Showing posts with label Happiness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Happiness. Show all posts

March 8, 2020

Why The Happiness of Purim?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Why The Happiness of Purim?"

In a world that is constructed of the story of Purim, everything looks like it's based on mere happenstance and there seems to be no G-d involved—this is a world of randomness and meaninglessness. Whatever happens, just happens by nature or luck, and what can be more meaningless and depressing than that! Thus, the Rabbis had to decree all the laws for the happiness of Purim, because happiness is not innate to a story that is seemingly happenstance and devoid of G-d. That is the big difference between Purim, where Hashem is hidden, and Passover or Hanukah, where Hashem revealed Himself and made incredible miracles—the 10 plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea or the one day of oil that lasted for eight days.

On Purim, we celebrate our deliverance from the evil Haman and the king's decree to kill all the Jews, but also we are overflowing with Joy remembering that G-d is always with us—in good times and G-d forbid in the bad times--we are not afraid of anything (another indecisive election, the stock market downturn, our enemies, Coronavirus, etc.) knowing that He loves us and cares for us, and will deliver us in the old days and in the new. May the final deliverance soon be completed with the arrival of the Mashiach—and the hidden will become revealed like on Purim and the joy will be forever increased. Amen.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 11, 2020

Traveling Chasidim @AISH Greater Washington DC




(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal and Credit Photo: Minna Blumenthal)
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January 2, 2020

'Uncut Gems' Cuts Deep

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Uncut Gems Cuts Deep."
Yesterday, we went to see the new Adam Sandler movie, Uncut Gems....Ratner's life is full of shlemazel of his own making. While he has a good wife, kids, and extended family (maybe with the exception of his loan shark uncle), a fancy-schmancy home in the suburbs with a newly renovated pool, his own jewelry business that even caters to some big-league sports players, and a shiksa girlfriend on the side (who seems to love him), Ratner is never satisfied or happy and is always pushing for more!

In the movie, Howard Ratner was driven by greed and made bad life choices, and to me, it was a shame that the he was portrayed as a Jew, which can feed the vicious cycle of discrimination and hatred that has often been anchored around money. With the vicious machete attack on Chanukah at a Rabbi's house in Monsey this week (after a slew of other anti-Semitic incidents, including an attack on a student for wearing a yalmulke on the NYC Subway to beatings and tire slashings of Jews in Brooklyn), we are reminded that there is once again a resurgence of prejudice and hate against Jews, but also that it's the light of Chanukah that "drives out the darkness," and that money and materialism are a mere shabby substitute to finding true security and success whether you work in the dense NYC Diamond District or live in the sprawling suburbs of America.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 27, 2019

Flowers and Well Wishes 4 Shabbat Shalom!


"When you keep the Sabbath day, the Sabbath day keeps you!"

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 15, 2019

The Best Jobs 2020 and Beyond

So I saw a smart video about which are the best jobs.

They are not the ones that just pay the most!

Here are the three criteria to look for in your next dream job (aside from the money):

1) Autonomy - Work that is self-directed provides satisfaction that jobs that are closely or micro-managed do not. 

2) Mastery - Jobs that allow you get better at them over time  (technical proficiency) provide a sense of mastery and self-respect. 

3) Purpose - When you have a deep sense of purpose and meaning from your work there is simply no greater motivator and satisfier than this. 

I'd also add that the best places to work are the ones with:
  •  The best bosses and the nicest people
  •  A solid balance for work and life

Overall, if we can reconnect the profit motive with the purpose motive then we have truly have the best jobs out there. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 13, 2019

Shabbat Shalom!


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 27, 2019

What's It Worth To You?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "What's It Worth To You."
Certainly, passion for being your best, determination to succeed, and even some healthy competition are important factors in driving our own success as well as societal progress, but when keeping up with that scorecard against others becomes the essence of your own self-worth then things have gone too far and way off course.

We each have our mission, strengths, challenges, and so forth. It’s okay in life, if someone else has more of something (money, friends, honor, whatever). Everyone has their own “basket in life” as my father taught me, “and you wouldn’t want to change baskets with anyone else.”

(Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 4, 2019

What Makes Happy

So the same things don't seem to drive happiness for everyone. 

Some like big jobs and lots of power. 

Others are happier with more work-life balance. 

Some like to pursue lots of degrees and certifications.

Others like to learn on their own and through life experience. 

Some like to travel the world.

Others like a day in nature or at the museum. 

Some like big families and lots of people around them. 

Others like smaller families, close friends, intimacy, or even being more on their own. 

Some like lots of money. 

Other are happy with having what they need.

Some like to be tremendous athletes. 

Other like to just stay fit or maybe are more comfy as "couch potatoes."

Some like to be very religious and follow all the laws.

Others prefer mindfulness, a sense of spirituality and being a "good person."  

Some like lots of activities and to always do different things. 

Others are more comfortable with routine and incremental change. 

We all have basic needs, but we also have different values, priorities and comfort zones. 

Happiness isn't a yes or no answer, but what makes us feel on track and doing good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 15, 2019

Transcending Suffering and Impermanence

There is a buddhist philosophy that life is all about loss and suffering. 

The Budha says:
Life is suffering.

Why? Because life is impermanence--whatever we gain, eventually, we must lose. 

- Riches, power, people, health, even our memories perhaps. 

In a sense, this is like the saying from "War of the Roses":
There is no winning, only degrees of losing. 

However, there is one exception to the impermanence and loss in life:

The only thing that is permanent is our good deeds, and with this we can achieve an everlasting good name for ourselves.

In Judaism, we teach:
A good name is better than fine oil.

Hence, this is the permanence that we strive for in life and in death.  

If we can attain a good name through purity of soul then in a sense, we can transcend life's suffering and impermanence.  

By becoming non-attached to all of life's temporary things, and instead focusing on perfecting ourselves, we can free ourselves from suffering and from this world, and then we can go on in everlasting-peace to the afterlife. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 23, 2018

@Tree Top Park, Davie, Florida



It's funny that just as I am expressing gratitude for the peace, mindfulness, and zen good feelings, a plane is loudly flying overhead in this Florida park.  

No winning even in nature anymore! ;-)

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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September 8, 2018

Prayer For Rosh Hashanah

Please see my new Times of Israel post with a heartfelt:

Prayer for Rosh Hashanah.

May it be truly a year of blessings. 

Wishing everyone a sweet and happy New Year!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 8, 2018

Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa

Thought this was a beautiful wall hanging in a local restaurant here. 

Three golden Hamsas!

Hamsa is symbolic for the protective hand of G-d. 

Three is a number for "chizuk"  (strengthening) that signifies something is firmly established. 

The three Hamsas together is a potent representation for G-d's protection, mazel (good fortune), happiness, health, prosperity, and peace. 

Oh G-d, we pray that you show us your endless divine mercy and bless us with all that is for the good. 

Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 29, 2018

Don't Worry--Be Happy!

Happy Friday everyone!

Yesterday, someone gave me a couple of these bright yellow smileys--one on the back of each of my hands. 

I was going around waving these happy faces all day.  

Of course, sitting in meetings was a little weird with these on, but then again, maybe that is part of setting a colorful and happy tone. 

It's funny how a little smile sticker can make the whole world seem right again. 

Maybe we can learn to live life, love life, and make the most of every single day. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 24, 2018

Longing For The Slow and Happy Bungalow Days

So I used to hear from my wife about when she was young and went to the bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains.

And today, I heard from a wonderful young Ukrainian woman whose family does the equivalent in the mountains there in the summer. 

When I listen to the stories, it sounds so good to get away with your family and friends for the summer to the countryside. 

Just live simply in a cabin, stay up late by the campfire singing songs, get up lazily in the morning, and during the day play sports, go fishing, and swim in the lake. 

I can't imagine talking 3 months a year and actually being able to do this...so natural, so carefree, so back to living!

Yes as kids, we went to camp, but it's not the same as living communally like this in such freedom and fun. 

Honestly, listening to the stories about this, left me amazingly jealous!

Perhaps, it's a lesson about life these days...we're adults, we're responsible, we have to earn a living and take care of the bills and all of life's responsibilities. 

But maybe, just maybe, there is something--a lot--to be said for letting loose a little, and just being with your loved ones, and living, really living again. 

Why do we have to wait until we're old...too old to work anymore...and maybe too old to appreciate life as life was meant to be.  

We can't run from our responsibilities but isn't it worth looking for ways in life to enjoy more than a long weekend or a week vacation.

Life is too short to let it get away from us. 

Balancing the contributions of our hard labor with the enjoyment of family, friends, and fun...those are the memories that last a lifetime and beyond. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 22, 2018

Everyone Deserves A Day of Rest and Happiness

So someone I know came over to this country and literally has to work 7 days a week for months at a time!

They don't want or need to work that much, but their employer insists that's the way it is. 

On top of it, they don't even get overtime for all the unbelievable hours they have to put in. 

One day, this person actually just broke down in incredible tears, just asking to get a single day off. 

Finally, finally, finally--the employer gave in--for just a single day!

The person was so happy--one day of freedom; one day to enjoy; one day to regain their inner beauty and humanity. 

I was so happy for them!

Every person deserves at least one day off per week. 

Every single one of the major religions in the world that is anchored in the Bible--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--have a holy Sabbath as a day of rest.

There is a divine and ancient wisdom to this. 

People need a day to rejuvenate.

Everything is nature does.

Even the fields have to lay fallow every 7th year so the earth can revitalize and replenish itself. 

There is a natural cycle to things--peaks and valleys--and we need to have some rest and relaxation--to work for something and not for nothing. 

The joy on this person to just have a day off--it was so incredible and touching. 

It spoke light years to me about treating people right--just--humanly--with compassion--and doing good over evil in this world.

What does the employer need to wring an extra days work out of their employees for the rotten greed of money and profits?  

Better to care for your people, and they will be better off for it and thus to the needs of the business and its customers. 

Care for people--they are people. 

Love people--they are G-d's beautiful children. 

Treat others as you would like to be treated. 

Let everyone have a day of rest and something to look forward to--to enjoy, to have some happiness, to get time with their family and friends, to get back to themselves, to attain a deserved and proper peace of mind, body, and soul. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)  
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June 15, 2018

Making A Real Difference

I saw this sign posted at an organization's office. 

I thought it was a nice way to motivate people working there. 
"What people are saying:
You are making a difference."

Later in the sign, it says:
"The work you do is important."
Isn't this really what is critical to people--that what they do is important. 

Yes, we need to earn a living and pay our bills. 

And sure, we'd like something left over to save for a rainy day. 

But our lives are more than materialism. 

We are spiritual beings inside. 

At the pinnacle, we need to know that our lives mean something!

- That we are touching people's lives. 

- That we will be remembered for the good we did. 

- That our good deeds and words will live on. 

- That our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will carry the lessons and message forward. 

- That we've contributed in some meaningful way to the fight of good over evil in this world and the next. 

- That we've shown proper respect and worship to our L-rd/Maker/Sustainer. 

When we make a difference, it's about so much more than what money can buy. 

It's about our soul, our contribution, and even destiny.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 5, 2018

Rich, Famous, and Suicide

So I can't believe that Kate Spade (55) committed suicide -- Hanging. 

What an amazing fashion designer--so much to live for!

Famous for her gorgeous handbags (that used to be the business my dad was in too). 

Her net worth was $150,000,000!

Why does someone so beautiful, successful, rich, and famous take their life???

Ultimately, none of these things make happy or meaning in life!

Still, it is incredibly hard to understand seemingly having so much and throwing your life away--unless of course, we consider terrible things like severe depression and other horrible illnesses that can break anyone. 

Yet, there seem to be so many of these hugely successful people that take or lose their lives so young and with still so much to give the world:

Alan Turing (41) -- Cyanide

Alexander McQueen (40) - Hanging 

Amy Winehouse (27) -- Alcohol 

Chris Benoit (40) -- Broken Neck

Christine Chubbuck (29) -- Shooting

Dana Plato (34) - Overdose

Ernest Hemingway (61) -- Shooting

Jerzy Kosinski (57) -- Overdose

Kurt Cobain (27) -- Shooting

L'Wren Scott (49) -- Hanging

Lucy Gordon (28) -- Hanging

Marilyn Monroe (36) -- Overdose

Michael Jackson (50) -- Overdose

Mike Alfonso (42) - Hanging

Prince (57) -- Overdose

Robbin Williams (63) --Hanging

Sawyer Sweeten (19) -- Shooting

Sylvia Plath (30) - Gas Oven 

Vincent Van Gogh (37) -- Shooting

Virginia Woolf (59) - Drowning 

Whitney Houston (48) -- Drowning 

G-d should have mercy and help to take away the pain and suffering from people so that they can live and not die prematurely anymore. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 1, 2018

Expect Less <> Appreciate More

I thought this was a great saying in the Wall Street Journal book review today.

"Expect Less, Appreciate More."

Many people in their late 30s and early 40s become disillusioned with life. 

They have been on the treadmill chasing love, fame, and fortune for so long. 

But reality sets in and they don't get everything they think they have coming to them.

Hence some level of mid-life crisis sets in. 

However by the time people reach their 50s, things seem to shift again, and a happiness or peacefulness sets in. 

People start to expect less and instead appreciate more from the blessings they do have. 

The treadmill becomes a long walk along the beautiful beach or park trail. 

We don't need to chase success, but rather just see the great lives in so many ways that G-d has already bestowed on us. 

The U-shaped curve of life--where we start all bright-eyes and bushy tailed in our younger years and which descends into disappointment and disillusionment in mid-life, comes up once again to happiness and a fulfillment in our later years. 

Over the course of our lives, we learn that life does not ask, but rather it tells us. 

And if we just listen, we can find meaning and contentment amidst it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 14, 2018

Happy Just The Way We Are


Great speaker today at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Mike Reiss, producer and writer for the hugely successful Simpson show--the longest-running series on primetime TV with 30 seasons and over 600 episodes!

The topic was "The Science Behind The Simpsons."

Whether the guest was Stephen Hawkings or Leonard Nimoy--there was no shortage of scientists and science in this animated, comedy show that taught us much about life.  

The video clip above was a short capture of the Simpsons singing "We are happy just the way we are."

Incremental change and continuous improvement is so important to our growth and maturation in life.

Yet, there is also a lot to be said for being happy with what you have and who you are. 

There is so much to be grateful for and plenty to enjoy at the moment. 

Many people are on the proverbial roller coaster to nowhere.  

It's nice to get off the roller coaster and finally be somewhere that makes you happy and fulfilled. 

Mary Poppins get hit by the airplane at the end of the skit, and you know what, she's not even missed. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 8, 2018

Haleli @Mimouna with Magen David Synagogue



Praise be our G-d, the Master of the Universe.

May he bless us with an abundance of good for the New Year after the Passover commemoration of our exodus from slavery to His redemption and the Holy Land of Israel.

Blessings, Peace, Health, Prosperity, and Joy!

What a lovely event with the community of Magen David Synagogue in Maryland.

My heart is uplifted by the song, dance, friendship, and faith in the Almighty. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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