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)

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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)

Sexual Acting Out

There is now a seemingly endless slate of sexual harassment allegations against some of the biggest shots from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. 


From the longest-serving Congressmen to the biggest star of morning television news, it seems that no one is sacrosanct.


Is it just that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?


Or maybe it’s more broadly to be stated, as the Rabbi noted on Shabbat, that: 

“G-d created man perfectly imperfect!”

Men and women are created with sexual urges to procreate, bond emotionally and physically, and enjoy each other. 


Men tend to be the stronger than women and are able to have children into old age, and perhaps, it can be said, have the bigger “urge to merge.


Sure, there are women who are normally sexually active, and also those who are perhaps hypersexual (nympomaniac, “cougars,” etc.) and who commit sexual abuse too.


In fact, it was interesting that Wikipedia actually breaks rape down into 4 gender on gender categories:


– Rape of females by males

– Rape of females by females

– Rape of males by females

– Rape of males by males


Issues with physical intimacy and sexual harassment and violence span both sexes, however, it is also clear that:

“Rape affects women disproportionately, with the majority of people convicted being men.”


In the U.S., the statistics show gross levels of sexual violence to women:


– 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime (vs 1 in 71 men).


– 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female.


Also, particularly disturbing is the number of girls and boys targeted:


– 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. 


What type of society have we created, where women and children are not generally safe?


It’s interesting to me in Judaism that there is a recognition of sexual impulse, and that some Hasidim actually wear a “gartel” belt when praying to physically and spiritually separate the upper half of the body with the head and heart, from the lower half with the more animal instincts.


In short, the head and heart need to control the animal part of people. 


Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be happening in so many cases. 


Stunned from the outpouring of sexual allegations nearly everyday now, I said to my wife: 

“What is wrong with these people? They have it all: position, power, and wealth; and yet, they throw it all away –including their integrity and reputations–for a five minute lay in the hay!”


Is the animal instinct too strong for the person to control? That just isn’t going to cut it.


As a functioning society, it’s got be completely unacceptable for people to act out sexually or otherwise violently hurt their neighbors. 


It’s time for social reform and for the animals to be controlled by the people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Folly of Bullies

So there is an issue with people not treating other people with respect and dignity in life and at work.


Today again, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Companies Wake Up To The Problem of Bullies at Work.”


This is leading some organizations to issue “Codes of Civility” for people to act like mensches and treat each other nicely. 


Adults are just so like children–with work bullies not all that different from schoolyard bullies.


Why do people need to elevate themselves on the backs of others? 


Isn’t it better to join hands and work together as brothers for the betterment of all.


Bullying anyone at work or at home doesn’t benefit anyone, including the bully!


I read today in Psalms 37: 35-36:

“I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was not; I sought him, but he could not be found

[But] Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.”

How can people forget that the true “big boss” is G-d Almighty in Heaven.


And He judges us for a good or not so good end. 


We are all just flesh and blood and we all answer to the One That Was, Is, and Will Always Be!


Isn’t it obvious that we’re here to learn to act with lovingkindness to one another.


All are imperfect, but treating each other well is how we get closer to G-dly perfection. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Body Morphic Disorder

So often you hear about people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). 


This is a psychiatric disorder where people are obsessed with their real or perceived body flaws. 


Often their notions of a physical flaw is widely exaggerated like someone who has a barely noticeable mole, but they see it as a major blotch on their skin that everyone must be staring at and repulsed by.  


People with this disorder may often stand in front of the mirror starring at themselves obsessing over these minor imperfections. 


But there is something major that is missing here. 


And it is the polar opposite of BDD.


I would call it the Body Morphic Disorder (BMD). 


My notion of BMD is where people are similarly obsessed with their bodies, but rather than real or perceived flaws, they are focused on real or perceived notions of their body’s beauty and  perfection!


Instead of looking in the mirror and perceiving problems and feeling self-loathsome, these people are excessively vain and see themselves as a (near) perfect specimen of a human being. 


“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”


Or the equivalent of ain’t I just grand!


It’s funny-weird that we perceive criticism and self-contempt (BDD) as a psychiatric disorder, but we don’t generally see narcissistic self-worship as a personality disorder!


Yet any extreme is a bad thing. 


Excessive loving or hating of your physical self–is the kiss of death when it comes to seeing things the way they really are and being a genuine human being. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

5-Minute Intervals

This was sunrise at 5-minute intervals. 


All I can think is how glorious G-d is and how marvelous his creation.


– The light of the L-rd chases the darkness away.


– The might of the L-rd brings forth a new day. 


– The right hand of the L-rd shows us all the correct way. 


How are your works so majestic indeed. 


All we can do is gaze with eyes wide.


Truly the perfection of the L-rd is shown in his creation. 


We are blessed to see and experience it.


Every day is a miracle that we have in this world.


Even with pain and sorrow, our soul clings to this life. 


Until such time that our Maker calls us home to Him once more. 


Then we gasp our last breath and enter his Heavenly abode. 


For this world is just a corridor to the true world that is to come. 


And so just imagine what that must be like to be even closer to G-d and his endless loving majesty. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Tooting Your Own Horn

So I always try to see the best in people.


But sometimes it is hard when they are so intent on tooting their own horns. 


Bragging, boasting, patting themselves on the back about how smart they are or a job so incredibly well done.


Oh, you’ve got to ask yourself…


Is it all really true?


OR  


Do we have perhaps some slight exaggeration going on with a dose of self-aggrandizement, a spoonful of self-promotion, and more than a pinch of big ego?


Perhaps, also the person is in denial as to what their own capabilities–and limitations–really are. 


For example, many artists are enthralled with their work and themselves.

“Isn’t this so good?”
“Can you believe I made this?
“Wow, this is impressive, right?”


Sure, there are plenty of talented people out there doing good and even amazing work. 


But even then tempering your achievements with a little modesty and balance, like “I do this well, but I need to grow more in that area”–goes a long way to making the admirable talents and achievements more honest, humble, and believable. 


Always, people are good at some things, and worse at others.


We all have things to work on and improve, and nobody is so perfect in this world!


We can try to come close–that’s our job to strive for it–but true perfection belongs to G-d alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)