Zelig Pliskin


American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer

Author Quotes

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.

Worry is Created by [your imagination and] Self-Talk: The more you engage in joyful and grateful [imagination and] self-talk, the more your mind will be free from worry [and fear]. Some people tell themselves, 'It?s my nature to worry [imagine negative experiences].' But the truth is that no one is born a worrier. A person might have started worrying at a young age and have many early memories of worrying. A person might find it very difficult not to worry. But this isn?t someone?s basic nature. Worry is essentially [imagination and] self-talk about something negative that you hope won?t happen. You feel anxious and distressed about the possibility. One way out of the worry pattern is to think of potential solutions. Whenever you worry about something, imagine three or more alternate [positive or neutral] outcomes. A happy and joyful person has mastered the art of thinking in patterns that create happiness and joy. Let this be your mind.

When a shirt falls from a high place, there are some people who say, 'I am grateful I was not in that shirt.' At first glance, this seems like a very odd thing to say. But after some thought we can see it makes sense. Human beings are susceptible to all sorts of diseases and accidents. Many things can harm a person. Even a person walking on solid ground can trip and break a limb. Someone could choke on his food. With imagination you can picture events that have remote possibilities of actually happening. A wise person is constantly aware of his lack of power to protect himself and realizes how easily he can be harmed. When he observes something falling, he is immediately aware that he could easily fall down, too. This serves as a reminder that he should be grateful [not only for the good that he has but for the bad that he doesn't have]... The main desire of each and every person is to live a life of happiness. This is the underlying motivation behind diversions such as games and music. Why should the art of feeling joy that potential harm did not happen be less than the art of enjoying music? The person who can feel joy because he is not ill or injured lives a happy life.

Worry is when you choose from millions of possible thoughts, only the few which deal with a potential misfortune or problem. Once you accept your worrying as the act of choosing specific thoughts, you can consciously make an effort to avoid those thoughts that cause you needless pain and choose more constructive, positive thoughts.

A speaker's tone of voice is a key factor that will make a major difference whether he will have a positive effect or not. Matters pertaining to cold logic do not need a special tone of voice. However, when your goal is to arouse elevated spiritual feelings in someone, it is important to speak in a tone of voice that will inspire the appropriate elevated state. Today, when speaking to someone about a personal matter, be conscious of how your tone of voice can enhance your message.

Base your happiness on your own attitudes, and you can be its master. If you tell yourself that you can only be happy if others do or say what you wish, your happiness is under the control of those people... Accept the responsibility for making yourself happy independent of good or bad fortune, you will be determined to work on your thought patterns instead of chasing illusions... Happiness is a byproduct of thinking and behaving in a positive manner.

Courage comes in many flavors. In general, courage is defined as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or adversity. It is staunchness of mind and of will. It is the strength to face opposition and not allow it to stop you. It is the strength to cope with hardship. It is maintaining your dignity when it is difficult to do so. Courage gives you the empowerment of steely determination. It enables you to strive towards noble aspirations.

Everyone in the world from the most successful to the least needs encouragement. Make it [part of] your career to give others encouragement.

Give Up Demands For Status: Honor-seeking often motivates people more than any other desire in the world. If a person would give up his demands for status, he would be content as long as his minimum needs for food, clothing, and shelter were met. A great part of a person's need for money comes from his demand for status. Because he wants the admiration of others, he feels a need for expensive clothing and a fancy home. A person who gives up his demand for approval will be able to clarify for what his actual needs are, and save himself from needless toil and suffering.

If you seek approval, ask yourself why you want approval in the first place. The answer is ultimately, you want to be happy and you feel that approval is pleasurable and will give you happiness. Realizing how much needless suffering your approval seeking causes you, will motivate you to strive to master an attitude that allows you to feel happy even when people fail to show you honor and approval. It is ironic that something you want for happiness causes you so much unhappiness. By giving up your demand for approval, you will ensure yourself greater happiness in life.

Keep asking yourself the question, 'What's the best option for dealing with this?' Using the word 'option' tells you that there are always a number of options. And using the word 'best' implies that you have a choice and that some options are better than others. When we are calm and clear-minded this appears to be obvious. But it's not so obvious to someone who is irritated, upset, or angry.

No Pain No Gain: Remember this fundamental principle of life: Without hard work, you will not accomplish anything.

Put Troubles in Perspective: A great percentage of many people's suffering is based on illusion. People feel they have problems and difficulties, when in reality the problem exists solely in their minds. When you have a problem, ask yourself, 'How would I view this problem if someone else were in this situation? Would I consider this a valid problem or not?' This can help you gain a more objective perspective.

Right this moment, there are a multitude of people all around the planet involved in serving you. Many of them you will never meet in person, but you will benefit greatly from their activities. There are farmers who are planting and harvesting for you. There are people in the clothing industry who are weaving the cloth and designing clothing you will eventually wear. There are trucks, boats, and planes that are shipping the food you will eat, the clothes you will wear, and many other items that you will buy or use. There are people who are involved in making certain that you have water, electricity, phone service, and books. The postal authorities are busy at work delivering the letters you sent and bringing you mail that others have sent you. There are inventors who are working day and night on items that will one day be yours. There are engineers, mechanics, and a wide variety of laborers all around the globe who toil for your benefit. There are medical researchers working to find cures for illness that might one day save your life. Whenever you see a large crowd of people, it is a reminder to be grateful to all of those who are involved in one way or another in enhancing the quality of your life.

The entire quality of your life is totally dependent on the thoughts you choose to think [focus on].

The thoughts you think create your feelings and emotions. The thoughts you think are the key factor in what you say and do. The entire quality of your life is totally dependent on the thoughts you choose to think [focus on]. Choose thoughts of gratitude. You will be tremendously grateful that you did.

View Yourself As Patient: Our self-image creates us. This applies to the strengths we see in ourselves, as well as weaknesses and limitations. Patience is no exception. People who view themselves as 'impatient' will have many thousands of reinforcers over the years. For example, if someone became impatient just three times a day for five years, he will have 5,000 experiences of impatience! Focusing on these experiences will make it relatively easy to be impatient in the future. By viewing yourself as a person who is patient, you will find it easier to be patient whenever patience is called for. If you have been patient just three times a day for five years, you have 5,000 experiences of patience. Each new time you are patient adds to your self-image of being patient. Your foundation will continuously become stronger and stronger.

A world-champion boxer or a mighty warrior only becomes that way because of his regular program of exercises and practice over a long period of time. By consistently working on conquering anger, it is possible to gain an inner spiritual and emotional strength that is very powerful.

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American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer