Zelig Pliskin


American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer

Author Quotes

When you believe that you can do something, you will have greater ability to accomplish.

You Become What You Think About [imagine and focus persistently on]: One of the most important and valuable concepts about our mind and thoughts is that you become what you think about. This idea has the potential to be highly empowering. It means that by gaining greater mastery over your thoughts, you gain greater mastery over your life. It means that by mastering your thoughts, you will be able to make and reach important goals. -- When you consistently think about being happy and joyful in your life, you will become happier and more joyful. -- When you consistently think about being kinder and more compassionate, you will become kinder and more compassionate. -- When you consistently think about being more confident and courageous, you will become more confident and courageous. -- When you consistently think about being calm and serene, you will become calmer and more serene. -- When you consistently think about being more patient and persistent, you will become more patient and persistent. -- When you consistently think about your most important goals in life and what you need to do to reach them, you will find yourself accomplishing and achieving more.

When you experience joy, you feel good because your magnificent brain produces hormones called endorphins. These self-produced chemicals give you happy and joyful feelings. Research on these biochemicals has proven that the brain-produced hormones enter your blood stream even if you just act joyful, not only when you really are happy. Although the joyful experience is totally imaginary and you know that it didn?t actually happen, when you speak and act as if that imaginary experience did happen, you get a dose of endorphins. These chemicals are naturally produced by your brain. They are totally free and entirely healthy. Many people find that this knowledge inspires them to create more joyful moments. It?s not just an abstract idea, but a physical reality.

You create your emotional world... We constantly talk to ourselves. We can choose to be our own best friend by telling ourselves positive thoughts or our own worst enemy by repeating negative thoughts.

We have the ability to form the habit of changing our thoughts to other subjects as soon as we think negatively about others unless it?s for a practical and constructive purpose. When we do think about other people, the question to keep in mind is, ?How can I do some act of kindness for this person?? If we focus on helping others, we will not become angry at them.

When you have a goal [especially one of the sequence of baby-step sub-goals] in mind, keep your focus on reaching it, and do not allow yourself to be sidetracked by anything else.

You have infinite value and worth! You already know you have strengths and inner resources. But you have even more strengths and resources that you are not yet fully aware of, and they will enhance your life as you become more aware of them. There are many more strengths and inner resources that you can gain and build up from now on.

We never had it so good: Every person alive today derives great benefit from comforts and pleasures that were not available in the past. All of the latest technological advances serve us to a remarkable degree. For all this we should be full of appreciation and gratitude.

When you have a sincere desire to grow and develop - you will appreciate the opportunities that arise for further growth and development [including criticism and difficulties].

Your Focus Creates Your Emotional State: When you feel happy or joyful, ask yourself, 'What am I focusing on right now that is giving me these good feelings?' The more time you spend focusing on similar patterns [thoughts and activities], the more time you will spend feeling happy and joyful. When you feel unhappy, ask yourself, 'What am I focusing on right now that is causing me these distressful feelings?' The less time you spend on similar patterns of focus, the more time you will feel happy. Fully understanding that your focus creates your emotional state, for better or for worse, is one of the most important lessons we can learn. [One definition of 'depression' states that it is caused by too low a rate of subjective, positive experiences. By keeping conscious of what focus produces good and bad experiences allows individuals to increase both their rate of subjective, positive experiences and the ratio of these to negative experiences - which has been shown should exceed three to one. Also frequency of positive, subjective experiences has been found to be more important to creating positive mood than intensity.]

What a person believes about himself and his abilities is [often] a self-fulfilling prophecy... Believing you are inferior, untalented, unimportant or incapable, influences your abilities. If you view yourself as unable to do things, you will be unable to do them. On the other hand, if you see yourself as talented, capable, and important, your self-concept will open up powers and talents that would have otherwise remained dormant. Hardly anyone utilizes his entire capabilities. We can accomplish much more than we realize. By raising the perception of your capabilities, you will accomplish more.

When you learn to tolerate the frustration of not gratifying an urge, you will be able to overcome it. Many people have an external orientation. That is, they feel that the problem is the external thing they desire. But an outlook that will aid one to overcome desires is to realize that all desires are inner experiences. The urge to do something is within you. Accept the frustration of tolerating the unpleasant feelings until you are able to distract your mind and the urge will pass.

Your magnificent brain can make mental pictures of how you would like to speak and act. The more times you repeat these pictures, the more ingrained they become. These mental pictures will make it easier for you to follow through in reality.

What Do You Say to Yourself After Someone Criticizes You? Imagine that someone criticizes you. Then imagine yourself feeling joyful about this wonderful opportunity to learn something positive from the criticism. Imagine that you love to hear feedback about what you've said and done or didn't say and do. Positive feedback means that you are on track. Critical feedback means that you can now improve and develop yourself. Imagine that your self-talk sounds like, 'I appreciate and am grateful for this wonderful opportunity to become better. I am grateful to this person for telling me something that will be beneficial for me.' If you actually respond to criticism this way, congratulations! It shows that you have integrated one of the elevated qualities listed in the 48 factors to acquire Torah. If you are like most people, however, you don't think of critical feedback as one of your greatest pleasures in life. But if you have the inner strength, courage, and honesty to be open to hearing criticism, you will grow more in life. So what can you say to yourself if you have not yet mastered the ability to love criticism? One possibility is: 'My goal is to constantly grow and develop myself [Evolve into my best self]. I love positive feedback. But I can grow from critical feedback. So I will increase my inner strength, courage, and honesty to be open to hear what people say, and to weigh what they say objectively.' You don't have to feel bad about yourself because someone gave you critical feedback. [We are all growing as people and because of this criticism you are now in a position to be better tomorrow than you are today and were yesterday.]

When you meet someone who is a highly knowledgeable expert in a specific area, you can always ask, 'What are some of the best questions that you have been asked on this subject?' and 'What do you consider the basic principles for understanding this subject'. [To break the ice a few good questions to ask are: 'How did you get started in this career?' ; 'What have been some of the highlights so far?' and; 'What are your aspirations for your career?']

Your perspective of events is an important factor in attaining peace of mind. Be aware of your main goals in life. When a situation arises that might disturb your peace of mind, ask yourself: ?What effect, if any, does this event or incident have on these goals?? When you realize this present situation does not have a major effect on what is really important, the problem will shrink in significance and once again you will be able to have peace of mind... One needs to ignore unfortunate events unless there is some practical benefit to be gained by talking about them.

What Does Life Want From You? - Viktor Frankl, a Jewish physician who spent the years of the Second World War in the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Dachau, related, 'I remember my dilemma in a concentration camp when faced with a man and a woman who were close to suicide; both had told me that they expected nothing more from life. I asked both my fellow prisoners whether the question was really what we expected from life. Was it not, rather, what life was expecting from us? I suggested that life was awaiting something from them.' The person who feels despair and discouragement is asking the wrong question. He asks what the world is giving him. As soon as he changes his question to what is the good [service] that he can do, he will always be able to find an answer.

When you personally are happy, it doesn't make any difference what others have. So the way to counteract envy is to increase your own level of joy. By mastering joy, you will become free from envy.

What would you love to achieve and accomplish? What would you feel great about doing in your life? What meaningful goals would you wish to reach? Imagine achieving and accomplishing everything that you would wish [dream] for. Picture yourself reaching your highest aspirations and your most meaningful goals. Visualize yourself speaking and acting the way you would wish with the highest and best character traits.

When you want to access a joyful state, ask yourself, 'If I were a master of joy, how would I speak and act now?' Since this method doesn?t ask you to feel anything you're not actually feeling, it will be easier to speak and act the way you would if were a master of joy. This is the power of acting 'as if.' I have found that people who once claimed, 'I can't just decide to be joyful when I don't really feel joyful,' were able to benefit from this approach.

Whatever you focus your attention on [good or bad, desired or not], you increase. This one principle is the key to mastering any trait and skill.

Who Is An Honorable Person? A major underlying issue in many quarrels is that people feel that someone else didn't treat them with the proper respect. The specific details of the quarrel are trivial compared to the fundamental need to be treated with respect. 'Who is an honorable person?' ask the Sages (Pirkei Avos 4:1 - Ethics Of The Fathers 4:1). 'The one who shows [politeness] honor and respect to others.' That is, your honor and respect does not depend on how others treat you. Rather, the more honor and respect that you express to others, the more honorable you yourself are. We all want to be treated with basic respect. And as we internalize the essential message of the Sages, we will decrease our concern about how others treat us and we will increase our concern about how we treat others.

When ['bad'] events occur in your life, at least leave the situation as a question mark in your mind, 'How do I know this will really turn out bad for me?' The answer is that you never know with absolute certainty that it will. Many things that you now perceive as strongly negative are questionable if they will really turn out bad. Why make yourself irritated in a doubtful situation by taking for granted that this is really so negative?

Will Power: A Jewish principle states that 'nothing can stand in the way when you have strong desire to accomplish something.' Think of something that you would like to accomplish but are not doing all you can in this area. Increase your intensity of 'will', and be totally motivated to utilize all your resources and energy to accomplish it.

When a person looks through a colored lens, everything seems to be that color. If the lens is tinted yellow or blue, everything seems yellow or blue. A person who looks at life through the lens of gratitude will always find things to be grateful for.

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American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer