Skip to content

“Oh! My Papa”*

June 16, 2019

Happy Fathers Day

On this Fathers Day, I wish to honor my Father (obm) and re-post this piece I put out once before

Sam Fox, My Father, A Holocaust Survivor

1924 – 2015

I wish to share with you some of the many lessons I was privileged to learn from my Father.  May these lessons inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

When asked by my Brother, “What is the secret to a successful and happy life?”, despite having experienced the Holocaust, in which he lost his parents and five siblings….despite then sitting in a wheelchair because of a paralyzing stroke….. despite that his wife, my Mother, was dying in the other room…..He said

“In life some people have it easy and make it hard and some people have it hard and make it easy” 

The value of charity

“When I first came to America I had nothing, yet I always gave to charity. When I did, it always made me feel rich.” – from an acceptance speech upon receiving an award 

The value of the pursuit of good

“The pursuit of the good is the noblest of character builders and one of the sources of true gratification”.  There are other things in life besides self-interest.  Personal involvement in others challenges, in community affairs are the greatest sources of personal achievement and success.  Too many people refuse to understand what it means to be involved and to help others.  They are truly missing something.  There is nothing as gratifying and self-fulfilling as helping others.  Why don’t you try it?  If you do, I can assure you that you will arrive at a similar conclusion.  Try it, you will like it”. – from another acceptance speech upon receiving an award 

These were just some of his words.  The valuable lessons learned by all who had the privilege of knowing him, came from watching him turn those words into deeds.

*Listen to Eddie Fisher’s beautiful song

 

Be Good Do Good Think Good

Diamonds Everywhere

June 4, 2019

In a previous post, “How Valuable Are You?“, the final line from the Grandfather, was a powerful summary.  It said, “May you value the diamond in yourself and recognize the diamond in others as well.”

To “see the diamond in others” starts with believing that you are a diamond.  Then believing that just like you,  we all are.  We are all unique, original, and the only one of a kind in this universe.

Just as it might be difficult to see the diamond in ourselves, it’s even more difficult to see it in others.  To see it in others requires being open to seeing things from their perspective, not yours.  As the expression goes “walk a mile in their shoes”.  It may be difficult to see from their perspective, since we haven’t or can’t walk in their shoes, so we must be open to the idea that their is one.  To be open is to be empathetic.  It means having a listening heart.

“We don’t always see things as they are, we see things as we are” – Anais Nin

We are all diamonds.  Some start out more polished than others and some less so.  To reach the top of our mountain requires continually polishing and refining.  In recognizing that there is another perspective, theirs, will lead us to help them see their diamond and inspire them to polish theirs.

“Rough diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles.” – Thomas Browne

When the Lubavitcher Rebbe was asked how he could stand for hours receiving thousands waiting in line, he smiled gently and said,

“When you are counting diamonds, you don’t get tired.”

Watch this video for a good understanding of Empathy from Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski a Rabbi, Psychiatrist, founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center

On This Memorial Day

May 27, 2019

As we exercise our freedoms, without which we couldn’t enjoy the activities of this day, without which you couldn’t be you, let us take a moment to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to attain and preserve our precious gift of freedom.  In cherishing their memory, we remember to cherish our freedom.

The fallen understood this:

“Liberty is one of the most precious gifts heaven has bestowed upon man. No treasures the earth contains or the sea conceals can be compared to it. For liberty one can rightfully risk one’s life”. —Don Quixote

“When you know what you are willing to die for, then you will know what to live for”. — Jewish saying

Certainly something to be grateful for

 Be Good Do Good Think Good

How Valuable Are You?

May 23, 2019

How valuable are you?

What is the value of your life?

Do you let others determine your value?

Another story* of  Grandfatherly advice  

A little boy went to his grandfather and asked him, “What is the value of life grandfather?”

The grandfather gave him a stone and said, “First I want you to find out the value of this stone, but don’t sell it.”

The boy took the stone to a fruit vendor and asked him what its value would be.

The vendor saw the shiny stone and said, “How about you can take a dozen apples and give me the stone.”

The boy apologized and said that his grandfather had asked him not to sell it.

He went ahead and found a vegetable vendor.

“What could be the value of this stone?” he asked the vegetable vendor.

He saw the shiny stone and said, “How about you take a sack of potatoes and give me that stone.”

The boy again apologized and said he couldn’t sell it.

Further ahead, he went into a jewelry shop and asked the value of the stone.

The jeweler saw the stone under a lens and said, “I will give you one million dollars for this stone.”

The boy was surprised, but explained that he couldn’t sell the stone.

Further ahead, the boy saw a large shop of precious stones and asked the value of this stone.

When the precious stone shop owner was an expert in these matters. When he saw the stone, he lay down a cloth and put it on it.

Then he walked in circles around the stone and bent down and scratched his head in front of it. “From where did you bring this priceless uncut diamond from?” he asked.

“Even if I sell everything I own, my whole shop, I won’t be able to purchase this priceless diamond.”

Stunned and confused, the boy returned to his grandfather and told him what had happened.

His grandfather said,

“The answers you got from the fruit vendor, the vegetable vendor, the jeweler and the precious stone’s expert explain the value of your life.

You are a precious stone, even priceless, but, some people may value you based on their own limited perceptions, beliefs, motives and expectations.

For this reason it is important to value yourself. Respect yourself. No longer indulge in meaningless comparisons with others. For you are unique, original and the only one of your kind in this universe. This is the value of your life.

May you value the diamond in yourself and recognize the diamond in others as well.”

 

Be Good Do Good Think Good

* I wish I knew the origin of this story so that I could give proper attribution

Forgive and Forget??

May 16, 2019

A question arises from the last post (click here to read or re-read) about being thankful for that which is hateful to you, being done to you.  The question is, should you also be thankful to the person that did it?

As the last post said, be thankful for “that which is hateful to you”, being done unto you.  Thankful for the lesson it can teach you.  Simply stated, be thankful for the incident.  From the incident you can learn to not do that to another.

That doesn’t necessarily mean being thankful to the person who did it to you.  It also doesn’t mean to respond in-kind to that person.  It also doesn’t mean be angry and let anger overcome your ability to grow forward.

“Anger begins with madness and ends with regret.” – Ben Hamelech V’Hanazir

“He who angers you conquers you.” – Elizabeth Kenny

There is forgiving and there is forgetting.  We have all been there, here are some reminders on how not to stay there.

First, never forget, for forgetting is forgetting the lesson.  The lesson is what you carry with you to grow forward, consciously and eventually subconsciously/automatically.  The key is the strength to carry the lesson with you, not allowing the incident to be an anchor.

“To survive tragedy and trauma, first build the future. Only then, remember the past.” – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

As for forgiving, there is more than one variety.  Forgive to and for yourself, which is to say let go, so that you don’t get stuck with anger, resentment, or responding in kind.  That doesn’t necessarily mean automatically forgive the offender.

To Grow, Let Go

“Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.” – William Arthur Ward

To an un-kind act or words, do not respond in-kind?  If you do, you allow it to take you down.  So resist that instinct and remind yourself that you can always elevate yourself.

“Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying a grudge the other guy is dancing.” – Buddy Hackett

In order to completely forgive the offender directly, requires a form of apology acceptable to you in deeds and not just words.  That way you can completely let go and they can learn a lesson as well.

“An apology might help, but you can change your life without one”. – Robin Quivers

“Forgivness happens when we realize that our connection towards the person is much deeper than the act that separated us”. – Unknown

If you have forgiven the offender you must recognize that your forgiving should not lend itself to consciously and/or repeatedly exposing yourself to un-kind. Your kindness to un-kind has limits. If your kindness doesn’t lend itself to a re-examination from the un-kind one, you need to protect yourself.

For more on “kind or in-kind” (click here to read the series).  It discusses how to always respond and also protect yourself.

Be Good Do Good Think Good 

Be a Do-Gooder

April 16, 2019

Some more thoughts on doing good

In addition to learning to not do unto others “that which is hateful to you”, don’t let what was done unto you lead you to anger.  If it leads you to anger, you will at best be stuck where you are.

“Anger begins with madness and ends with regret.” – Ben Hamelech V’Hanazir

Instead be thankful for “that which is hateful to you”, being done unto you.  Thankful for the lesson it can teach you.  If everything happens for a reason, and it does, then what was done to you, is a lesson of what not to do to others.  If you are open to the lesson and use it, you will begin doing good or saying a good more often.

Think of a situation where you treated someone in a way that was good, kind, or helpful that was a result of your remembering the opposite being done to you.  Would you have done the good without the lesson.

“Experience is the best teacher, and the worst experiences teach the best lessons.” – Unknown

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” – Tom Bodett

Then there are the unintendeds or unexpecteds of whatever we say or do.

When we do or say good, the unintendeds or unexpecteds will be more good for the initial recipient, you, and/or others.

When we do or say not so good, there are the consequences, which are not good.  The consequences, which you may think are unintended, shouldn’t be unexpected.  These unintended negative consequences will affect the initial recipient, you, and/or others, but obviously not in a good way.

Remembering this should help you in doing and saying good all the time.  Wouldn’t that be good.

With practice and more practice you will eventually do good simply because it’s good.

Then you will be following Maimonides advice

“do what is right because it is right”

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

Word Changes Or Sunny-mantics

April 4, 2019

We cannot control that which comes our way, but we can control how we respond.  In order to respond in a way that keeps you climbing your mountain, start with having a positive attitude.

In Dr. Viktor Frankl famous book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, he shows us that one can endure the unendurable and unimaginable, and still have a positive attitude.  He did this and witnessed this when he was in Auschwitz.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way”. – Dr. Viktor Frankl from “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Change your words and change your outlook

A positive attitude can be attained and maintained by reframing the thoughts and words we say to ourselves and others.  Changing your thoughts through word changes, will produce a different mindset, attitude, and mood.  Then you can continue to make progress or you will be stuck where you are or worse.

Here are some examples

We are often asked “How is life treating you”? That question creates a mindset of us as victims of circumstance. The question really should be “How are you treating life”?  Thinking that way creates a positive attitude shift.

“It did not matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.” – Viktor Frankl speaking of himself and other inmates of Auschwitz from “Man’s Search for Meaning”

I once asked someone how they were late one afternoon, having sensed that he was troubled about something.  He said, “not so good, it’s been a tough day, tomorrow might be better”.  I said “today’s not over, why wait until tomorrow”.  His face went from a frown to a big smile.  He said enthusiastically “you’re right, Thank you”.

I have a good friend named Steve.  Whenever I spoke to Steve, his greeting was “Hello” and instead of the standard “how are you”, he would say, “tell me something good”.  So if you were feeling down and were about to kvetch if he asked how you were, now you didn’t or couldn’t.  You stopped and thought about something that was good in your life, and there always is.  This causes a tremendous attitude shift and sets the tone for at least the rest of the day.

These are a some examples of those seemingly small word changes that often produces a big change.  Some of these word changes might be called semantics.  Instead let’s call them “sunny-mantics”

Heart and Soul

Using the comment box share any Sunny-mantics you use or have heard

%d bloggers like this: