Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nissan: Spiritual Spring Cleaning

Dear Friends,

This post is about the Jewish month of Nissan, as it relates to The Chazak Plan: A 12 Month Journey to Spiritual Strength.

Rosh Chodesh Nissan begins Friday night, the 20th of March, and lasts for one day. 

During Nissan, we celebrate the holiday of Passover. On Passover, we commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. It is a time of freedom, when we free ourselves from that which brings us down spiritually.

Even today, many of us are still not yet free and are enslaved to our passions, to varying degrees. At the same time, we still maintain some level of moral purity. The goal is to raise it a notch, thereby increasing our freedom.

When you prepare for the holiday by removing leaven from your house, also remove spiritual pollution. To whatever extent you’re ready, go through your books, magazines, music and videos, and get rid of those filled with profanity, lewdness or vulgarity; they downgrade your spiritually.

An aspect of maintaining your purity is speaking in an elevated manner. Are there any words you choose to remove from your vocabulary, at least for this month, that do not reflect the type of person you are?

Using your checklist, check off each day you succeeded in speaking in a refined manner and/or staying away from spiritual pollution (or limiting your exposure as best you can).

Readings for the month:

What Worked for Our Ancestors in Egypt: 4 Lessons from the Exodus

4 Ways to Safeguard Your Moral Purity

Have a Shabbat Shalom, a Chag Kasher Vesameach (Happy Passover), and may God grant us success in the coming month,

Yaakov


Saturday, March 7, 2015

What’s the Point of It All? The Power of Transformative Questions

Ever notice how little kids ask lots of questions? That’s how they learn and grow. To continue to grow, we need to continue to ask questions, transformative ones. Transformative questions cut to the core of an issue and can elicit insights – lightning bolts of clarity – which help us navigate through the storms of life.

13 transformative questions:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Adar: Enhancing Our Joy

Dear Friends, 

This post is about the Jewish month of Adar, as it relates to The Chazak Plan: A 12 Month Journey to Spiritual Strength.

Rosh Chodesh Adar begins this Wednesday night, February 18th, and lasts for two days.

Our Sages teach us that with the arrival of Adar we increase our joy, culminating in the festival of Purim. Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people during the Persian exile.

Although Purim is a time for laughter and joy, it is important not to cross the line into inappropriate humor. Five types of inappropriate humor are discussed in “How to Live a Fulfilling Life: An Action Plan,” in section 4c. 

While we do not have direct control over our moods, the following are six tools which can be helpful in enhancing them: Gratitude, acceptance, self-compassion, expressing ourselves, addressing festering issues and making lifestyle enhancements (these tools are discussed in the readings below). Many times, even using just one tool will help us feel better and increase our enjoyment of life. 

After reading the articles, choose one tool which you will utilize this month. Then, decide on the one change, technique or behavior, related to that tool, which you will do on a daily or regular basis, for at least this month. Add it to your own checklist or use the Daily Checklist to track how often you do it.

Readings for the month:

The 2 Forms of Divine Providence: Purim and Passover

3-Dimensional Acceptance: A Pathway to Peace and Power

6 Tools to Enhance Your Mood

Take care and may we see success in the coming month, 

Yaakov 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Clarity: 8 Ways to Get More of It

Were you ever in a challenging situation, but knew exactly what to do?

That’s clarity.

Clarity is knowing where you need to go and exactly how to get there.

For most of us, moments of clarity are rare occurrences; usually we are conflicted and not sure what to do. For those who think they always have clarity, that is a sign they lack it. This is because no matter how much we know, we always lack full knowledge of a situation. In addition, our judgment is always clouded, because it is impossible to ignore our biases.

With humility, we realize that we are prone to mistakes and that increasing our clarity is crucial to make decisions we will not regret.

8 Ways to Greater Clarity:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Shvat: Elevating the physical

Dear Friends, 

This post is about the Jewish month of Shvat as it relates to The Chazak Plan: A 12 Month Journey to Spiritual Strength.

Rosh Chodesh Shvat begins this Tuesday night, January 20th, and lasts for one day.

The 15th of this month is Tu B’Shvat, the New Year for trees. An aspect of this holiday is celebrating and elevating the physical. Part of sanctifying the physical is taking care of the body with which God entrusted you. During this month, choose to upgrade either your sleep, exercise or diet habits.

Pick one change you will make on a daily or regular basis, for at least this month, and using your own checklist or the Daily Checklist, track how often you do it; if you find the change very easy, add another one. Some examples: Go to sleep 15-20 minutes earlier each week until you feel refreshed in the morning; exercise 2-3 times a week or go for a daily brisk walk; cut out sugary drinks and/or foods from your diet, limiting them to special occasions. Make water your preferred beverage. If you do not like the taste of your water, consider a filter. (For an informative article comparing two popular diets, see Dr. Edelberg’s article here.)

Another point of focus for this month is to consider if there is an area of your life which has become unbalanced and excessive, e.g., overeating, overspending, overworking, overuse of the internet etc. Most of us have at least one area which, at a minimum, wastes our time and takes us away from more fulfilling activities. This month, pick one behavior to reign in and one behavior you’d like to do more of instead.

Reading for the month:

Overcoming our Soft Addictions

Take care and may we see success in the coming month,

Yaakov

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Conflict Resolution: How to Win the Battle for Peace

Today, it seems as if many people are estranged from or fighting with someone. It was not always this way. What happened?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

New Website!

Dear Friends,

Happy Chanukah!

I am excited to announce that I have a new website, www.thechazakplan.com. I hope the website makes it easier to locate the free e-book, articles and audio classes.

The rest of this post is about the Jewish month of Tevet, as it relates to The Chazak Plan: A 12 Month Journey to Spiritual Strength.

Rosh Chodesh Tevet begins this Sunday night, December 21st and lasts for two days.

The theme we will focus on for Tevet is faith.

The month of Tevet encompasses two moods: Celebration and mourning. During the beginning of the month, we celebrate Chanukah, commemorating, among other events, the rededication of the Second Temple. Later in the month, on the 10th, we fast and commemorate the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which led to the destruction of the First Temple.

In one month we commemorate two diametrically opposed events. Faith is the bridge between them. Even while we mourn an event which led to the destruction of the Temple, we have faith that like the miracle of Chanukah, another dedication of the Temple will occur, when the Messiah comes and dedicates the Third Temple.

Each day, to enhance your faith, think of a challenge in your life and say to yourself words of faith. One possibility is to say to yourself, “This is from God for my eternal benefit. Part of fulfilling my life’s purpose is doing what I can to overcome and grow from this challenge. This will work out in the end; either in this world or in the next. God is with me, giving me the strength and courage I need to triumph.”

Readings for the month:

Is Faith Logical? One Answer in Ten Questions

Unshakable Faith: What It Is, What It’s Not and How to Build It

Everything Works Out in the End: Even when it doesn’t appear to

Take care and may we see success in the coming month,

Yaakov