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

February 26, 2021

It’s Never About Luck

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "It’s Never About Luck."

Today is Purim, when we celebrate the Jewish victory over the evil Haman and his conspiracy to annihilate the Jews in the Persian Empire. Haman drew a lottery to determine what he thought was a fortuitous day, the 13th of Adar, to murder the Jewish people and pursued this plot through a decree by King Achashverosh. But as we know, G-d made miracles through Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, and Haman and his ten sons ended hanging by the noose that he built for Mordechai. 

This has been my personal experience as well, as I can see both now and in 20/20 hindsight that there is a definite Divine method and not just a world of random chance and madness.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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February 5, 2021

Success, Israeli Cuisine Style


Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, Success, "Israeli Cuisine Style."
This notion of success and failure in life makes you think about not only the imperative to be successful in our lives, but also to question what does that success even mean and look like? Is success really the goal or is the journey with its growing pains and lesson learned the real goal towards purifying our souls?

When we read the Ten Commandments, we are reminded of what the foundational elements of success in life actually are all about: How did we treat others (were we compassionate and giving)? Did we behave as Mensch’s in our lives? Did we try our best to do the “right thing” by our fellow man and by G-d? If you can answer in the positive to these latter questions then maybe you have achieved real success, regardless of what any culinary chef or life maven would tell you!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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January 22, 2021

Let Go of the Ego and Follow G-d


Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Let Go of the Ego and Follow G-d."

As we know, Pharaoh refused to let the Jews go from Egypt, whether because G-d hardened his heart for some of the plagues or he just couldn’t bear to see his Jewish slaves free through the final knock-out rounds. Through ten plagues that destroyed Egypt and much of their people, including their first born males in the tenth plague, Pharaoh is intransigent and suffers the terrible consequences....Aside from Pharaoh, perhaps the second most stubborn individual in the Torah is Bilam, who was asked by Balak, the king of Moav, to curse the Jews....even though each and every time, G-d instead blessed them.

In both cases, it is clear that no individual, whether a king or a prophet, can go against that which G-d has decreed!

The lesson is clear: it is best to try to see what direction G-d is leading us forward in and to follow Him all the way, not only because that is the path of least resistance, but because that is what we are meant to do and where we are meant to go in our lives.

(Credit Photo: Minna Meles)


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December 9, 2020

The Sound of Silence

Thought this was pretty smart. 

To listen, you've got to shut your mouth and be quiet. 

"Listen" and "Silent" have the exact same letters. 

Now will you be silent and listen to other people?  ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)


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December 6, 2020

Making Things Right When There Is Still Time

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Making Things Right When There Is Still Time."
 
Over the years, I heard bits and pieces about him, including that he was ill, and I tried through my other friends to reach out to him. Somehow, it never worked, and more time wore on. Recently again, when another old friend lost their parent, I read something that reminded me that I still had unfinished business with my friend that I had hurt. So now was as good a time as any to reach out.

Somehow hurting someone never really goes away. Those feelings are sort of immortalized in time. The hurt is tangible and become concrete in the genetic fabric of our souls. My soul told me that it was time to try to correct for a mistake I made. You never know how much time is left, and it is important to try to make things right.

(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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October 3, 2020

The Power of Life and Death

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "The Power of Life and Death."
It’s so important to develop mastery over the whole life sequence: think nice thoughts, speak kind words, do good deeds, and develop positive habits. This is one of the secrets to life itself.

Life is often in the hands of our tongue–one stupid word and it can mean your head, and one smart thing and it can be, with G-d’s help, your ride to the stars!

Indeed, controlling your words, like controlling your desires, temper, and so on is a constant challenge we all face throughout life. Yes, it’s easy to just let oneself go, but the consequences can be severe for shooting off your mouth, acting stupid, or getting angry. We can get better with patience, time, and practice. We can become better, stronger people. We can learn to guard not only our tongue, but our temperament and deeds, and live a better, and perhaps even a longer life for it. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Dossy Blumenthal)


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August 14, 2020

30,000 Chances To Get It Right

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "30,000 Chances To Get It Right."
Teshuvah (Repentance) is really not just a yearly process, it is a daily one. And 80 years is almost 30,000 days, with every day that we wake up, get up, and start up the process of another day again, we have the opportunity to get it right this day, this time around!

Every day that we awake and arise is a great opportunity to try again where we failed in prior days and we can potentially think holier thoughts, say kinder words, and treat each other better, more compassionately and righteously.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 1, 2020

When All The World Is Going Crazy

When all the world is going c-r-a-z-y...

The best thing you can do is stay CALM. 

- Calm is where good energy enters and bad doesn't.

- Calm is where rational thinking gets done. 

- Calm is where positive action happens.

- Calm is where our inner faith is sustained. 

- Calm is where we can inspire and lead ourselves and others to do good. 

Calm is where we all yearn to be. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 2, 2020

You've Got To Do It

Interesting message on this car window:
Imagine all the wonderful things that will never happen if you do not do them.

You've got to get up and get out there and try. 

Never say never. 

Success is within reach. 

Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 12, 2020

Anger, Faith, and Growth

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Anger, Faith, and Growth."

We live in an unpredictable world and I have made more than one bad decision recently. Fortunately, it was nothing too terrible, but I was still angry about it, and my gut reaction was to somehow blame G-d, and to feel angry at Him, because I thought somehow I didn't deserve what had happened. However, I asked myself how can you be angry at G-d if you believe that everything he does is for your ultimate good? It took me a little time, but I realized that I wasn't really angry at G-d, but at myself; It was my fault, I did deserve what happened, and my mistakes aren't G-d's.

Maybe this is what life is really all about--searching and finding G-d even among all the multitude of mistakes we make in life. We have to own our mistakes, learn from them, and thereby become stronger and better people.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 4, 2020

From Hate To Love

Just a self-reflection today...

Important to me. 

It's about who I thought I was and...

Who I became. 

Truly, I went full circle from a child's hate to an adult's love relationship with:

- Reading

- Writing

- Swimming

- Hebrew

As a kid, I tried to avoid these like the plague, and as an adult I like to practice these every single day of my life. 

I wonder to myself is it that I strove to become good (or decent) at what I have previously been bad at or was somehow afraid of. 

Yet now, they are integral to my life, learning, and growth. 

Like the hands of a clock that circle and tick the hours and minutes. 

My life takes me full circle and brings me home to who I am and what I really love spending time at. ;-)

(Credit Photo: 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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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 14, 2019

Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah."
In a sense, we all live at least two lives–represented by the two faces we wear: The first is the happy face, where we portray ourselves as if everything is going so well, almost near-perfect in our lives (our vacations, accomplishments, celebrations, and so on), and this is the face that we routinely show to the world. Then, there is the second face, which is essentially where everything is not (always) quite so rosy, where life’s challenges, troubles, and hardships take their tangible toll, and this is the face that we learn to keep private and regularly hide from the world. Usually, it comes down to a rationale that goes something like this: just imagine what would people think of us if they really knew us for who we are and what we were actually going through? Yet the funny thing is that everyone is going through something–that’s life!
In a couple of weeks, when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we come knowing that there is no mask to be worn in front of our Maker, and truly, we are naked before Him in all our thoughts and deeds. We can’t pretend anymore that our lives or ourselves are perfect, but rather this is the time for true and earnest reflection, repentance, as well as judgment for the New Year based on what each of us is really all about. May each of us have the courage and conviction to face our real selves, to learn, grow, improve, and ultimately to self-actualize, and may we receive G-d’s mercy and blessings for a happy and healthy New Year!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 16, 2019

We're Part of a Much Larger Script

I loved this explanation of the Book of Job by Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

G-d answers by showing Job the incredible elements of creation and the universe.

Why?

1) Complexity and Interrelationship of the Universe:

As isolated individuals, we might expect to be judged solely by our individual deeds of good and bad (2-dimensional), but also we are cogs in the larger universe (the 3rd dimension).

Therefore, what happens to us is not just a result of what we do, but also is a part of G-d's larger overall plan for the world. 


Even small acts can have large impacts.

For example, you sneeze and somewhere down the line it causes a tsunami.

Similarly, like actors in a cosmic play of a billion pages, we may not see or understand why our individual role may be what it is, but if you would see and understand the context of the overall drama (what came before us, after us, and how it all interrelates) then from a G-d's eye view, it makes sense.

Every act of destruction can lead to a higher divine purpose.

Like the grass that is mowed over and uprooted to plants crops or the wheat that is harvested and ground up to make bread.

So, we can have faith that there is a reason and purpose for everything even if it is a mystery or unanswered question to us.


And even in our suffering, G-d, the master of the Universe, is saying that "I'm here with you thru it all." You are not alone!

2) By challenging us, G-d gives us the "tough gift" to cope, grow, and become better people.

Even though things that happen may look bad to you, they can lead to good for you.

You don't always get what you want, but you get what you need.

You have choice: you can be bitter, resentful, cynical, and angry or can look at life with hope, optimism and resilience.

Thus, suffering can be a vehicle of self-transformation and elevation. The challenges you face can help you become a different person--a greater person.

You can learn to feel not just your own pain and disappointment, but that of others.

You have the opportunity to grow yourself and the opportunity to help others.

(Thank you to Rebecca Ochayon for sending me this awesome video!)

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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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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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February 2, 2019

Moses' Handicap

Please see new my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Moses's Handicap."
In truth, we are all handicapped in one way or another. One person comes from a meager financial background, another has no education, and yet another has any of a host of physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Essentially, we all have something that rightfully can hold us back. But still G-d chooses us to do His bidding. Whether it’s leading the Jews out of Egypt or standing up and doing what’s right in situations that we are confronted with every day, we are asked to go beyond our handicap.

We can't let our handicaps prevent us from fulfilling our purpose in life--we need to meet the challenges head on with G-d's help.  ;-)

(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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