When people go to workshops and seminars that will help them develop and grow, they are willing to try out all types of exercises and experiments. They consider it fun and enjoyable to do things that they have not done before and might even have experienced as distressful. But since it is being defined as part of the growth experience, they reframe it in a positive manner. In fact, the more difficult something is, the more you gain by trying it out. When you view your entire life as a growth seminar and all that happens as just exercises and experiments, each experience teaches you something. You learn something from each reaction. You learn how to prepare yourself for similar things that might occur in the future. The difficult becomes fun. Even what is not that enjoyable is viewed in a positive light for it enriches you and adds depth.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Happiness”,p.117
© Carla Bicomong
The only way to have a happy life is to keep your eyes focused on what you have and not on what you are lacking.
Sources: Chofetz Chaim; Kuntros Nefutzos Yisroel; Cited in Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.354
Every person in the world waits for signs of recognition and affection.
Students wait for signs of friendliness from their teacher; teachers await signs of respect from students. Children want signs of empathy from their parents; parents hunger for affection from their children. A customer wants his needs to be understood; a salesperson needs to feel that his merchandise is appreciated.
So give people what they want!
Sources: Alai Shur, vol.1, p.191; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.138
When strangers are present, a person finds it much easier to control his temper than when he is just among family.
The next time you feel angry at a member of your family, think how you would act differently if a stranger were present.
Sources: Maaneh Rach, ch.5; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.210
Make A Top Ten List
When you feel that problems are weighing you down, make a list of 10 reasons why you can still be happy.
If the reasons come from an external source, you might brush them off. But if you develop a list yourself, you will always be able to find at least 10 reasons that are “real” to you.
-From Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Gateway to Happiness,” p.180
Think about past experiences that you didn’t exactly enjoy. Look back at those experiences and view them as part of your lifetime growth seminar. Keep learning new lessons and gain new strengths.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Happiness”,p.118
The best time to mentally prepare yourself for times of adversity is when things are going well and you are in a resourceful state. Adversity is a challenge that enables you to develop attributes that wouldn’t be developed in easier times. Keep building up the inner resources that will enable you to cope well with difficulties. If you are in the middle of a difficulty right now, then right now is the best time to build up those resources. You won’t have to wait and see if the inner resources you need are becoming a part of you, you will see results right away.
Develop courage and confidence. Develop persistence and resilience. Develop optimism and hope. How can you develop these qualities? Visualize yourself mastering them. See, hear, and feel yourself being confident and courageous. See, hear, and feel yourself persisting and bouncing back. Right now feel an inner sense of optimism that you will cope well with difficulties. And if a difficulty arises that you don’t cope with as well as you wished, learn from the experience to cope better next time.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Happiness”,p.196-7
While it is theoretically possible to develop an attitude to totally prevent sadness, the Jewish view is there are times when such feelings are appropriate.
For example, we have an obligation to cry over the death of another person. Also, we should care enough about potential suffering to pray that it will not come. And we utilize these situations as reminders to improve ourselves.
-Sources: from Chochmah Umussar, vol.2, p.203; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.172
Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin used to say:
“The worst fault a person can have is to forget his intrinsic greatness as a human being.”
Sources: Dor Daiah, vol. 1, p.172; Rabbi Zelig “Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness,” p.131
The less gratitude you receive for doing a kind act, the greater the value of the act. True kindness is when we do not receive anything in return for what we do.
Instead of feeling resentment towards the person who is ungrateful, take pleasure in doing a more elevated good deed. Focus on how your kindness towards that person is more altruistic.
Don’t tell yourself, “How awful it is that I’m doing all this kindness and this person is not doing me favors in return.” Rather, tell yourself, “This is a great opportunity to do a true act of kindness!”
Sources: see Genesis 47:29 with Rashi; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.106