Zelig Pliskin


American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer

Author Quotes

People frequently say, ?He made me sad,? or ?It got me upset.? This implies that external factors are the cause of their emotions and they are not able to do anything about it. The reality is that external events cannot make you sad or upset; you do so by yourself by what you tell yourself about external events. Get into the habit of saying, ?I make myself sad because of what I tell myself about his actions or words,? or ?I make myself upset because of what I tell myself about what happened.? When you speak in these terms, you are accepting the responsibility for your reactions. This will serve as an incentive to change your thoughts and attitudes from those with which you make yourself unhappy to those with which you will enable yourself to be happy.

Renew Your Appreciation: Make it a daily practice to view the world as if you were created today. Mentally picture yourself coming into the world for the first time, and observe everything with a freshness. This exercise can transform the mundane into a thrilling experience.

Sound is energy. This is a highly significant statement that affects you every time you speak to someone. Your tone of voice creates a specific type of energy. A soft and smooth tone of voice creates peaceful energy. An upbeat or joyous tone of voice creates positive energy. Both of these are in stark contrast to an angry tone of voice that creates an angry loop. When you speak, your tone of voice creates either positive or distressful feelings in the person on the receiving end of that energy. The other person is likely to speak back to you in a tone that is similar to your own. For this reason King Solomon (Proverbs 15:1) advises us: 'A soft reply turns away anger.' A soft tone of voice has a calming effect both on you the speaker and on the listener.

The purpose of marriage is growth. By its very nature, marriage will continuously give you opportunities to develop your character. And the more challenging one's marriage - the greater the growth possibilities!

Turn Your Faults Into Virtues: The Dubner Maggid offered the following parable: A king owned a magnificent diamond which accidentally sustained a deep scratch. The royal diamond cutters said no amount of polishing would remove the flaw entirely. But one expert volunteered, 'I can rectify the flaw in a manner that will render the diamond more valuable than before.' The king told him to go ahead, and with great skill he engraved rose petals on the diamond. The deep scratch served as the stem of the flower. Similarly, said the Dubner Maggid, a person can transform negative traits into virtues. With creativity, you can use your mistakes and faults in a way that will gain you more than you would have otherwise. [You can turn your failures into strengths and your ignorance into leaning and eventually wisdom.]

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.

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American Rabbi, Psychologist, Author and Lecturer