My father’s teacher, Rav Brandwein, always taught him not to judge a person by his external appearance, but to always search for that inner point within him. He would often say, “Do not look at a container, but at what is in it.”
We are always going to find something wrong with the people we live and work with – and especially those we love. Our job is to see past the false outer layers, and to penetrate into the heart of what is good about the person.
Who do you need to apply this lesson to today?
How many times have we said, “I told you twice already!”
Why is it we have all the patience in the world for ourselves when we make mistakes [some of us], but not the same tolerance for others?
Today, give others a chance to change. Don’t be so quick to judge
Recently I was reading about
an enormous "island" of trash twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific
Ocean somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii. The so-called Great Pacific
Garbage Patch, has been growing since the 1950s, and is comprised of 80 percent
plastic and weighs more than 3.5 million tons.
The alarming lesson here is just because our garbage is no longer in front of our face, it doesn't mean it's gone.
And so too with our ‘issues.' Just because we broke up with the girl who was annoying us, doesn't mean our lack of tolerance is gone. Just because we drink and smoke, doesn't mean our loneliness or depression is gone. Just because we boss our employees or children or spouse around, doesn't mean our feelings of inadequacy are gone.
Today, spot the ways in which you push your garbage away. Clean up your junk — correct it, rather. Feel the discomfort and deal with the problem, head on. This is the best way to clean up the polluted waters of your life.
I know a lot of people who
are what you‘d call hard-core Kabbalah students; attending holidays, scanning
Zohar, doing acts of charity, reading the books, etc. Yet they're not really
changing. And they ask me, 'why, why am I still in this dysfunctional
relationship or dealing with low-self esteem or battling this addiction? Why
aren't I changing?"
I tell them what my father and teacher Rav Berg has often told me, "Change is what happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing."
The thing is, we don't want to wait for the pain of cancer to motivate us to stop smoking, or the heartbreak of a lover cheating on us to realize we're in a bad relationship. We want to imagine what the pain would feel like now so we don't have to go through it later.
What do you want to change about yourself? Pick one thing and imagine the pain you will feel down the line if you continue doing what you are doing.
It is written that when the
Kotzker Rebbe was on his death bed, all his students gathered around him and
asked, "Master, please tell us, what was the most important thing you did in
your life?" The Kabbalist thought for a moment and answered, "What I am doing
this very minute."
What does this teach and reinforce for us? Thinking about the past or worrying about the future is a waste of time. It only takes us away from the importance of the moment we're in.
Today, be present in whatever it is you are doing. It is the most important thing you have ever done.
One of the best pieces of
advice I received before getting married was, apologize when you're wrong,
apologize when she's wrong!
When we love someone, it doesn't matter that we are right. So what? The whole purpose of relationships is oneness. There's no oneness when you are sitting on your side of the bed calculating and figuring what you did right and what she did wrong. And this goes for relationships of all stripes, with our parents, our friends, our kids.
Today, swallow your pride and admit you were wrong to someone you've been at odds with.
Human nature is to run away from pain and run towards joy and pleasure. There's
no free will and no exceptions to this rule.
This is not my idea. It's Rav Ashlag's. I remind you of it today because to be aware is to exercise free will. And to exercise free will is to be the exception to the rule.
Today, when someone hurts you - slight or big - and you want to run away from the pain — open your heart instead. Submit to the discomfort of embarrassment, heartache, loss, disappointment, sadness. Give in to what you are fighting. There is great strength in profound vulnerability.
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