What Makes Happy

So the same things don’t seem to drive happiness for everyone. 


Some like big jobs and lots of power. 


Others are happier with more work-life balance. 


Some like to pursue lots of degrees and certifications.


Others like to learn on their own and through life experience. 


Some like to travel the world.


Others like a day in nature or at the museum. 


Some like big families and lots of people around them. 


Others like smaller families, close friends, intimacy, or even being more on their own. 


Some like lots of money. 


Other are happy with having what they need.


Some like to be tremendous athletes. 


Other like to just stay fit or maybe are more comfy as “couch potatoes.”


Some like to be very religious and follow all the laws.


Others prefer mindfulness, a sense of spirituality and being a “good person.”  


Some like lots of activities and to always do different things. 


Others are more comfortable with routine and incremental change. 


We all have basic needs, but we also have different values, priorities and comfort zones. 


Happiness isn’t a yes or no answer, but what makes us feel on track and doing good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Making A Real Difference

I saw this sign posted at an organization’s office. 


I thought it was a nice way to motivate people working there. 

“What people are saying:
You are making a difference.”


Later in the sign, it says:

“The work you do is important.”

Isn’t this really what is critical to people–that what they do is important. 


Yes, we need to earn a living and pay our bills. 


And sure, we’d like something left over to save for a rainy day. 


But our lives are more than materialism. 


We are spiritual beings inside. 


At the pinnacle, we need to know that our lives mean something!


– That we are touching people’s lives. 


– That we will be remembered for the good we did. 


– That our good deeds and words will live on. 


– That our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will carry the lessons and message forward. 


– That we’ve contributed in some meaningful way to the fight of good over evil in this world and the next. 


– That we’ve shown proper respect and worship to our L-rd/Maker/Sustainer. 


When we make a difference, it’s about so much more than what money can buy. 


It’s about our soul, our contribution, and even destiny.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Expect Less / Appreciate More

I thought this was a great saying in the Wall Street Journal book review today.


“Expect Less, Appreciate More.”


Many people in their late 30s and early 40s become disillusioned with life. 


They have been on the treadmill chasing love, fame, and fortune for so long. 


But reality sets in and they don’t get everything they think they have coming to them.


Hence some level of mid-life crisis sets in. 


However by the time people reach their 50s, things seem to shift again, and a happiness or peacefulness sets in. 


People start to expect less and instead appreciate more from the blessings they do have. 


The treadmill becomes a long walk along the beautiful beach or park trail. 


We don’t need to chase success, but rather just see the great lives in so many ways that G-d has already bestowed on us. 


The U-shaped curve of life–where we start all bright-eyes and bushy tailed in our younger years and which descends into disappointment and disillusionment in mid-life, comes up once again to happiness and a fulfillment in our later years. 


Over the course of our lives, we learn that life does not ask, but rather it tells us. 


And if we just listen, we can find meaning and contentment amidst it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Bright Side

My daughter, Minna Blumenthal, received this beautiful and hopeful message online, and I want to thank her for sharing it with me.


In turn, I am paying it forward to you all, and hope that you enjoy it’s meaning, which is really quite profound and inspiring. 

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind.

She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her.

She told her boyfriend, ‘If I could only see the world, I will marry you.’

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.

He asked her,’ Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?’

The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn’t expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.

Her boyfriend left her in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: ‘Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.’

This is how the human brain often works when our status changes.

Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.

Life is a gift.

Today before you say an unkind word – Think of someone who can’t speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food – Think of someone who has nothing to eat.

Before you complain about your husband or wife – Think of someone who’s crying out to Almighty G-d for a companion.

Today before you complain about life – Think of someone who died too young.

Before you complain about your children – Think of someone who desires children but they’re barren.

Before you argue about your dirty house someone didn’t clean or sweep – Think of the people who are living in the streets.

Before whining about the distance you drive – Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when you are tired and complain about your job – Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.

But before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another – Remember that not one of us is without sin and we all answer to one Maker.

And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down – Put a smile on your face and thank G-d you’re alive and still around.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Feeling A Little Relative Deprivation

Deprivation.jpeg

So this was a little funny-sad. 


We were taking a walk.


And we passed these two houses side by side. 


One, this tall stately-looking all brick manicured corner house.


The other, this cozy and sort of beat up little white siding house. 


The juxtaposition of these two as neighbors couldn’t have been funnier. 


Sort of like strong and determined Rocky and the nebbish that couldn’t. 


Listen, there isn’t anything objectively wrong with the little older white house.


Taken by itself, it may actually be a nice place to live–as I said, it’s sort of charming (even while the other is commanding)! 


But when you put it against the big new brick fellow, it’s just a story of relative deprivation ready to be intensely felt. 


Both have a roof over their heads…and both in the same nice neighborhood. 


Yet neighbor and neighbor–but for no reason, one ends up feeling probably a little shitty–that’s putting it in comparison, of course.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Satisfied and Bless G-d

Fancy Car.jpeg

I loved Chabad Rabbi Schneur Kaplan’s speech today in synagogue.


It was about how we can learn to be happy with what we have in life.


The biggest marketing gimmick is to say to the guy, “Look at what your neighbor has next door!”


Jealousy, desire, greed, having more and better than the next guy/girl…


That’s what many people live for and how they think.


Some can have as much as the founders of Apple, Google, and Facebook combined and still it’s not enough.


If just one person has something more…it can drive that person crazy.


Like Haman on Purim, who had wealth, power, large family and everyone bowed down to him…


Except one person named Mordecai who wouldn’t bow.


And despite having everything, but missing that one thing drove Haman so crazy–it was his downfall!


When we eat, we can be satisfied with one slice of pizza and say grace or we can have four slices and still not be satisfied.


How do we look at things?


We can be grateful for whatever we have and say that G-d gave us just what we needed at this time and place.


Or we can look at what we don’t have, and forever be bitter and unsatisfied.


What joy we can experience in life when we realize the graciousness for what G-d has bestowed on us and we are thankful for what we have. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Only Game In Town

Only Game In Town.JPeG

This was a funny sign up in Harpers Ferry yesterday, Thanksgiving Day. 


Outside this restaurant, it says, “Only OPEN Place in Town, GREAT Food.”


I suppose if it’s the only game in town, then whatever food they have is by definition “great”-compared to going hungry that is. 


Life is very much like this–where everything is relative. 


If I have too many choices–how do I choose? 


Whatever I choose, I may second guess myself that maybe another one would’ve been better. 


It’s like when I go out with my daughter to eat, somehow whatever she orders is always better than what I got!


But when choice is limited or non-existent, well then “beggars can’t be choosey.”


Essentially, your happy with what you have– perhaps, something is often better than nothing. 


But really it’s much more than that, because if you look closely at others, you realize that what you have is actually a pretty darn good lot in life–so don’t be envious, jealous, or be too quick to want to change places with your neighbor. 


Obviously, this was a very apropos sign for Thanksgiving–where we need to learn to be grateful for everything we have in life. 


It is our basket, and we wouldn’t want to trade it for anything in the world (and if you did, you’d be sorry afterwards). 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)