Posts tagged " change "

Changing a Lifetime of Behavior

November 6th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

I am a 61 yr. old Christian male. I was brought up in a strict home, children should be seen but not heard. My Father was a stickler about everything; lights, water, doors and was constantly correcting me. I too have become a nit picker.

I pray for Go d to grant me patience and understanding, but it is so hard for me. What can I do in addition?  Is there a passage in the Torah/Bible which will give me guidance and help me to grow and become a better husband, grandfather etc.?

I don’t want people, my wife in particular, to become bitter and resentful towards me. G d willing you can give me an answer.

Oh by the way, my wife and I are regular watchers of your program on TCT. G d Bless you, your wife and family for you are a ray of hope in a dark world.

Kurt G.

Dear Kurt,

Wow. That is our reaction to your letter. Being willing to assess things afresh and to embrace the hard work involved in uprooting decades of bad habits makes you a rare individual.  We feel proud to have you among the audience of  our Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV show

While we greatly value prayer and Bible study, our answer is not going to be to read a few verses of Scripture or an exhortation to pray harder. We have something far more challenging for you to undertake.  But it will work.  We believe that when it comes to working on our character traits, only actions count.   You should certainly pray for His assistance and there are many verses that can speak to your heart, but you need to take action.

One of the great flashes of Biblical insight that we can all use effectively to transform our lives for the better is this: It’s not our thoughts that change our actions as much as it is our actions that change our thoughts.  Act now the way you would act if you already felt the way you wish you felt and your feelings will eventually fall into compliance with your actions.  Please reread that last sentence again.  Then you will understand why there is no more ardent advocate for the anti-smoking position than the former smoker who took the profound action of quitting. 

Rather than trying to acquire patience and understanding as emotional abstracts in the hope that they that will then change your actions, realize that changing your actions (even if, at first,  it feels false to you) will result in greater patience and understanding. The trick is consistency and expecting a long race, not a sprint.

Therefore for right now, focus on the specific few actions you most wish to start doing and upon those you most wish to obliterate from your repertoire

Having watched yourself follow in some of your father’s damaging footsteps, you are well aware of the negative consequences of your behavior. We would like to offer four concrete ideas with which to start your journey. 

  1. Pick one or two very specific things to work on that are within your reach. Trying to do too much almost inevitably will lead to giving up. Perhaps you can make one positive and one negative resolution. For example, commit yourself to one hour a day—maybe in the morning or at dinner time— when you will say nothing negative to or about anyone!  At the same time, commit yourself to noticing and articulating something once a day that your wife does for which you are grateful or something you appreciate about her. If you are critical outside that hour or fail to thank her properly for everything she does, don’t beat yourself up. Once this hour of the day and this one positive statement have become routine and easy, add another incremental step. You might extend the time to two hours. 
  2. Start your day by writing down in a private notebook three things for which you are grateful.
  3. Each night before going to bed/sleep, maintain a written daily journal of your successes and failures that day in the specific area on which you are working. This keeps you accountable to yourself and to God. If you have a male friend in your life to whom you can report once a week, that will be a great help. He should be someone who can provide strength and support as you fight this battle.
  4. Let your wife know how much you care for her and how you are working to be more worthy of her. Ask her to have patience with you as you strive to improve. You and she must both know that you will sometimes fail. Greatness comes from trying again and again.

Based on our experience with many other wonderful warriors fighting the war of personal development, we can confidently say that using these four tactics, we expect you will achieve encouraging results by the end of the first thirty days. Then on to the next stage!

The American folk-artist known as Grandma Moses began painting seriously at the age of 78. The original Moses began his career in leadership at the age of 80. Harland David Sanders was older than you are now when, after a lengthy string of business failures, he got the idea of franchising his chicken recipe, creating Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Ignore any voices inside of you telling you that you are too old or entrenched in your ways to change. As ancient Jewish wisdom states, “According to the effort is the reward.” It also says, “Who is strong? He who can overcome his bad habits.”

May your efforts bear fruit and bring happiness to your family,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Resource on Sale
The Income Abundance Set

 

Year of the Squirrel

December 28th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

What happens if you extract a little blood from a hibernating ground squirrel, preserve it till the summer and inject it into another squirrel?  That active little mammal with his bushy tail will instantly go into hibernation.

 We don’t clearly understand if cold weather sets off the chemical changes in squirrel blood that signals hibernation time. We do know that hibernation helps animals endure the winter because hibernating bodies require only a tiny percentage of the energy needed when awake.  Hibernation is a state in which animals’ body metabolism and heart rate slow down so dramatically that they can easily last the winter on their accumulated fat. However, their brain activity remains pretty much the same as when they’re awake. 

 We humans don’t hibernate but we do sleep.  When we sleep our metabolism hardly changes and our energy needs drop by only about 5%. However, our brain activity vastly changes from our waking brain wave patterns.  I think one could say that hibernation chiefly affects the body while sleep also affects the brain.

 In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the word for sleep is exactly the same as the word for year.

 

Do not love sleep lest you become impoverished…

(Proverbs 20:13)

 

And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years

(Genesis 5:3)

 

 

That Hebrew word also has two other meanings; ‘repeat’ and ‘change.’

 

Amasa was not vigilant about the sword in Yoav’s hand and he

struck him with it into his fifth rib and he spilled his innards onto the ground;he did not repeat (the blow) and he (Amasa) died.

(II Samuel 20:10)

 

I will not desecrate my covenant and I will not change the utterance of my lips.

(Psalms 89:35)

 

How strange is that?   Repeat means doing the same thing again, while change means doing something different. What message is God giving us through the way His language links these two opposite concepts along with year and sleep?

 

The potential trap for us is allowing each day or year to be nothing but a repetition of the one before.  Animals hibernate to cope with the wintery problems of the present and in the spring they awake to continue exactly what they were doing in the fall. They endlessly repeat past years’ activities.

 

We have a choice. We can be animal-like and do the same. We can view sleep as nothing more than a human version of hibernation with the focus on the biological component.   We can see a new year as simply a calendar fact. New Year’s Eve partying can serve as an attempt to camouflage the dreary passage of time and the gloomy likelihood that the coming year will repeat the mistakes of the one fading away. 

 

Alternatively, we can see how different we are from animals and that every single day we are blessed with the ability to start anew and bring about refreshing changes that improve our lives. We can awake each morning with a smile on our faces, a prayer on our lips, and hope and happiness in our hearts as we embrace the day. Each sleep can herald new resolutions of change, growth, and improvement just as each new yearly cycle should so the same.

 

Each evening, we can set an agenda to make the next day somewhat better than the one before. Instead of treating the night of December 31st as another meaningless party, we can contemplate ways to change in the coming year.  Quiet thought will quickly produce a list of important changes that will make our 2011 better than 2010

 

We can pick from two contrasting equations.

 

Sleep = year = repeat

or

  Sleep = year = change.

 

Since we are not animals, the choice is ours to make.

 

TO READ ABOUT RABBI DANIEL LAPIN BOOKS AND CD'S AS WELL AS APPEARANCES AND SPECIAL OFFERS, OR TO SIGN UP TO RECEIVE A FREE WEEKLY COPY OF THOUGHT TOOLS SENT TO YOUR EMAIL, SEE: www.rabbidaniellapin.com.

 

Super Action Hero – Abraham!

October 19th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

 
Four years ago, Business Week magazine ran a story about how Hindu thinking was influencing business in the United States. It stated, “Academics and consultants such as C. K. Prahalad, Ram Charan, and Vijay Govindrajan are among the world's hottest business gurus.”  It turned out that over 10% of the professors at the best business schools were of Indian descent.

“When senior executives come to Kellogg, Wharton, or Harvard, they are exposed to Indian values" says Dipak C. Jain, dean of the Kellogg School.” 

Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth's School of Business, linked his theories directly to Hindu philosophy.  He helps companies stop reacting to the past and start creating their futures.  Govindarajan says his work is inspired by the Hindu concept that future lives are partly determined by current actions, "Innovation is about creating change, not reacting to change."

You will probably not be surprised to learn the idea of creating change rather than reacting to it originated in Genesis.

Before God told Noah of His unhappiness with human behavior and instructed him to build the ark, we’d already received clues that Noah was a pretty special guy.

And he (Noah’s father) called his name Noah saying,
 ‘He shall redirect us from our actions and from the sadness…’
(Genesis 5:29)

And Noah found grace in God’s eyes. Noah was a righteous man,
perfect in his generation; Noah walked with God.
(Genesis 6:8-9)

Thus it comes as no surprise when we read that of all other humans, God spoke to Noah.

Ten generations later we read that of all other humans, God spoke to Abraham.

And God said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself from your land,from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you…’
(Genesis 12:1-2)

Yet, when we attempt to discover similar clues as to why God selected Abraham, the text is conspicuously silent.  All we know from the closing verses of Genesis chapter eleven are his relatives’ names and that his wife had difficulty conceiving.  This is hardly comparable to the wonderful things we heard about Noah and which explained why God selected him.

Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals many hidden details of Abram’s early life, but the basic question remains: Why did the Torah explain why God selected Noah but remain silent on why God selected Abraham?

The answer possesses the power to transform us from tennis balls floating down the gutter of life into sculptors of our destiny:

God didn’t select Abraham.  Abraham selected God. 

God’s directive found at the beginning of Genesis chapter twelve was not only for Abraham.  It is beamed out loud and clear in every generation to every single human being.   It summons each of us, for our own good, to step out of our familiar comfort zone and loosen the shackles which can bind us to the unproductive past.  Once we start the journey, God shows the way and He will bless us.  God calls us all to escape our confining cocoons and discover our destiny.  Most do not heed the call.  Abraham did and so can we.

And how did Hinduism discover the importance of creating change?  From Abraham’s sons of course.

And to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts and … he sent them … eastwards to the land of the east.
 (Genesis 25:6)

Ancient Jewish wisdom informs us they went to India and with all Abraham had taught them, established Hinduism., To this very day their descendants, the priestly caste in Hinduism, are still called Brahmins, or descendants of “Abraham.”

 

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