Quoting: Show Them Their Potential

If someone sees himself as inferior, you can help change his attitude by seeing him now as the potentially great person he could possibly become.

-For a series of probing questions on this topic, see Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Gateway to Self Knowledge,” p.218


Quoting: Don’t Buy Approval

The Chafetz Chaim wrote that a major reason some people live beyond their means is to gain approval. They feel the need to spend large amounts of money on things that will gain them status, even though they are unable to afford them.

This is the opposite of a Torah way of life.

-Sources: Kuntros Nefutzos Yisroel, ch.6; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.271

Quoting: A Wise Person’s Goal

A wise man said, “Most people do not feel bad because they lack wisdom; they feel bad because people say they lack wisdom.”

The honor-seeker does not study wisdom to become wiser. Rather, his goal is to show off how wise he is. This is an attribute of a fool (Proverbs 18:2). A truly wise person’s goal is to gain more wisdom whether or not he gains honor.

(Sources: Chayai Hamussar, vol.1, p.72 ; Kol Tzofayich, vol.1, pp.345-6; Rabbi Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.280

Quoting: Mentally Preparing for Challenges

The more mentally prepared you are for challenges to your being in a serene state, the greater your ability to maintain this state. The goal to strive for is to be able to remain in a serene state even when other people say and do things that could potentially cause distress. Mentally practice remaining serene regardless of what anyone says. Knowing that you can do this in your imagination will free you from worrying about what anyone may say in the future.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, Serenity, p.78

Quoting: Fear of Disapproval

Frequently people worry about the possibility that others might fail to show them respect and approval. While details differ for each person, the underlying factor is fear of disapproval — people might think you lack intelligence, or other virtues and abilities.

Realize that the pain you suffer from worrying about this is much greater than that of actual disapproval.

Try to accept the worst. Imagine that every person who sees you will have a low opinion of you. Emotionally accept this. Once you’ve accepted this, although you might not like it, you will no longer need to worry about lack of approval.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.163

On the web and especially in the world of social media opinion, it’s easy to get caught up in everyone’s approval or disapproval, depending on who you are or where you stand on certain issues. In the end though, the Rabbi is right. Whether someone approves or disapproves of you is hardly relevant compared to how you let it affect you. No one can tell you who you are or that you are unworthy unless you let them. Don’t let them.

Quoting: Growth is Gradual

A person who tries to force himself to change his character in an extremely short time is apt to become depressed and will not be successful. Set reasonable goals for yourself. Work on your faults little by little.

If you make impossible demands on yourself, you will feel frustrated and miserable.

-from Cheshbon Hanefesh #17; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.177

Quoting: Keep Focused on Your Goal

Always ask yourself: “What is my goal right now?”

When you keep focused on a specific goal, you are less likely to get sidetracked by venting your anger at someone. You’ll discover that your real goal is incompatible with losing your temper and shouting.

For example, an employer wants his employee to do a good job. Encouragement is more likely to achieve that goal than yelling. Similarly, parents want their children to learn positive values. A friendly, warm talk is more effective than angry outbursts.

By being aware of your original target and goal, you will stay focused and accomplish more.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Gateway to Happiness,” p.211

Quoting: Be Respectful No Matter What

The Torah gives us an important rule in relationships: Even though you are suffering, you have no right to cause suffering to others. Whatever your distress, you still need to speak and act with respect. If you are ever in a bad mood, be especially careful not to speak or act to others in a way that will be distressful for them.

Sources: see Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler – Michtav MaiEliyahu, vol.4, 246; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Consulting the Wise”

This definitely has applications in the blogosphere and social media in general, but I’m not sure what the result would be. I suspect each group would interpret it to mean “listen to me and anyone who disagrees with me should shut up,” but that’s just a guess. Oops. I think this means I may not have taken the Rabbi’s advice to heart.

Quoting: The Greatest Day of Your Life

What would help you view today as the greatest day of your life? If today you have a greater awareness of your immense intrinsic value than ever before, then today is the greatest day of your life. If today you decide to upgrade your character beyond ways that you have done before, then today is the greatest day of your life. If today you make goals and plans that go beyond previous goals and plans, then today is the greatest day of your life.

If today you have a greater spiritual awareness and feel more connected with the Creator than ever before, then today is the greatest day of your life.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book Happiness,p.105

Pressing the Mute Button

Internet meme of character Ron Swanson

I wasn’t going to write anything “political” today (unless you count my tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which I guess could be political, or nationalistic, or some other horrible thing), but this one just popped into my head.

You may or may not recognize the above posted figure of Ron Swanson (played brilliantly by Nick Offerman) from the television series Parks and Recreation (2009-2015). I’ve only watched certain portions of the series, but Offerman’s performance is always one of the highlights.

Swanson is a “dyed-in-the-wool” libertarian, almost (but not quite) to the point of caricature, which allows him to say and do the most outrageous things, get away with it, and be hysterically funny. It also allows him to say certain “truths” that people might otherwise balk at. One excellent example is when Ron explains what government is (and isn’t) good for to a little girl using her lunch (Vimeo video). He’s actually very sweet with her and it’s an endearing transaction (not so much with her mother later on).

However, the point he makes above is the point I’m trying to make. Even leaving Nike and Colin Kaepernick out of it completely, the internet and particularly social media is constantly trying to grab your attention and convince you of this or that (and failing that, accuse you of being evil such that there’s no way to “win” short of surrendering your free speech rights if not your free will).

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