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

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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April 5, 2018

Ergonomics Ah!

So today I went for an ergonomic training and assessment. 

Never did this before. 

It was pretty awesome. 

The person had 4 degrees in ergonomics and really seemed to know what they were talking about. 

They got me set up in a special ergonomic chair with a footrest, bio-design mouse, and task lighting.

I tell you that I never sat so straight, perfectly contoured, and completely comfortable. 

They almost had to pry my butt out of that chair after I test drove it for over an hour in training. 

OMG, there is a difference. 

Don't need carpal tunnel.

Don't need sciatica. 

Don't need neck, shoulder, and back pain. 

I even learned that the standing desks can be BAD for you--they put undue stress on your musculature and may actually result in a notable DECREASE in concentration and productivity. 

Anyway, from the stupid chairs that I've seen most people have--and the lousy posture they sit with--I'd recommend seeing the ergonomist. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 11, 2018

Three Legs of Quality of Life

So this is something that I am learning. 

Quality of life means perspective and balance. 

When people go to the extreme and focus all their energies on any one area almost to the exclusivity of the others in their life, it usually means they are going wrong. 

Some people are "party animals"--life is all about their fun, enjoyment, experiences (and even excessive partying, sleeping around, getting drunk and high), and their very immediate gratification. 

Others are all about work--climbing that professional ladder and earning more money, material goods, and more power is the holy grail and also the bane of their existence. 

And yet there are some people that are focused on faith, family, and community--they are mothers and fathers, religious students and clergy, community organizers and organizers of charitable events and giving. 

The problems is that people need multiple facets of their lives--yes, they need playfulness, interests, activities, hobbies, and fun and joyous times; at the same time, they need intellectual curiosity, professional contribution and achievement, and the wherewithal to be responsible and pay the bills; and very importantly, they need  social, spiritual, and emotional fulfillment from family, friends, giving, and faith. 

When a person stands on only one of these legs, like many seem to--they are on wobbly ground and are likely to fall hard and fast.  

Even on two legs, something is missing in their lives--they are standing tall, but not strong and stable. 

On all three legs, a person can be grounded and able to not just stand for themselves, but able to bear weight like on a stool, and they are can play music and sing and smile, knowing that they have a genuine quality of life that few ever really achieve. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 10, 2018

Synagogue, To Laugh And To Cry

So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d. 

It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions. 

Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry. 

Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen. 

Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence. 

But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other. 

One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily. 

On the other, we cry on each other's shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.

Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared--occurrences of each in just a short span of time. 

Yes, we laugh and we cry together--alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable. 

We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness. 

Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder. 

Sharing with each other at our houses of worship--that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others' souls--all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 4, 2018

Living Your Values

So I had this great conversation today with someone about values.

Thinking about what I really value and whether I am living consistently with these...

For me, I was able to clarify for myself these critical values:

1) Being a good person and influence in the world (having a positive impact on people and ideas)

2) Being a good family man (a loving husband, father, and previously son)

3) Being spiritual and serving G-d (living selflessly for my Maker and not selfishly for myself)

4) Being a hard worker (living productively and not as a laggard or sloth)

5) Being a balanced person (living along the "golden path" or "middle of the road"--not an extremist)

6) Being a generally healthy person (living a lifestyle that includes activity, exercise, good nutrition, and no smoking, drugs, or excessive drinking)

What I realized is that when I need to let my values guide me every moment of every day. 

This ultimately means my success and happiness! 

Being what I think that I am supposed to be or what others would want me to be, just doesn't work--it's a strategy for failure. 

My father used to tell me:
"Let your conscience be your guide"  (that and the Torah, of course)

This is the answer to a lot of questions that I have in my life--about what to do with my life and what decisions to make.

Values--driven by conscience and integrity--that's where I want to go next and next. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 18, 2018

Together 4Ever

In elementary school, the children sing about love and romance. 

"The spades go.
Two lips together.
Twilight forever. 
Bring back my love to me."

When 2 people are together, it's as if the angels in heaven themselves are dancing and singing. 

Love seems to make everything in the world right again. 

Recently, an old person from my building lost his wife of over 60 years!

I see him around and while he continues to go about doing his everyday things, I can see that he misses his wife so much. 

He is broken, and his strength is gone. 

I remember my grandfather and father the same way when they lost my grandmother and mother, respectively. 

Completely devastating to them--their wives were their lives and what made them complete-- afterward, they were never really the same. 

Our companions are truly our other halves. 

When someone asked the old man from my building how he was doing late last week, he simply responded:
"I'm getting along the best that I can."

He said it was such sadness and loneliness for his wife who passed that his words literally cut right through me. 

People need each other--no one is an island--and especially loving couples who have been together for decades and decades--they are for each other and with each other, even if "together forever" is just a song that children sing...it is what we all ultimately wish for. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 9, 2018

The Bright Side

My daughter, Minna Blumenthal, received this beautiful and hopeful message online, and I want to thank her for sharing it with me.

In turn, I am paying it forward to you all, and hope that you enjoy it's meaning, which is really quite profound and inspiring. 

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind.
She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her.
She told her boyfriend, 'If I could only see the world, I will marry you.'
One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.
He asked her,’ Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?'
The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn't expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.
Her boyfriend left her in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: 'Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.'
This is how the human brain often works when our status changes.
Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.
Life is a gift.
Today before you say an unkind word - Think of someone who can't speak.
Before you complain about the taste of your food - Think of someone who has nothing to eat.
Before you complain about your husband or wife - Think of someone who's crying out to Almighty G-d for a companion.
Today before you complain about life - Think of someone who died too young.
Before you complain about your children - Think of someone who desires children but they're barren.
Before you argue about your dirty house someone didn't clean or sweep - Think of the people who are living in the streets.
Before whining about the distance you drive - Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.
And when you are tired and complain about your job - Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.
But before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another - Remember that not one of us is without sin and we all answer to one Maker.
And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down - Put a smile on your face and thank G-d you're alive and still around.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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