Every person is obligated to be aware that he has great worth. This does not refer to the illusory self-worth of arrogantly feeling better than others, but a true self-worth, enormous in size and scope. The Talmud says: “Every individual is obligated to say: ‘The world was created for me.'” Rashi explains that we must think “I have the importance of an entire world.”
Every human is a one-time phenomenon, with a unique blend of character traits and personality. Each is born in a specific time of history and in a specific environment. Never before and never again.
This uniqueness gives you great importance. Only you can accomplish your unique life tasks.
Sources: Alai Shur, vol.1, p.168; Gateway to Happiness, p.120
It is easy for a person who feels less intelligent than others to have low self-esteem. This is unnecessary. While there are many advantages in having intelligence (for Torah study and other pragmatic reasons), when it comes to basic value of a person, intelligence is not a key factor. You can be righteous regardless of your intellectual ability. Similarly, intelligence is not a decisive factor in whether or not a person will be happy in life.
Since you can be both righteous and happy no matter what your level of intelligence, there is no necessity in feeling less of a person if others seem “smarter” than you.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, “Gateway to Happiness,” p.123
When fighting against the evil inclination, use the same strategy he uses. When he tries to prevent you from doing good deeds, tell him, ‘It’s just for this once,’ or, ‘I’m only going to start doing a little bit,’ and similar statements that will enable you to get started. This way of talking to yourself lessens the difficulty of a task.
Think of a good deed that you would want to do, but don’t do because you feel it will be difficult for you to continue doing it. Imagine that you will do it only once. Then take action.
Sources: see Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler – Michtav MaiEliyahu, vol. 3, p.293; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Consulting the Wise”
Sound is energy. This is a highly significant statement that effects you every time you speak to someone. Your tone of voice creates a specific type of energy. A soft and smooth tone of voice creates peaceful energy. An upbeat or joyous tone of voice creates positive energy. Both of these are in stark contrast to an angry tone of voice that creates an angry loop.
When you speak, your tone of voice creates either positive or distressful feelings in the person on the receiving end of that energy. The other person is likely to speak back to you in a tone that is similar to your own. For this reason King Solomon (Proverbs 15:1) advises us: “A soft reply turns away anger.” A soft tone of voice has a calming effect both on you the speaker and on the listener.
Do you want others to speak to you in an upbeat tone of voice? Then speak to them that way. A word of caution: For some people an overly enthusiastic tone of voice is too intense. So observe the effects of how you speak and modify your intensity according to the reaction of the listener.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Happiness”,p.171
Arrogance is one of the most negative traits, and it leads to many counterproductive words and actions.
What’s the antidote for arrogance? Awareness of the enormous size of the universe – and our microscopic position in comparison.
In every Jewish blessing, we say the words “King of the Universe,” which is a constant reinforcement to eliminate arrogance.
Sources: For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,”pp.127-9
Giving positive advice to people who are open to hearing it, is one of the greatest acts of kindness you can do.
Be careful not to give advice when it is unwanted, even if you are well-meaning. A prerequisite for giving advice is to have the humility not to give advice unless you are certain it will have a positive outcome.
How you give advice is often a key factor in whether or not it will be appreciated. Giving positive advice takes great skill.
Sources: For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” pp.104-6
When you are confident that you can do something, that itself mobilizes more of your talents and skills.
Increase your appreciation for the Almighty’s power and how He can give you the Divine assistance to succeed. This is the ultimate way to increase your level of confidence.
See Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” pp.171
If we truly appreciate the gift of life that the Almighty gave us, we will constantly say, “No complaints, I’m alive.”
When you experience joy for being alive, these positive feelings create a context that free you from the thoughts and feelings that create complaints.
Sources: For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” pp.164-7
There is a strong tendency for an evil person to consider himself good, and for a truly good person to consider himself bad. The rationale behind this is simple: Their criteria of good and bad differ greatly.
A good person desires to help others, and when unable to do as much as he idealistically wishes, considers himself “bad.”
An evil person considers himself “good” if he refrains from beating someone up after taking their money.
The lesson: Be objective about your actions.
-Sources: Imrai Binah, p.45; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.132
Not sure I totally agree with this person. I think a person can consider themselves good if they use the group’s mindset of good without weighing the pros and cons within themselves. A lot of folks automatically label things “good” and “bad” and never give it another thought because some authority tells them that’s how things should be defined. The truly “good” person will struggle with the moral issues, even when it’s painful, because that’s when they actually take ownership and responsibility for their own attitudes, decisions, and actions.
“A soft reply turns away anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
When you communicate to others in a soft manner, this will calm someone who is already angry at you. This refers to both your tone of voice and the content of what you say. Be mentally prepared to apply this to someone who is likely to speak to you in anger.
When the person who is angry has a valid complaint against you, admit that he’s right – and this will calm him down.
Sources: see Vilna Gaon – Proverbs 14:30 and 15:1; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – “Consulting the Wise”