Thursday, November 12, 2015


Pliskin applied himself diligently to the task of mastering happiness. "Happiness is a skill that can be learned," he says. "Maimonides wrote nine centuries ago that the way to develop any positive trait is to practice doing that trait over and over again. When it comes to happiness, the more a person does positive acts of kindness, the more joy becomes part of our nature."

Pliskin cites research that joy sparks the production of four "pleasure chemicals": Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins. "When you speak and act joyfully, you get spurts of those positive chemicals in the brain," he says.

Pliskin discovered that with mental discipline, he can frequently access positive states. "I assign code names to my most positive and meaningful experiences – then can access that joyful state anytime, anywhere." (His groundbreaking work on "collecting states" was featured in the NLP journal, "Anchor Point.")...

"Happiness is a choice," he says, citing the adage of 18th century Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lutzatto: External movements arouse inner feelings. "Even if you don't feel happy, act happy," says Rabbi Pliskin. "You'll begin to feel happy!"

He explains: "The secret is an 8-word mantra. Joyful thoughts. Joyful feelings. Joyful words. Joyful actions. By repeating these words enthusiastically, 10 times a day for 5 seconds, you can constantly upgrade your attitude and become a master of happiness."

"Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz taught that we always have something to be joyful about," he says. "If a person's glass object would fall and break, and at that moment they receive the news of having won the lottery, would they be upset about the glass breaking? Of course not. So too, the joy of being alive should override anything we may find to complain about."

"Whenever I need a quick pick-me-up, I smile and wave to the mirror. It always smiles and waves back to me!"


  1. What all the Complaining Janes and Criticial Craigs don’t realize is that negativity exacts a price that no healthy person can afford to pay.

    Usually we think of negativity – the tendency to criticize, blame, hate, fear, or be depressed – as a psychological disposition. “Some people are just upbeat; I’m not.”

    It sounds as neutral as saying, “Some people are blonde; some are brunette.”

    But what if you viewed negativity as a spiritual disease? Just as you would never complacently say, “Some people don’t have cancer; I do,” resigning yourself to the status quo rather than seeking treatment, so you would regard a negative state of mind as dangerous to your spiritual – and physical – health.

    The 20th century sage Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe explained that there are two parallel worlds, and at any given moment we are in one or the other of these worlds. One world, called the World of Connection (Olam HaYedidut in Hebrew), is characterized by love, joy, tranquility, optimism, harmony, generosity, confidence, and faith. The other world, called the World of Estrangement (Olam HaZarut) is characterized by animosity, anger, blame, resentment, criticism, anxiety, sadness, and fear.

    Only once she exits her state of negativity can she feel happy, loving, and optimistic.

    Because these worlds are parallel, at any given moment a person can be in only one of these worlds. While Complaining Jane is finding fault with the restaurant’s slow service, she cannot be happy that her best friend just got engaged. She cannot feel loving toward her baby niece. She cannot feel optimistic that she’ll get the job she just applied for. Only once she exits the World of Estrangement with its negativity [see “The Spiritual GPS” to learn how], can she feel happy, loving, and optimistic. But while she is engaged in the act of criticizing, she is confined to the World of Estrangement like a prisoner in her cell.

    This is because negativity is not a feeling or emotion that is in us. Rather, it is a world or spiritual dimension, and we are in it. Just as there are no palm trees in Antarctica, there is no love or joy in the World of Estrangement. Fault-finding, blame, resentment, hostility, and anger —no matter how justified — are the plane tickets that land us in the World of Estrangement. Some of us visit that world only periodically. Others of us have taken up permanent residence there...

    Living in the World of Estrangement, the State of Negativity, is like living atop a nuclear-waste disposal site. So why does any intelligent person stay there? Why don’t they just move out?


    After the start of the Iranian Revolution, Persian Jews were free to leave the lethally dangerous country, but only if they relinquished their property and their valuables. Similarly, people can’t leave the World of Estrangement while clutching their valuables — their long-held resentments, their cherished grudges, their precious claim to be the innocent victim of someone else’s wrongdoing. They proclaim that they are the rightful owners of those legitimate gripes, but in fact the gripes own them...

    But if you’re deciding where you want to live, would you choose even the remote outskirts of a nuclear waste disposal site? Anyone who really cares about his own well-being would be wise to drive hundreds of miles out of his way rather than cross the border into the State of Negativity.

  2. For two decades the Weiss Family lived in the World of Estrangement. It started with an argument over the inheritance, which led to a feud among the five siblings, which led to estrangement among the next generation of cousins. * The warring factions did not invite each other to their family Bar Mitzvahs and weddings, and every mention of the “other side” produced a spouting of venom unabated by the years.

    The World of Estrangement charges its inhabitants an exorbitantly high rent. Three of the siblings died of various illnesses while in their early sixties. Other family members, extending to their children and grandchildren, suffered premature deaths, divorces, and childlessness, while others suffered the pain of unmarried older children and at-risk teens. Then, Barry, the son of one of the principal combatants, contracted meningitis and lapsed into a coma. The doctors held out no hope.

    At that point Yossi, one of the cousins, who understood the spiritual reality that hostility kills, undertook to end the family feud. He drew up an official document of forgiveness. He went around to all 32 cousins, pleading, “Barry’s going to die if you don’t sign.” After days of cajoling and convincing, Yossi got every one of his cousins to sign the document, granting forgiveness to every relative.

    Barry’s daughter Etty brought the document with the signatures to her father’s room in the I.C.U., and read it out loud beside his comatose body. While she was reading it, a doctor ran into the room and demanded, “What’s going on here? The monitors outside show that your father’s brain activity just started to normalize.”

    Barry experienced a complete recovery. Within the following year, several older single women in the family became engaged, and a couple who had been childless for 13 years had a baby.