Monday, January 14, 2008
But I come back to the kids, and I can’t help but be pleased and grateful. Hannah and Emily are just so wonderful, and though I know I have many improvements to make as a parent, I feel confident that they will grow up just fine.
I’ve been thinking these last few days that morality, real day-to-day morality, comes down only to a few simple principles, chief of which are gratitude and truthfulness. Being thankful, I realized, is essential. Good people appreciate what they have and what is given to them. Gratitude also seems tied to happiness. Refraining from telling lies also seems important, not least because it never burdens one. People who tell even small untruths often seem heavy with the responsibility of carrying these statements around with them. Lies don’t go away.
In the Pirkei Avot, Yehoshuah ben Perachya is attributed to the following statement: “Make for yourself a teacher; acquire for yourself a friend; and judge every person favorably.” At the risk of being off-base, being grateful makes everyone one’s teacher, and truthfulness acquires friends for one. The third point, which I had not really factored in my scheme, considers that one should be proactively charitable in one’s view of all others. It’s kind of two parts behavior and one part attitude.
Maybe my gift to myself this year is the gift of judging every person favorably. It should be.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Re-capping the general directives I've issued for myself this year, I am attempting to cover the following:
1. Eat clean; Exercise regularly (Physiological)
2. Build a savings account through regular, automatic withdrawals (Safety)
3. Help clean and maintain the house; Schedule quality time; Call my family and brothers every week (Belonging-Love)
4. Improve the house; Keep “my” areas clean and organized (Self-esteem)
5. Read Torah every day; Be creative; Reflect on myself less (Self-actualization)
Thinking about the week that just passed, I have to say not bad: I've hit a little something in all categories. It seems to me that the Belonging-Love and Self-esteem needs are the ones that resonate most with me. This is somewhat surprising because self actualization needs are, right now, not that important to me. Perhaps if I can shore up the lower two levels, then these needs will gain in importance for me.
I have a busy week coming up, so I need to keep my head on straight and stay positive. I have not done a good job at all with physical exercise. This week, I want to drop to about 180 pounds. It's a stretch, but I think I can do it with proper diet and exercise. In addition, I am looking to plan my call for submittals soon. More on this later ….
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Welcome to 2008. Yes, I have some concepts for how I want to behave this year:
- Eat clean; Exercise regularly (Physiological)
- Build a savings account through regular, automatic withdrawals (Safety)
- Help clean and maintain the house; Schedule quality time; Call my family and brothers every week (Belonging-Love)
- Improve the house; Keep “my” areas clean and organized (Self-esteem)
- Read Torah every day; Be creative; Reflect on myself less (Self-actualization)
I would call the concepts above “directives” rather than “resolutions” because they are open-ended and ongoing. It’s more like I’m trying to steer the ship than reach a destination.
I used Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs to provide a structure for these directives, which are surprisingly home-based. I certainly have lofty goals and ideals I wish to reach – collect submittals for a book-length project, revise and get “Hannah’s Moon” published, draft an original APMP article, etc. – but perhaps I have realized that any so-called success I am to have will come from cultivating my self at home.
Maybe, as I approach 38 years old, I am getting beyond reducing myself to spiritual, material, or professional definitions. Maybe. Let’s go read some Torah.