Diamonds Under Pressure

So someone reminded me about stress and pressure in life. 


They said:

Pressure makes diamonds.


Diamonds are of the most beautiful and precious items in the world that we give to our loved ones as a symbol of our tremendous love for them. 


Diamonds are crystals made of pure carbon that formed under high temperature and extreme pressure. 


People too are often under extreme pressure in life from all sorts of demands and challenges whether it be work, family, threats, or illness.  


But just like from pressure comes diamonds, so too can pressure make us from rough and imperfect human beings into smooth, polished, and spectacular people. 


Rather than crack under pressure, we need to cope with it and let it strengthen us and shape us to be the gems we can be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Transcending Suffering and Impermanence

There is a buddhist philosophy that life is all about loss and suffering. 


The Budha says:

Life is suffering.


Why? Because life is impermanence–whatever we gain, eventually, we must lose. 


– Riches, power, people, health, even our memories perhaps. 


In a sense, this is like the saying from “War of the Roses”:

There is no winning, only degrees of losing. 


However, there is one exception to the impermanence and loss in life:


The only thing that is permanent is our good deeds, and with this we can achieve an everlasting good name for ourselves.


In Judaism, we teach:

A good name is better than fine oil.


Hence, this is the permanence that we strive for in life and in death.  


If we can attain a good name through purity of soul then in a sense, we can transcend life’s suffering and impermanence.  


By becoming non-attached to all of life’s temporary things, and instead focusing on perfecting ourselves, we can free ourselves from suffering and from this world, and then we can go on in everlasting-peace to the afterlife. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Give A Fire Truck

Sometimes, others can get negative at you in life.


People are unhappy. 

 

Complaints are rolling in. 


It seems like you can’t do right.


But you have to have a thick skin or as one colleague told me:

You need to be like Teflon and have it all just roll off you.


And this book title reminded me of this:

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck”


Yes, we do have to care about doing good in what we do. 


It’s just that we shouldn’t “give a f*ck” when others are just wanting to tear us down and enjoying it. 


Constructive feedback is good. 


But destructive negativity at every turn is just hurtful.


It’s also a way for others to not take ownership.


We all need to do our part to make things better in this world. 


Sure, no one does everything right and no one is perfect. 


But everyone needs to try their best, and when others just want to beat on you…


That’s a completely appropriate time to not give a firetruck. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

An 80-Year-Old’s Life Philosophy

So today an 80-year-old Algerian man sat our table for the Kiddush lunch after synagogue services. 


And he talked quite a bit about his life philosophy and told me I was a good listener. 🙂


1) TRUE LOVE IS LIKE AN ORANGE:

A man and women that are meant to be together are like two sides of an orange.  With his hands, he showed us putting the two sides together, twisting, and he goes, “You see it just clicks!”


2) WHEN LOVE IS NOT TRUE ITS LIKE TWO BIRDS IN A CAGE:

When a man and woman are not soulmates, maybe they just are meant to be together for a time to have children or make a home temporarily. But then, the birds need to leave the cage, and be free!


3) BURIED TOGETHER:

“When people are soulmates, they are buried together, next to each other. Otherwise, one is buried in Greece and the other in Hawaii, and it makes no difference because they are going their own ways in Heaven.”


4) 80 HERE AND 20 HERE

He pointed to his belly and said, “I’m 80 here.” And then pointed to his groin area, and said, “But I’m 20 here!”


5) WOMEN ONLY UNDER 40:

While he is 80, he claims to be robust in the bedroom, and “will never be with a woman over 40…not a day over!”  He said, “It’s like an old Cadillac!” Moreover, he said, if a woman is “not perfect” and has a scar like from having her appendix out, “forget it!”


6) WRITING, PLAYING GUITAR, AND DANCING:

He said, “I like to write, play guitar and dance.” And with his arms, he makes some swoops like he is on the dance floor having a good time. 


7) PEOPLE ARE LIKE CANDLES:

People are like candles.  The body is like the wax that burns down, but the soul is the flame that always rises up.  In the end, the soul ascends to heaven just like the flame. 


8) INFINITELY STUPID:

He pointed to the yarmulke on top of his head and said:  “You know what that means?  This means that there is no limit to how stupid some people can be!”  


8) YOU MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK:

I asked what he did for a living, and he said “Real estate, Jewelry, and even fashion salons.”  I said, “Wow, you’re very fortunate!”  He said, “No, in life, you make your own luck!”


10) RESPECT ME IF YOU WANT:

“You respect me, and I respect you. But frankly, I don’t care if you respect me or not. You can do what you want, and so will I!” I said, “Ok, see you next week and we’ll talk again.”  He said, “Maybe I will or maybe I won’t talk to you ever again.”


Like his philosophy or not, I never saw an 80-year-old with so much energy, life, and personality. Honestly, there are a lot of people half his age, who act more dead than alive. It was incredible to see this ageless person and hear what that’s like. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal 

Nitpicking To Death

It’s funny some people go straight for the kill when they don’t like something. 


Others may nitpick you to death. 


Always! looking for something to henpeck at.


It comes out as you’re stupid, lazy, incompetent, and even worthless.


Why can’t you do anything right (read: the way I would do it)?


If only you would change this, that, or the other thing then it would all be better!


But even when you do manage to change this, that or the other thing–guess what? That just sparks the next round of destructive criticism and never being satisfied.


Hey, since when are you so (f*ckin) perfect?  


Or as the old saying goes, “Who died and made you G-d?”


It should not be about grabbing some sadistic pleasure out of torturing other people with narcissism, judgmentalism, endless criticism and naysaying.


Instead of tearing down, let’s focus on the big picture and what success looks like.


How can everyone contribute to that vision and effort?


Customer service doesn’t mean personal servitude. 


There is such a thing as being a team player, identifying when good is good enough, and driving forward rather than seeking to derail or even go backward. 


Competency is not just for service providers, but for the customers. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Happy Just The Way We Are

Great speaker today at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


Mike Reiss, producer and writer for the hugely successful Simpson show–the longest-running series on primetime TV with 30 seasons and over 600 episodes!


The topic was “The Science Behind The Simpsons.”


Whether the guest was Stephen Hawkings or Leonard Nimoy–there was no shortage of scientists and science in this animated, comedy show that taught us much about life.  


The video clip above was a short capture of the Simpsons singing “We are happy just the way we are.”


Incremental change and continuous improvement is so important to our growth and maturation in life.


Yet, there is also a lot to be said for being happy with what you have and who you are. 


There is so much to be grateful for and plenty to enjoy at the moment. 


Many people are on the proverbial roller coaster to nowhere.  


It’s nice to get off the roller coaster and finally be somewhere that makes you happy and fulfilled. 


Mary Poppins get hit by the airplane at the end of the skit, and you know what, she’s not even missed. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Good People And Bad

So what is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn?


There are really good and holy people out there, but there are also truly bad and evil ones. 


It’s not such a difficult concept, except if you just don’t think that way. 


I think some of us just want to believe that at the heart of it all, people are fundamentally good–or at the very least they struggle in order to fight off the evil impulse.


They are created by G-d.


They have parents and families.


They have challenges and disappointments. 


They have a good soul. 


Or do they?


Perhaps like everything in life–G-d created everything and it’s opposite.


– There is life and death.


– There is light and dark. 


– There is cold and hot.


– There is land and water. 


– There is male and female. 

– There is pleasure and pain.


– There is work and rest. 


– There is holy and profane.


Everything has it’s counterpart.


– In this respect then, there are good people and there are bad.


Not that there aren’t people who are both–they do some good things and some bad.


Just like with everything, you can have greys or mixtures–some of this AND some of that. 


But still, G-d created everything and its opposite.


– Again, there is heaven and hell. 


And yes, there are some people that are perhaps truly good and others that are very bad.


The really good ones–they are holy, they give, they love, they inspire. 


The really bad ones–they are vicious devil wolves. 


That doesn’t mean anyone is completely perfect or imperfect, but as with everything, there are people as there are inanimate objects that function at the extremes. 


Most of us don’t live in the extreme, yet we do see those that we know are examples of each:


We recognize the best and these are people with a heart of gold and a soul that shines light, love, and gives to others.


Similarly, the worst ones are with a heart that is selfish and greedy and a soul that is dark, hateful. and violent.


We don’t like to think of the extremes.


They either are too perfect or too frighteningly evil, but yet they do exist and we know it just as we know life and death, light and dark, cold and hot, land and water, male and female, pleasure and pain, work and rest, holy and profane, and even the destinations of heaven and hell. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)