Showing posts with label Self Help. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Self Help. Show all posts

April 22, 2019

You Ended Up In Hell City

So a friend told me something funny.

It was about being given what appears to be a wonderful opportunity, but in reality it's not all roses. 

In short, it went something like this:
There was an exciting competition and a prize at the end. 
Everyone prepared and worked hard to win it. 
But when the competition was over, what was the prize?
The 2nd place was two weeks in Philadelphia. 
The 1st place was one week in Philadelphia. 

I had to think about that for a second, but that is really pretty funny and true. 

No not about Philadelphia, but about life--that what we often mistakenly want so badly and strive for with all our energies, and then only to find out that it really wasn't as good or amazing for us and our families as we imagined. 

Yes, very often you set your sights on certain goals to win the competition, but then you find out that the BIG prize ("first place") is really not something to get excited about, because it's in Philadelphia!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 17, 2019

You Can't See Yourself

So this donut-shaped art at the Outlets in Clarksburg is metallic and reflective. 

But what is really interesting to me is that when you stand in front of it (like I was literally doing here), you can't see yourself. 

It made me wonder how you can look at yourself and yet not see yourself. 

And I thought of this as being a bigger lesson in life. 

When we are looking at ourself and there is a big donut whole in the mirror of ourselves then we are left blind to what should be reflecting back at us.  

No matter how hard we try to see ourselves and what we are doing right and wrong, it's like a ghost out there--we are blind to it. 

To really see ourselves, our heart and mind have to be receptive to seeing the full picture. 

That means looking at ourselves as we really are, even when there seems to be a piece missing to the puzzle, and we have trouble being honest about what we see. 

To change, learn, grow--to become a better person, we need to look full on and be willing to see what we will see.  

You can't see yourself until you can.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 28, 2018

Emo Art

So I've been wanting to post this example of this special art form from my daughter, Rebecca. 

She makes this novel art called, "EMO", which stands for emotional.

In this art she mixes children and monsters--and it depicts how innocent kids have to deal with the monsters they find in an often unscrupulous and morally-tarnished society. 

I love the feelings and message of this art in that it encapsulates how children enter this world in purity, but how so many bad people and things around them (and us) can corrupt that. 

I always learned that the goal for each person was to leave the world a better place then the way we found it; however, I think a more personal goal should also be for us to leave here as better human beings than the day we arrived.  

Challenging ourselves--learning and maturing--yet at the same time keeping that essence of decency and integrity of mind, heart, and deed--that is a life where we can grow up, but not turn into the morally-bankrupt monsters that we see all around us. 

(Source Art: Rebecca Ochayon)
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July 20, 2018

How Angry Do You Get?

Anger is one of those emotions (like jealousy) that can clearly get the best of people. 

Hence, the term anger management!

The Talmud teaches that there are 3 ways to know a person's real character: 

- Koso, Kiso, and Ka'aso.

From Aramaic to English it translates as:

- Cup, Purse, and Anger. 

In other words...

Cup--When a person "drinks," this is how they handle their alcohol and how they act when physically (or perhaps emotionally) inebriated or as we say, "When the wine goes in, the secrets come out!" Are they jumping on the bar, ripping it all off and saying and doing the inappropriate and profane or are they able to recognize their point of weakness and ask someone for a ride safely home. 

Purse--This is how a person handles money (and power). Materialism of people speaks volumes. Are they cheap, misery, and narcissistic or compassionate, caring, and giving to others.  

Anger--When a person is angry, this is often when their "true colors" show.  Do they get mean, bullying, abusive, and violent--do they go for the throat and the kill or are they situationally aware, measured, and do they listen, understand, and are they able to cope well when "under the gun."  

Focusing on the anger piece...

It's easy to get angry, and it's also easy to look for a scapegoat and let it out on people that really have nothing to do with why you're really angry. 

Maybe people can't always address their anger with the true source, maybe they don't even recognize their feelings fully, or have no idea how to safely release and reset.

In any case, anger is a dangerous emotion if not dealt with. 

Many mistakes are made that cannot be undone when people lose their cool (or sh*t, as now seems more commonly said). 

Thoughts on this...

Take a breath, slow down. 

Evaluate what's really going on

Think about whether it's truly the end of the world or not. 

Assess the options for coping with it. 

Look for ways to deescalate and resolve. 

If necessary, seek help from others.

Finally, where possible be compassionate and forgiving. 

And where not, cope, cope, cope--and survive another day!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 8, 2018

Don't / Can't - Turn Back Now

My father used to say a very wise thing:
You can only go forward.
You can't go back.

Often in life, I reflect on how wise this is and he was. 

Sometimes, we are hesitant or afraid of what lies ahead, and we turn our heads back and reinvent history and creatively fantasize how wonderful things were before and maybe we should go back.

Like the Israelites thousands of years ago, who G-d redeemed from the servitude of Egypt, but with hundreds of years of a slave mentality, they were in a sense paralyzed with fear of going into the foreboding expanse of the desert. 
"If only we had died by the L-rd's hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted. But You have brought us out to this dessert to starve this entire assembly to death." (Exodus 16:3)

But we know that going forward is the only way to learn, grow, and progress. 

Just like the Israelites that went forward through the depths of the Red Sea on dry land and to receive the Torah on Sinai and for forty years in the desert to ultimately get to the amazing promised land of Israel. 

Thank G-d, they didn't turn back--there really was no turning back.

Back is death.  

Forward is life. 

We have a journey that we need to complete. 

The destination is wherever G-d takes us. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 8, 2018

Adversity Is Not What You Think


This TEDx video is truly WOW!

Definitely worth watching in full.  

So many takeaways from this that I want to remember.

- Three things can happen in life:

1. What you hope will happen

2. What you fear will happen

3. What actually happens

- There is not always a tomorrow!

Think if you were paralyzed from the neck down, what would you wish you had done differently, and go do it.

- See adversity as a gift:

1. It is harsh and ruthless.

2. It shows up unannounced.

3. It doesn't care what you want.

4. It doesn't give a darn how you feel.

5. It doesn't take no for an answer.

6. It hates your weakness.

7. It is your best teacher.

8. It is the most honest person you will ever encounter.

9. It forces you to up your game.

10. It knows your true potential even if you don't.

11. It offers you no other choice, so the choice is simple.

12. At the end of the day, we are only as strong as the adversity we overcome!

13. It will recede, but the lessons will always remain.

14. It will strengthen you to endure your next battle, stronger and wiser than before.

15. How we overcome adversity is by facing it head on. (If you try to avoid it, it can crush you; and if you try to go around it, you will never avoid it's grasp.)

My absolute congratulations and gratitude to Marcus Aurelius Anderson on this magnificent and brilliant talk and lessons for all of us!

And thank you Minna Blumenthal for sharing this wisdom with me!
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December 15, 2017

Slow Build - Rapid Demise

It takes time to build in life. 

Or as they say:
"Rome wasn't built in a day."

But it's not always easy to have patience. 

We all have to start somewhere and usually it's at the bottom.

And then we have to claw our way up (like Rocky).

Unless of course, you're one of those people born with a "silver spoon" in your mouth. 

The funny thing about building and climbing is that it can all be destroyed in a split second. 

One silly mistake, one stupid word, one indiscretion, one lackadaisical moment, a turn of bad luck...or a series thereof. 

It takes so much time and effort to build as we lay one brick of success upon another. 

And it takes just a split second to destroy it all. 

So watch-watch-watch your steps, because they can so easily turn into a rapid, spiraling, and even most deadly a fall.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 18, 2017

Character Building Day

So I really like this...

A friend told me that when they have a really tough day, they call it:
"A Character Building Day!"

I thought that was pretty astute. 

When people are up against the wall...

And they feel like they practically have their hands and legs tied...

And the world is spinning around them out of control...

And others are throwing tomatoes, darts, arrows, and all types of other sh*t their way...

- We can either just close our eyes, feel powerless, get upset and depressed, and basically give up

OR

- We can see the tough times as challenges--however great--to build our character.

Every situation is a learning and growth opportunity. 

Don't give in--Get up and fight.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger!

Yes, many days are character building days--it doesn't always feel good--often it feels horrible--but we can approach it with the right attitude and help shape our character and soul for the better.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 5, 2017

The Meaning Of Pain

Wow, I am so impressed with my daughter.

I spoke with her this evening and she has grown into such a smart, mature, and good person. 

We were talking about some hard times.

And she said to me so smartly (and I am so proud of her):
"The reason that we have pain is to avoid more pain."

Wow...think about that for a moment. 

Everyone gets physical, emotional, and even spiritual pain in their lives. 

Even little things like stubbing your toe, getting a small burn, or a paper cut--these things give you a instant or more of pain...but it jolts you into attention of what to avoid and to action how to protect yourself to prevent further and worse pain down the road. 

A little pain now can fortunately save you a lot of pain later!

(Or in the gym they say, "No pain, no gain.")

My father used to say about difficult life lessons:
"Better to cry now than to cry later!"

He was right--bad situations generally don't get better with age. 

Continuing the discussion with my lovely daughter tonight, she said to me:
"A person becomes better when they struggle. I've become better by struggling."

Again, like little pains, even larger struggles in life challenge us to learn, grow, and become better and stronger people. 

I remember as a kid--when we went through those growth spurts--it would actually hurt a little--some muscle aches here and some cramps there--whew, a few inches taller already. 

Growth hurts, but it's kind of a good hurt that only someone with the emotional intelligence to understand maturity and betterment can really grasp. 

No, I'm not advocating for self-flagellation--just that we know when pain and struggle is a defining moment in life--like shaping and sharpening a great sword in fierce fire. 

It's hot, but the heat is healing and necessary sometimes to grow as human and spiritual beings. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 26, 2017

Look Down To Feel Up

Listen, everyone has problems.

Whoever I talk to has something bad and fairly serious to complain about, and there seems to be new things coming all the time.

Just today, I heard from one person who went to the dentist with a tooth pain only to discover it had been silently infected for over a year, and was so serious that it literally could've killed him.

Another person told be about having a child with special needs and moving to an area with a school that could more effectively deal and help them. 

And a third person told me how they lost their husband many years ago at the age of just 39-years old and being left a widow. 

But people make the best of it!

They have to.

I remember my father saying when my mother got so sick with Parkinson's Disease:
"We are part of the survivors club."

It wasn't easy to see her endless suffering while he selflessly tried to help her day-in and -out and cope with the physical and emotional pain of it all. 

When I was younger my dad would teach me about not feeling bad whatever the situation, and to always be grateful for what you have, and he told the story:
"There was a poor man who had no shoes, and he felt very bad...that is, until he saw someone else who had no feet."

It doesn't take much for things to get really bad in life...sometimes it can seem like we're literally just holding on by a thin thread. 

But as G-d tests us and teaches us, we need to try to look on the bright side and be grateful that things aren't worse....and yes, they can even get better again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 18, 2016

Should We Care What Others Think?

So I was talking with someone and they were telling me how self conscious they feel about what others think of them.

They said when they were in school, they were picked on, bullied, labeled, and made to feel different and excluded.

Whether it was their hair that was different or their lunchbox that got taken and hidden from them, the other kids were relentless. 

Now in life, they are still dealing with all those feelings.

Do they look right? 

Are they educated enough?

Is their profession something others will admire them for?

And on and on. 

And at a certain point, I said, "Isn't it more important what you think about yourself than what others think about you?"

And they said, "Sure, but I still feel like I have to live up to other people's standards. I don't want them to think bad about me or talk behind my back!"

I understand this way of thinking is based on trauma from the past and feelings of inadequacy and not fitting in. 

And we can spend our whole lives chasing this illusive acceptance from others. 

Or we can decide to pursue we what believe in and love, and to find healing in the good we do, rather than the nods or winks from others that we receive. 

If we are trying to live up to somebody else's arbitrary standards of perfection, cool, or being in the in-crowd, we may never be good enough.

Instead, if we pursue what we know is right from our moral compass and our heart and soul, and always do our best, we will attain the satisfaction that comes with healthy self-development and maturation. 

Seeking unconditional acceptance and love can definitely leave you feeling frustrated, self-hating, and even quite alone. 

But accepting yourself, developing yourself, and giving to G-d and to others will always leave you feeling fulfilled. 

Forget living as if your in the fishbowl, and strive for the Superbowl of achievement through incremental progress and goal attainment in your life. 

Start with making yourself proud and the others will come around. And if for some reason they don't, it's truly their deficiency and loss and not yours!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 30, 2016

(Not) Too Hard!

So there is someone that I think the world of. 

They are what we call "good people."

But like all of us, have challenges and difficulties in life. 

Maybe their load is heavier and more taxing. 

But it is what G-d has given them to bear and to work with. 

In talking with this person, at one point, they said, "It's too hard!"

And I think we all feel that way sometimes.

Bret Stephens quoted Bernard Lewis in the Wall Street Journal today, that in trying times, some ask, "Who did this to us?" While others ask, "What did we do wrong?"

Maybe the question should be, "What can we do now?"

While some throw in the towel and can't go on or go on in a bad way, others may get angry and bitter at their lot in life.

But yet like my inspiration, Rocky, some get up and fight for what they want. 

The down is only a temporary down, but not a knockout. 

The pain stings and hurts and leaves us blurry-eyed and dizzy, but our desire to succeed pushes the adrenaline through our coursing veins, and we get up again with even a greater determination. 

"The eye of the tiger, the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenges of our rivals..."

I take responsibility. I take accountability. I want to overcome. 

I shall prevail in life and even ultimately in death, my life will mean something to somebody. 

The end is the beginning again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 22, 2016

Attitudinal Fix

So attitude goes a long way in shaping how we do in life. 

For some people, the glass is half full, and for others it's half empty--it's of course, just how you look at it. 

One colleague told me this week: 

"Life is 10% what happens 
and 
90% how you react to it."


I suppose we see that with so many people who have unbelievable daunting challenges in life, yet somehow they manage to put on a smile or give a thumbs up regardless, and just do what they need to do--they are troopers, survivors, and generally people of incredible character and caliber. 

These are the heroes that we can look up to. 

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"--and the going refers to doing what needs to get done, and not running away from your duty scared or not knowing what to do. 


Need to be courageous, resourceful, loyal, and giving to others.  

Stop the whining, the crying, the self pity, the questioning "why me"--what will any of that help?

Fight, fight, fight--that's what we're here for. 

Until our last breath, we can still make a difference. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 22, 2014

BIG Smile

This was a nice big smile on the base of a light pole. 

It's funny, aside from the smile, the mouth on this reminds me of something very smart my daughter, Rebecca told me the other day.


She said, "Don't let your tongue be bigger than your mouth."


In other words, don't be a big mouth, watch your words, speak carefully and thoughtfully. 


Some very good advice, probably for most of us out there. 


Mr. Light pole, I have a feeling you don't overdo it with this, and maybe that's why you're smiling so much. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 10, 2013

Some Questions To Change Your Life

If you haven't seen this, Inc. ran an article (19 February 2013) on "11 Life-Changing Questions You Musk Ask Yourself."

I like the introspective and thoughtful questions posed and believe it's well worth our time to think about these. 

Looking back from your deathbed: 
The first three questions (1-3) have to do looking at your life in terms of how you lived your life and how it will be viewed at the end. The point is not what title you achieved (CEO, VP, etc.) or how much money you accumulated in your life, but whose lives you touched and how profoundly.

Working to live:
The next two questions (4-5) have to do with how you earn you keep. I remember learning that life is not about living to work, but rather working to live. Do you work hard and contribute something real and meaningful, and is it something that you can be proud of. 

Embrace good change:
There are two question (6-7) then about how you deal with change. When everyday is fundamentally the same and you're afraid to try new things, then you may very well be stuck in some sort of a rut. If you have the leeway to pick your change--look for ways to change that helps you grow into the person you want to be (and not just changing for changes sake). 

Spend your time valuably:
Two questions (8-9) are about that the best things in life cannot be bought--real relationships, good deeds, being a mensch. Your time is your most valuable resource. Flower, candy, gifts are a nice gesture but don't make up for time invested and well-spent together with those you most deeply care about. Words and gifts are cheap, actions speak louder than words--volumes--about who we really are. 

Treat others as G-d's creatures:
Question 10 points that people are G-d's precious creatures and the biggest test is how we treat them--do we do it with selfish interest or with empathy, kindess, and charity. I have never understood the many charity dinners and events where people get honored for their giving, rather than the honor being in the act of giving, itself. 

Challenge yourself to be more:
The 11th question isn't about doing scary, stupid things, but rather challenging and pushing yourself to overcome what seems like our innate limitations and instead go beyond (break those barriers!). 

While it is tempting to tire, to give up, or to just claim victory, as my grandfather used to say, "There is enough time to sleep after 120." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 10, 2011

Try Something New, Relax


So you work hard and play hard.

You're always in "on mode".

Of course, it's a 24 x 7 world.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Well it's time to stop!

Take a time out.

Some time to think.

Enjoy life again.

Become a human being.

Here is your test: Go to Do Nothing for 2 Minutes.

- Your only goal for the next 2 minutes is to look at the ocean, listen to the waves and the birds, and relax--really.

- If you touch the mouse or keyboard, you fail and have to start over again.

See if you can do it.

See if you can calm your mind.

See if you can get off the treadmill.

See if you can free yourself from anxiety and pain.

When you can just do this--for 2 minutes, you'll realize what you've been missing.

Now try Calm--no time limit this go around--you've earned it.

You'll are better for it and your family, friends, and colleagues notice the difference.

It's not a new you, just a rediscovered you.

Find and enjoy peace!


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June 24, 2011

Feedback, Can't Live Without It

Whether you call it feedback or performance measurement, we all need information on how we are doing in order to keep doing better over time.

Wired (July 2011) reports that there are 4 basic stages to feedback:

1. Evidence--"behavior is measured, captured, and stored."

2. Relevance--information is conveyed in a way that is "emotionally resonant."

3. Consequence--we are provided with the results of our (mis)deeds.

4. Action--individuals have the opportunity to"recalibrate a behavior, make a choice, and act."

The new action (in step 4) is also subject to measurement and the the feedback loop begins again.

Feedback plays a critical role in helping us achieve our goals; according to psychologist Albert Bandura, if we can identify our goals and measure our progress to them, we greatly increase the likelihood that we will achieve them.

Thus, feedback is the way that we continually are able to course correct in order hit our targets: if we veer too much to the right, we course correct left; if we veer too much to the left, we course correct right.

Feedback loops "can help people change bad behavior...[and] can encourage good habits."

From obesity to smoking, carbon emissions to criminal behavior, and energy use to employee performance, if we get feedback as to where we are going wrong and what negative effects it is having on us, we have the opportunity to improve.

And the way we generate improvement in people is not by trying to control them--since no one can really be controlled, they just rebel--instead we give them the feedback they need to gain self-control.

These days, feedback is not limited to having that heart-to-heart with somebody, but technology plays a critical role.

From sensors and monitors that capture and store information, to business intelligence that makes it meaningful in terms of trends, patterns, and graphs, to alerting and notification systems that let you know when some sort of anomaly occurs, we rely on technology to help us control our often chaotic environments.

While feedback can be scary and painful--no one wants to get a negative reaction, criticized, or even "punished"--in the end, we are better off knowing than not knowing, so we have the opportunity to evaluate the veracity and sincerity of the feedback and reflect on what to do next.

There are many obstacles to self-improvement including disbelief, obstinance, arrogance, as well as pure unadulterated laziness. All these can get in the way of making necessary changes in our lives; however, feedback has a way of continuing to come back and hit you over the head in life until you pay attention and act accordingly.

There is no escaping valid feedback.

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April 30, 2011

Life Building 101

The Guardian U.K. (2 April, 2011) has this wonderfully inspiring story about a very special body builder.
Dr. Charles Eugster is a dentist and athlete extraordinaire--you see Eugster is 91 years old.
And he says that "At 85 I had a crisis. I looked at myself in the mirror, and saw an old man. I was overweight, my posture was terrible and there was skin hanging off me. I looked like a wreck."
Now, he is doing dips, crunches, chin-ups, and push ups and scoring higher than contestants in ANY other age category.
Eugster says "I'm not chasing youthfulness, I'm chasing health."
Although he was already rowing 6 times a week when he was in his late-80s, he figured he could push himself a little harder and so he joined a body building club--OMG, this guy's attitude is amazing!
What an inspiration...
His outlook is that "We're told that old age is a continuous state of decline, and that we should stop working, slow down and prepare to die. I disagree...one day something will happen and that will be it. But until that day comes, I'm going to carry on working my abs!"
While none of us know when our time us up, it seems that we can choose how we approach our personal maturation--we can look at it as reaching a peak and then going over the proverbial cliff of life OR we can fight to continuously transform ourselves--for as long as we can--and to always try and be the best we can be.
Age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, or disability--none of these should inhibit us from working our hardest and going for the gold of what is meaningful in life to us.
I remember a wise saying I learned from my teachers--the competition is really not with anyone else, it is with yourself.
So to me it's not really body building we're talking about, but rather life building--and this is something we can all strive for.

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