Tag Archives: spiritual resiliency

How to Profit from Frustration

I confess to be very glad to be back in Los Angeles. Despite its shortcomings I love the match of weather and urbanity here. But the drivers are certifiably insane. Within two hours this morning one driver ran a red light and almost hit me and another ran a stop sign and cut me off.

How to Profit from Frustration

Maybe I lost my immunity to it while away with the navy for seven years.  But it seems people drive worse than ever. Sitting in my car causes Pavlovian road rage. Many times my daughter being in the car is the only thing to keep me from screaming.

On the one hand, I get it. Everyone is busy and traffic makes like exasperatingly inefficient. So for the last few weeks, I have pondered what to do. Today it hit me.

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As an advocate of exercise for all areas of fitness: Physical | Mental | Spiritual, I am challenged to find time to fit it all in. So from now on, I am going to use all the ridiculous, unsafe things that drivers do to exercise my mind and spirit. For example:

  • When a driver cuts me off in traffic and screams at me as if it is my fault, I am going to practice being calm in the face of stressful behavior.
  • If a driver runs a red light or stop sign, I won't rail or comment on his stupidity. I am going to say a brief prayer that he did not run into me.
  • When a driver does not go when the light changes to green I'll sit calmly and let other people honk.

Driving develops spiritual and mental toughness.

By coming up with ways to productively use frustration from driving, or any other aspect of life, you can better maintain a positive outlook.  And you train your mind to deal with frustrating situations thereby significantly improving your mental and spiritual fitness.

Does it work? While out shopping today I got behind a car at a stoplight who despite sitting through two cycles of light changes did not realize he had to pull up to the limit line to trigger the left-turn light. I calmly got out of my car and politely explained to him what he needed to do . . .

The divers behind me clapped!

Please take just a minute to share what one technique you use for overcoming frustration

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Should You Be a Fanatic About Moderation?

“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Having at one time been borderline obese, I confess to intermittent zealousness about diet and exercise. Evolving from the extreme position often necessary to changing your life to a more sustainable posture poses an unending challenge. But indeed moderation is truly a virtue that is sensible in most, if not all, aspects of life. Let’s look at it through the Three Pillars of Fitness.

Should You Be a Fanatic About Moderation?

Physical Realm. There seems to be broad agreement that sleeping too little can cause a range of problems from lack of focus to weight gain. But too much sleep may lead to diabetes, heart disease, increased risk of death, and could be indicative of depression.

Drastic diets can help you lose weight quickly but are ineffective for long-term maintenance and nutrition. Protein-heavy diets dehydrate your body. Vegetarianism can cause protein-deficiency. Very low-fat diets deprive the body of its ability to store energy, adjust temperature, and lubricate tissue.

Lack of exercise is bad for your health, but many health professionals advise that extreme regimens like P90X are harmful by unnecessarily stressing the body.

With your finances, you should strike a balance between funding your current cash flow needs and saving for the future.

When investing, a portfolio diversifying risks and terms commensurate with your stage in life is universally recommended. Being opposed to debt probably means you will not buy a house.

Recognizing many children have been destroyed by inheritances, should you donate your wealth to a worthy cause? Yet, if you follow Andrew Carnegie’s advice, leaving nothing to your children, are you sure the organization to which you leave it will follow your wishes?

In your leisure pursuits and entertainment, are extremes wise? With extreme sports comes increased risk of extreme injuries, even among top athletes. People lose their jobs by staying up all night playing online games and being late for work. Recreation and diversion are healthy, danger and mania are not.

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Is there anyone more boring than the person so immersed in a hobby he thinks everyone is as fascinated with Cirripedology (the study of barnacles) as he is? The line between passion and obsession is fine. When your friends’ eyes glaze over you have crossed it.

Moderation is Essential to Sustaining the Physical Pillar of Fitness

Mental Realm. To be emotionally sound requires well-developed cognitive skills, moored self-esteem so you can be balanced in your societal habituation, and psychological resilience that supports you through the emotion roller collar called life. Extremity impairs development of these skills.

When approaching societal engagement, enduring friendships require a balance of empathy and self-concern between two people. Beyond your close circle, the demands of a larger community can engulf you. But sacrificing yourself to such claims, without periodic self-care, will eventually retard or prevent your community service.

Pets provide companionship and opportunity for stewardship. But infatuation with a pet can hinder the ability to forge human ties and their accompanying growth.

Intellectual challenge stimulates the mind. But obsession with such activities, be it reading, education, or avocation poses the same danger as that of an obsessive hobby, often at the cost of not exercising or engaging socially.

Definitionally, Moderation is Crucial for Sustaining the Mental Pillar of Fitness

Spiritual Realm. Does G-d want a moderate relationship with you? This is a complex, intensely personal question. Your love for G-d, like His for you, should be limitless. A strong connection entails balance among prayer, fulfillment of duties, and engagement in rituals. Should you reject the secular world? According to my faith no, but I would not argue with those of other faiths who disagree.

Familial relationships also challenge the question of moderation. You should love your spouse, parents, and children without limit, abusive situation excepted. In other areas, such as material support and giving advice, restraint is wise. But unbounded love does not preclude having to say no.

“Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.” ~ Thomas Paine

With core values, I agree with Paine. Having once compromised your principles it can become habitual. Have you engaged in the process of identification, articulation, practice, and assessment? Principal among my values is humility. Discourse, not imposition, enlightens.

G-d, Family, and Core Values Are Exceptions to Moderation in the Spiritual Pillar of Fitness

Moderation applies even to moderation, love and core values being the exceptions. As you instill new habits and take on new vistas to conquer, the tendency to excess is tempting. By keeping moderation as a value you keep your life in balance, sustain relationships, and are truly #LivingIntentionally.

Where do you think moderation does not apply?

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It’s the Worst Day of Your Life – But All is Not Lost

“ . . . and their camels were carrying spices, and balsam and birthwort . . .” (Bereshis/Genesis 37:25). Joseph’s brothers decide to sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelites. One of the major turning points in Biblical history is about to take place, Joseph is about to be sold into slavery, and the Torah takes time out to discuss baggage! What is going on here?

It’s the Worst Day of Your Life - But All is Not Lost

The parsha for this Sabbath is Vayeishev. In it we learn about Joseph’s prophetic dreams; the plot of the brothers against Joseph: selling him to a caravan that takes him to Egypt and sells him into slavery and their letting Jacob think he is dead; the story of Judah and Tamar; Joseph rising to run Potiphar’s household and eventually being jailed though the slander of Potihpar’s wife; and Joseph being the conduit for the interpretation of the Chief of Butler’s and Chief of Baker’s dreams.

The stage is being set for the Israelite’s sojourn in Egypt. Shall we look at one of the trees in this forest of well know stories?

After Reuben convinced the brothers not to kill Joseph they sat down for a meal and saw a caravan. The Torah then describes in detail what the camels were carrying. Does it really matter?

Rashi, the paramount Torah commentator, explains that this was a consolation for Joseph.

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Normally such a caravan would carry resin and other products used for fuel that smell bad. Although Rashi does not mention it, the camels themselves are not the best smelling of G-d’s creatures. Imagine traveling about 400 km immersed in such a stench.

That the caravan was carrying a pleasantly fragrant cargo was a reward for the righteous Joseph, a subtle hint from G-d to him that not all was lost. It let Joseph know that G-d was still guiding his life and supplying him with a small pleasure in the midst of his misery.

You can learn two lessons from Joseph’s caravan journey. The first is that the Torah never wastes words. In what seems like a trivial or even useless detail there is a lesson for you. Second, even on the worst day you face, don't fall prey to self-pity and despair, focusing only on what has gone wrong. Keep your wits about you and you will find a positive aspect of your situation. Even in your darkest hour,

G-d will remind you of His support if only you will open your senses to it.

This message from G-d should be savored and used as a catalyst to reframe your situation and make plans for moving forward with your life.

Please take a minute to say how G-d has hinted his support of you. 

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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 will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How You Can Be Mightier Than the Stars

This is a guest post by Rabbi Mendel Schwartz, Executive Director of The Chai Center.

Did you ever wonder what the Jewish belief in astrology is? Look no further. “G-d said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ And He called his name Israel.” (Bereshis/Genesis 35:10)

How You Can Be Mightier Than the Stars

The parsha for this Sabbath is Vayishlach. In it Jacob prepares to be attacked by Eisav, then he struggles with the angel and is given the name Israel. Next, he reunites with his brother, settles in Shechem where his daughter is abducted, and his sons Shimon and Levi take revenge on the abductors. Then Jacob journeys to Beth-el, Rachel dies, and the parsha ends with a recitation of the descendants of Eisav and the Edomite Kings.

Israel is actually two Hebrew words, Yisra El, that are joined together. They mean a noble minister or a minister of G-d. G-d told Jacob you are now destined for greatness. To receive this tremendous blessing as illustrated in the following verses, Jacob needed a new name. He needed a new vessel to receive these blessings.

We see a similar episode with Abraham who was told to change his name from Abram to Abraham and his wife Sarai to Sarah. (Bereshis/Genesis 17:5)

We then see something even more interesting when Abraham is nervous about being unable to have children, “And G-d took Abraham outside and said gaze towards the heavens and count the stars” (Bereshis/Genesis 15:5). The greatest commentator on the Bible – Rashi - translates this verse to mean that “Abraham should go out from his astrological calculations and abandon the signs of the Zodiac.”

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So we see two distinct systems here. One: that Jews do believe in the power of the Zodiac and what it can tell you. And two: that you have the power to overcome what the Zodiac’s signs have in store for you. If you change certain characteristics about yourself, if you give yourself a new mission or a new identity, those Zodiacs have no further relationship with you. Sometimes it’s as easy as manipulating your name from Abram to Abraham or Jacob to Israel.

So when you feel that things in the workplace are not going according to your liking, or there are marital issues in your life, or even health hazards, it’s important to remember that although people say “I have bad luck”, the truth is, you have the power to change that luck by creating for yourself a new vessel for new astrological energy by perfecting yourself so that you are somebody new and fresh today. And the old you from yesterday is forgotten and extinct.

Please take just a minute to share what you think about astrology and how it affects your life . . . 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. 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 will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

 

Authentically Positive Attitude: Creating the Foundation

Think positively. The power of positive thinking. Seek out positive influences.

Motivational speakers and life coaches all agree that positivity in our lives is a, perhaps the key to success. And there is no doubt that this is true. Equally important is that we rid our lives of negativity, a process that is different from and cannot necessarily be accomplished by adopting a positive outlook and focus.

Authentically Positive Attitude: Creating the Foundation

For the first several years I was in business I was convinced that most, if not all, wealthy people had money because they inherited it or had gotten it dishonestly. Needless to say, this was not an empowering belief for someone in the real estate business whose clients would be these very people. But even as I worked on my positive outlook, this negative belief persisted. Not until I developed a plan to read about how people had become successful and met and got to know many wealthy people was I able to rid myself of this debilitating negativity.

Like anything in life, if we want to conquer negativity we must have a plan. Here are some steps for creating it:

  1. Make a list of the negative beliefs, events, and people in your life
  2. Prioritize them since you will be more productive resolving them one at a time
  3. Develop a plan for: Proving to yourself the negative belief is false, for coming to terms with a negative event, or for changing the nature of a negative relationship
  4. Obtain the commitment of your spouse and/or other close family members and friends to help you work your plan
  5. As you rid yourself of one source of negativity, create a plan to work on the next one on your list.

In some cases, you may need professional help, such as to deal with something particularly awful that happened to you. If we do not rid ourselves of negativity, a future occurrence can trigger a much more profound earthquake, that crumbles the weak foundation on which we have built our positive edifice.

Question: What ideas or processes have you used to rid yourself of negativity?

 

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