Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Insight of the Week: My Soul Like Dust?

At the conclusion of the daily Amidah prayer, we say: “My G-d! Guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking deceitfully… Let my soul be as dust before all. Open my heart to Your Torah…”

Is this really what we desire for ourselves and our loved ones—that they see themselves as dust of the earth, allowing everyone to step on them? Do we want to become doormats?

To the contrary. What we are asking of G-d is that we discover an inner core of confidence that does not require validation from others, or even from ourselves; that we experience our innermost beings as having absolute, non-negotiable dignity. When you have that in your life, then even when someone steps—or tries to step—on you, it does not injure you, because your value comes from your own being. G-d loves you unconditionally; you may love yourself unconditionally, which in turn will allow you to love others unconditionally.      

Tosefot (in commentary to Talmud Berachos 17a) offers this explanation to explain this prayer: Just as earth is not subject to destruction, so ask G-d that our descendants should never be destroyed. The ideas correlate. When your existence is rooted in ultimate Being, it can’t be destroyed.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Insight of the Week: G-d’s Wrath

Each day we say in the Shema, that if we follow alien gods, “G-d’s wrath will burn against you and He will stop the heavens, so there will not be rain…”

Statements like these in the Torah can easily be misunderstood. G-d can be perceived as a Lord of wrath who waits to punish us for every wrongdoing.

G-d is love. G-d loves you unconditionally. Nothing you do or don’t do can destroy or even dampen that love. The core of your being is pure, holy, good, perfect, one with the essence of all existence. Your Being is cherished and loved by G-d, because it is part of G-d. G-d never “punishes” you because He hates you, or because He wants revenge, or because He wants to “show you” whose boss, or because He is upset that you disobeyed Him; rather, He challenges you in order to bring out the best in you, to help you discover your essence, and to achieve your mission in life.

If you read the words of the Shema in the original Hebrew it actually says, “G-d’s intense passion will burn in you.” This means that G-d craves that you see yourself as He does. All of our mistakes come from the fact that we do not appreciate who we really are and what we are capable of. He wants His intense passion to burn in our hearts that we experience ourselves and the world around us from His perspective, so that you would be permeated with His passion for what it means to live.       

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Insight of the Week: The Secret of the Shamash

A moving insight by the Lubavitcher rebbe written up by Rabbi Yanki Tauber

Insight of the Week: The Secret of the Shamash

It’s the first night of Chanukah, and a single flame is glowing the night away at the right-hand side of the menorah.

One flame? Aren’t there two?
Two? Oh, you mean the shammash. He doesn’t count.
Night after night, the shammash dutifully goes about his task of kindling lights. Each evening, he welcomes the newcomer and settles him into his rightful place in the growing row: two flames, three flames, four flames.... The shammash coaxes them to life and then stands watch over them, lest one falter and require a fresh boost of light.
Still the shammash doesn’t count. An imparter of light to others, he never attains the status of a Chanukah light in his own right.
Despite—indeed because—of this, the shammash towers above all the other lights of the menorah. To forgo one’s own luminary potential in order to awaken a flame in others—there is no greater virtue.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Joke of the Week -- Thanksgiving and Chanukah

Joke of the Week -- Thanksgiving and Chanukah:
A young man named Jon received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. Jon tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.

Finally Jon was fed up and he yelled at the parrot.The parrot yelled back. Jon shook the parrot and the parrot got even angrier and more rude. Jon, in desperation, threw up his hands and grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then, suddenly there was total quiet, not a peep was heard.

Fearing that he had hurt the parrot, Jon quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto Jon's outstretched arm and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions.I am sincerely remorseful for any inappropriate transgressions. I fully intend to do everything I can do to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.

Jon was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. He was about to ask the parrot why he had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, but the bird continued... "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Lesson of the anecdote: When we punish or penalize a child or a student we may sometimes do something which in our eyes is small and insignificant, yet in their eyes it may be extremely scary and frightening, thus the impact being heavily exaggerated.

We must exercise extreme caution in choosing the methods of punishment.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Story of the Week: When He Grows Up

Story of the Week: When He Grows Up

A husband and wife came to the Rabbi at 2am in the morning, the night before the Bris of their newborn son because they  couldn't agree on the name.

To be sure, each wanted the name Moshe, but she wanted it to be after her father whose name was Moshe, and he wanted the name after his father whose name was also Moshe.

You see, his father was a well-known creep — a gambler, an alcoholic, a thief, a schemer, a famous “ganav.” Her father, on the other hand, was a gentle, noble and pious spirit, known for his decency, integrity, kindness and generosity. Hence the mother of the newborn argued that there was no way she would allow her son to be named after her father-in-law… Yet, her husband argued, it is after all his father, and he wishes his son to carry his deceased father’s name.

What do you do?

The Rabbi thought for a long time and then he gave the verdict: The name which should be given to the child is Moshe.

“After whom?” both parents yelled.

“Well,” the Rabbi said calmly, “for that we will have to wait till the boy grows up. If he is a selfish creep, then we know that he carries the name of his paternal grandfather; if he turns out a mentch, then we know that the name is after his maternal grandfather…”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Story of the Week: The Fisherman

Story of the Week: The Fisherman

They tell a story of a man who docked his fishing boat at eight in the morning with the hold half empty.

“Why did you come in so early?” asked a bystander.

“Because I have caught enough to sustain me for the day”, replied the fisherman.

Bystander: How will you spend the rest of the day?

Fisherman: I will smoke my pipe, relax with my family and enjoy some quiet time.

Bystander: Why don’t you stay out a little longer and make a little more money”?

Fisherman: What would I do with more money?

Bystander: You could buy another boat, hire someone to run it and make even more money.

Fisherman: And what would I do with that money?

Bystander: I suppose you could buy more boats and have a fleet; this way you could make real money.

Fisherman: And what would I do with real money?

Bystander: Well you could diversify into other lucrative opportunities and really
strike it rich.

Fisherman: And what would I do if I were rich?

Bystander: I suppose if you really wanted to you could retire early.

Fisherman: And what would I do with an early retirement?

Bystander: Well, replied the stranger, somewhat flummoxed, you would do whatever you wanted to do. You could do a little fishing, you could smoke a cigar, enjoy your family and maybe have some quiet time…

That, the fisherman replied pointedly, is what I do already...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Joke of the week : Lower His Losses

Joke of the week : Lower His Losses

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

Mark Ginsberg never pays his bills. Recently his friend saw him bargaining with a supplier.

"Hey, Ginsberg," Goldberg asks him, why are you knocking that man's prices down ? You're never going to pay him anyway.

Listen, answers Ginsberg, he is a nice chap. I just want to keep down his losses.

Moral of the story: Even in dishonesty and carelessness, you can find a spark of honesty and caring.

Joke of the week: Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Joke of the week: Peanut Butter Sandwiches

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

Every day at lunch time Yankel open his lunch sandwich and utters the same complaint. "Oh no, peanut butter again!”
One day, after seven years, his co-worker finally loses his patience. "Why don't you ask your wife to make you something different, for heaven’s sake?"
"That won't help", Yankel replies, "I make the sandwiches myself".
In life, much of our misery and anguish is not completely based on the circumstances around us, but rather on the messages we tell ourselves—and have been telling ourselves—as an interpretation of these circumstances. We can choose to make different sandwiches for ourselves and everything might change.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Joke of the week: My Grandfather Was Not Jewish

Joke of the week: My Grandfather Was Not Jewish

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

The offices of the Jewish Federation called a certain guy for a donation and he answered the phone in a thick British accent and an imperious tone, and he said "Madam, there must be a mistake. My name is Oliver Andrew Hamilton the Third and I'm not Jewish." And with that he hung up.

The next day, his card got put in the wrong pile and he was called again, and he said the same thing. "Young lady, there must be some mistake. My name is Oliver Andrew Hamilton the Third and I am not Jewish." 

The next day, his card got put in the wrong pile again, and this time he really blew up. "Madam, there must be some mistake," he said. "My name is Oliver Andrew Hamilton the Third, and I am not Jewish. And my father Oliver Andrew Hamilton the Second is also not Jewish, and my grandfather, Oliver Andrew Hamilton the First, alav hashalom, was not Jewish either."

One of the greatest tragedies in life is when you are ashamed of who you are and you feel that your value comes from mimicking someone else. This has been a great tragedy for our people collectively, and for many of us individually.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Did Our Parents Brainwash Us?

Did Our Parents Brainwash Us?

Growing up I asked myself these question numerous times, "Have my parents brainwashed me with their beliefs?" "What would my life look like had I grown up in a different home, in a different community?" 

Do we call all education of a certain set of values and ideals "brainwashing?" 

What is the alternative? 

Should we tell our children, "We will not give you direction. When you are an adult you will choose your lifestyle and your belief system?"

This teenager below is worth listening to. Take a look at this clip:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Joke of the week: You Want a Drink?

Joke of the week: You Want a Drink?
By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

A kind-hearted fellow was walking through Central Park in New York and was astonished to see an old man, fishing rod in hand, fishing over a beautiful bed of red roses.

"Tsk Tsk!" said the passer-by to himself. "What a sad sight. That poor old man is fishing over a bed of flowers. I'll see if I can help." So the kind fellow walked up to the old man and asked, "What are you doing, my friend?"

"Fishin', sir."

"Fishin', eh. Well how would you like to come have a drink with me?"

The old man stood, put his rod away and followed the kind stranger to the corner bar. He ordered a large glass of Beer and a fine cigar.

His host, the kind fellow, felt good about helping the old man, and he asked, "Tell me, old friend, how many did you catch today?"

The old fellow took a long drag on the cigar, blew a careful smoke ring and replied, "You are the sixth today, sir!"

This joke depicts how easy it is to be deceived by others.

So here’s some food for thought: If other people, with whom my defenses are up, can deceive me, how much more so am I capable of deceiving myself, in whose presence my defenses are down?

When you discover that you have been fooling yourself for so many years, it may not be that funny.

Joke of the week: In the Opposite Direction

Joke of the week: In the Opposite Direction
By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Interstate 77. Please be careful!"

"My dear wife," said Herman, "It's not just one car. It's hundreds of them! I am the only car, in fact, driving in the right direction."

In life, you sometimes need to muster the courage to go in the opposite direction than most people. Not always does driving in the opposite direction demonstrate that you are over the hill...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Joke of the Week: Cat and Mom

Joke of the Week: Cat and Mom

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

A man named Phil had never taken even a day's vacation. He never married--all his life took care of his elderly mom and his beloved cat. Friends and family urged him to get away just to relax a bit. His biggest concern was who would look after the cat and who would ensure his mother was fine. Phil's brother stepped up to the task and Phil was happily off on a long vacation.

His first day out, Phil called his brother and immidiatly asked about the cat. The brother replied he was very sorry but the cat had died.

Phil was devastated. How did this happen? "I don’t understand", he cried. "The cat was healthy. I took care of it so well. I am gone one day and it's dead?"

His brother explained that the cat ran out to the street and it was struck by a car.

Phil was crushed. He wept profusely. When he finally composed himself, he told his brother that he really should think about how he presents bad news to people. Since he was going to be gone for several weeks, he told his brother, "you could have said something like, 'The cat is on the roof.' In a day or so you could add "We've had trouble getting the cat down from the roof."

Then a day later, you tell me, “the cat fell off the roof and died.” In that way I'd know that something was up and at least I'd be a bit prepared for the news.

The brother apologized and said he would work at being more considerate in the future.

So Phil then asked about their mother. "How is she?"

After a pause, Phil's brother said: "Uh, Mom's on the roof."

The moral of the story: Sometimes we are so cautious not to communicate directly, that in the end, we make things worse. Sure, always be considerate and sensitive; be gentle and respectful, but be direct with people. Communicate clearly, authentically and honestly. Exaggerated diplomacy is often a cover-up for insecurity. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Story of the Week: Unity

Story of the Week: Unity 

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

The holiday of Sukkot is the festival of Jewish unity. Here is the story:

A man once had four sons who never stopped quarrelling with one another. He was always telling them how much easier life would be if they worked together but they took absolutely no notice of him.

One day he decided to show them what he meant. He called the sons together and put a tightly tied bundle of sticks on the floor in front of them. "Can you break that?" he asked the youngest son. The boy put his knee on the bundle but though he pressed and pulled with his arms he could not bend the wood. The father asked each son in turn to try to break the bundle, but none of them could do it.

Then he untied the string and scattered the sticks. "Now try," he said. The boys broke the sticks easily in the hands.

"Do you see what I mean?" asked the father. "If only you stand together no one can hurt you. If you all disagree the whole time and insist on going your separate ways, the first enemy you meet will be able to destroy you."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Last Day In Camp

By: Rabbi YY Jacobson. 

In a single moment, eleven years of memories swelled up in my heart. I was a mere spectator, but I could not hold back the tears.

You see, I have spent some eleven summers in that location which I was now visiting. From the age of nine, back in 1981, I was a camper—then a staff-member—in Camp Gan Yisroel, in Parksville, NY, a small town off exit 98 on the 17. Only this time around, I came to camp to pick up my 11-year-old son who spent part of his summer here.

It was the last day at camp Gan Israel. It was time to say goodbye.

Once upon a time, I was one of the boys who would weep when camp came to a close and we were instructed to board the buses that would tear us away from two months of limitless fun and deep friendships. Now, 32 years later, it was like time froze: the same scenes, the same emotion, but with a new generation of staff members and children. Right outside the shul, counselors and campers stood in a circle singing an Alma Matter about their two months in this Catskill Mountain resort. I looked up and I saw my son, his arms around the shoulders of his counselor, singing too.

My mind took me back to the summer of 82, when the following Alma Matter was composed during Color-War. (The tune and lyrics were written by Dr. Mendel Shemtov, solo by Yosef Piekarski.) It has become an instant hit, and has been sung in camp ever since.

Snuggled by the fireplace
One lonely winter night
Skimming through fond memories
Of good times as a child

The fire melts away the years
As I find myself once more
Sitting by a fire, but
This time I’m not alone

My counselor is sitting beside me
My bunkmates are singing nearby
With heartfelt concern he speaks to me
The words that changed my life

How it pains my heart to realize that
Those times are forever gone
Oh, where would I be, if it weren’t for you?
Gan Yisroel I love you.

A few decades have passed since 1982. But in this idyllic bubble, where heaven and earth converge in the innocent imagination of children, not much has changed. Campers and counselors wept as they embraced each other one last time. One camper in particular could not console himself; he and his counselor were weeping uncontrollably. Those special bonds created in over-night camps are unparalleled. The sparks ignited over the two summer months, the friendships formed, the spirit of life ingested, the deep Yiddishkeit bequeathed—have no parallel in any other structure.

Driving down memory lane, I recalled our own Friday nights in camp: the singing for hours, followed by the walks with our counselors in the forests; the sleepless Color-War nights, the skits, plays, and the insane hikes. The canteen, the pillow fights, water fights, and much-dreaded Bedside Inspections. I recalled the many characters who hibernated all year, and came to life only in camp. But most importantly: Those bonds between campers and counselors which have over the years transformed the lives of thousands of children.

I walked out the front gate to go to my car. And there he was: Eric. Eric, the legendary caretaker of camp over the past four decades, was standing on the main road doing what he has been doing now for forty years: directing traffic.

In Eric’s mouth was a cigar. It seemed like the same cigar he had in his mouth back in 1981, when I was a camper.

As always, Eric was getting annoyed with the bus drivers who were not paying attention to his hand gestures. As always, the muffler of the bus hit the gutter while going down the hill, and Eric demonstrated his discontent. As he blew out some heavy chains of smoke, he exhibited his well-known sour face which he often displayed to us when he saw us misbehaving in camp.

“How can you boys not pick up a piece of garbage in the Rebbe Shlaika’s camp?!” he would chastise us. That’s right; Eric never mastered the title “Shlita.” Our camp for him was the “Rebbe Shlaika’s camp.”

The buses departed. The camp was now almost deserted. What was just a few moments ago a bustling Garden of Eden, filled with the laughter of hundreds of children, was now a lonely piece of land in the Borscht Belt. I said, “Goodbye Gan Yisroel” as I walked swiftly to the car. I knew that if I would procrastinate any longer, I might never leave the bosom of my youth.


Joke of the Week: Change

The hot dog vendor in Boro Park fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill. The hot dog vendor puts the bill in the cash drawer and closes the drawer. The Zen master remains standing, silently, for five minutes.

Finally, the vendor asks him: "How can I help you, sir?"

"Where's my change?" asks the Zen master.

The hot dog vendor responds, "Change must come from within."

And that is the essence of our work during this month of Elul--when we evaluate where we have been and where we want to go. I cannot change you; I cannot change my family, my children, my spouse, the people around me. I can change myself. And then everything will fall into place.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sefiras Haomer- Day 37

Day 37

Gevurah Shebeyesod – Discipline in bonding

Joke: A boy comes home from school and tells his mother he got a part in the school play.
"That's wonderful!" says the mother, "Which part?"
"The part of a Jewish husband," says the boy, proudly.
Frowning, the mother says, "Go back and tell them you want a speaking role!"

Bonding requires at times the discipline and restraint coming from mutual respect and recognition of boundaries.
Are you too verbal in your bonding? Are you overbearing? Do you know to back off and respect the space of the other?
As a teacher, do you know when to be silent and allow your student to think on his/her own? As a parent, do you know how to stop kissing and “choking” your child with your affection and bonding? As a friend, do you know how to say “goodbye” and give the person space?

Sefiras Haomer- Day 36

Day 36

Chesed Shebeyesod – Kindness in bonding

Joke: A man asks a judge to let him off jury service.
Judge says, ‘But surely your firm can manage without you for a few weeks.’ The man replies, ‘Certainly. They can manage without me altogether – and I don’t want them to find out.’

Yesod, bonding, is about creating the glue that bonds us to each other. When you wish to bond with someone learn how to express your love and affection for them in a way that they understand. Allow them to feel and sense how important a role they play in your life.
Do not keep your deep connection to the other person inside. Express it with passion and intensity.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sefiras Haomer-Day 35

Day 35

Malchus Shebehod – Selflessness in consistency

Pupil: My sister and I know the meaning of every word in the world. 
Teacher: What does egotistical mean?
Pupil: That would be one of the words my sister knows.

Don’t become arrogant about your ability to be steadfast, consistent and reliable.
Remember that it is not always about you, rather how you effect and benefit the people around you.
Do not become obsessed in your rigid schedules and patterns; do not worship your own need to be consistent. Rather, focus also on how it is affecting the people around you.

- Rabbi YY Jacobson

Sefiras Haomer-Day 34

Day 34
Yesod Shebehod – bonding in consistency

joke: An artist asks the gallery owner if there has been any interest in his paintings. ‘I have good news and bad news,’ the owner replies. ‘The good news is that a gentleman inquired about your work and wondered if it would appreciate in value after your death. When I told him it would, he bought all 15 of your paintings.’ ‘That’s wonderful,’ the artist exclaims. ‘What’s the bad news?’ The owner replies, ‘The guy was your doctor…’

You are a responsible, consistent, reliable husband or father. Yet, you don’t feel you get the credit your commitment deserves.

You are a reliable and fair employer. You have principles and you stick to them. Yet, you do not feel that your employees appreciate you for all the effort you put in being a consistent and principled employer.

You work so hard to be there for your husband, all of his needs are met. He comes home to a fresh, hot dinner, and a clean home. Yet, he does not show appreciation…

Sometimes, your consistency—though admirable—still requires bonding. You need to bond with your loved one, express to them your caring and affection for them. Tell them how much they mean to you and how important they are in your life. This can make all the difference.

- Rabbi YY Jacobson

Sefiras Haomer- Day 33

Day 33

Hod Shebehod – consistency in consistency

Joke: A traveler in the out-back pulled in for some gas and a cup of coffee. 

While drinking his coffee, he looked out the window and saw two workers out in the fields.
One was digging holes every couple of yards, and the other was immediately filling the holes up.

This puzzled the traveler. Curiosity got the better of him, so he went into the field to ask the workers what they were doing.

"Well", said one of the workers, "Me, my brother Seth and my other brother Jeff are tree-planting contractors working for the County. I dig the holes, Seth puts the trees in the holes and Jeff fills the holes back up. Today, Seth is off sick...

...just because Seth is home sick, doesn't mean me and Jeff also have to take the day off!"

You embarked on a path toward a better and healthier life—one that is more productive, meaningful and moral. You were inspired for a while, but now the motivated has waned.

This is the moment that calls for “consistency in consistency,” your consistency may lack an inspirational engine, but you must plow away. Be consistent in your consistency even when you have no passion to back it up.

When you know something is true and correct, follow through, even when you are internally not motivated and you could not care less about it. This is where inner stubbornness must be elicited.

What is the quality that most secured the endurance of our people? It was the ability to endure and remain steadfast in our commitment to Torah despite enormous resistance from without. Even when we lacked internal light and inspiration, we knew how to be consistent in our consistency.

That is why Lag Baomer, the day of the passing of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochaei, is associated with this day in the omer. Rabbi Shimon, author of the Zohar, gave us the inner ember of endurance.

- Rabbi YY Jacobson

Sefiras Haomer- Day 32

Day 32

Netach Shebehod—Victory in consistency

Joke: A Texan is in Israel and is telling a dairy farmer how large his ranch in Texas is. He tells the farmer his ranch is so large that if he gets into his pick-up truck and drives all day, he would not reach the other border of his ranch.
The Israeli responds," I used to have a truck like that.”

There will always be forces outside of you that will easily derail you from your goals. To consistently follow through, you must access your capacity for forging ahead despite mockery, cynicism, disheartening comments, pressures, antagonism, or any other obstacle from without.

If you know that you are on a good path and you are doing G-d’s work, march forward and do not blink. Be kind and empathetic to the positions and perspectives of others, but do not cave in just because it may be uncomfortable or scary.

- Rabbi YY Jacobson

Sefiras Haomer- Day 31

Day 31

Tiferes Shebehod – Empathy in consistency

Joke: What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? A good lawyer knows the law, a great lawyer knows the judge.

Consistent people need to be rigid to a certain degree, particularly towards themselves - refusing lavish temptations of all sorts. But do not let your consistency and self-mastery make you aloof, insensitive, obnoxious and judgmental. Remain empathetic to the conditions and challenges of other people. Respect their circumstances and their journeys which may have an entire different set of challenges.

You must also be empathic to yourself. Despite your rigidity, in order to maintain your schedule and objectives, do not become obsessive. Retain your balance and sense of humor by understanding that what may be called success in one area might be defined as failure in another one. Have empathy for the inconsistencies of human life so that you don’t freak out when you are called on to change course.

- Rabbi YY Jacobson

Sefiras Haomer- Day 30

Day 30

Gevurah Shebehod – Discipline in consistency

Joke: An older Jewish couple was starting on a vacation, but it soon became obvious that their habit of arguing over everything was not taking a break. ‘It’s “Hawaii”, I’m telling you!’ she shouted. ‘Oy! I never KNEW someone so stubborn! It’s pronounced “Havaii”!’ he replied. And so it went all the way to the airport and for the long flight. As they got off the airplane, the husband abruptly stopped his wife and turned to a man standing at the airport gate. ‘Now that we’re on the island, you can settle an argument between my wife and I. Is this Hawaii or Havaii?’ The man smiled and said, ‘This is Havaii.’ ‘Ha!’ the husband said, turning to his wife. ‘See, didn't I tell you never to argue with me? I’m always right!’ As they began to walk away, he turned and gave the man a hearty ‘Thank you!’ The man responded: ‘You’re velcome!’

When Steve Jobs was asked what his ultimate success was, he responded: It was the many projects I declined.

To be consistent, to maintain your balance, you must be disciplined and strong-minded within yourself. You have to be able to tell yourself “no”; you need to challenge yourself, your habits, instincts and cravings, if you want to persevere.

Some of us have the power to persevere, but we lack the discipline and strength needed to say “no” to our destructive patterns. As a result, we pull the rug out from under our own feet. Rigidity is an important ingredient in a successful and meaningful life.