Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, is the new bestseller by Michael Lewis. It shows in minute detail how investors investors have been consistently ripped off by big Wall Street banks. The crux of the issues is that brokers is that the incentives of investors and brokers are not aligned. In fact Wall Street firms are incentivized to act in their own best interests rather than in those of their clients. As a result, IEX, a new stock exchange that works in the best interests of clients has been created and so far has been extremely successful. Yet, as I read the book I recognized that this is not the only way in which the average guy is being ripped off.
It is not often that I feel so inspired by a group of people that I feel uncomfortable with the fact that I am not more like them. Yet this is what happened this week in Boulder, Colorado. Late last year Dr Harry Moody, former Director of Academic Affairs for AARP, invited me to join one of the Positive Aging Lunches he arranges in Boulder each month.
At the lunch I encountered a group of people ages 55 and older who have decided that they are going to make aging into a positive experience for themselves and for the world around them. This group of highly accomplished individuals are refusing to go into retirement and then fade into old age. Instead they are conscious of the fact that they have entered into a new phase of life together with which comes lots of new opportunities to make a difference.
I rarely have an opportunity to spend an hour and a half in the middle of the day to attend a lunchtime presentation by an artist and listen to her inspiring story. To be honest, for me attending the Positive Aging Lunch was business. I am doing a study about how people ages 55+ find purpose in life and am developing a product to help adults find purpose in life and therefore saw attending this meeting as part of work. But for the rest of the attendees this lunch had nothing to do with “work” in the traditional sense, it was about self development and making a difference.
The debate regarding the role of women in Jewish religious ritual has intensified over the last couple of months. Two Modern Orthodox schools in New York City have now made it their policy to allow female student to don the Teffillin (phylacteries usually only worn by men) if they wish during morning prayers.
This move has been highly controversial. In the past week, Rabbi Hershel Schachter, head of yeshiva at Yeshiva University, wrote a letter opposing the policy of allowing girls to wear Teffillin. Whilst many have delved into the minutiae of Halacha (Jewish law) that either allows or disallows this policy, it seems to me that this debate has a lot less to do with Halacha then it does with the structure of religious society and culture.
There is little doubt that when gender roles start to change, the rule of unintended consequences comes into play. An example was seen this week, when the Pew Research Center reported that in 2012, 21 percent of women married men who were less educated, which was, according to the Pew Research Center, a “threefold increase from 1960.”
The founding fathers of the United States believed that each human is endowed with an unalienable right to pursue happiness. What is not clear, however, is what happiness actually means. What does it mean to be happy? Does it mean that we should be in a jolly mood? Can a person who is not smiling and laughing also be happy? Although people can differentiate in their own lives what it feels to be happy and sad, this question has long puzzled philosophers and psychologists. How do you define happiness?
Over the last ten years or so the leading researches in happiness, Martin Seligman, Felicia Huppert, and others, have concluded that happiness as a mood is not something we should be striving for. They argue that one can really replace the word happiness with well-being. According to these researchers, if one has a sense of meaning in life, satisfaction, self-esteem and various other positive attributes, one will find that they have a sense of well-being.
With this background, it is interesting to note that the Talmud says (Taanit, 29) that as one enters into the months of Adar, one increases in happiness. There are some who think one is obligated to be in a happy mood, and when one enters into the month of Adar, one just turns up their happiness a couple of notches.