Tag Archives: healthy relationships

When You Should Embrace Being Annoyed

Routine is nice. You get things done without expending a lot of mental energy. Isn’t it nice driving to work in the morning and having nothing exceptional happen? You can listen to your music or recorded book while your car is essentially on autopilot. I bet more of being annoyed by a car cutting you off comes from the interruption of your reverie than the danger. Yet for all its comfort, sometimes routine puts you in a rut. If you do not realize you are there it gets deeper and deeper until one day you wake up and wonder, “How did I end up in such a bottomless pit?” Climbing out may seem impossible.

When You Should Embrace Being Annoyed

Reflecting back on the Jewish High Holidays, I noted that at first I was frustrated. During the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the morning prayer liturgy is the same as the rest of the year except that four short verses are inserted at various places and twice one or three words are replaced by another word. Most vexing, if I forgot to replace one of the words I had to start over again.

At this point you might be thinking that G-d really does not care if I replace a word or not, it is the thought that counts. Indeed, you are probably right. But if so, why the requirement to repeat a lengthy prayer for the sake of one word?

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As I pondered this question, I thought about how sometimes I lack focus when praying. It is never fulfilling, in fact, I feel empty afterward. I realized the same is true about inattentive interactions with family and friends. Then it hit me. Not only does G-d want my full attention when I engage Him, He wants me to:

Having to repeat an entire prayer because of one word teaches me to be intentional in my relationships. In essence, the penance has to be as strict as it is easy to slip back into habit. Otherwise, there is insufficient incentive to change.

At least for now keep your drives on cruise control. But when it comes to your marriage, parenting, and friendships better to keep in mind that a misplaced word means a do-over. In those situations, hopefully the person will be as forgiving as the Lord.

Question – How do you stay intentional about your relationships?

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Could Envy Be Blocking Your Success?

Have you met someone who has an extraordinary quality? Perhaps he is dedicated to exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. Maybe she can sell ice cubes to Eskimos. Do people like that make you angry or envious? Me too, or at least they used to. Has jealousy gotten you anywhere?

Could Envy Be Blocking Your Success?

Many years ago my lawyer invited me to a Lakers game. He had senate seats so we got to see and feel Shaquille O’Neal as he loped onto the court for one of his first games in Los Angeles. His athleticism was phenomenal. Yet I felt neither jealous nor inspired. Having always played “left out” when it came to basketball, it was unfathomable to me that I could ever reach one-millionth of his level. That his brilliance did not inspire me to excel in an arena at which I could shine demonstrated my shortsightedness.

So here are your choices when you encounter someone with a rare talent:

  1. Be envious. No doubt a natural response, just the same consider that you are only hurting yourself. Jealousy saps your ability to strive for excellence.
  2. Indifference. Such a response will not impede your pursuit of accomplishment. But, like when I saw Shaquille O’Neal play, you are missing a tremendous opportunity.
  3. Be inspired. You have the seed of greatness within you. While you may never reach the pinnacle that others have attained with their unique mix of talents, surely they can be your catalyst to triumph.
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Living intentionally means making maximum use of the resources provided to you. Train yourself to be inspired by the great qualities of others.

  1. Think positively about them in relation to the values or talents at which they excel.
  2. Study what makes them preeminent. Even if you some of your values conflict, what parts of the things they do can you adopt while staying true to your moral code?
  3. Practice those attributes at which they reign supreme.

If you choose, these paragons you meet can motivate you to reach your peak.

Question – Why are you challenged to emulate someone who is an exemplar?

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7 Sure-Fire Ingredients to Better Relationships

"You can get anything you want if you just convince enough people."

Unlike a 150 years ago when you could carve your life out of the wilderness, today everything you want is owned by someone else notes the author of the above quote Roger Dawson in his book, Secrets of Power Negotiating. He recommends spending some time figuring out how to persuade them to share. Undoubtedly you have developed relationship-building skills. But are you actually getting the financial, emotional, and spiritual support that you need from these relationships? Perhaps it is time to take a second look.

7 Sure-Fire Ingredients to Better Relationships

To live intentionally you will have to decide the kind of relationship you want to have with others. Will a particular person remain essentially a stranger or become an acquaintance, a business associate, a friend, or your spouse? As you know, you will have to invest more time and resources, especially emotional ones, the farther up this scale you go.

Social media has significantly clouded this issue. Is the quality of the relationship you have with each of your Facebook "friends" or Twitter followers the same? Can a genuine relationship be created with someone you know only online?

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Here are the questions to ask when determining the kind of relationship, if any, you want to have with someone. Some can be answered earlier than others.

  1. Can you treat this person respectfully? Do you find yourself making fun of someone? Behind his back? If you do not respect him why bother staying connected and potentially hurting him later on?
  2. Can you build trust with this person? What kind of business association can you have with someone you do not trust? You may realize a short-term gain, but sooner or later the investment you made in creating the relationship will have to be written off. Will it really be worth the effort?
  3. Will this person help and/or support you in meeting your goals? Some people claim to want to help you while they are actually undermining your progress. Be guided by someone’s actions far more than his words.
  4. Will this person help you see if you are heading in the wrong direction? Heard the expression the road to hell is paved with good intentions? If you are going to have more than an acquaintanceship with someone his definition of kindness will have to include tough love.
  5. Will this person be respectful even when telling you things that may be difficult for you to hear? Criticism can be difficult to accept under the best of circumstances. It needs to be conveyed politely and empathically.
  6. Do your strengths and weaknesses complement each other? Perhaps most important with a spouse, you can avoid the strife that engages competitive instincts inherent in having similar talents and faults. Likewise in business, partners with diverse aptitudes make a stronger team.
  7. Does this person share your values? While it is not necessary that every friend or business associate share all of your values, being at cross-purposes on certain ones may make more than an acquaintanceship difficult if not impossible.

It may sound cold, even calculating, to assess people in this way. But the reality is that you have a finite amount of time. Spending this precious resource on those you cannot help and who cannot or will not help you is useless. Better to establish a basis for a relationship from the outset, intentionally setting the stage for mutually supportive, productive interaction.

Question – How do you decide with whom and what kind of relationship you will have with someone?

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Create Healthy Relationships You Can Be Proud of

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Once you have begun building a foundation of fitness in the physical and mental pillars, the profoundly challenging and rewarding task of attaining fitness in the spiritual pillar awaits.

Create Healthy Relationships You Can Be Proud of

The spiritual pillar of fitness has three realms:

  1. Family – Spouse | Parents | Children and Other Family Members
  2. G-d – Prayer | Duties | Rituals
  3. Mission - Core Values | Purpose | Life Mission

The process is similar to attaining fitness in the other pillars. First, assess where you currently are with respect to each realm. Some questions to ponder are:

  1. Do you believe in G-d and if not should you?
  2. Why is it important to acknowledge a power higher than yourself?
  3. How do you put your beliefs into practice?
  4. How often do you engage in spiritual exercise?
  5. What is the quality of your marriage?
  6. When was the last time you saw your parents and children?
  7. How productive or destructive are your familial relationships?
  8. To what system of values do you adhere, and how well can you express these values?
  9. What is your plan for upholding your values?
  10. How well do you maintain your values?

As you begin answering these questions others will arise. Especially in the spiritual pillar, this is a lifelong process. Just like with the other pillars, you may need to consult with professionals to aid your assessments. Roadblocks may arise. For example, you may harbor an aversion to religion based on childhood experiences. A brief story:

Shortly after getting married, as the cook of the house, I had prepared dinner. Sitting down at the table my wife Melanie pointed to something on her plate and asked, “What are these?”

Me: “They’re Brussel Sprouts. They’re great.”

Melanie: “No they’re not, they’re horrible.”

Me: “When have you ever had Brussel Sprouts?”

Melanie: “I was five.”

Me: “Do you mean to tell me you still hate everything now that you hated when you were five?”

Melanie: “Yes!”

Me: “Well, that’s very good information for your new husband to have ‘cause I bet you hated boys when you were five.”

Melanie tried Brussel Sprouts again and lo and behold she liked them. Your tastes change as you mature. What seemed distasteful, boring, or annoying when you were a child may be very nourishing now that you are an adult. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your dislike of religion in light of how important a factor of your spiritual fitness it can be.

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Information gathering and assessment will tend to overlap more so than in the other pillars. As well, if you are not already affiliated with a religious denomination, seeking a spiritual connection within one or outside of religion requires extensive research. Some of the resources I use or other clergy recommend are:



Aish Hatorah

Orthodox Christianity:

Discover Orthodox Christianity

Ancient Faith Radio

Orthodox Christian Network


Patheos Library

Christianity Today

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

University of Nottingham – Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Roman Catholicism

Some of my tweets cover spiritual fitness in a non-religious context so consider following me on Twitter. My Wednesday blog post is called Parsha Nuggets, which provides food for thought from the Old Testament as you explore your spirituality. You can sign up to receive my newsletter here.

Now, start setting goals. You may think that having defined benchmarks to reach on a spiritual journey is counterproductive. But if you wish to make progress incentivize yourself. Contrary to popular thought, spiritual fitness will not develop spontaneously.

While we are spiritual beings, this does not preclude the necessity of exercising your spirit so as to make it an equal pillar. In addition to self-discipline and self-awareness, the indispensable quality required for deep spiritual fitness is empathy. Without the ability to create heartfelt, meaningful relationships with others, especially G-d, your spirit will be unprepared to support you through the vicissitudes of life.

These three aspects of self-development: self-discipline, self-awareness, and empathy, while indispensable are not exclusive to each pillar. Self-awareness will improve your fitness in the physical and spiritual realms. As well, other traits, such as being an adept communicator, will enhance your fitness in all realms. Yet note that if you are truly empathic, you will find a way to relate to those with whom you create your spiritual life.

Question – How do you build your relationship with G-d?

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