Zelig Pliskin


American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer

Author Quotes

When dealing with a person you find difficult, keep in mind that this person's way of behaving and thinking might be causing him to suffer even more than he is causing you to suffer. See life from his point of view - and be compassionate.

Would you rather feel worse than you have to? Do you want to choose to feel happy? At the root of complaining is thinking that the situation could be better. At the root of satisfaction is being aware that the situation could be worse. In almost all instances things could be worse and they could be better. To master happiness a person needs to have a constant awareness that things are better than they could be. A person lacking flexibility in his ways of looking at things is apt to have difficulty with the concept of changing one?s perspective.

When performing a good deed that is difficult for you to do, instead of thinking how awful it is, appreciate that the difficulty is what elevates [grows and evolves] you!

Write a list of ways that you have benefited from being married to your spouse. Then write a list of your spouse's positive patterns and qualities. Keep adding to the lists and reread them frequently.

When someone is doing something wrong, feel sorry for him that he is harming himself by doing the wrong thing. Feelings of compassion will prevent feelings of anger.

You always have a choice of your self-talk. Ask yourself, 'What can I think about now that will improve the way I am feeling?' You can always think, 'The more challenging a situation, the more I can grow from it.' The more skilled you are about creating positive self-talk in challenging situations, the easier it will be for you to handle new challenges in the future. [In every situation in life there is the objective situation and there is the subjective way we see and talk about it to ourselves and others.]

When working on improving yourself, it is easy to become discouraged because you do not see sufficient progress. Keep trying and do not give up. Every small amount of improvement is a success.

You are constantly writing your autobiography, even if it isn't written on paper. The choices [plans] you make are the materials which shape your autobiography.

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.

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American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer