Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sivan: Living the Torah's Wisdom

Dear Friends,

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

Rosh Chodesh Sivan begins Thursday night, the 25th of May, and lasts for one day

The festival of Shavuot occurs during this month. On Shavuot, we celebrate receiving on Mount Sinai the Torah, God’s instruction manual for life. Even those who are unaffiliated, without realizing it, observe part of the Torah. Take for example the 10 Commandments, many already believe in God, do not worship idols, honor their parents, do not commit murder, adultery etc.

Begin at whatever level of observance you are currently on, and pick one area you are motivated to strengthen this month. At the end of each day/week, you can mark off on your checklist if you kept that observance. 

Question for the month:
“What area of observance will I strengthen this month or at least learn more about?”

Reading for the month:
What Does God Want from Me?”

Take care and may God grant us success in the coming month,

Yaakov

Saturday, May 13, 2017

6 Ways to Deal with Critical Family Members

Dear Friends, 

Happy Lag B'Omer! (For info on the day, click here). 

Continuing this month's theme of enhancing relationships, what do we do with family members who we love, but who are very critical of us?

6 Ways to Deal with Critical Family Members

Have a great week,

Yaakov 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

How to Give Constructive Feedback without Sounding Critical

Dear Friends,

As caring people, we like to give constructive criticism in order to help others. Unfortunately, often, if the criticism is not wanted, giving it can do more harm than good.

So before giving criticism, make sure the person is really interested in hearing it.

How to Give Constructive Feedback without Sounding Critical

Have a great week,

Yaakov

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Iyar: Enhancing Our Relationships

Dear Friends,

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

Rosh Chodesh Iyar begins Tuesday night, the 25th of April, and lasts for two days.

The period known as The Omer occurs during this month. During part of The Omer, we commemorate thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students who died in a plague. The Talmud teaches that the plague occurred because the students did not treat each other with proper respect.

This month, we focus on treating others well and enhancing our relationship with them.

Our relationships play a pivotal role in either enhancing or negatively affecting our emotional, physical and spiritual health; toxic relationships drain us, while healthy relationships nourish us.

Make a list of your key family, work and social relationships. Decide which ones to strengthen or repair, which ones need better boundaries or for you to distance yourself from, and ways to foster new healthy relationships.

Input into your checklist the following practice or a related one: At least once a week, schedule one-on-one time with someone in your life to strengthen that relationship; shut off your cell and give him or her your undivided attention.

In addition, this month, work on being less critical of others. Start by focusing on the person of whom you are most critical. Consider using your checklist and check off each day you were able to avoid criticizing them. You might want to start off with just avoiding being critical during a set time of day, i.e., morning, afternoon or evening, and build from there.

Questions for the month:

“Which of my relationships do I need to strengthen? What is the first step to doing that?”

“Which relationships need better boundaries or for me to distance myself from? What is the first step to doing that?”

“Do I want to form new healthy relationships? What are some ways I can do that?”

“Which person in my life am I most critical of? For this month, am I willing to commit to give them

at least as much compliments as criticisms?”

Related Article:

6 Ways to Kick the Criticism Habit

Take care and may God grant us success in the coming month,

Yaakov

Saturday, April 8, 2017

What Worked for Our Ancestors: 4 Lessons from the Exodus

Dear Friends,

Passover begins Monday night, April 10th. During the Seder, we will recount the story of the Exodus. Here are 4 lessons we can learn from it.

What Worked for Our Ancestors: 4 Lessons from the Exodus

Next Sunday, during Passover, there will be no blog post.

Happy Passover, Chag Kasher Vesameach,

Yaakov

Monday, April 3, 2017

“I Tried. I Failed. Now What?” 10 Ways to Get Back in the Game

When the realization hits that we failed in some way, it hurts badly. We are left nursing our wounds and wonder, “What do I do now?”

The good news is that no matter how big the failure, others have failed even more miserably. Some failures have led to people no longer being alive and able to try again. Not us. We are still alive, and the possibility for repair and future success is still within reach, as Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said, “If you believe you can damage, then believe you can repair.”

10 ways to get back in the game:

Saturday, April 1, 2017

4 Ways to Safeguard Your Moral Purity

Dear Friends,

Here are some ideas on how to engage in spiritual spring cleaning and elevate our purity.

King Solomon taught (Proverbs 4:23), “More than you guard anything, guard your heart…”

4 Ways to Safeguard Your Moral Purity

Have a great week,

Yaakov

Saturday, March 25, 2017

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 Monday night, the 27th 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 up 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 are 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, you can 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).

Questions for the month:

“How can I declutter and elevate my spirituality at the same time? What will I get rid of?”

“What is a source of spiritual pollution in my life? How can I shield myself from it or at least limit my exposure to it?”

“What word(s) do I choose to remove from my vocabulary, at least for this month?”

Take care and may God grant us success in the coming month,

Yaakov

Saturday, March 18, 2017

3-Dimensional Acceptance: A Pathway to Peace and Power

Dear Friends,

There are three dimensions to acceptance: Accepting your present circumstances, accepting yourself and accepting other people. Which one do you want to focus on?

3-Dimensional Acceptance: A Pathway to Peace and Power

Have a great week,

Yaakov

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The 2 Forms of Divine Providence: Purim and Passover

Dear Friends, 

God watches over us and guides our lives in many ways.


Next Sunday, March 12th, is Purim and there will be no blog post sent out that day. 

Have a great week and a Happy Purim!

Yaakov 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Discover Your Inner Peace

Dear Friends,

We all have inner peace within. The challenge though is discovering it.

Discover Your Inner Peace

Have a great week and Chodesh tov!

Yaakov

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Adar: Enhancing Our Joy: 6 Tools

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 Motzai Shabbat (Saturday night), the 25th of February, and lasts for two days.

Our Sages teach 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.

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 reading below). Many times, even using just one tool will help us feel better and increase our enjoyment of life.

After reading the article, choose one tool which you will utilize this month. Then, decide on the one change, technique or behavior, related to that tool, you will do on a daily or regular basis, for at least this month. Consider adding it to your checklist and track how often you do it.

Questions for the month:

“What do I think is most negatively affecting my emotional health? How will I address it?”

“What will I do this month to enhance my emotional health/mood and become a happier person?”

Reading for the month:

6 Tools to Enhance Your Mood

Take care and may God grant us success in the coming month,

Yaakov

Saturday, February 4, 2017

How to Stop Hating and Start Loving Yourself

Dear Friends,

Do you feel uncomfortable when someone gives you a compliment?
Are you highly critical of yourself and rarely give yourself encouragement or compliments?

You may suffer from low self-esteem. Please see:

How to Stop Hating and Start Loving Yourself

Have a great week,

Yaakov

Saturday, January 21, 2017

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 Friday night, the 27th of January, 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 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. Cut back on refined and highly processed foods, eating a more wholesome diet. 

A related point of focus for this month is to consider if there is an area of your life where your relationship with the physical has become unbalanced and excessive, e.g., overeating, overspending, overworking, or overuse of the internet or your smartphone. 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 rein in and one behavior you would like to do more of instead. Taking back control of how you spend your time will enhance your self-image and you will feel better about yourself.

Questions for the month:

“What will I upgrade this month, my sleep, exercise or diet habits?”

“Is there an area of my life which has become unbalanced and excessive, which at the very least wastes my time? How will I rein it in and regain control?”

“What would I like to do with the new time I free up?”

Take care and may God grant us success in the coming month,

Yaakov

Saturday, January 14, 2017

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

Dear Friends,

Think about a challenge you are struggling with. If you knew it would work out in the end, how would you feel about that challenge?

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

Have a great week,

Yaakov

Saturday, January 7, 2017

How to Build Unshakable Faith

Dear Friends,

Strengthening our faith is not easy. But with focused attention, we can do it.


Have a great week,

Yaakov