Zelig Pliskin


American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer

Author Quotes

A person who has great wealth will still be unhappy if he hasn't also mastered gratitude.

Appreciate Your Brain: You are the owner of a magnificent brain. Wherever you go, your brain is always with you. You have a lightweight multi-million dollar valuable machine that you take with you at all times. You use this machine to study, to enjoy life, to relate with other people, to make money, to face tests and challenges. Your brain is powerful. If you are reading this, it is your brain that is enabling you to do so. Your brain receives images of the symbols that you are looking at and turns them into words and sentences. Because similar letters and words are stored in your brain's immense library, you are able to make sense of these words and can benefit from them. The sheer number of pictures, knowledge, and information stored in your brain is awesome. When you think of how relatively small your brain is and what it has stored away in its cells, it is mind-boggling. Whenever you recognize someone it is because that person's picture is stored in your brain. If you recognize any scene, whether you saw it in person, or in a newspaper, book, or magazine, it is because there is a picture of that scene in your brain. This can include gigantic areas and a wide variety of places. Some people tend to just complain when they can't remember something and take remembering for granted. A person who sincerely wants to master happiness will do just the opposite. Appreciating the power of your brain will give you thousands of joyous experiences.

Bring Out The Best In Each Other: We are all very different when at our best than when we are at our worst. We can even seem like two different people. This isn't a rare case of 'multiple personality disorder.' Rather, it is simply that when we feel good we think clearly, while when we are stressed we may get angry. We all have met people who bring out the best in us. Around them, we feel better about ourselves. We think clearer. We act kinder and more elevated. Around other people, however, we might sometimes behave our worst. This will be true for you, and true for the person you are married to. Your task is to bring out the best in yourself and the best in your spouse. (And before you complain that this seems unfair, remember that your spouse has the same task!) A husband and wife who know how to bring out the best in each other will live blessed lives. They will cherish each other and create a wonderful environment in which to raise their children.

Every moment of life is precious and [can never happen again and therefore] is a reason to [appreciate, be grateful for and] celebrate the fact that you are alive.

Focus on the roses: 'A person who gathers honey will not escape being stung by bees. A person who gathers roses will not escape being scratched by thorns.' The positive things in life also have negative aspects. Keep your focus on the beautiful roses of the world, and the thorns will seem trivial and inconsequential.

I am now committing my mind and resources to continue developing all of my character traits, especially the traits of being happy and joyful. Every moment I choose my thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, so right now I will choose to be happier and more joyful...I will keep developing the mind-set of someone who is constantly happy and joyful. I will become happier and more joyful all the time. It is becoming easier to be happy and joyful. I access and create more happy and joyful moments...My happiness and joy enables me to think, speak, and act at my best. I am grateful for each happy moment. My own happiness will be able to help others. I will find it easier to grow in happiness and joy.

It takes wisdom to discern the true good in every situation. Be careful not to allow negative things to happen because of your carelessness, procrastination, or desire for comfort and justify your inaction by saying what is happening is for the good. Only when nothing can be done should you accept it for the best.

Life is about 'Reciprocity' and a version of the Golden Rule, in that 'You will usually be treated as you treat others': Remember usually You Will Get It All Back - When you act with hostility and aggression toward others, they are likely to respond in a similar manner. When you shout at someone, he is likely to shout back. The reverse holds true if you are caring and cheerful toward others. Therefore, for purely pragmatic reasons, we should be kind and friendly in dealing with others. From the Torah perspective, however, this is not merely sound advice. It is an obligation.

People who are self-confident have very different mental pictures and thoughts than people who lack self-confidence. People who feel very insecure feel that way because of what they say to themselves and what they picture about the past and the future. When they upgrade their self-talk and their mental images, they experience life very differently.

Repetition Makes it Real: If you want a concept to become part of your habitual thought process, keep repeating it to yourself again and again. Even though you might not gain a deeper understanding of the concept, the constant repetition enables you to internalize it until it becomes part of your own way of thinking. The Talmud relates that Rabbi Prayda had a student who needed to hear a lesson 400 times until he comprehended it. Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein used to say that when it comes to elevating our attitudes, we are all the same as that student. If we sincerely want to integrate a new attitude, we need to repeat it over and over again. Even if a person is highly intelligent, unless he reviews the concepts hundreds of times, they will not be properly ingrained. [Repetition is the mother of skill, insight and assimilation.]

Sweet Talk Your Kids: Your tone of voice when speaking to your children sets the tone for their way of speaking, even when they speak to themselves. If you have an abrasive way of speaking to them, practice speaking pleasantly. Professional singers spend countless hours practicing for their audiences. All parents are professional communicators and all children are entitled to be spoken to pleasantly.

The realization that everyone perceives things differently, whether greatly or slightly, is a very important principle for dealing effectively with others. The greater your understanding of someone else?s perception of reality, the greater your ability to communicate effectively with him.

Two people can have lives that seem very similar from the outside. They both can have what seems to be a good life. They have nice homes, plenty of food, a fine family, good jobs. Yet the quality of their lives can be polar opposites. One lacks gratitude. He is always dissatisfied and unhappy. He always focuses on what he considers to be missing. He always has complaints. He creates negativity wherever he goes. The other has mastered gratitude. He lives a more spiritual life. He is always grateful and joyful. He always has a good word to say about others. He is a pleasure to be around. He is constantly in a state of well-being. He consistently makes others feel good.

A person who looks at life through the lens of gratitude will always find things to be grateful for. A person looking from a place of kindness and compassion will always find opportunities to be kind and compassionate.

As an exercise in appreciation, try for one hour to feel grateful for every single thing you find yourself doing. When you read, be grateful you can see and read. When you walk, be grateful for the use of your feet. When you talk, be grateful for the ability to communicate with others. For a full hour do not take even the smallest action for granted. Be aware of every detail of what you can do. Anyone who does this daily for even a short time will have a much greater appreciation for everything he does.

Change It or Accept It: Matters leading to sadness fall into two categories: matters that can be corrected and matters that cannot. If something can be done to correct a situation, why feel sad? Simply take action to correct the matter! On the other hand, if nothing can be done, what gain is there in feeling sad? Sadness will not improve matters. It is wiser to accept what cannot be changed.

Every person has moments of suffering and unpleasantness in life. If you master the skill of living in the present, you will keep these moments limited to the actual negative experiences. Both before and after a painful experience, you will focus on what actually is at that moment, freeing you from much unnecessary pain in your life. Very young children have this skill naturally (we all have it when we were younger), and that is why they enjoy life, unless they are presently in pain. As we grow older, our ability to use our minds and think about the past and future increases. This ability can be utilized in very beneficial ways [satisfaction and planning and anticipation], but it can also be used in a detrimental way [disappointment, bitterness and fear]. We can transform our lives into suffering and torture by [focusing] keeping in mind all our unpleasant experiences of the past. Forgetting those experiences is the positive aspect of forgetfulness [and distraction].

For many people, sadness and suffering is not a result of present experiences. Rather it is pain caused by regretting and resenting the past, or worrying about the future. Living in the present saves you from needless emotional pain. Additionally, keeping one's mind on the present is necessary to concentrate on the important tasks of the day.

I am now committing my mind and resources toward taking positive action to reach my most important goals. I can see myself speaking and acting in ways that enable me to reach my goals. I will feel great when I take action to accomplish what I want to accomplish. I will have the necessary wisdom to know what to do. I will feel joy and happiness because I am making progress. I will enjoy every step that I take. I will find it tremendously pleasurable to do what I need to do. All blocks and obstacles will melt away. I will find it easier and easier to take action... I will keep learning the knowledge and skills that will enable me to reach my goals... I will greatly enjoy the process... I will be calm and serene about the entire process. [Imagine the future you want. Anticipate it going well and it being enjoyable. Use guided imagination affirmations to help you imagine it]

It's not how other people treat you that makes you important and honorable. Rather, it's how you treat others.

Listing What You Have: Internalize the attitude that regardless of how many things you do not have, you can still be happy [and grateful] if you keep your focus on what you do have. Make a list of possessions, talents, and good qualities you have and whenever you catch yourself becoming obsessed with something you lack, review your list.

Personality traits are like raw material, intrinsically neutral. Classifying any particular trait as positive or negative changes according to the specific way it is employed by an individual in a given situation. If you utilize each trait in its proper time and place, then that trait is considered positive. But if you apply a trait when it is inappropriate, it is considered negative. For example, the positive trait of 'generosity' can actually be negative if it turns into smothering and stifling. On the other hand, the negative trait of anger can be positive when used to fight against evil and injustice. [Part of persuasion and sales is embodying and transmitting the desirable perspectives and emotions about the products and services to as many markets and people as possible and not being discouraged by different perspectives.]

Resilience: The Art of Bouncing Back: Build up your ability to be resilient, your ability to bounce back after a fall. As it states in Mishlei (24:25), 'A righteous person will fall seven times and rise up.' Everyone can fall; the main thing is to get up again. When you think in terms of building your self-image, you will focus on the fact that you rose up after you fell. Of course, it would be best never to fall at all. But since falling is part of life, build your self-image by keeping your focus on what you are doing right. And when you fall, keep your focus on what you need to do to bounce back.

Talking to Yourself About Other People:- Many of your thoughts are about other people: People you know well and people who are strangers to you, but affect your life in various ways. People you are related to and people you are friends with. People you find easy to deal with and people you find challenging. People you respect and like, and people you are upset with. People who are helpful to you and people you wish to help. People you interact with frequently, and people you meet just once. The way you view people determines how you get along with them. The Torah (Vayikra 19:18) tells us: ?Love other people as yourself.? Also, the Sages teach us in Pirkei Avos (4:1): ?Who is an honorable person? Someone who honors and respects others.? When you love and respect someone, you think about him in positive ways. Your self-talk is about his good qualities. You think about what you can learn from him, and this is the definition of a wise person. As the Sages (Pirkei Avos 4:1) say, ?Who is wise? Someone who learns from everyone.? When you associate people with their positive qualities and have positive thoughts and feelings about them, you speak to them more positively. You also act towards them with greater kindness and compassion. Yes, we need to be aware of the totality of people in order protect ourselves and others. But our major focus should be on what is good and right and admirable about others. Be strongly resolved to keep your mind focused on the virtues and positive qualities of other people. If your mind happens to think unnecessarily about what is wrong with other people, change your thoughts to what is good and right about them. Your thoughts about another person create a powerful energy. One of my favorite verses is from Mishlei/Proverbs (27:19). ?As in water, face to face, so, too, is the heart of one person to another.? When you think positive thoughts about another person, that person will tend to feel positively about you also. The deeper and more profound your thoughts and feelings of unconditional love, the more likely it is that this person will reciprocate.

The Right Comparison: A person can potentially use comparisons to mess up his life. For example, a person can go to the most elegant restaurant which employs the greatest chef. He can order the most expensive food. Then for the rest of his life he can say about any other meal, 'This isn't as good as the meal I once had in that five-star restaurant.' I recently related this example to a group of tourists. They laughed. And then one spoke up and said, 'I just realized that I do this all the time. Just last night at the fancy hotel we were staying at, my first comment after the meal was, 'This wasn't as good as the food I ate at another restaurant five years ago.' I didn't realize how foolish this response is.' Our patterns of comparisons will either be a way we prevent ourselves from enjoying what we have, or a way by which we gain a greater sense of appreciation. A sage once said, 'In spiritual matters look up and raise your sights. But when it comes to material and physical matters look down.' That is, in spiritual matters keep looking for role models to motivate yourself to reach higher and higher levels. But when it comes to appreciating [being grateful for and happy about] your possessions and your financial situation, look at those who have less than you and gain a greater sense of appreciation for what you have.

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American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer