Showing posts with label Growth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Growth. Show all posts

September 28, 2019

The Good Things In Life Are Challenging

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "The Good Things In Life Are Challenging."


"Everything truly pleasurable in life starts with considerable pain." More colloquially in working out, we usually say: “No pain, no gain!” And there really is a lot of truth to this. If you think about it, this concept really applies to everything meaningful and ultimately valuable in life.

As we reflect this time of year, before Rosh Hashanah, it is good to ask ourselves, what are we chasing and working so hard for in our lives? Are we chasing vanity–more riches, power, and honor or are we striving to do good and make a difference? The latter is a life worth living and where our efforts and pain can bring true reward in this world and ultimately in the world to come.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

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)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 11, 2019

Family and Friends

So I heard this interesting saying yesterday, which goes like this:
Better is a neighbor that is near than a brother that is far off.

I looked it up and saw that it is actually from Proverbs 27:10.

Thinking about it a little, I understand that obviously people that are close by can more easily be there and help one another than someone else who is far away. 

At the same time, I always learned growing up that:
Blood is thicker than water.
Family is family, and friends are friends.  Family is forever, but friends can come and go. 

Yet you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. 

There are some friends that go back decades to childhood and they are almost like family. 

Also, there are sometimes family that are disassociated or even "black sheep" of the family. 

I guess in the end what's most important is how we feel about each other, treat each other, and are there for each other.  

Whatever the designation--family or friends--we need each other.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 4, 2019

Open Your Eyes

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Open Your Eyes to Hashem."


G-d has a plan and a reason for everything–not only for them, but for all of us. We are all on a journey, and even if we don’t always readily see G-d, it’s part of our core faith that He is always there, He is guiding us, and that everything is for the best. Yet despite our best efforts to have faith, at times, we may feel that we don’t know what we’re doing here–why we’re at this place, at this time, or even how we got here–we may actually feel a little lost. Maybe we just can rattle off a list of “Well I did this and then that and then this other thing happened.” But exactly how we got to where we are, regardless of our best laid plans, is often a mystery to us as human beings. As I often tell students and colleagues in the planning discipline of enterprise architecture, “Man plans, and G-d laughs.”

While we may think we are going about fulfilling our plans and accomplishing our life dreams, the truth is that everything ultimately comes from G-d. He gives you the strength, the health, the family and friends as support, the talent, the opportunity, and the right thoughts in your head and the right words in your mouth to do what you do. Of course, we must do our part and the hard work to find and fulfill our mission in life and to overcome the challenges we face, but we are flesh and blood and in the bigger realm of things, messengers of G-d in fulfilling his bigger plan for all of us. If we open our eyes, we realize that wherever we end up and whatever happens to us is by His merciful decree.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

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!)

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 15, 2019

OMG, What A Beautiful Song

And Even In Hiding
By Yaakov Shwekey & Kobi Peretz
Even though I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death
I fear no evil
Because you are with me
Even behind the difficult things you are going through
I stand...I stand...I stand
Even in the place which is hidden, within that which is hidden
Surely, the blessed Hashem is found there too 

My heart and soul are uplifted by this beautiful song. ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 11, 2019

OOOC...Order Out Of Chaos

Life is not meant to be chaos (or partially that is). 

That's why G-d created a natural order and rules of nature. 

From the laws of physics to repeatable mathematical formulations, the universe may be infinitely large and complex, but it is not without standards of function. 

According to the Law of Causality, the world is a pattern of action and reaction (or effect), where everything is a consequence of something prior. 

Even in Chaos Theory, we find that in apparent randomness, there are underlying patterns. 

Absent a miracle, the sun rises every morning and sets every evening. 

Yet, nature and man can also bring catastrophe whereby the world seems like one big chaotic mess. 

Whether from illness, natural disaster, or conflict, our world, can in a moment be turned on it's head. 

Moreover, it's all predictably unpredictable. 

And it's up to us to make Order Out Of Chaos (OOOC). 

This is where many of us either sink or swim. 

When the chips are down, and all the world seems to be imploding with dysfunction, this is where we need to find and make sense and order.

Bad things happen even to good people. 

Good people need to find the faith and the strength, and with G-d's help, rise to the challenge. 

Easier said than done, for sure. 

In the chaos of things, time may stop and everything becomes a blur.  

We may become like a deer in the headlights--frozen with panic and truly not knowing what to do. 

But if we can just find which way is up. 

Then we can redirect ourselves--rising from the depths of despair to the surface, where the sun is shining and we can gasp a breath again. 

Even around our dysfunction is function to be had. 

Solve a problem, do something constructive, and help others...it's all part of making order out of chaos.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 9, 2019

Smell The Flowers

Beautiful flowers. 

G-d made them for us. 

Soft petals. 

Magnificent colors.

Fresh sweet smells. 

The sound of rustling in the wind. 

Absorbing the rays of sunshine.

Drinking the rain water. 

Planted in the soil of the earth. 

Magical flowers of life, love, and peace. 

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 25, 2019

Life = Growth

Thought this was an interesting photo at REI.

It says behind the cash registers:
People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. - Eleanor Roosevelt

The  background has this serene river flow--along with some obvious whitewater. 

But in front of it, the cash register area is hopping crazy and messy.

It's a contradiction--not unlike life itself which is full of it's own ups and downs that challenge us routinely. 

Life is where we get the experience that shapes us and strengthens us, as long as it does not break us.  

Life = Growth

Why else would we be here?

G-d is the best teacher. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 14, 2019

Leading Change

I heard a great presentation on change management.

Some highlights I really liked:

- U.S. Army War College in developing high performance leaders seeks to develop competency to operate in an "VUCA" environment:

Volatile
Uncertain
Complex
Ambigious

- The key is NOT to get "emotionally/amygdala hijacked" where our "reptilian brain" in response to threats jumps to:

Fight, Flight, or Freeze

- Instead, we need to manage change methodically as "transitions" (which are personal and emotional) so that we understand that:

Every Ending is a New Beginning

(G-d does not close one door without opening a new one for us.)

-  When one thing in life comes to an end, this is where there is enormous potential for growth in:

The Reinvention of Ourselves

Release the emotions and be ready to move on!

- In short, it can be difficult to accept change unless we realize that:

Problems = Opportunities

And this is the critical place where we can try new things and learn and grow. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 16, 2019

(Maybe) Stop Complaining

So this past Shabbat, there was a wonderful guest speaker at Aish, Rav Gav(riel) Friedman. 

He was a very lively speaker and with a lot of worthy teachings for his lucky audience. 

One thing he said that really stuck with me is about people that complain. 

People have hard lives!

As he said, "I don't know what each of you has been through."

But one thing that can help us cope with our challenges is our perspective.  

And then he said the following:
We need to be glad that we have something to complain about!

Huh, what does that mean?

Well, think about it...

- If you complain about your spouse, thank G-d that you are married (and have a life partner) to complain about. 

- If you complain about your job, thank G-d that you have a job (and income) that you can complain about. 

- If you complain about your food, thank G-d that you have food to eat (and sustenance for your body) to complain about.

And so on and so forth. 

Whatever we complain about, think about what you actually have (the big picture) and what you are complaining about (usually the little picture). 

Really, we have so much to be grateful for that we can easily just forget or take for granted. 

So next time your complaining, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE that you are complaining about--you might stop yourself from complaining.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 1, 2019

Victory Or Defeat

I was reading Vladimir Jabotinsky's "Story of My Life."

And there is this quote that I really like attributed to Kipling in it:
Victory or defeat: learn to accept both with equanimity since both are deceptions.
I just thought this is profound.  

We never really fully win or lose. 


Everything is on a spectrum. 

And where we think we are on that spectrum is often not even nearly correct. 

You think you won that one, but guess what someone else has outsmarted you and you don't even know it yet. 

Also, wins can be easily followed by loses and vice versa.

Things can turn on a dime and who's up becomes who's down--as the wheel of life turns and turns again. 

Recognize that you don't control everything--actually, the only thing you do control is how you react and behave.

Everything else is a test to teach you and help you grow. 

And as I heard from a speaker yesterday, "you can't make up in space, what you have lost in time."

Victory or defeat, both are deceptions. 

Only how you choose to act is the real win or lose. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 4, 2019

What Makes Happy

So the same things don't seem to drive happiness for everyone. 

Some like big jobs and lots of power. 

Others are happier with more work-life balance. 

Some like to pursue lots of degrees and certifications.

Others like to learn on their own and through life experience. 

Some like to travel the world.

Others like a day in nature or at the museum. 

Some like big families and lots of people around them. 

Others like smaller families, close friends, intimacy, or even being more on their own. 

Some like lots of money. 

Other are happy with having what they need.

Some like to be tremendous athletes. 

Other like to just stay fit or maybe are more comfy as "couch potatoes."

Some like to be very religious and follow all the laws.

Others prefer mindfulness, a sense of spirituality and being a "good person."  

Some like lots of activities and to always do different things. 

Others are more comfortable with routine and incremental change. 

We all have basic needs, but we also have different values, priorities and comfort zones. 

Happiness isn't a yes or no answer, but what makes us feel on track and doing good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

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)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 14, 2019

Diamonds Under Pressure

So someone reminded me about stress and pressure in life. 

They said:
Pressure makes diamonds.

Diamonds are of the most beautiful and precious items in the world that we give to our loved ones as a symbol of our tremendous love for them. 

Diamonds are crystals made of pure carbon that formed under high temperature and extreme pressure. 

People too are often under extreme pressure in life from all sorts of demands and challenges whether it be work, family, threats, or illness.  

But just like from pressure comes diamonds, so too can pressure make us from rough and imperfect human beings into smooth, polished, and spectacular people. 

Rather than crack under pressure, we need to cope with it and let it strengthen us and shape us to be the gems we can be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

January 3, 2019

In The Blink Of An Eye

Please see my new article in The Times Of Israel called, "In The Blink Of An Eye." 
It all seems to happen in the blink of an eye. Those moments when your life or those of a loved one hang in the balance. It can go either way--you can end up on the road to success or potentially in the morgue. 
In those pivotal split seconds--your life can go this way or that. Do you recognize who is pushing on the scales of justice and are you ready on where to go from there? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

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)
Share/Save/Bookmark

December 18, 2018

Sing Louder

So I heard this interesting saying the other day:
If you can't sing better, sing louder!

It's funny that people actually do that type of thing all the time. 

My colleagues boss told someone I know: 
You're a fake it till you make it type of person

This can apply to all sort of activities and not just singing.

-- Public speaking, your job, sports, cooking, etc. 

Often, people have to do things that they really just don't do very well.

- Maybe it's not their forte. 

- Maybe they're just not into it. 

But rather than call it for what it is.

Instead, they pretend and make a show out of it. 

They exaggerate what they think they are supposed to do. 

Or they try to compensate with something tangential. 

Hey, maybe no will notice.

But people eventually catch-on and do know when you're lip-singing and faking your way through or just screaming out the lyrics to mask how horrible you singing is. 

Better to be honest and admit what you can and can't do.

Take some classes or get some training.

Practice, practice, practice. 

Or even consider doing something else that you do enjoy and are good it. 

Either way, you don't want to be the one singing loudly their whole life.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal. Note: this blog is not connected to this or any particular musician)
Share/Save/Bookmark

December 12, 2018

Loneliness Is Death

There is a very important article in the Wall Street Journal today on the link of loneliness to death. 

Frightening loneliness statistics:

- One in 11 Americans over age 50 "lacks a spouse, partner, or living child."

- More than 1 in 4 baby boomers is divorced or never married.  

- 1 out of every 6 people lives alone. 

Research indicates that loneliness leads to early death. 

The impact of loneliness is equivalent to:

- Smoking 15 cigarettes a day

- Drinking 6 alcoholic beverages a day

Loneliness is worse for mortality than:

- Obesity 

- Physical activity

"The effect of isolation is extraordinarily powerful...we have to address loneliness," says the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

Whether you are extroverted or introverted, we all need human interaction, sharing, caring, touch, and love.  

Truly, no man is an island!

Those that are stranded on loneliness island need to escape it and make their way back to human civilization.

Alone our lives are dull and stunted; but together, we have the inherent social dynamics to be able to experientially learn, grow, change and mature. 

Alone we die--together we live. 

It's not just power in numbers, it's life itself. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 17, 2018

Striving To Be Good Enough (This Time Around)

Please read my new article in The Times of Israel called, "When Are We Good Enough?"
I too believe strongly in reincarnation. I think that is partially what G-d means by doing justice in this world. If you bomb out in life and don't fulfill your true potential than G-d sends you back for another try.  And this can happen as many times as it takes to get it right!

I hope I am getting it right in my life this time around. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark