Reductive: Can Well-Being Be Measured?

To read something we wrote some time ago is to step back into a less evolved (yet sometimes more virtuous) mindset we once inhabited. Whether a two year old blog post or a book report from the fifth grade, we are reminded of how we saw the world at an earlier period in our intellectual and emotional evolution.

A neurotic Google search recently unearthed the below article, which I wrote and posted more than three years ago. It chronicles events that my imagination was happy to revisit. But its topic, the the elusive definition of well-being, is something I wrestle with to this day.

Can Well-Being Be Measured?
Originally written and posted on July 18 2007

Our stereotypes of wealth and poverty develop at a young age, and are deeply entrenched in our minds. Roughly speaking, to be wealthy is to have more resources, which it to enjoy a higher quality of life. To be wealthy is to be well. To be poor, on the other hand, is to lack, which is to do, well…poorly. Generally speaking, most would agree that they are better off having more as opposed to less.

But sometimes more evolved cultural values emerge from poverty. In the poorest regions of the world, members of communities are often more interdependent, and in closer contact with each other. Family is more important, as is religion and spirituality.

Never have I witnesses a greater sense of community than during the past two months while living in Harlem. At night and on weekends, the streets of Harlem come alive. Fire hydrants blast water on heat evading kids. Music blares. The streets are filled with people of all ages playing sports of all kinds, the sidewalks consumed by game upon game of cards and dynamos. People eat, drink, dance and play. On Friday and Saturday nights especially, the blocks of Harlem transform into a vibrant, ad hock festival. Continue reading Reductive: Can Well-Being Be Measured?

The power of biography

If, in this wildly distracting and content-pervasive culture of ours, you struggle to expose yourself to a healthy dose of quality fictional writing as much as a steady supply of insightful non-fiction, I have a suggestion for you: Biography. In the biography (or autobiography) of a fascinating person, we satisfy both our ceaseless desire for story and the self-imposed rule that we ought to continue to learn, to pursue written works of educational value well beyond our formal education.

Many people, both well known figures and obscure historical personalities, have lived lives that rival any screenplay or novel for their suspense, empathetic draw and obedience to classical storytelling virtues. By studying the lives of Richard Nixon and Sir Winston Churchill, we satisfy our insatiable appetite for stories of falls from grace, corruption, betrayal, redemption and victory. We learn about the madness of the Watergate scandal and the absurdity yet importance of the second world war through the perspectives of those periods’ most influential, indeed, determining actors. These compelling stories give us our fix for a well spun tale, while quenching our thirst for knowledge of political history. Continue reading The power of biography


No, this was not a declaration of the currency instruments on my person during a recent trip through U.S. customs. This is not a game of Jeopardy; I’m not looking for, “What was the purchase price of Elton John’s Florida mansion.” Nor is this disclosure of my net worth. As I write this, alas, my net worth is a little more than $100 million shy of $100 million.

I share with you this imposing figure to let you in on a little secret. A hundred million bucks, a pile of scratch to stretch from here to the moon, is my objective, something I’m working towards obtaining.

It’s a goal I’ve set for myself. Some are loosing those incessant 15 pounds, others learning Spanish. Some are working towards home ownership and financial independence. Some are doing all these things and much more. Me? I’m myopically focused on a flush disposition, excessive cash to the tune of nine figures. Continue reading $100,000,000

Trust and customer service

It was only my second visit to this small, independent soup and sandwich joint when its owner won me over for life. My order in hand, I was fumbling around in my pockets and wallet to come up with the requisite $7.50 to complete the transaction and march away with my take.

My search produced only $6.00 and the woman behind the counter, who I deduced was an owner-operator in this apparent family business, could not accept payment by debit or credit. “I think I’m a little short here,” I said, looking up from my palm full of change apologetically. Without hesitation, she waved her hand in dismissal of my predicament and declared, “You will pay the difference next time.” I was stunned. We made eye contact, she smiled and I quietly left. Continue reading Trust and customer service