Zelig Pliskin


American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer

Author Quotes

Relive Positive Memories: Recall the good things that happened to you in the past. If you mentally relive those experiences, you will be in a much better state of mind [i.e happy and grateful] to deal with the present more efficiently. Keep a list of the good things that have happened to you. When you feel sad, take out your list and read it over. Think especially about those things you felt joy over when you first obtained them, things you still have. By recalling your original joy, you will feel better now. Sad people tend to talk about their misfortunes and this causes them needless misery. They should form the habit of talking about the positive experiences of their life. When you talk about positive experiences and thoughts, they have a positive effect on your emotional state. By doing this a few times, you build up your confidence in your ability to evoke positive emotions.

Some people tell themselves, It?s my nature to worry. 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 self-talk about something negative that you hope won?t happen. You feel anxious and distressed about the possibility.

The more you engage in joyful and grateful self-talk, the more your mind will be free from worry.

Those who realize that life is for growing and developing from each and every challenge, each day of our lives, live a life of joy.

A master of happiness will appreciate what he or she has while they have them and the moment any specific thing is gone or lost, the focus will be on other things to appreciate and be grateful for. At times, this could be gratitude for the memories that remain. Material and physical objects are temporary, memories are forever.

Appreciate All You Have: Try imagining your life without all that you presently have. If you can master this ability, then you will appreciate what you do have to such a degree that you will live a life of constant joy. If you were lost in a wilderness without food and water - and then found some bread, you would enjoy that bread more than the most sumptuous meal! Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm wrote that he personally had such an experience, and it was like living in paradise. You will always be able to feel that joy if you use your mind wisely. Today, spend a few moments imagining what it would be like if you had absolutely nothing: no family, no friends, no possessions, no money at all, no knowledge, no eyes, ears, hands, feet - absolutely nothing. Continue this exercise until you actually feel it. Then do the second half of the exercise: Imagine yourself obtaining what you presently have, one item at a time.

Be Soft Spoken: Always speak to others in a manner that makes it a pleasurable experience for them. Your tone of voice should be calm and pleasant. Do not speak in anger or raise your voice.

Events by themselves cannot make you sad [and want to give up]. It is your attitude [mental self-talk - refer Rational Emotive Therapy] toward those events that make you sad [and want to give up]. To overcome feelings of sadness [and wanting to give up], become aware of the message your negative thoughts are communicating - about yourself, about the event [and the future], or about life in general. The next step is to change these negative thoughts to more positive ones. Repeat positive statements to yourself. Your mood [and drive] will change.

Find triggers for your joy. Today, every time you hear a telephone ringing, hear a joyous inner cheer, 'I am alive.' Every time you hear a horn or bell, hear a joyous inner cheer, 'I am alive.' Every time you hear something that used to get you irritated or frustrated, allow yourself to hear a joyous inner cheer, 'I am alive.'

Hear your Father, your King, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, saying to you: A tourist has a greater appreciation for what others take for granted. A tourist realizes that s/he must see and do as much as possible in the short amount of time to be spent in a specific place. A tourist can get along with much less than someone who views him/herself as a permanent resident. A tourist doesn?t take too seriously anything that?s going on in the place that s/he is visiting. S/he realizes that s/he will not be there very long, so s/he can overlook things that might irritate or distress others. A tourist knows that s/he will soon be going home. Bear this in mind, and make the most of your visit to this planet.

It is impossible to define adequately what happiness is since happiness is an emotional state, which is an experience and not a concept. Emotions are comprised of physiological states and cognitions and only a person who has experienced them can know what they are... Webster?s New Collegiate Dictionary?s definition: ?A state of well-being and contentment.?

Learn to differentiate between productive thinking about problems as a means of solving them, and counterproductive dwelling on misfortunes which gains nothing positive and destroys your quality of life.

People can have diverse opinions. They can have different personalities. They can have different goals and objectives. Even so, they can choose to interact in peaceful ways, and discuss their differences with mutual respect. At times they will work out solutions to their mutual satisfaction, and at times they will not. Nevertheless, they can be calm, and think clearly about the wisest course to take. [Freedom of opinion, thought, speech, expression, press and censorship]

Remember Positive Moments: When you feel discouraged, you are likely to remember past failures and disappointments. This leads to more emotional pain and increases your discouragement. Make a conscious effort to remember any positive moment in your life. Even if you can only remember one time when you felt positive about yourself or only one time when you manifested confidence or strength, you presently have a resource that is yours for life. Calmly recall the positive feelings you once had and realize that since you have experienced confidence and strength once, you can continue to experience it in the future. [In order to persist]

Someone who has the talent to point out your strengths and what is positive about your situation will give you encouragement to spur you on to greater achievements.

The nature of a person is that when he talks about [focuses on] past misfortunes and suffering, he presently experiences more suffering. A person who constantly thinks about [focuses on] misfortunes of the past causes unnecessary sadness. In the extreme, after one unfortunate event a person can make himself unhappy his entire life - because he always tells himself how awful life is since that event occurred. Do not overly dwell [focus] on past misfortunes, and you will save yourself much unhappiness.

Thoughts will always keep racing through your mind, gently keep your focus on all the positive details of your life. Realize that you are the one who chooses what thoughts to dwell on. Choose those thoughts which will enhance your life.

A person is both wise and wealthy when you master the art of appreciating what you already have.

Appreciate Constructive Criticism: A truth seeker will want others to correct him if they see that he is doing something wrong. The more of a truth seeker you are, the more you will actually love criticism. Of course, everyone prefers praise. But criticism will help us grow. If the criticism is valid, we gain by listening to it regardless of whether it's presented in a sensitive manner. If someone criticizes you in a painful way, use that as a lesson to be careful in giving others negative feedback. The next time someone offers you a piece of criticism, act as if you love it!

Before you go to sleep, you have a great opportunity to condition your mind to be more joyful by programming yourself to have joyful dreams. Simply repeat the words, 'Joyful dreams,' in a calm and peaceful tone of voice. You might also suggest ideas for a joyful dream. With patience and persistence, you will eventually see results. After upgrading the joy in your dreams, you can condition your mind for more courage, kindness, and serenity by suggesting to yourself, 'Brain, please create more dreams of courage, kindness, and serenity.

Events by themselves cannot make you sad. It is your attitude [mental self-talk - refer Rational Emotive Therapy] toward those events that make you sad. To overcome feelings of sadness, become aware of the message your negative thoughts are communicating - about yourself, about the event, or about life in general. The next step is to change these negative thoughts to more positive ones. Repeat positive statements to yourself. Your mood will change.

Flexibility is a very important tool in interpersonal relations. If you are rigid in your demands, you might frequently get your way - but you will not have many friends [a reputation for reasonableness, plenty of goodwill or leeway when next you meet and the tables are turned]. Learn to differentiate between what is important and what is not. Someone who feels he must always get his way is telling himself [wrongly], 'If I give in to others, it means I am weak.' [Negotiation skills include anticipating 'push-back' on getting your 'best-case scenario', planning and prioritising alternative propositions and then knowing when and how to compromise]

How to develop empathy: In order to empathize with the suffering of others, [use your imagination and] make mental images. When someone experiences suffering and pain, make a picture in your mind as if it were happening to you. [Then you have a better idea about what to say and how to behave as it is ...] Whatever you would want other people to do for you in such a situation.

It is unrealistic to demand perfection of oneself. The goal should be improvement.

Learn To Ignore Insults: When a wise person is insulted, he acts as if he doesn't know that anything's been said. He acts toward the insult like a deaf person who does not hear and a mute who cannot speak. He walks away as if nothing happened. He does not repeat the incident to anyone. On the other hand, people who respond to insults - or even worse, tell others how someone insulted them - cause themselves humiliation. Learning to ignore insults is a valuable skill. Mentally prepare yourself in advance to act as if you are totally deaf when it comes to hearing insults.

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American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer