Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use

How To Make the Right New Years Predictions

new years resolutions predictions

This is an excerpt from a moving essay by the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks.

“My new year prediction is that tomorrow never knows

The beginning of a new year tends to be a time for predictions. Have you peered into the crystal ball, read the runes, consulted the astrologists and listened to the soothsayers? Good. Then you know what’s going to happen. My prediction, which I make with total confidence, is that total confidence in predictions is never warranted. They turn out, more often than not, to be wrong.

Great Failures

Here are some of my favorites. “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible,” said Lord Kelvin, president of the Royal Society in 1895. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home,” said Ken Olson, president and founder of Digital Equipment, a maker of mainframes, in 1977.

“Everything that can be invented has been invented,” said an official at the US patent office in 1899. And Charles Darwin wrote in the foreword to The Origin of Species, “I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone.”

Politics and Predictions

Despite the many political experts, research institutes, think tanks, government and university departments, no one foresaw the bloodless end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Few foresaw the possibility of a terrorist attack like 9/11, that changed our world.

I was once present at a gathering where Bernard Lewis, the scholar of Islam, was asked to predict the outcome of a certain American foreign policy intervention. He gave a magnificent reply. “I am a historian, so I only make predictions about the past. What is more, I am a retired historian, so even my past is passé.”

We Know So Little

We know so much at a macro- and micro-level. We look up and see a universe of a hundred billion galaxies each of a hundred billion stars. We look down and see a human body containing a hundred trillion cells, each with a double copy of the human genome, 3.1 billion letters long, enough if transcribed to fill a library of 5,000 books.

There remains one thing we do not know and will never know: What tomorrow will bring. The past, said L. P. Hartley, is a foreign country. But the future is an undiscovered one. That is why predictions so often fail. They don’t even come close.

Why, when even the ancient Mesopotamians could make accurate predictions about the movement of planets, are we, with all our brain-scans and neuroscience, not able to predict what people will do? Why do they so often take us by surprise?

Freedom Beats Predictions

The reason is that we are free. We choose, we make mistakes, we learn. People constantly surprise us. The failure at school becomes the winner of a Nobel Prize. The leader who disappointed, suddenly shows courage and wisdom in a crisis. The driven businessman has an intimation of mortality and decides to devote the rest of his life to helping the poor.

This is something science has not yet explained and perhaps never will. There are scientists who believe freedom is an illusion. But it isn’t. It’s what makes us human.”

Compiled by Evan Moffic,

GET YOUR FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO MY READERS AND FRIENDS!

How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

change the world and self

Most evidence suggests that New Years’ resolutions remain just that: resolutions rather than accomplishments. Part of the reason, I think, is that we aim too high. We ask ourselves to do more than is possible.

We are like the man who has never worked out, but decides he need to start running ten miles a day.

A Righteous Man’s Experience

To counter this tendency, I think we can take some inspiration from a favorite Jewish anecdote. It is attributed to a nineteenth century Rabbi named Israel Salentar, who introduced the study of modern ethics into the curriculum of Jewish schools across Eastern Europe.

“When I was young,” he said, “I wanted to change the world. I tried, but the world did not change. So I tried to change my town, but my town did not change. Then I turned to my family, but my family did not change. Then I realized: in order to change the world, first I must change myself: and I am still trying.” So are we all.

By Evan Moffic,

GET YOUR FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

A Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year to all my readers and friends!

 

 

Money CAN Buy You Happiness If…

You Spend It On Other People.

money can buy you happiness ;

What is the secret of happiness? Religion has explored this question for millennia. So have philosophy and literature. Science recently entered the picture. Since the 1990s, the field of positive psychologyhas focused on individual well-being and satisfaction.What do happy people share in common? What qualities do they display? Does one quality matter more than others?

Pondering these questions, I’ve seen a pattern emerge: The discoveries of positive psychology point to the qualities that Jewish wisdom associates with a righteous person. In other words, the qualites that make for righteousness also make for happiness. What are they?

1. Gratitude: When we feel grateful for what we have and who we are, we feel greater satisfaction with our lives. We are more open to engaging experiences and maintaining the relationships we enjoy, since we are grateful for them. We are less envious of others because we find satisfaction in what we have.

2. Generosity: For a couple of years, a recurring commercial for a financial company proclaimed the motto, “It’s my money, and I need it now!” This attitude makes for profound unhappiness.

Consider this question: Do you ever get more exciting about giving rather than receiving a present? It’s about the relationship. Giving deepens relationships in a way that makes us happier in the long run.

Point in fact: As a rabbi I’ve noticed that our Bar and Bat Mitzvah students (13 years old) derive enormous satisfaction from the community service we ask them to do. While getting presents is great, helping others creates a long-lasting satisfaction.

3. Prayer: Prayer is not about asking for things. We pray to be inspired. We pray to remind ourselves to live with purpose. Prayer is like opening windshapes on a sunny day. We see the world in a different light.

4. Community: In the English language, life is a singular noun. The plural form is “lives.” Yet, in Hebrew, Chaim means bothto life happiness life (singular) and lives (plural). In fact, Hebrew has no word that simply means “life” in the singular.

That grammatical feature illustrates a deeper truth. Life is best lived in the plural. The amount of happiness we find on the journey of life depends more on our fellow travels than our individual destination.

5. Hope: Life is not easy. Disappointments and difficulties confront us all. We could meet such challenges with stoicism. We could drown them out with constant stimulation or mindless pleasure. Or we can take a third way.

The third way is one of hope. Hope combines vision with action. It allows to imagine a world different than our own. Even if we love where we are now, vision and possibility add to our to satisfaction and help find a way to pass on a better world to the next generation.
By Evan Moffic,

GET A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

Do You Believe Money Can Buy You Happiness? What Makes for Enduring Happiness?

Proof of the Power of Prayer

power of prayer holidays

Something magical happens in our home on Friday night. The bustle of the week stops. The noise of dinner time fades away. The iPad powers down (at least for a while).

What changes everything, however, is the moment we put our hands on our children and say a blessing over them. The blessing is short, personal, and changes every week. Its impact, however, is almost always the same: a smile, a hug, and a relaxed look of joy.

It’s not the words themselves that are magical. It’s words together with the mood and the people.

What Prayer Does

The old saying goes “A family that prays together stays together.” While experience and reflection make that statement seem simplistic for me, the truth is that prayer creates a unique feeling of kinship and joy.

It helps children feel connected and secure, and it reminds adults that there is more to life than constant activity. Prayer puts life in perspective.

Pray for Ourselves

Some might object that the purpose of prayer is not to make us feel better. It is to speak to God. This view of prayer is far too limiting.

In fact, the Hebrew word li-hit-palel means “to pray,” and it falls into the category of what linguists called “reflexive verbs.” That means that the direct object of the verb “to pray” is ourselves. When we pray, we are shaping ourselves.

In this time of holiday celebration, let us remember the power of prayer. It’s not just something we do in a church or synagogue. It’s something we can do in our homes, with our family and friends, and with all those we love.

By Evan Moffic,

GET A FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

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