Setbacks Lead To Comebacks

Setbacks Comebacks.jpeg

My wife, Danielle Blumenthal, sent me this beautiful quote from Joel Osteen’s book called, “It’s Your time.”

For every setback, G-d has prearranged a comeback

For every failure, G-d has prearranged mercy. 

For every disappointment, G-d has prearranged restoration. 

For every unfair thing, G-d has prearranged vindication….

It’s easy to get discouraged, lose your enthusiasm, or even be tempted to just settle where you are.

But if we’re going to see G-d’s best, when you get knocked down, you don’t stay down. You get back up again.You have to know that every time adversity comes against you, it’s a setup for a comeback.”

Often we look at some people, and think that they have everything. 

But no one does–life is a bunch of trade-offs. 

Some are blessed with family and friends, others with health and longevity, and still others with peace or prosperity, but no one has it all. 

And if you think they do, then you don’t really know them and their circumstances. 

In life, everyone has weaknesses, setbacks and failures…it’s how we learn, it’s how we grow.

Understanding that setbacks doesn’t necessarily mean “game over” and that as long as there is life, there is hope, can give us the courage to go on, and the strength to get up when it seems like we are down for the count, and to make a comeback to live and thrive yet another day. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Here, There, Made Where?

With so much of U.S. manufacturing activity going abroad, it is almost hard to believe that there is still a store in Elma, N.Y. called “Made in America.” According to the Wall Street Journal (23 November 2012), it’s true.
The store is 6,000 square feet and has sales of about a million dollars a year.And as their name says, they only sell goods that are completely made in the U.S. of A.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find lots of items there.

Forget literally anything electronic or that runs on a battery. It doesn’t exist.

Fashion clothes, also – go somewhere else.

Even if you are looking for a simple electric can opener, this won’t be the place.

How about some tea bags – Made In America has found that while there is still some tea made here, the bags aren’t. So it’s no longer stocked there.

However, if you are looking for simple things like socks, candy and greeting cards – this store may be the place for you.

Reflecting on this, I remember hearing Joel Osteen speak about how with pride, every country labels their goods, “Made In…” (wherever).

Osteen compared it to us human beings, the children of G-d, and how he imagined that even we have a label, or mark, on each of us, that we are made by our Great Creator.

Osteen said that it doesn’t matter how we look on the outside, that our Creator takes great pride in each of us – in what’s inside.

On one hand, it is deeply troubling that there are less and less “things” that we can label “Made in America.” However, perhaps we can still take pride, as G-d does, that what’s on the inside of us as a nation is what is truly valuable and inspiring to the rest of the world.

While high tech and hot fashion is no longer necessarily made here, the dream of human rights, democracy, freedom and creativity for all is still very much our own.

We still have that label – those values are “Made in America” and we’re lucky to have them.

That said, let’s get our American manufacturing engines working again, so we can compete effectively in the global marketplace, not just on ideas, but on hard products as well. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Hollywood PR)

Reprogramming Your Inner Software

The importance of positive life energy (or Ch’i) is something that both the Asian culture teaches and which the self-healing industry has picked up on.I remember when my cousin had a brain tumor, and people used to tell him to envision himself healthy and cancer free; he fought for a decade of survival before the tumor eventually took his life.His mother too died from cancer at a young age, hers was leukemia and she didn’t have a fighting chance.

While surrounding yourself with positive people and energy helps us to stay focused, positive, and strong, it, in and of itself, is not a cure-all.

Many extreme athletes and hyper-achieving professionals are often told or tell themselves to envision actually performing unbelievable feats–they do this until they can literally see it happening in their “mind’s eye”–this then supposedly helps them to ultimately perform accordingly.

On Sunday mornings, Joel Osteen’s popular message is the same idea–you are not what others say you are or criticize you to be, rather “you are what G-d says you are.”

Today, Osteen compared us to computers, where often our external hardware is functioning okay, but our internal software is messed up and needs reprogramming. Osteen said you need to hit the delete key–delete those who say that you cannot or will not succeed, and instead fill yourself with faith that you can become what the almighty has designated you to be. One story, Osteen told, was about the father who always told his kid that he was a good-for-nothing, and even on his deathbed, he said, “your brother is a nothing, and you are and always will be a nothing too.”

These words hurt and can haunt people all their lives; the words echo in people’s heads and souls and prevent them from fulfilling their life missions, unless they “hit the delete key” and refocus themselves on the positive message that they are a child of the G-d most high who has breathed life into them, not for nothing, but to achieve their destiny.

I remember hearing a crummy boss at work yell at a subordinate in front of the rest of the office and tell them “you are not half what you think you are.” Similarly, at school, children are notorious for tearing at other kids for being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dumb, and too smart.

At work, at school, and at home, people can be vicious in bringing others down and the impact of these negative messages on people’s lives is crushing.

So surround yourself with positive people and positive energy–people who tell you that you can do it and are genuinely rooting for you to succeed, not in a fanciful way, but in a sincere and loving way; these are your biggest allies in life.

Groucho Marx joked that “behind every successful man is a woman, and behind her is his wife.”  Seriously though, behind every successful person are all those who love, believe, and support them to be able to achieve what they do or as the poet John Donne wrote, “no man is an Island entire unto itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

In the movie Saints and Soldiers, a group of American and a British soldiers in World War II are on a trek to reach allied forces with vital information to save them from German attack–in one scene the British airman get the others to tell him their personal life secrets, and then when they turn around and ask him what his story is, he says “I’m not going to tell you that, I barely know you.”

While it’s sort of humorous, in life a lot of people are unfortunately that way–they take from you, but then do not give back. For example, at work, the worst bosses may “use you and spit you out” and when you say oh, I’m been loyal to you for X years, the response is cold and muted, like I the British soldier that after taking in their personal stories, responds that he barely knows them.

In families too, this happens when for example, parents sacrifice to give their children “everything”, but later in life, the children don’t even have the inclination to call or visit or “give them the time of day.”

This is like one of favorite songs by Harry Chapin called “Cats In The Cradle,” in this case though the father was always too busy for the son and then later in life the son had no time for his dad–“and as I got off the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me.”

We can rise above the selfishness, the coldness, and the negative attitudes, and we can be giving to others in our lives–the words we speak and the actions we show have lasting impact.

Rather than being the target of someone’s “delete” button in their life, wouldn’t it be nice to be cherished for their “save” button–and help them to achieve in life what they came here for to begin with.

Playing The Hand We Are Dealt

It’s a new year–2012–congratulations, we made it!

For the new year, I wanted to share this photo that I came across of “The World’s Largest Monopoly Game.”

To me, the most striking aspect of this photo is not the size of the game board, but that the people are actually the pieces.

So often life seems like we are pieces in a big game–as if someone is spinning the dice of life and depending on what number comes up–so goes our fortune.

But inside, I don’t really believe that–that is too fatalistic and too defeatist. At the same time, I don’t believe that we are in control of everything that happens every moment.  To me, there are larger forces at work–emanating from G-d, and we must “play” the hand we are dealt.

G-d sends us tests and trusts in life, as Rick Warren says–we do not directly control these.

The tests and trusts give us the opportunity to grow beyond what we are today, to learn life’s hard lessons, to care for others, and ultimately to elevate ourselves.

Indirectly, how we do and how well we learn life’s lessons–sometimes “hard knocks”–may influence the nature of the future tests and trusts that G-d sends us.

In Monopoly, the roll of the dice or the Chance and Community Chest cards seem to determine our fate–how many spaces we move ahead, how much we have to pay or how much we receive, or whether we end up in the proverbial Monopoly jail.  In contrast, in real life, we have the power to choose how we react to to those “chance” events–do we get angry, do we lash out, do we become defeatist or do we fight for what we want and really believe in.

For the New Year, what a great time to resolve to take back some control over lives and to not just be like human pieces in a big game of Monopoly–to choose instead to accept the tests and trusts that you are give and to do the best that you can to grow from them.

This morning, I heard Joel Osteen say on TV that we should prophesize good for ourselves, so that our words can open the door for G-d to bless us.

While, I do not think that our words of desire control what G-d does, I do believe that how we act does influence events, although not always in the way we think.

There is the age old question of why do the evil prosper and the good people suffer?  Often, I’ve heard various answers given that either we don’t really know who is good or evil, we can’t understand G-d’s plan, or the real reward and punishment is in the World to Come.

However you see it–G-d’s plan and ultimate justice–what we can constructively do is to try our best everyday and in every way–what a better plan than just circling the Monopoly board like a helpless and hapless piece in one big game.

(Source photo: here)

End Of The World, Almost

Recently, I have become addicted to a number of shows on the Discovery channel. 
I know it sounds sort of boring, right?–but they actually have some fairly macho and educational shows.
From survivalist shows like Dual Survival, Man Vs. Wild, Man Woman Wild, to shows about special forces training like Surviving the Cut and even One Man Army.
I also enjoy this new show called Curiosity that “asks and answers the most fundamental questions facing the world today” such as Is There a Parallel Universe? or How Will the World End?
In “How Will The World End”, Discovery explores 5-almost end of the world scenarios, as follows:
1) Arc Storm — Similar to the flood from the bible, where it rains incessantly for a month or so, but unlike the flood that destroys the world, this one hits a specific area like California.  Anticipated dead is 380,000 and injured 1,140,000. (10% chance in the next 50 years)
2) Asteroid Strike – Like a number of movies such as Deep Impact that forewarn of the dire consequences of a direct hit to our planet, a moderate collision would kill 60,000 and injure 200,000.  (5% chance of occurrence over the lives of our children)
3) Mega-Earthquake – Hitting approximately 5 states in the midwest and killing 600,000 and injuring 2,000,000.  (10% chance in 50 years)
4) Mile-High Tsunami – Traveling at 500 mph, wiping out the eastern seaboard and killing 4,000,000.  (Probability is one in a 1000)
5) Super Volcano – Major series of volcanic eruptions in Yellowstone National Park that spews ash virtually covering the entire planet and would kill 100,000,000 people.  (Scientists estimate this happens every 600,000 years)
While the last 2 end of life scenarios are quite remote, the first three taken together yield an almost 25% chance of a doomsday-like scenario over the next 50 years and this is just those scenarios–it doesn’t account for a maniac detonating a nuclear packed suitcase bomb or spreading an infectious biological disease across the globe.  
These foreboding predictions about what could happen can easily depress and make us feel that even trying is hopeless.
But this morning, I listened on TV to Joel Osteen, who gives a pretty darn good sermon, and he said regarding faith, “Do every day what you can and then let it go!”
While we have to do everything we can to protect our world and make it safe and sustainable, some things truly are beyond human control.  
And once we’ve done our part and our best, we’ve got to step back and just have some faith, as Joel Osteen says: “Don’t put a question mark where G-d puts a period”–that really resonates.
We can ask why this or that happens, but at the end of the day, what G-d decides for us is often beyond our mere human comprehension.  
Easier said than done for sure, especially, when facing down situations scarier than any shown or imagined in the survival shows mentioned.
So Dave and Cody–And Seal Team Six–even you guys are outgunned when the hand of G-d says it’s time for history to take a major turn of events.
But as Joel Osteen would say, I’ll just put that in the “I don’t understand it” file.
(Source Photo: here)