novels. 

Whatever you give, no matter how small, will act like ripples in a pond and move out from the center: genersity works like that. I have had people be generous to me many times, in fact the machine I write on was given to me.

So creative people are creative because of certain attributes and characteristics. I believe everyone is born creative, even if their creativity looks like just a banana taped to a canvas. We cannot judge someone else’s creativity; sometimes it is not even fair to judge our own creativity. However, we can learn and adopt a creative attitude and creative attributes.


https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pressure-proof/201509/the-6-skills-make-creators-successful/ 01/10/2021

https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2020/3/17/the-ooda-loop-and-the-half-beat/ 01/12/2021