Sunday, January 31, 2010

With Joy

See a bright future -- a sparkling tomorrow, a sunny next week, next year. Be happy about your future. Be happy about your present. Be happy.

Let life be a wedding -- be the bride and the groom. Feel giddy with gladness, with happiness. Today is the best day of your life.

Invest in brightness, contentment. Invest in the world's song. Give yourself to it. Give your thoughts and time to it. Enjoy being alive. Enjoy your now.

Be happily busy. Fix what you need to fix, go where you need to go, speak to whom you need to speak, with joy. It's awesome, wonderful, marvelous to be alive.

Say it again, with sincerity, with heart: it's awesome, wonderful, marvelous to be alive.

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Friday, January 29, 2010


A manufacturer takes pride in his product's ability to stand up to all types of adverse conditions without breaking down. We should likewise rejoice at the idea of being able to stand up to all types of problems and setbacks, keeping a smile on our face and in our hearts, and not breaking down.*

*The Talmud teaches that ideally we should "rejoice in sufferings" - Shabbos 88b

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

First Class

Look at two people at an international airport: one with a large set of matching luggage -- trunks, suitcases, satchels, hatboxes, etc., the other with no more than a small bag. Certainly, the first seems to be wealthier, luckier, happier. But appearances are deceiving. For, the second person, the person with no more than a bag, may be traveling from one luxury house to another -- a palace where he need not take even a toothbrush. Both his homes contain full sets of clothing and every other item, large or small, that he might possibly need.

How can we know if this is so? Let's see how he travels. If he sits in first-class, then our assumption must be true.

Similarly, there are people who need much luggage to travel through life. Otherwise, they feel they are lacking, unfortunate, unhappy. Then there are the people who live with little. Are these the richer or the poorer? It depends on how they travel. If they travel first-class -- if there lives are full, satisfying, happy -- if they keep smiling no matter what happens -- then we must say that they are wealthy. We must say that they are the richer of the two.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Something Special

Do you have something special to smell -- a rose, clean laundry, tasty food, fresh air? Breathe it in. Enjoy it. Say "What a great moment. What a wonderful life."

Look around you. Notice the colors of your surroundings. Notice the shapes. Notice the movement -- the branch that sways in the wind, the bird that hops on the windowsill, the rain that sprinkles the grass. Drink in the beauty. Enjoy it. Say "What a stunning world. What an awesome life."

Listen to the noises of the moment -- rumbling thunder, rumbling traffic, soft chatter, music. Feel the fabrics within your reach -- cool metal, soft wool, shiny plastic, rough rug. Soak in your surroundings. Enjoy being alive. Say "What special gifts the Creator gives me."

Make an effort to be happy each day, each hour. Make an effort to be happy, now.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


We need to hide our passion.

Without passion, we do not accomplish much. We may go through the motions of building, doing -- but the results are shabby, sloppy. To act with passion, however, is to act with "all your heart, all your life, and all your resources" (Devarim 6.4). Only magnificent efforts lead to magnificent results.

On the other hand, when we act with open passion, we upset others. We arouse their jealousy, their resentment. We cause them to jeer us, condemn us, even throw us into jail. This, in turn, discourages us, and dampens our eagerness.

Therefore, we must hide the passion.

"But," you may ask, "If I hide my passion, how will I inspire others to great deeds?"

The wonderful thing about passion is that even when hidden, it still glows - it still shines through. Its glimmer is strong enough to attract just those people we need to influence and encourage.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Nothing Other

Even if we have nothing other than the Creator helping us through our lives, we have a fortune. For, as He has helped us from birth to this day, so we can well hope He will help us through to the end as well.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Favorite Friend

If a favorite friend gave you a gift -- a gift that cost him thought and time, effort and money -- you would be grateful. Even if you did not understand this gift, even if it did not suit your tastes, still you would thank him. You wouldn't want to injure his feelings.

We must do no less then with the gift of life -- the gift the Creator extends to us. We may not understand this gift -- it may not suit our tastes -- still, we say thank you. We don't want to injure the Creator's "feelings".

Moreover -- we must know -- that if the Creator himself -- the billionaire of all billionaires, the Creator of all creators, the Genius of all geniuses, the Kindness of all kindness, the Love of all love -- gives us this gift, it must contain great value. There must be a prize beyond what we realize -- a worth beyond what we know buried in this gift. We need to unlock its secret -- its excitement and greatness -- and find the treasure of life.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Enjoy Others

Look at the children playing in the garden. Doesn't this give you pleasure? Surely, you can delight in their beauty, their simplicity? Surely, you can enjoy their laughter, their fun?

Look at old people, resting in their places. See worn hands resting on shining walking sticks. See lived-in faces with deep, warm eyes staring into the distance, gazing into an uncertain future. Surely, you could hug such a person?

So far, the exercise has been easy. Now, let's take it one more step.

Start looking at all people in a new way, in a happy way. Some of them dress well, others are a little shabby; some are handsome, others are quite plain; some are easy to talk to, others are distant. Still, we can enjoy them all. We can take pleasure in their presence. We can see them as our friends, and wish them happiness and success.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food and Clothing

Do you have a food to eat? Yes? So, be happy. Do you have clothes to wear? Yes? So, be happy. Can you breathe? Yes? So, be happy. Are you alive? Yes? So, be happy.

That's it. We really need no more. If we can focus on what we have -- no matter how little it is -- we can stop complaining, and just be happy.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

According to his Praises

"A person is who his praises" (Mishle 27.21). What we admire, speak about and praise defines our inner self. When we praise the rich and mighty, we understand that these are our true aspirations. When we praise those who do good and help others, this reveals our true self (Shaarei Teshuva 3.148). Accordingly, we remake ourselves when we change who we praise -- who we take an interest in, think about and admire.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shining Sun

My lover, my sweetheart, has a gift for me. He has hidden it just around the corner. He is waiting for something -- a smile maybe, or a laugh, for me to clap my hands in joy, in anticipation. Then he will produce his gift.

The Creator is our lover, our sweetheart. He wants us to enjoy the life He gives us -- as it is. Moreover, He has a special gift. He has hidden it just around the corner. He is waiting for something -- a smile maybe, or a laugh, for us to clap our hands in joy, in anticipation. Then He will produce His gift.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010


How easily can we switch from one world to another? How smoothly can we exchange our noisy, busy environment, for a world of tranquil thoughts, a setting of serenity and light, calm and peace?

Often, we are guilty of spoiling even our quietest moments. We turn our attentions to the news or sports events, to music, eating, running around, shopping, traveling. Even the moments we give to prayer, we interrupt with noisy images and ideas. Thus, we turn away from the world of the spirit.

We need to look however, to do the opposite. We need to interrupt our hectic schedules, our mad activity, and give a moment to the heavens. We need to pause in the middle of the noise, and reconnect to the Creator -- to the power of the world, to eternity. In this way, we draw success into our days.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Happiest Thought

What is the happiest thought in the world? It's "the Creator".

The first tendency -- for most of us -- is to say "ice-cream". For, as children, this truly was a very happy thought. And since, mostly, we don't mature as we should mature -- and we don't think as we should think -- we remain with our childish perceptions.

Even if we don't think "ice-cream", how far have we advanced? In other words, if our happiest thought is a wedding, a sports car, good looks and dollars, this is still small. These items, while they provide us some pleasure, some exhilaration, do not really make us happy -- not in a meaningful way, not in a lasting way.

So the real answer is the Creator. For, only the Creator is forever, and only the Creator is safe. He gives us life; daily opportunities to grow and be great. He watches us, and ultimately gathers us to Himself. He is our beginning, middle and end. He is everything we have and anything we ever will have.

Moreover, the more we look to the Creator -- with trust, with hope -- the easier we may access the happiness He has to give us.

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Monday, January 11, 2010


Try out this thought: In reality, we do nothing, absolutely nothing. The Creator does it all for us, (making it simply appear that we have a hand in the process). However, we can want to do, long to do, strive and pray to do, and the more we want it, the stronger our desire, our trust, belief and clarity of thought, the sooner we reach our every dream.*

*"Along the path a person wishes to go, heavenly forces lead him", Makkos 10b, even without him doing anything!

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Special Key

Happy events make us happy. Isn't this a simple idea? -- No, not at all.

Happy events make for happy thoughts, and happy thoughts make us happy. We anticipate something special, something glorious, something exciting and funny, and we are happy. Conversely, we do not think thoughts that are sad, bad, scary, and we are not unhappy.

Accordingly, we shouldn't need happy events to make us happy. We should just need happy thoughts. To rely on happy events is a weakness.

Still, to be happy without outside help is something most of us don't know how to do. Unhappy events do sadden us. We must know, though, that we can change ourselves, we can work on ourselves. And in working on ourselves and improving our ability to think happy thoughts, we will find a special key to happiness.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Today's Gift

Each day, The Creator sends us another gift -- a different gift to the one He sent us yesterday. If we missed yesterday's gift, we may still enjoy today's gift -- but what was yesterday is gone. Each day is special.

More important, however, is how we unwrap this gift, how we access this gift, how we make it ours fully. For this, we need to know the combination, the hidden code that unlocks our gift.

What is this code? I don't know. Worse -- as with the best security firms -- this code changes daily. Yesterday's combination won't work today.

What then should we do? We must think. We must think, long and deep. We must penetrate our own hearts. Only within ourselves may we find the magical key.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

High Expectations

"If you see a generation that loves Torah knowledge, go teach them. If you don't see such a generation, stay at home."[1] One idea from this teaching is that much depends on how we see our world.

To a large degree, people respond to us as we expect them to respond. Our excitement or lack of excitement, our happiness or lack of happiness, affects them.

At the same time -- and the other way round -- how we expect them to act or react affects us. Our anticipation or apprehension affects our excitement, our happiness, and therefore, the way we speak to them.

In other words, our attitude influences their reaction, while their reaction -- or how we think they will react -- decides our attitude.

Which comes first? -- Obviously, our expectations. All depends on how we "see" our world. So, we should try always to see happiness and success approaching us.

Now, to set our expectations too high is no good. Our skeptical side doesn't accept ridiculous hope and won't work with it. But, if we are too "realistic", this is twice as bad. It leads to folded arms, despair, and gloom. We must expect the best we plausibly can expect – and then go out and achieve it.

[1] Brochos 63a

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Right Thoughts

Thinking the right thoughts can comfort our bodies in their pain. But when our thoughts are upset, our bodies cannot comfort them (Rabbeinu Yona, Mishle 3.7). Therefore, we must strive to straighten our thoughts.

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