The Good Things In Life Are Challenging

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Good Things In Life Are Challenging.”

“Everything truly pleasurable in life starts with considerable pain.” More colloquially in working out, we usually say: “No pain, no gain!” And there really is a lot of truth to this. If you think about it, this concept really applies to everything meaningful and ultimately valuable in life.

 

As we reflect this time of year, before Rosh Hashanah, it is good to ask ourselves, what are we chasing and working so hard for in our lives? Are we chasing vanity–more riches, power, and honor or are we striving to do good and make a difference? The latter is a life worth living and where our efforts and pain can bring true reward in this world and ultimately in the world to come.

 
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Living Life Vicariously

So the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.  Go DC!


This little figurine made a debut on the counter of the concierge late last week for us to cheer them on!


You can ring the bell for help and while your waiting, get excited about the game. 


While these types of sports are not my thing per se, I do like watching a good Rocky movie or action flick where the good guys beat the sh*t out of the bad guys.


Whether you’watching your favorite sports team, your Hollywood dream stars, or even an occasional do (something) good politician, we are living vicariously through them. 


It’s not our success we are seeing, but somehow we temporarily suspend our own selves and live through others (their eyes, their actions) and we partake just for a second of what it’s like to be them winning or doing something really significant in life. 


We all can’t be superstars in the center ring duking it out (all the time) and so we take a step back to see others that we relate to face up to the challenge, fight and hopefully win big. 


We don’t walk away with the trophy, prize money, or fame, but we congratulate ourselves somehow for being on the winning team. 


Heck, I didn’t do anything but have faith, go along for the ride, and then take pleasure in seeing my guy(s) win. 


Yet, from the humdrumness of perhaps some of our own everyday lives, we fantasize and garner the courage and strength to do our own great things. 


We can’t be the strongest, smartest, most good-looking, personable, and talented in the world, but we can see parts of ourselves in others and we can try to model the best of them in ourselves and leverage what we got going on!


I don’t really like spending a lot of precious time living like this through others–I don’t mind getting inspiration when I see something amazing, but really I just want to try my hardest to be the best that I can be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

I Love Cherry Blossoms

Just wanted to take today to express my undying love for Cherry Blossoms. 


How unbelievably magnificent they are.


Pink pedals blossoming and beautiful. 


G-d’s creations in nature that make us in awe of his majesty. 


It is almost too gorgeous to be real. 


To look up at these is more beautiful than I can possibly have words for. 


Thank you G-d for giving these to us every Spring season.


It is truly something to look forward to each year and that which nourishes our souls with a complete array of sensory joy. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Makings Of Cold Stone

Gotta hand it to Cold Stone Ice Cream. 

They know how it make it cold, sweet, and rich tasting. 

Here they are making the signature Cookie Doughn’t You Want Some. 

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Chocolate Chips

Cookie Dough

Fudge

Caramel

OMG, it is super premium!

And they make it right there in front of you. 

As you mouth waters for it, you almost want to just stick you finger in and snatch a bite.

Oh, the simple, sweet pleasures of life. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Globs of Fat

 

fat-jpeg-2

So I went to get my flu shot today in the office. 


Yes, it’s that time of year to start getting ready for Winter and all the germs that come with it. 


Anyway, while I was at the health center, they had this model of what body fat looks like. 


It was sort of just laying right on the table in the waiting room–yeah a big ick! 


It said:

“Globs of Fat

This glob represents the look and feel of 5 pounds of body fat.”


And this thing was enormous, bigger than someones hand, maybe even two hands. 


There was some text about another 1 pound piece of body fat, but I didn’t see that lying around anywhere (and frankly the 5 pound glob was enough to get the point without comparison). 


This fat demonstration would make practically anyone want to chuck the carbohydrates and forever.


Pizza, pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, cereal, crackers, cookies, cakes–be gone!


Having recently done this myself, I can really appreciate how important this is and also how hard it can be. 


The food industry has us addicted to this crap and really it should be illegal. 


The high carb diet in America is truly of epidemic proportions and is potentially catastrophic to our health and longevity.


The only thing that glob of fat is good for is tossing it out the window and into the garbage dump. 


A high carb diet that makes people fat is death and we want to live! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Person’s Beauty

Hair.JPEG

I took this photo yesterday of a mannequin that shows off her hair. 


It’s amazing what hair does for a person.


I remember learning in Yeshiva that hair is considered the crown on a person’s head. 


People go through all sorts of time and expense to keep their hair, grow it out, clean it, and style it.


Often not having hair means that person is sick and on heavy doses of medication or chemotherapy that makes their hair fall out. 


People put on wigs or other head coverings for religious piety, modesty, and to consecrate themselves to G-d and/or their beloved–so that only they should see it–as something special between them. 


Sometimes, a person’s hair is cut off to dehumanize them like the Nazi’s did to the Jews and as happens to other prisoners. 


Also, when people go to the military, they are given a crew cut to take away their hair and individuality while they learn to conform and be obedient to their chain of command. 


Often in fights, people grab and pull a person by their hair to control and hurt them. 


But mostly, hair is soft, sensual and looks good on a person (except when it doesn’t)–generally, it evokes youth, vibrance, freedom, and sexuality. 


Of course beauty is only skin deep, but the hair is truly the majestic crown that G-d gave us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mankind’s Endless And Elusive Pursuit Of Happiness

Happiness

So I took this photo yesterday of a lady on the Metro reading The Happiness Project.


The book is a multi-year bestseller about the pursuit of happiness and how the author, Grethen Rubin, took a year and made a project of getting happy.


She did this through a “methodical” project with “measurable goals” and working to “build on them cumulatively.”


Now happiness is being described not as a goal or project, but as a “movement.”


Why is happiness such an elusive pursuit to so many throughout the times?


In fact, in looking for how to achieve happiness throughout the ages, we can’t even agree on what it is or how to do it.


Carl Cederstrom in the New York Times provides an overview where the how-to for achieving happiness has changed more times than some people change their underwear.


Here’s to the rainbow of finding happiness:


– The Greeks/Aristotle – Be a good person, live ethically, cultivate one’s virtues. 


– Hedonists/Epicureans – Pursuit whatever brings you pleasure


– Stoics – Happiness is achievable even when experiencing hardship, suffering, and pain


– Christianity – Happiness is not achieved on Earth, but rather in the afterlife/in divine union.


– Renaissance/Enlightenment/Thomas Jefferson – Happiness is an unalienable right, and related to property rights.


– Today – Achieve authenticity and be narcissistic, express true inner selves, get in touch with inner feeling, worship our bodies, and productivity through work


I believe that the relentless pursuit of happiness is due to man’s inability to truly reconcile being/feeling happy with what he experiences on an almost daily basis on a spectrum of unhappiness:


– Disappointment


– Failure


– Unacceptance


– Rejection


– Bullying


– Abuse


– Injustice


– Suffering


– Poverty


– War


– Disability


– Disease


The result of man’s expectation of happiness yet its continued elusiveness to him manifests in people running around like a chicken with their heads cut off (something my mom told me about that she saw as a little girl):


– Changing, leaving, coming back, or clinging to religion.


– Disenfranchisement with government, politics, political parties, and politicians.


– Entering into and dissolving marriages and relationships.


– Migration to different parts of the country or even moving abroad and traveling here, there, and everywhere.


– Cycling your money and investments in real estate, material goods, and a host of investments (stocks, bonds, hedge funds, etc.).


– Trying out a series of different educational pursuits, careers, and hobbies–surely one will be my passion, provide some meaning, or make me happy!


– Trying to squeeze more and more “things” into and out of a 24-hour day. 


– Looking for a quick fix through partying, pornography, sex, drugs, alcohol, and rock & roll. 


What’s the trend in happiness now?


A relentless pursuit of innovation and transformation through technology, robotics, everything autonomous, self-healing, self-reproducing, searching for new (and perhaps better) worlds, and even time travel. 


Oh, and let’s not forget pursuing a longer life (or the holy grail of immortality), so we have more time to try and be happy. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)