Friday, November 16, 2012

This is Your Brain

The purpose of this blog is to help you use your brain at the Friday night dinner table. Please print & share.

This week's question is about what makes you happy.

But first a short personal story.

Long, long ago in a land far, far away....

Known as the Land of Israel...

You know that place that seems so small and distant but keeps making headlines...

I decided to spend a year studying in a yeshiva.

Some of my extended family back in the States became a bit...concerned.

Who could blame them - what were those four years of college for? What about all that tuition? So you could become a monk?

One family member, when she got wind of my derailed "career", was baffled: "Don't you want to have nice things?"

Hmm.... nice things....

Nice things are nice, but do they make you happy?

No really, this is Question #1 of the week: Does your _________ (fill in the blank with a nice thing) make you happy?

There are many paths to happiness, but they all have one thing in common.

Whether your bliss is experiential, connecting to other humanoids or creative, there is one required feature for happiness:

You have to focus on what you have rather than what you're lacking.

Children teach us this great truth. A child eating pizza is happy. A child whose sister got a bigger slice is unhappy. A child feeling the warmth of a goodnight hug is happy, a child being told to go to bed is unhappy. A child building a lego masterpiece is happy. A child whose friend has more legos is unhappy.

I would like to learn a lesson from Steve Martin.

Remember Steve Martin, the banjo player?

How did he get so good?

He explains it like this:

"I got my first banjo when I was 17 and I started to teach myself one note at a time. I figured, Hey, if I keep this up for 35 years, pretty soon I'll have played the banjo for 35 years!"

The point, I think, is to figure out what you emjoy doing on the creative side and stick to it for a long, long time. You may not become a grammy-winner, but you'll be happy.

But then again, maybe you will win a grammy, who knows?

Question #2 for your table: What's the world's greatest creative challenge?

As a departure from my usual style, I'm actually going to give you my answer to the question.

I believe that the greatest creative challenge in the entire universe is one that every one of us has an equal gift at doing.

It may sound corny, but if you think about it, it is absolutely true.

The greatest challenge is to create - or recreate - yourself.

A person who grew up angry can become calm.

A person who grew up moody can become cheerful.

A person who grew up impatient can be patient.

A person who grew up blaming can become accepting.

A person who grew up lazy can become energetic.

A person who grew up stingy can become generous.

A person who grew up a gourmand can become a gourmet.

A person who grew up self-absorbed can become comradely.

And so on.

There ain't no grammy for self-perfection. But there is no greater pleasure than conquering even a single bad character trait.

Question #3 - What area of self-perfection would give you the most pleasure?

Shabbat Shalom

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