Showing posts with label Self-Control. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Self-Control. Show all posts

February 9, 2021

Heart Over Head


While many people may occasionally feel head over heels for something or someone, I liked this saying by Miska Ben-David:

The head will make its plans, but the heart will choose its own path.

In other words, we are often driven by our hearts over our heads!

Passion is a powerful motivator, indeed. 

When passion calls, do you go running too? 

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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November 29, 2020

Mastering Cheerfulness

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Mastering Cheerfulness." 
During Covid-19, it is easy to get down about all the people getting sick (many dying) and for the rest of us the intense feelings of isolation. However, during this time (and particularly this week of Thanksgiving), I am learning the importance of staying positive and appreciating all G-d’s blessings that we do have. More broadly, I am coming to understand that inside a person, G-d exists amidst love, kindness and cheerfulness: these are elements that nourish the flame of our soul and wherein G-d happily coexists with us. It makes a lot of sense that when we are angry, jealous, or sad, the holy Shechinah (presence of G-d) cannot fully reside inside us. Because G-d Himself is gracious, kind, and loving and created us from this, so His spirit within us (our soul) flourishes amidst these feelings, but diminishes within us like a flame without oxygen when we distance ourselves emotionally and spiritually.

Just like one candlelight extinguishes the darkness around it, so also the light that we nurture within ourselves can extinguish the darkness that we occasionally feel inside.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 18, 2020

I'm Sure You Did

So I thought this was pretty funny at the pool this week. 

I am about to get into the swimming pool. 

A water aerobics class is letting out and a bunch of older ladies are on the way out of the water. 

One of them stops, give me a big smirk, and says:

"Don't worry we warmed it up for you!"

I thought for quick second, and said with a completely straight face:

"I'm sure you did!"

The joys of swimming life.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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November 1, 2020

Tefillin: Our Wi-Fi To G-d

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Tefillin: Our Wi-Fi To G-d."

I remember not long ago my son-in-law, Itzchak telling me:
Tefillin are our antennas to Hashem!

And like an antenna, we are able to pray and have our signal amplified to G-d as well as be able to be imbued with G-d’s spirit and direction to us in life. With the Straps of the Tefillin as well as the boxes and knots, we spell out the letters of G-d’s name on our head and on our arm. Thus, we are not only wrapped in this “spiritual antenna,” but we literally wear G-d’s words on the parchment in the Tefillin boxes and with His holy name stamped on our centers of thought and feeling.

In short, Tefillin is opportunity for us to network over Wi-Fi with the Master of the Universe. It takes us out of the daily grind of looking at the world in selfish, shortsightedness of what’s in it for me today, and how can I get more gold and goodies than the next guy or girl. Inside all of us, we have a soul from G-d, and through our spiritual Wi-Fi connection, we can energize that part of ourselves with a good, strong signal straight to the Big Guy upstairs.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumethal)
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November 2, 2019

Pyramid of Emotional Intelligence

I really like this Pyramid of Emotional Intelligence (EI). 

It starts at the bottom with your own personal self-awareness--knowing who you are, including your beliefs, values, priorities, needs, and dreams, and being able to express this. 

Next level is your personal self-control--being able to manage your feelings, control your actions, and cope with challenges and adversity. 

Moving to the social level is then social awareness--having a consciousness and respect of others, their feelings, thoughts, motivations, needs, desires, and rights.

Finally, at the top is relationship management--the ability to actively listen and empathize, assert and influence, be patience and unconditionally accept differences, develop trust, give and take, collaborate, and manage conflict.

Most people work on developing these areas of the EI their whole life, and it is definitely a pyramid worthy of the climb. ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 6, 2019

Teshuva Through An IDF Soldier’s Eyes

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Teshuva Through An IDF Soldier's Eyes."
He said, just think about it: “You have the chance to say I’m sorry, I regret what I did, and I won’t do it again, and be forgiven — what a tremendous opportunity that is!” I had never really thought of repentance in this particular way…as an opportunity. Usually, it’s more of something that is uncomfortable, difficult, and that we really don’t want to have to do.

So with a few more days to go before Yom Kippur, let us thank G-d for the chance to make amends and do better in life, because this is an incredible opportunity and a true blessing, and one that we do not know will ever come again.


(Credit Photo: Gil Kremer, Israel Defense Forces)
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September 5, 2019

Favorite Chocolate Pastries

So these are my favorite chocolate pastries. 

They are liked over-sized or really supersized Rugelach. 

When these come out of the oven, the soft, hot pastry dough interspersed with overflowing, dripping layers of chocolate are unbelievable!

This mound of chocolate pastries is from Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. 

OMG, I can't wait to visit again and have one (or more) of these--totally lose all self control! LOL  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 26, 2019

Duck Donuts Don't

A colleague brought these unbelievable fresh, hot, Duck Donuts into the office yesterday. 

Each one weighs like a brick and is so full of carbohydrate good(bad)ness. 

I had to use all my self-control and willpower not to eat any (or all) of these. 

It comes down to mind over matter--If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 22, 2019

Four Types of Desire

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "I Want What I Want."

There are four types of greed/jealousy:
  • I want what I’m missing
  • I want what I had
  • I want what you have
  • I want you to not have what you have

We can be slaves to our egos, emotions, and desires, or we can seek to control them and be better than mere animals. We have a soul, a conscience, and the Torah, so the choice should be clear even if not always easy.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 26, 2019

Out of Control Ice Cream


I'm not sure how you control yourself around this Alpaca Ice Cream.

But somehow I managed not to get any...this time.  

I promise!  

LOL

These are made with fresh hot waffles wrapped around your choice of ice cream and toppings. 

As you can see these are pretty big and scrumptious!

Anyway, they have a store in Rockville and I absolutely must stay away from it. 

Oh, maybe I just go in once for a taste.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 9, 2019

Choosing Good Over Vice

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called "Choosing Good Over Vice."
But yet, if everyone would just act out on each other based on their unbridled wants and desires, oy vey what a truly terrible world that would be...From uncontrolled desires for food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, honor, money, power, sex, and more–it seems like everyone has their little secret fetish. Whether it's coming from their head, their heart, or down below...the key questions is how much can they control themselves.

However, inside us, our soul, like the Ten Commandments in the Holy Ark, guide us so that we aren't just animals chasing game or tail, but are human beings trying to become angels.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 3, 2018

We All Have Our Moods

Thought this was a funny comic strip in the office. 
Today I'm feeling {choose your poison}...

While I'm sure that we'd like to be happy all the time, it's not realistic to think that will actually be probable or even possible.

Sure, everyone puts on the big smile.

But behind the smile is often many other feelings 

As one colleague said to me:

"People are complex!"

Isn't that true?

Anyway, don't beat yourself for feeling what you feel--it's okay to be relaxing, excited, angry, sad, stressed or whatever.

Of course, that doesn't excuse letting it get the best of you and bad behavior.

We're adults, not children with temper tantrums.

Certainly, though, we are all human, and all feelings are fine. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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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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July 2, 2018

How Do I Choose?

So I thought this was an interesting topic for the sermon on Shabbat by Ben Shemony. 

It was about how we are confronted in life with whether to follow our impulses or our values. 

I think there is a lot to this topic...

Some may see it as the little good angel standing over one shoulder and another bad angel standing over the other trying to convince us what to do when it's decision time.  

Others may be perpetually torn between temptations or pleasures of materialism and the flesh versus of pursuing what you know to be spiritually good and right in this world. 

Either way, as human beings, we are a complex make-up of both body and soul.

Do we give in to temptation and do what feels good--more money, more food, more clothes and jewelry, more houses, cars, and yachts, more vacations, more carnal pleasures from the proverbial "wine, women, and song" or do we pursue the path of spirituality, serving our maker, caring and giving and doing good for others and the world?  

It sounds simple, but our impulses tell us one thing and our values tell us another. 

Are we being selfish or selfless?

Perhaps, too much of anything is bad for us--even too much giving and selflessness--we need to care for ourselves too--we are mortal, we have needs, we have to nourish ourselves, and we need to live. 

But you can't be a glutton or a slave to your impulses--you can't take and not give, your can't indulge until you make yourself sick, or take at the expense of and harm to others.

Like all things in life, there is a need for balance.

Certainly our spirit should guide our animal. 

If and when our animal is dictating to our spirit then we are in real trouble. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 27, 2018

Keep A Cool Temperament

So this was amazing. 

I was working with someone for a number of weeks/months. 

All of a sudden, I got a complete blow off email from them that said they are done and they wished me well in a sort of very sarcastic and even contemptuous way--like a real f*ck off!

Were they just being nasty or trying to pick a fight or something?

First, I was taken aback and honestly hurt--like what the heck happened that they showed their true strips...did I miss it all along. 

I showed my wife their email, and she read it the same way, and said "What an asshole!"

I continued to hold my mouthpiece and feelings as I contemplated how I would respond. 

I have to admit that some choice words and wishes back to them definitely came to mind. 

But I said to myself, "Hold, hold, hold!"

It wasn't easy not to respond in kind--lash back out at them--and even then some for good measure. 

No, that isn't the way. 

You can rise above this. 

I kept my mouth shut and literally controlled my reactions.

Well, lo' and behold, I thought I would never hear from this person again the way they spoke to me, but then a few days later,  I received another email where apparently they rethought what they did.

It didn't have to come from me to them to "set them straight!"

Their own conscience seemed to have played on them and they came to their own senses about how they behaved and spoke. 

I learned from this that it is critical to maintain your composure and keep your cool under all circumstances, no matter how trying. 

Don't stoop to their level--you rise above it!

Sometimes, the other person may just surprise you and rise back up too and do the right thing in the end. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 20, 2018

Mikva = Tikva

I thought this was a really special Jewish clock I saw in the store yesterday. 

It promotes holiness and sanctity in the family.
Mikva (Jewish ritual bath) = Tikva (hope) 
Rebirth and renewal (from the immersion in the holy water).
Build your family in sanctity!
Purity leads to sanctity.

The Jewish laws of refraining from sexual relations during Nidda (a women's menstruation) and of immersing in the mikvah at the end of the cycle and before the husband and wife coming back together physically are cornerstones of acting with self-control and a couple dedicating themselves to Hashem first.

The family is the core of raising and educating our children and of the makeup of the community and ultimately of serving G-d in everything we do. 

Self-control (with sexual purity, kosher food, Sabbath time, etc.) is what separates us from animals and how we emulate being more like the angels. 

It is also a way for a husband and wife to elevate their love and show respect for each other as human beings and not just physical beings.  

I never saw a clock that reminds us of these holy concepts and laws like this. 

Also at the top it says another well-known Jewish quote about managing our time wisely:
"The day is short and the task is great."

Another good reminder to maximize the use of our time every day here on Earth and to make the most out of every moment. 

If we dedicate ourselves to serving G-d, raising our families, being productive professionally and personally, and acting with integrity and sanctity always--this is a good life! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 1, 2017

Sexual Acting Act

There is now a seemingly endless slate of sexual harassment allegations against some of the biggest shots from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. 

From the longest-serving Congressmen to the biggest star of morning television news, it seems that no one is sacrosanct.

Is it just that "absolute power corrupts absolutely"?

Or maybe it's more broadly to be stated, as the Rabbi noted on Shabbat, that: 
"G-d created man perfectly imperfect!"
Men and women are created with sexual urges to procreate, bond emotionally and physically, and enjoy each other. 

Men tend to be the stronger than women and are able to have children into old age, and perhaps, it can be said, have the bigger "urge to merge.

Sure, there are women who are normally sexually active, and also those who are perhaps hypersexual (nympomaniac, "cougars," etc.) and who commit sexual abuse too.

In fact, it was interesting that Wikipedia actually breaks rape down into 4 gender on gender categories:

- Rape of females by males
- Rape of females by females
- Rape of males by females
- Rape of males by males

Issues with physical intimacy and sexual harassment and violence span both sexes, however, it is also clear that:
"Rape affects women disproportionately, with the majority of people convicted being men."

In the U.S., the statistics show gross levels of sexual violence to women:

- 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime (vs 1 in 71 men).

- 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female.

Also, particularly disturbing is the number of girls and boys targeted:

- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. 

What type of society have we created, where women and children are not generally safe?

It's interesting to me in Judaism that there is a recognition of sexual impulse, and that some Hasidim actually wear a "gartel" belt when praying to physically and spiritually separate the upper half of the body with the head and heart, from the lower half with the more animal instincts.

In short, the head and heart need to control the animal part of people. 

Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be happening in so many cases. 

Stunned from the outpouring of sexual allegations nearly everyday now, I said to my wife: 
"What is wrong with these people? They have it all: position, power, and wealth; and yet, they throw it all away --including their integrity and reputations--for a five minute lay in the hay!"

Is the animal instinct too strong for the person to control? That just isn't going to cut it.

As a functioning society, it's got be completely unacceptable for people to act out sexually or otherwise violently hurt their neighbors. 

It's time for social reform and for the animals to be controlled by the people. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 21, 2017

We're A Bunch Of Chemicals+

So it's pretty well known that we are a combination of nature and nurture. 

Nature is our genetics and our hormones--it's sort of the innate material that make up who we are. 

Nurture, of course, is all those external influencers, like parents, friends, teachers, religious figures, experiences, etc.--that shape us. 

In a way, it's hard to think of ourselves as a product of nature and nature, because that sort of removes our conscious free choice in the whole matter of who we are and what we do. 

For example, if someone is a raging lunatic, sociopath, serial killer, because they have a brain or hormonal defect and grew up in a broken and abusive home(s), then the question is, well how can you really or fully blame them for their actions--is it really their actions? 

Don't we have to ask ourselves how much control does a person have over themselves if they are physically and environmentally predisposed to be a certain way--even a very socially unacceptable and hurtful way?

This is where the courts and justice system come into play in looking at things such as whether the person is even competent to stand trial (e.g. the insanity defense) or are there mitigating circumstances to reduce the person's culpability.

I would imagine it is quite difficult to exactly judge the level of self control that a person is or should be able to exert given their individual set of nature and nurture.  

And even if the person isn't fully in control of themselves, does that help the victim or their families who are still left reeling from the harm and/or loss caused to them by the perpetrator?

Yet it is uncontested that people are driven by nature and nurture, and just in today's Wall Street Journal, there was a discussion of the influence of a person's hormone levels on their personality and behavior.

- Generally, more testosterone makes a person aggressive, while more estrogen makes them sensitive. 

- Similarly, dopamine makes people more energetic, while serotonin makes them more sociable. 

So there is nothing inherently "wrong" with you for being a certain way...that's your makeup, but you are responsible for how you manage yourself given what you've got.   

In other words, where you have lemons, you've got to make lemonade!

In a nutshell, we are truly a combination of our genetic makeup, a bunch of chemicals, some environmental molding, and the exertion of our willpower, faith, and belief in what's right and wrong. 

What happens when you mix these altogether, you get you and only you! ;-)

(Source photo: here with attribution to skeeze)
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September 29, 2017

Party With Cookies Like It's The End Of The Fiscal Year

It's funny, today the last business day of the fiscal year...

That means that this time of year is a lot of stress on a lot of people.

So what do they do?

Well, while a lot of people are reaching for the do-re-mi ($$$) to earn and to spend before the books close, others are reaching for the plain old (cookie) dough. 

This week for example, there was a big cookie party!

So much stress, so little time.

That seems to translate into cookie days, and carbohydrate weeks. 

This isn't just the end of the fiscal year, but a potentially fatty, dangerous time too. 

The timing is also weird because of the juxtaposition to Yom Kippur tomorrow which is a fasting day with NO food or water for 25 hours.

Better eat some more cookies now (or not). ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 21, 2017

Naked Sitting

This was some amazing sculpture at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. 

This "Big Man" is just sitting in the corner at the top of the escalator.

Sitting naked and looking deep in thought and down on his luck.

In a sense, as we sit or stand in front of our Maker, we are all naked bearing witness to our transgressions and trespasses. 

What are we to do when we give in to weakness?

We see people looking around and hoping no one is seeing them as they try to get away with doing the wrong thing.

But as my Oma (grandmother) used to say in German to me: 
"Liebe Gott sieht alles" 

Almighty G-d sees everything!

Our souls, and the souls of those that came before us, and those that will come after us, are all around us, without limitation to time or space. 

Our nakedness is revealed no matter what we use to try to cover up with. 

Hunched in the corner, we don't really know what to do, but to try to do better with each and every next time.

We have opportunities to right the wrongs, if we get up and exert self control and overcome our mortal and character weaknesses. 

Then our nakedness won't be foul in sight and smell, but will be radiant, with our spirits having risen to the occasion of what we can be as the children of G-d. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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