Showing posts with label Understanding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Understanding. Show all posts

August 9, 2020

Finding Reality in a Floating Pink Abstract World

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Finding Reality in a Floating Pink Abstract World."
But when we return home to our Maker then we'll see beyond time and space what we could never see while we were enveloped in a physical body and a material world. For the spirit survives the life as our L-rd spans infinity and one day too we will rejoin with Him and discover what our eyes could never see and our ears did never hear.

For our heart was hardened of flesh while our soul was molten and deep until eventually we awake from our slumber and find what we always did seek.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 5, 2019

Not Caring or Worse

It's interesting...

There are a lot of good people out there, but there are probably more in your orbit that simply don't care or worse. 

You can have this problem or that. 

If they even "give you the time of day," people will nod, tell you how sorry they are, and probably relate some of their own misery.

The good people try to see if and how they may be able to help. 

The others really don't want to know, certainly don't care, and just see you as baggage in the way. 

But everyone has their problems!  

If only people could look with compassion on each other. 

We all struggle with our demons in this world.  

Of course, we can't let troubles get in the way of our doing what we need to do. 

But people can make all the difference in just providing a compassionate ear and being willing to open themselves up to understanding others and helping each other or making reasonable accommodations so people can help themselves. 

Listen, we all have our day--wouldn't it be nice to be that person who is kind and generous to others and have others treat us that way too. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 21, 2018

There's A Reason For Everything

I go to the fridge to look for something to eat. 

I find am empty food storage container on the shelf. 

I recognize it from the day before when it was filled with delicious over-baked salmon. 

So I go to one kid who I guess may be the culprit and I ask:
Why did you leave the empty bowl in the fridge and not clean it out when you were done?

She says:
Dad, I didn't do it. 

So, I feel like a jerk and apologize for thinking maybe it was her.

Then I go to the other kid and say:
Did you leave an empty dirty salmon bowl in the fridge?

And she says to me:
I did.

So I ask rhetorically thinking there was no acceptable reason:

Why did you do that?


She says sweetly to me:
My sister was sleeping and I didn't want to wake her by washing out the bowl.

And I knew she meant it. 

I wouldn't have imagined a reason for leaving an empty dirty bowl in the fridge, but it just goes to show not to misjudge people--there is usually a reason for everything. ;-)

(Source Photo: Amazon)
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August 17, 2018

What Is Life?

Here is a great parable that speaks to the meaning of life:

A man died.

When he realized it, he saw God coming closer with a suitcase in his hand.

Dialog between God and Dead Man:

God: *Alright son, it’s time to go*

Man: So soon? I had a lot of plans.

God: *I am sorry but, it’s time to go*

Man: What do you have in that suitcase?

God: *Your belongings*

Man: My belongings? You mean my things...clothes...money...

God; *Those things were never yours, they belong to the Earth*

Man: Is it my memories?

God: *No. They belong to Time*

Man: Is it my talent?

God: *No. They belong to Divine Providence*

Man: Is it my friends and family?

God: *No son. They belong to the Path you traveled*

Man: Is it my wife and children?

God: *No. they belong to your Heart*

Man: Then it must be my body

God: *No, No... It belongs to Dust*

Man: Then surely it must be my Soul!

God: *You are sadly mistaken son. Your Soul belongs to me.*

Man: I never owned anything?

God: *That’s Right. You never owned anything*.

Man (with tears in his eyes and full of fear took the suitcase from God's hand and asks God): Then? What was mine?

God: *Your choices.*

Every choice you made was yours.

Create each moment by filling it with meaning.

Do G-d's will at every moment.

Choose to act kindly to others in every moment.

Life is the choices of every moment.


(Adapted from and with Gratitude to Minna Blumenthal for sharing this with me)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 13, 2018

Flower Petals In Water

Just wanted to share these absolutely beautiful flower petals floating on the water. 

G-d's creations are so wondrous and marvelous.

Frankly, I find it hard to comprehend how He made everything so gorgeous. 

There are plenty of challenges for us in this world to keep us learning and growing. 

But truly, I love that there is some Garden of Eden paradise in this world too. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 19, 2018

Boiling A Frog

So sometimes you don't know that something is happening until it is too late. 

A colleague yesterday told me this great simile:

It's like when you put a frog in a pot of water and turn up the heat, the frog doesn't know what's happening until it's too late, and he ends up being boiled alive!

With better knowledge of the context, of course, you can have the foresight to act, to fight, to get out, whatever. 

Similarly with the frog, if you throw him into an already boiling pot of water, he immediately jumps out, and viola he's saved. 

It's really important to have good situational and political awareness. 

Not everyone out there is so innocent--even when they have a good act and pretend, "Who me?"

Many of them know how to work the system, so that the system works for them. 

G-d forbid, when you're in the way, they'll often turn up the heat. 

And if you don't realize what going on, you'll be the frog that's a not so tasty dinner. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 25, 2018

Left Handshake Is Right

So I heard about someone misinterpreting something I did for the worse.

Occasionally, when someone tries to shake my hand, instead of shaking with my right hand, I will take their hand in my left. 

I'll do this for various reasons such as arthritic pain or from dirt (like ink or cleaning ) from some prior work I was doing. 

But always when I extend my hand it is with warmth and friendship. 

However, I learned that one person took this handshake as a serious personal affront. 

They thought that I was "disrespecting" them intentionally.

So I learned that even the most everyday, mundane gestures like a handshake, but done differently, can be taken out of context and misinterpreted. 

Why do we judge others for the bad?

Maybe because we don't trust, don't want to ask, don't want to know, or have had bad experiences in life that jade us. 

But sometimes a handshake is just a handshake whether with the right or left hand. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 16, 2018

Me Myself and I

I thought this was really fascinating about how we interact with others.

It's a theory by Martin Buber called the I-Thou relationship.

In every relationship, there are really 6 people in the room:

- Who I am.

- Who I want to be.

- Who I am perceived as.

-----------

- Who they are.

- Who they want to be.

- Who they are perceived as. 

----------

Taking about a break between reality, fantasy, and perception. 

Is it any wonder that there are so many communication breakdowns and relationship disappointments. 

We need to coalesce around a unified persona of I and thou--and if we don't know, perhaps we need to ask for clarification.

We don't want to talk past each other. 

We want to talk to and work with each other. 

I am me and you are you. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 27, 2017

A Mountain Of Data

So I heard this interesting perspective on information and data analytics...

Basically, it comes down to this: 
"Most organizations are data rich, but information/insight poor."

Or put another way:
"Data is collected, but not used."

Hence we don't know what we don't know and we end up making bad decisions based on poor information. 

Just imagine if we could actually make sense of all the data points, connect them, visualize them, and get good information from them.

How much better than a pile of rocks is that? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 22, 2017

Wise Man Watcheth

I just loved this Asian sculpture that I found in this cool antique store.

It was white and slim with a Asian man face, long beard, and tall hat. 

The face was so expressive.

The eyes so alert and watching. 

The beard and hat made him look old and wise. 

As a real person, this is someone who has seen and learned so many things.

Forever watching.

Forever seeking to understand.

Forever trying to learn the secrets of the life. 

This is a person to consult and get guidance from. 

With age comes wisdom.

And with (occasional) reincarnation comes more opportunity to learn the painful lessons that we haven't, but must.

How long has this man been sitting there watching and learning--how long must we?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 12, 2017

The Knowable and Unknowable

So as we all do, I often come across challenging and perplexing issues or problems in life. 

And my nature is to try to understand them, solve them, fix them--is it survival or the challenge or both?

But then we come across some things that are just beyond our [mere mortal] understanding or ability to simply fix them. 

I remember as a youngster learning in Yeshiva about when it says in the Bible that G-d hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he continued to refuse to let the Jews go from their enslavement in Egypt.

And the classic mind-bending question is how could G-d harden his heart if Pharaoh retained free will which we all have to choose good or evil.

Did G-d harden his heart or did he have free will--which is it?  And if G-d hardened his heart, then how could Pharaoh and the Egyptians be punished for something they didn't fully control? 

One explanation is that by facing the punishing plagues, Pharoah was losing his free will to decide what to do with the Israelites, so by hardening his heart, G-d was actually restoring his free will to choose once again...interesting. 

Of course in life, there is also the philosophical dimensions of so many seeming contradictions such as the cliche about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

Which wins out if one is unstoppable and the other is unmovable?

No, I don't think these are just riddles, but the testing of the abilities of our human minds to understand further and further into the mysteries of G-d, creation, and the universe. 

So what do we do in life when confronted by things that are seemingly or really beyond our human capacities? 

- We ponder these weighty matters and sometimes we get frustrated and rip our little-left hair out or laugh at ourselves as to why we can't just get it.

- We look to understand the deeper spiritual meanings of these challenges in the context of our earthly lives. 

- We try to solve and fix what we can within the confines of our spaghetti brain matter and flesh and bone bodies. 

- At the end of the day, we acknowledge our human limitations, and look to the Heavens for answers or at least for Divine guidance and protection along the way.

While we cannot understand everything or always reach our destination that we set for ourselves that should never prevent us from trying our hardest and going as far as we can on our journeys--and letting the next person, and the next person pick up the torch and carry it forward. 

In the Jewish prayers, we say that the matters of the earth are for our exploration and striving, but the ultimate secrets of the Heaven are for G-d alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 18, 2017

The Nature of Good and Evil


Like in the Bible...

When our forefather Itzchak was about to bless his son Jacob and he said the words (are good) like Jacob, but the hands (deeds) feel like Esau.

Words are cheap, and actions speak volumes louder!

Good deeds mean something, but words are easily manipulated.

We can all spot good deeds, and that is what must guide our judgement of people and situations--that is where the truth rests.

Like my father and grandfather always taught me--some people are good and some are not so good.  ;-)

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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February 24, 2017

The Trouble With Communication

So I remember this old comedy skit showing the problem with communication.

There is a deaf guy trying to communicate with a blind guy.

Boy, this is a real conundrum.

The deaf guy communicates with sign language that the blind guy can't see. 

And the blind guy communicates by talking which the deaf guy can't hear. 

So neither are getting any messaging across. 

This is sort of like every day life, where people communicate talking past each other. 

Each may only be concerned with what they feel, think, and have to say. 

They don't really care to listen or understand the other person. 

It like the blind and deaf guy communicating and neither can hear the other. 

Most importantly, we need to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. 

To think from their perspectives, and to communicate having in mind to fulfill for the other person--what's in it for me (WIIFM).

In Judaism, their is an important teaching that each person is an entire world unto themselves.

We need to be sensitive to their world and speak our mind, but definitely in their language. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 10, 2017

Overcoming Resistance To Change

So have you heard of the 20-50-30 Rule when it comes to change management?

20% of the people are open and friendly to change--they are your early adopters.

50% are fence sitters--and they hold a wait and see attitude. 

30% are resisters--these are the people that will be the roadblocks to change. 

_____

Total 100%

Some will resist openly and loudly.  Other will disguise their resistance in a politically correct way.  And finally some may work subversively to block change. 

The keys to overcoming the resistance is by working through the head, heart, and hands model, helping people to understand the following:

Head (Intellectual) - What is changing. 

Heart (Emotional) - Why it's changing (and what's in it for me--WIIFM).

Hands (Behavioral) - How is it changing.

This means changing the mindset, motivating people, and shaping behavior to effect change. 

Change and resistance to change are facts of life, but how we approach it can either mean failure or amazing transformation. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 7, 2016

The Most Important Word Is AND

So as divisiveness continues to plague us. the option for acceptance, love, and coexistence is falling out of the favor and by the wayside. 

Division and conflict has been accentuated by the ugliness of the most recent election and representative political divide, economic and gender inequality, inner city violence, racial and religious tensions, worldwide terrorism, and global conflict from Syria to the South China Sea. 

This has even infiltrated the functioning of our government, social institutions, and free media big time, where vetting, negotiation and compromise, critical thinking, and fair, balanced, and investigative journalism have been largely jettisoned. 

There is no place anymore to go hide from bias, bigotry, and hate. 

But as the wise proverb goes things truly are not just black and white, but there are loads of grey everywhere

Many people are not good or evil, left or right, blessed or cursed.

Instead, most people are a mixture of this AND that. 

How much of the complex mix of different elements is what makes up the integrity and life of the individual, group, and organization we are dealing with.

But what's important is that you really can't just stereotype people, ideas, or actions as simply good or bad because in reality, they aren't.  

Each person and position has elements of good and bad in them...nothing and nobody in life is perfect. 

You take the good and the bad in everything from relationships to policy decisions. 

So it is certainly possible and even probable to be conflicted and confused about what we see and hear--and not only because of the bias and prejudice in how it is presented or portrayed, but rather because things are not just simple, one or the other propositions, but rather a combination of things we approve of and disapprove of. 

Our brains can have lots of trouble dealing with this complexity, because we are wired in terms of survival of the fittest, and that often means choosing a action based on split-second categorizing of people and things as friend or foe. 

As the mere shadow of the person or idea is upon us, we are asked to respond--do we run or fight it or do we lovingly embrace it as it overtakes us. 

Choose wrong and you can be badly hurt or even dead. 

But we are forced to make these quick and bold choices without always having the luxury of time, the patience, or wherewithal to stop and recognize that things and people are a combination of things we like and agree with and others that we dislike and vehemently oppose. 

If we could just keep in mind that most things are not just good or bad, right or wrong, but good AND bad, right AND wrong, then we can make more astute and fine-tuned designations of what we think something really is and isn't and how to handle it, live with it, and faithfully coexist with it. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 29, 2016

Compassion Instead Of Anger

So I was speaking to someone recently about how angry they were with some stressful things and people in their life. 

I listened carefully and tried to empathize--also in full transparency, it got to be a lot and I at some point was begging them to stop!

At one point, I just said, instead of being angry maybe try to be compassionate. 

And I could see in other person's reaction that they thought perhaps that I had hit on something a little eye-opening here. 

We can get angry about all the stresses and injustices that we perceive in our lives. 

People blame us, attack us, don't appreciate us, talk down to us, disrespect us, even bully us or try to hurt us.

Also life throws some pretty stinging to earth-shattering circumstances upon us.

And maybe we have every right to feel angry.

But usually the anger, unless we need the adrenaline-rush in fighting for our survival and for our core beliefs and values, doesn't help us achieve what we really want. 

What we want most of the time is to resolve things!

But getting angry and lashing out often only makes things worse. 

We act rashly, we overreact, we say and do things we may regret afterwards, and the consequences of our reaction can be severe to us afterwards in terms of alienating and harming others, escalating the situation and making it worse, creating hurt and destruction in our own wake, and even losing jobs or getting yourself in trouble and sent to the pokey.

If instead of getting angry and flinging arrows, we look at things from eyes of compassion, we can listen to others more carefully, understand the situation better, and try to rectify bad relationships or cope with stressful life events by employing emotional intelligence and a soft hand/skills. 

This is not to say that we should excuse really bad behavior or truly unforgivable misdeeds, but rather that we should look at things in a larger context, the role we play, and as part of our our life challenges to make things better and overcome.

Anger and the associated response is appropriate when the little devil is doing their misdeeds (lashing out severely and/or repeatedly with harm and intent), but compassion can help to see everything else for what it is or isn't and gives us an opportunity to react with a level head, a stable hand, and humanity as a first resort. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 13, 2015

What's With The Best Buds?

 I never quite understood the best buds t-shirt wave.

This is especially the case when the person is alone and there is no best bud anywhere to be found. 

We are all social animals, and perhaps, we all wish to have a best bud in our lives--someone to "buddy around with" and who knows and understands us, and unconditionally accepts us. 

Best buds seems to almost be able to read each others minds and finish each others sentences...and they laugh hysterically together about these mindless things for which apparently only they get it. 

When best buds are together, it's like they are almost in a bubble of their own world, and everyone else is on the outside, if they even exist to the buds at all. 

That's because bests buds are it--they have history, they share things in common, they think alike, and they work in tandem.

It's like getting two for the price of one: they are Batman and Robbin, Tonto and The Lone Ranger, Cheech and Chong, Laverne and Shirley, Simon and Garfunkel, and so many other couplings that stick together like peanut butter and jelly. 

If you have a best bud then you already know you don't need to give them a t-shirt to spell it out--the chemistry already says it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 23, 2014

Can You Love A Robot?

Pew Research reports that by 2025, "Robotic sex partners will be commonplace."

While I certainly understand loving (new helpful) technology, actually making love to a machine is taking things a little too far.

Even with great advances in artificial intelligence (AI), a robot can be nothing more than an artificial partner...a humanoid is not a human!

Despite portrayals in the movie Her (2013) of a nerdy writer who falls in love with his life-like operating system, the reality of human and machine love is more a desperate call for companionship and understanding than a real connection of equals--physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. 

While a computer may be programmed to say the things you want to hear, to laugh at your jokes, and even to succumb to your advances, love cannot be programmed or even artificially learned. 

The complex dynamics between two real people locked-in the emotional roller coaster of life with its ups and downs, pulling together and pushing apart, of shared experiences, challenges, and conflicts, can only be met head on with a best friend, soulmate, diametric opposite, and at the same time congruent equal. 

Only another human being can love you and be your love.

A machine, however beautiful designed, charming, and learning of you, can be just a poor surrogate for the sad person screaming out for connection in a large lonely world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 26, 2014

Let It Be

I remember as a kid, when I was around 10 years old, we moved, and I had to change schools, and there was an adjustment period. 

My father used to tell me a joke in the morning before school about these two grandmothers kibbitzing.

And one tells the other about how her grandson hates going to school. 

She goes on to say, "The students hate him, the teachers hate, it's just horrible."

The other grandmother replies, "Well then, why doesn't he just tell the principal?"

The first grandmother answers, "He is the principal!"

So this was a lesson to me about how no one has it so perfect in life--whether you're the kid, teacher, or even the principal, everyone has their challenges (and they may actually not look all that differently in the larger context of things). 

Basically, in life we must work to make things better where we can, but also have to accept the things we cannot change (and thank G-d, people are pretty adaptable, expecially given some time). 

While, we can try to divine the future by asking "What's going to be?"

Generally speaking, we can't fully know the answers in life before we even have the questions.

We've got to take it as it come, where we can--do our best to make a tangible, positive difference in the world--and with the rest, "let it be."

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 25, 2014

I, U, Y Talk Like That

Already young children in pre-school learn that "Words have meaning, and words can hurt."

All through life, we refine our communication skills learning what works and what doesn't.

Here are three letter-words with which to beware:

- "I" (Use sparingly) - I is usually people's favorite word; they love to talk about themselves. I this. I that. I like. I hate. The problem is that "I" can also be selfish, egotistical, and narcissistic. Without tempering talking about I all the time, you run the very large risk of overdoing it.  All the I can easily end up boring other people to near death or simply make them want to run the other way to get some needed healthy attention for themselves.

- "U" (Use carefully) - U is most often used to criticize.  U should do this. U did something wrong. U are a blankety-blank. While it's also caring, loving, and empathetic to talk about U (i.e. taking a genuine interest in the other person), talking about U can easily go astray and lead to disapproval, denunciation, and censure. We should and need to talk about U, but more from the perspective of understanding U and how can I help U.

- "Y" (Use almost never) - Y is used to ask questions, but usually ends up being used judgmentally. Y did you do that? Sometimes we question honestly and with positive intentions to understand, but very often we end up using the response to evaluate their actions, and pronounce judgement on them. From all the interrogative questions (who, what, where, when, Y, and how), Y should be used the absolute least, if ever. 

 I, U, Y - are letter-words that can imply selfishness, criticism, and judgement.  

While, they can't exactly be banned from the alphabet or dictionary, they are dangerous words that can get you misunderstood, alienate others, and hurt people in the process, and therefore use them, but with extreme caution, please. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to id-iom)
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