Tag Archives: mental health

How to Make Sure You’ll Love Your Job

7 Connections Between Your Happiness & Company Culture

3 minutes to read

I love the stories my father told me about his time in the navy during the 1950s. One of my favorites is about when he and his shipmates walked into a bar and found some Marines there. They exchanged taunts. The Marines called them swabbies. They called the Marines jarheads. A fight broke out. But in the midst of the brawl some soldiers came into the bar. All of a sudden the swabbies and jarheads joined forces against the army.

How to Make Sure You’ll Love Your Job

Reintegration is a Cultural Transition

This story sums up so much about military culture of the 50s. Post World War II, men were primed to fight like their fathers or brothers had. Marines thought the navy was filled with wimps who dropped them off on the shore of an island held by a hostile enemy to do the real fighting. Sailors who had engaged in ship-to-ship combat saw the risk of being sunk and drowned as far more dangerous than land-based combat. Each service branch’s culture defined them.

Like the military, private sector industries and companies have distinct cultures. After World War II, millions of service members returned to civilian life. They made organizational culture in the private sector more like the military than it ever had been before. Over the decades, the similarity has decreased. Besides defense contracting, you won’t find an industry that feels like the military.

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Part of deciding where to focus your job-hunt involves understanding the kind of culture where you’ll fit in. Then you’ll need to find an industry and companies that, as well as possible, match your vision.

Culture Determines If You’ll Love Your Job

Aside from general comfort, culture affects:

  • The length of your workday and week. In general, and especially working up to deployment, you worked until the job got done. But your pay stayed the same regardless. Civilian life has formed different expectations about task completion and compensation.
  • After hours time you’ll have to spend handling work matters and socializing with co-workers. Hours can be long in the private sector. With smart phones, everyone has a “crack-berry.” Going out after work with colleagues and your boss may be the only way to advance your career.
  • Your work environment, employee interaction, and competition among colleagues. Remember mandatory fun days? Some companies make fun an integral part of their culture. At such a place you may wonder why they don’t get to work so they can finish and go home.
  • Interaction with other employees, managers, and senior executives. Regulations and customs dictated dealings with your colleagues and leadership. Though they aren't in writing, most companies have strict protocols. Yet they may require a casual approach that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • The kind of workspace you’ll get and what kind of personal items you may have there. Custom and protocol dictate these issues in the military too. In the private sector, you may have to negotiate them. Surprisingly, getting the wrong office may hamper your advancement in the company.
  • Perks offered by the organization. Break rooms, gyms, and childcare facilities were standard in the military. Not so in the private sector.
  • The training and personal development you’ll get. For the most part, you knew what training benchmarks you had to meet to advance your military career. The matter is much more open in civilian life

You can see that company culture impacts every aspect of you work life. So you’ll need to examine it at three points in your job-hunt:

  1. When deciding which industry and organizations to target.
  2. Before you go to a meeting to discuss a job. (Never go on a job interview.)
  3. Prior to accepting an offer.

If you want to love your job, culture is central. You should practice the four ways of figuring it out:

  1. Research – On and Offline.
  2. Onsite observation.
  3. Talking with people who work in an industry or at a company.
  4. Asking questions during a meeting to discuss a job.

If nothing else, at some point in every meeting the person will ask, "Do you have any questions for me?" This is your invitation to learn as much as possible about a company’s culture.

What do you need to know so you can research company culture more effectively?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

4 Things You Need to Do to Be Happier

3 minutes to read

Some days I feel bombarded. It seems like everyone needs me to make a decision. Can we get another dog? Can we go to Knott’s Berry Farm this weekend? Can we have pizza for dinner tomorrow night? May I go to my friend’s house? No, no, no, yes. That should keep them satisfied for a few minutes. But it will start again soon, you know what I mean?

4 Things You Need to Do to Be Happier

 The Connection Between Choice and Happiness

When someone asks me a question I feel obligated to give it due consideration before answering. Then there’s all the decision that I initiate. Some days I barely make it to bedtime before collapsing. Others, well let’s just say it’s not pretty when I hit decision fatigue before my day is over.

Barry Schwartz, in his eye-opening book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, puts his finger on one of the central challenges of life. For much of human history, lack of choice has made people miserable. So it would seem the more choices we have the happier we’ll be. Turns out that too many choices decrease happiness.

Professor Schwartz identifies two tendencies: maximizing and satisficing. Maximizers strive for the best. Satisficers seek to meet self-defined criteria. When they do, they make the decision.

Wanting the best becomes ever more elusive as the number of choices increases. When you have three of four options, deciding on the best one can be straightforward. But when you have twenty, fifty, or even a hundred, comparison becomes impossible. Still, you have to make a choice. Whatever you do choose will leave you unhappy since you’ll have the niggling feeling something better is out there.

Satisficers tend to be happier because when their criteria are met they can move on without regret.

Limiting Choice to Be Happier

Understanding how choice affects happiness will help you to be happier. By reducing the number of choices you have to make you’ll reduce decision fatigue and leave more time for activities that increase happiness. Counterintuitively,

You can make choices on four levels:

Ignore. Some areas just don’t need your attention at all. I used to vote the proxies for every stock I own. But rarely is an issue decided against what the board recommends. Now I ignore them. Try ignoring a trivial choice that takes up too much time relative to the benefit you get. Then ignore one more.

Habituate.   By creating good habits you’ll be happier. Your health is a prime candidate for developing good habits. Have a set bedtime and wake-up time. Schedule regular times and routines for exercising. Focus your diet on healthy foods. This will improve your nutrition while cutting down on the time and number of decisions you have to make when shopping. Set regular visits to the dentist and an annual checkup. Set reminders on your cellphone and when pinged just do them.

Satisfice. Learn to accept good enough as the standard in most areas of your life. Do you actually need the best cellphone? Must you have the best body or children? Heretical! I know, especially for a Californian. But wouldn’t you and your family be happier?

Maximize. You don’t have to give up maximizing altogether. Save it for one or two of your passions. I maximize in my work and relationships. I want the best relationships I can have with my wife and daughter. So I do my best not to insist they be the best. When we argue you can bet I’ve violated this principle.

Combine Ignore ← Habituate ← Satisfice ← Maximize with the Three Pillars of Fitness.

Physical Realm → Health ∞ Finances ∞ Play

Mental Realm → Intellectual Challenge ∞ Social Engagement ∞ Emotional Soundness

Spiritual Realm → Family ∞ Life Purpose ∞ G-d

For each domain within each realm, examine what you need to do. Then decide whether you’ll ignore, habituate, satisfice, or maximize in that area. If you think you satisfice, try habituating a choice. You may be surprised how much you maximize. Being aware of this tendency will help you control the urge.

Living intentionally doesn’t require your making hundreds of decisions.

If you want to be happier, focus on deciding when you’ll exercise choice. Bringing clarity to when you choose will ease decision fatigue and give you more time to spend with who and what you really love.

Where do you unnecessarily maximize?

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How to Stand Out When Comparing Yourself to Others

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Noach – Genesis 6:9-11-32

You hear it all the time. Don’t compare yourself to others. Such advice sounds so good. “You’re unique.” “The only real contest is the one you have with yourself.” Yeah, yeah, talk to the hand. If you’re a competitive person, winning matters. So you have to measure yourself against others so you know whether you'll stand out. Parshas Noach explains how to do so effectively:

“…Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations.” (Genesis/Bereishis 6:9)

How to Stand Out When Comparing Yourself to Others

The parsha for this Sabbath is Noach. G-d chooses Noah to save humans, animals, birds, and creeping things from destruction in the flood. Rain falls for 40 days and nights. The waters churn for another 150 days. After they recede, Noah brings an offering to G-d. Then he degrades himself by planting a vineyard and getting drunk on wine. As a result, we learn the true characters of his sons.

Next, the parsha lists Noah’s descendants who formed the 70 nations. Then, as a result of building the tower of Babel, the Almighty disperses the nations. It ends by recording the ten generations from Noah to Abraham.

Is Noah Praiseworthy or Not?

Does the Torah give a favorable account of Noah? If you’re not sure, never fear. Bible commentators have argued about it for millennia. Some view Noah’s righteousness as praiseworthy. Even if he had been in a generation of virtuous people he would have been among the greatest. Others conclude if Noah had lived during the generation of Abraham he would have been insignificant.

After thousands of years, wouldn’t you think that we’d have a definitive verdict about Noah? Why the ambiguity?

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God wants it that way. He has plan for how you should compare yourself to other people.

Comparing Versus Learning

When you base your standard of performance on others, the yardstick constantly changes. You’re subjected to what society and history think in the moment.  You may look great if your contemporaries or successors were lousy people. But if they’re stellar performers, you may look bad. There goes your self-esteem.

Instead use an unchanging standard, God and His Torah. That way you have a lofty goal to aim at. You’ll always have room for self-improvement. Each day, note your progress. How did you behave or perform better today than you did yesterday?

Make no mistake. Competition is good. But when people think their performance or behavior is superior to others, they tend to get conceited. Or they feel defeated when they do not measure up. Both are counterproductive to steady improvement.

When comparing yourself to others, look for an admirable trait or the kind of success you desire. ‘Examine how the person got it. Then copy what he did. At the same time, keep in mind others are comparing themselves to you. What kind of example are you? Knowing people model your behavior can motivate you to improve.

The disagreement about Noah’s character points out a key choice you need to make. Are you striving to be better than the people around you? Or are you aiming to stand out because the quality of your character transcends the generations?

In such a competitive society like ours, how do you capitalize on its benefits while maintaining your integrity?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

4 Times You Should Seek Out an Expert

2 minutes to read

A few weeks ago while running I got a sharp pain behind my right ankle. Like most runners my first thought was, “Keep running. It will stop.” But after another half a block I knew something bad had happened. For the first time I called my wife mid-run to pick me up.

4 Times You Should Seek Out an Expert

Pride or Progress?

I could barely walk when she found me hobbling down the street. A week of rest, icing my ankle, and ibuprofen didn’t get me back to running. Enough was enough. I went to see the doctor. My podiatrist, Dr. Robert Joseph, isn’t just your run of the mill health care provider. He tells you his mission up front. “I’m here to make sure you can keep exercising.” He got me running virtually pain free the next day without using drugs.

Lest you think this is a fluke, he did the same for me about a year before. That time I had a pain in my left foot when running but not when walking. I wasted over three weeks trying everything from ice packs to taping. Nothing worked. Finally I went to see Dr. Joseph. He had me running my regular 5-mile route the next day. Pain-free.

I’m an accomplished runner. I’ve kept up with physiology since high school. My wife is a registered nurse. Often I dither when she tells me to go see a doctor. The sooner I overcome my ego and listen to her the faster I can get back to training.

I could cite similar examples for mental and spiritual blocks that I overcame with my coach’s or rabbi’s help. The choice comes down to indulging my pride or making progress toward my goal.

Time to Seek Out an Expert

Pain indicates you need a top adviser to help you. But it isn’t the only indicator that you need a specialist. Consider:

  1. You’re striving for world-class status. Take a clue from Tiger Woods, Richard Branson, and other preeminent performers, you need a mentor to excel.
  2. You’ve hit a plateau. Whether it’s you’re golf game or professional life, you’re going to hit roadblocks. The barrier could stem from inadequate skills, the wrong mindset, or spiritual misalignment. It takes an expert to diagnose and help you overcome the issue.
  3. You don’t know what to do. Are you looking to change careers or create or improve a relationship? If you’re entering a new arena you can learn by trial and error or get coaching that will substantially reduce your learning curve.

Two characteristics identify a professional. They know their business inside and out. They seek out an expert when they’re outside their own area of expertise. If you’re wrestling with any of these four challenges, don’t let ego hold you back from the success you desire. Find the expert you need to breakthrough.

Where are you looking to excel or transition in your life? Please comment below.

How to Make Transitions with Confidence

2-¼ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Beha’aloscha – Numbers 8:1-12:16

Military life requires making lots of transitions. You move every two or three years. Along with a new job, house, and school for your kids you may end up in a foreign country. With all that experience reintegrating into civilian life should be easy. Why then do so many veterans struggle? This week’s parsha, Beha’aloscha, gives a clue:

…and the Ark of the Covenant of G-d travelled before them a three-day distance to search out a resting place. (Numbers/Bamidbar 10:33)

How to Make Transitions with Confidence

This Sabbath’s parsha covers lighting the Menorah and the consecration of the Levites. Then it tells about bringing the Korban Pesach (Passover Offering) and Pesach Sheini (second Passover). The Israelites start their journeys. G-d leads them by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. Some of the people complain about eating the Manna. G-d responds. At the end of the parsha Miriam is afflicted with tzaraas.

The Symbolism of the Ark

The Ark contained the Tablets of the Ten Commandments, both the complete second set and the fragments of the first set that Moses broke. The Tablets encompassed all the wisdom and guidance the Israelites needed in their new home. Had they followed it to the letter their transition to life in the Land of Israel would have been smooth.

At first it was. The Israelites conquered Jericho. But the men of Ai defeated them in the next battle. Achan son of Carmi had taken consecrated property in violation of the Almighty’s command. Joshua brought Achan to his senses. He admitted his crime and was punished. At first the Israelites were afraid to try and take Ai again. G-d reassured them and led them to victory.

Requirements for Successful Transitions

Achan’s crime impeded success. By succumbing to temptation and stealing he showed he wasn’t ready for life in the Land of Israel. He failed to stay true to his values. As a result, the Israelites lost the first battle for Ai. The entire nation seemed headed for permanent defeat. So they took responsibility for their misdeed and punished Achan.

But the Israelites were still afraid. So the Almighty reminded them that one failure doesn’t define their character. Having dealt with Achan, they could reclaim their confidence in themselves and G-d. By doing so they proved they were ready to continue their transition. They won the next battle.

To make a successful transition, self-confidence is paramount. To be confident you have to

  1. Be crystal clear about your values. During transitions it’s easy to become morally confused amidst the chaos. Take the time to calibrate your moral compass. Get total clarity about how you will act no matter how stressful life becomes.
  2. Internalize that failure is only the information you need to make a better effort next time.

The Ark led the way into the Land because it symbolizes both of these essentials. Inside it were the second, intact Tablets setting down enduring life values. That the broken first tablets were in the Ark too showed the Israelites could overcome catastrophe.

Transitions are the most stressful periods in your life. Even with advance planning things will go wrong. When you have clarity about your values you will know how to overcome such challenges. Find a Joshua in your life to hold you accountable and keep you moving forward. Armed with a positive attitude toward failure, you’ll be unstoppable.

What has prevented you from making successful transitions in the past? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I’ll answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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