Monday, July 11, 2011

today hayome

Jewish World Review

In changing, don't use ‘nature’ as an excuse

By Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

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Many people live in the past, brooding over bad choices they'd made or someone's negative behavior to them years ago. Others live in the future, worrying about events that may happen --- or may not. Here is the way to achieve lives of joy, courage, love and serenity is to live in the moment, to see the wonders of the present, to feel gratitude for what is happening right this minute. Right now we're writing our life stories, and we can choose how the script will read. Right now we can put behind us self-doubt, anger, frustration.

Right now, we can choose happiness.

Someone challenged me by saying, "I heard you say that choosing joy is up to me. But it's not so easy. I've been through a lot of distress and suffering in my life. I tend to worry and be pessimistic. I can't just change my nature. What do you say to that?"

I calmly replied, "I agree that you can't change your nature. Only our Creator can create a new nature. But I would suggest that what you are calling your 'nature' is really your personal habits. Habits can become second nature. But habits of thoughts are just habits. It does take effort to change a habit.

"As you choose to create joyful moments of gratitude and appreciation in the present, eventually that will become your habitual way of thinking. Then you will eventually feel that it's your nature to be appreciative and grateful."

"But what about my old habits? They won't just disappear," the fellow argued.

"Right now, let's use this conversation to talk about creating a moment of joy. Whatever you say about joy, that is what you are thinking in the present. You might choose to explain why you are not joyful right now. Or you might choose to explore the possibilities of your being more joyful. Whether you talk about joy or its absence right now, the discussion is still related to joy, isn't it?"

"Yes. But if I think about not being joyful, how will that make me joyful?" he asked.

"It won't. But when you talk about not being joyful, you can choose to think about how wonderful it would be if you could be joyful. And instead of arguing, you could ask me, 'If I were totally determined to be joyful right now, what thoughts could help me?'"

"Okay, so I'll ask you."

"I suggest that you look at yourself as a tourist in life. Let's imagine a tourist who plans to visit 20 cities, one for each day of his trip. When he is in London, he sees the sights and hears the sounds of London. When he is in Paris, he sees the sights and hears the sounds of Paris. And when he is in Jerusalem, he sees the sights and hears the sounds of Jerusalem. When you see yourself as a tourist visiting various places, you realize that what you are seeing and hearing now creates your experience of the present. And this is true for all of us, each moment of each day."

"I see your point."

"So for the next ten minutes let's mentally visit a place we'll call, 'The Garden of Joy, Courage, Love, and Serenity.'

"You create the consciousness you choose with your thoughts. This garden is found exactly where you are at any given moment. A regular tourist needs to travel to different places by walking, riding, flying, sailing, and so forth. But a mental tourist can be in the exact same physical spot as a moment ago, and still choose to be mentally in a totally different place. We can all travel to a place of joy in a split second. Quite amazing, isn't it?

"All you need to tell yourself is, 'I choose joy now. I choose to see joyful sights in my mind right now. I choose to hear joyful words in my mind right now. I allow feelings of joy to spin and radiate within me right now.'

"Since it's always now, you can mentally travel to any joyful or serene place, regardless of whether it's real or imaginary," I concluded.

"I can see how this will work for me. I'm willing to try it out," he said.

Are you ready to try it out?

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