What am I driven towards? If you’re driven simply to get attention, that doesn’t seem like a godly ambition.

We have to have some failures in life in order to get perspective on life.  Time and chance befall us all.

If I don’t feel a little bit nervous, then I don’t think I’m taking this seriously enough.

A lot of the presidents didn’t have fathers that were present; there was a drive in each of those individuals.

Facebook is the highlight reel of someone’s life.

Happiness is more than just making a million dollars a year.

The word happiness itself implies that it’s something we can obtain.

Science of happiness:

Positive emotion – a person’s satisfaction with life

Engagement – an engaging activitiy

Purpose – purpose for our lives

Mastery – something you can master. We get satisfaction from knowing that we do something well.

The Happiness Prayer :

How will you find happiness:

  1. Honor those who gave you life. When we honor people who gave us life, we look at life as a gift. We didn’t earn it; it’s a gift, and we can better appreciate it.
  2. Be kind. Part of us wants to be kind, but another part of us is afraid of rejection. It helps others, but it also helps ourselves when we are kind to others.
  3. Keep learning. It keeps our minds open. It shapes who we are and helps us change. If we can keep learning and growing, then we can see things from another person’s point of view. We don’t have to do more book learning, we have to do anything to grow our skills and our mind. The older we get, the more we realize we don’t know.
  4. Invite others into your life. Bring on a hospitality mentality. Part of the purpose of this practice is to connect us to a community. People who belong to a community live on average seven years longer than those who don’t. When we spend time socializing with others, we bring ourselves out of our shell. We are built for relationships. Young people have thousands of friends, but young people have never felt more lonely.
  5. Be there when others need you. Part of us finds fulfillment in going outside of ourselves. When we help serve somebody else’s needs, we find a sense of fulfillment. There are times in life when you’re going to be focusing on one practice more than another. Being there when other people need us is a way to cement relationships. We can’t be “2am friends” for everyone.
  6. Celebrate good times. People who meet at a wedding are more likely to get married than those who meet at a bar.
  7. Support yourself during times of loss. Taking time off, finding a community. We need to find ways to get through difficult losses. There are a ton of rules on Jewish wisdom and insights.
  8. Pray with intention.  Praying with a specific expectation that God will answer. If we can pray with a sense of purpose and intention, it makes prayer more meaningful. There are certain feelings that we can only bring to God. It can relieve a burden to externalize some of these feelings.
  9. Forgive. Everyone has issues with forgiveness. The most practical thing we can do is try to focus on the future. We prefer not to think about what we might have done to contribute to a broken relationship. Whatever happened in the past, we value peace now. Stop trying to justify ourselves that we’re right.
  10. Look inside and commit. Determine our path, then commit to specific practices that will pull us forward on that path. We must try things to in order to understand.

 

Write down everything that we are grateful for.

Gratitude is something that we take for granted

Some videos Evan has been in:

The Happiness Prayer from Evan Moffic on Vimeo.

Show Transcription

[00:15] Welcome to The Ziglar Show. I’m Kevin Miller, and I’m here today with my co-host, Executive Vice President, Director of Product Operations of Ziglar, Mark Timm. In this episode we talk with Rabbi Evan Moffic. Rabbi Moffic became the youngest senior rabbi of a large synagogue in the United States at the age of 31. He has just released his new book, The Happiness Prayer – Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today. It is derived from a literal prayer recited and sung during Jewish worship, handed down from rabbis 2,000 years ago. What’s interesting is Rabbi Moffic showcases this “prayer” is being just as relevant regardless of your faith, or if you even claim faith. Which, in essence, makes it as much cognitive training as it might be a prayer. We dig into why “happiness” is such a big topic today and what causes our happiness to erode. The meat of the interview is in the latter half of the interview where we dissect the 10-point structure that causes or hampers our happiness. It’s not a formula, per se, but it lists out the ingredients that make or break happiness in a format we can work through and address and apply in our own lives. You can connect with Rabbi Moffic at his website, www.rabbimoffic.com, and purchase The Happiness Prayer there, or wherever you purchase books.

[02:01] If you get value from this show, please tell us by leaving a review in iTunes!

[02:08] Here, then, Mark Timm and I bring you Rabbi Evan Moffic.

[02:14] Well, Rabbi Moffic, Evan, what a gift to have you here on The Ziglar Show. Thanks for taking a break from your congregation to come lead ours!

[02:23] Thank you, Kevin. It is such an honor.

[02:45] Mark…so you’ve known Evan for a while, how did you guys connect?

[02:50] I’ve got to tell you I was really blessed to have Rabbi Evan Moffic in my life a few months ago, and it was so perfectly timed because we were launching all our efforts as Ziglar Family. And I am sure, Rabbi Moffic get into this; I mean, he is a family guy.

[03:36] You became the youngest senior rabbi of a large synagogue in the United States at the age of 31. What do you attribute that success to?

[03:58] Well, I think I am always being driven, even when I was a kid. I did debate in high school, participated in sports; you know, I was ambitious in that way.

[07:11] Your message on happiness includes you going along, things are well, then stresses of life happened and your happiness was eroding. I feel like this is pretty commonplace where our lives are pretty good, if we step back and count our blessings, we feel we have nothing to complain about…yet we realize we aren’t feeling intrinsically fulfilled or happy. But we stuff it and ultimately, well, do you think people fall into guilt for not being happy when they think they should be?

[07:55] Yes, I do. But I think a lot of it also, on one of your recent episodes I found so powerful when you were talking about failure. Means we have to get some sort of failure in life in order to have the perspective in life. And I am not thinking misery is a failure, but in some ways we go thtough difficult periods, it helps you appreciate what happiness is.  

[13:38] So I have been interested in this “happy” phenomenon for awhile. I browsed through an airport bookstore recently and saw multiple books with happiness in the title, and it makes me curious as to what you think this is saying about the state of our culture right now.

[14:04] I think it is saying a good thing and a not good thing. I think the good thing is, as a culture we begin to see that wealth and status don’t lead to happiness. I think we recognize that happiness is just more of that. There are certain things like gratitude and kindness that can lead us to happier life. So, I think it is a good thing that happiness is something that is studied deeply. A not-so-good thing is that still the word happiness itself employs a kind of something that we can attain. I don’t think that happiness can be attained. But when all these books come out on happiness, it kind of creates a promise.

[15:47] This prayer, the Eilu Devarim (ay-lu deh-var-eem). Very interesting. You say it’s relevant, regardless of your faith, and you say, “It is not a typical prayer in that you just say it. It is an active prayer because you live it. The magic is not in the words, it is in the way you use the words to change yourself.” This sounds more like cognitive training than a spiritual exercise.

[16:20] I think it is both. It is such a good observation. You know, prayer, we pray to God, but I think the active prayer itself has an effect on us. And reminding ourselves of certain deeds. And saying this prayer reminds us to what action can lead us to happiness. So it is both. But I think a lot of prayers are play that same roles. In some ways, saying a prayer brings a comfort. I think all the prayers have some kind of behavior impact on us.

[17:32] You wrote, “Happiness is not a destination, a thing. It’s a way of life.” Then this, “Each of us can discover meaning in our struggles, our choices, and our achievements.” OK, I hear you, but there are some hard pills to swallow in this for some people. Most people have had something(s) happen to them that are hard to reconcile. Where they were victimized. Hard to find the redemption in it. Even in bad choices…I had this talk a few days ago with my kids. I don’t regret where I am today, so in that, I’d change nothing in the past if it thwarted where I am today. That said, I am not a “no regrets” person. I absolutely have regrets. Things I did in the past that were not OK. They still aren’t. I wish I could go back and redo. And many have had tragedies; there is no way they will ever be happy they happened. Help us with this:

[18:53] I think it is so difficult. I think there are two ways of doing it. So coming to terms for ourselves is a healthy thing, so being open about the past mistakes we did, and bringing them to God. God is the only person we can bring to, we have conversations with God, that we can’t really have with anybody else. So accepting our past is a big part of things. Second thing is, I actually talk a lot about this in my book. So sometimes when we talk about our difficult experiences, we make meaning out of it. We begin to understand how certain experiences shaped us today. And if we accept what we are today, then those experiences do help us come to terms with our pasts.  

[27:46] You cite the information and media age we are in, where we are minute-by-minute bombarded with offers of something better to make us happy. I remember joking many years ago when we had a mini van, fairly late model, we thought it was a big deal. Then they come out with the vans where the doors open and shut automatically. And there it was, now we had an inferior car. How could we be happy with this? But as you say, we can’t escape comparison…but we also don’t want to be complacent. How do we reconcile this?

[28:39] It is a million-dollar question. People post on Facebook and you see, I mean, as a parent I see, too. First, we see on someone’s Facebook page, they took their children on a weekend first for soccer practice, then for piano lessons, and then they went for dinner, and sat quietly and ate with forks and spoons. I am thinking about myself, we like played outside for a while, and then I am comparing myself to see like a perfect parent. But I think there are at least two ways to do it. First, we have to recognize what people put out there is a show. People aren’t totally authentic or honest on Facebook. And then another thing that I have found is to take at least one day a week and make that a family time, in secret; where you focus on one another, where you put down your phones.

[31:20] You give great focus to faith as a necessary ingredient for happiness. I like where you cited Jonathan Sacks, who was chief rabbi of Great Britain, who said happiness “is the ability to look back on life and say, ‘I lived for certain values. I acted on them and was willing to make sacrifices for them. I was part of a family, embracing it and being embraced by it in return. I was a good neighbor, ready to help when needed. I was part of a community, honoring its traditions, participating in its life, sharing its obligations. It is these things that make up happiness in this uncertain world.’” Sounds a lot like just being able to say I made healthy, positive decisions and actions and am proud of myself, for the most part. Is that too simplistic?

[32:13] No, I think it is good. And I think with that quote pointed out, “Happiness is sometimes, often different from pleasure.” Pleasure is a great meal that we can enjoy with our spouse, you know, a great piece of chocolate cake. These are wonderful things to have.

[32:48] I want to get into the structure of the prayer, but right before the structure of the prayer, the ten parts, you also list “the science of happiness,” with four ingredients:

  • Positive Emotion – person’s satisfaction with life
  • Engagement – flow, an engaging activity
  • Meaning – purpose (we are part of something larger than ourselves)
  • Accomplishment – mastery

Where do you feel we, as a culture, are generally the most unaware?

[33:40] I think gratitude is something that we are still lacking in today’s generation. I think kids take a lot of things as granted. Not every kid, but if you grew up in a decent environment, where parents can provide you with sports and phones when you reach a certain age; I think sometimes kids take struggle for granted. And I think it is good for sometimes, but I also think it is sometimes entitled for dangerous in a long run. And the part of journey that is struggle is where mastery comes up.

[36:02] Ok, then, the structure of the prayer: I wrote the list down, but did not read it completely, so I could come to it with the same possible perspective and questions our audience will.

“How will you find happiness in this world and peace in the world to come? By learning these wisdom practices from your ancestors:

1. Honor Those Who Gave You Life — parents. My first thought, aside from it’s a good thing to do this, right, is…other than what? Is that a key ingredient?

[36:42] There are ten practices. This is the only one that has a reward attached to it. So I think that is a clue into why these practices are so important in gratitude. This is the practice we honor our father and mother, when we honor people who gave us life, we are looking at life itself as a gift. So, to honor our mother and father is the way to look at the world.

[38:27] 2. Be Kind – I know you are a fan of Shaunti Feldhahn, who was our guest in show 464 and wrote the book, The Kindness Challenge. And she helped us see that most of us think we are kind, but nearly all of us have some seemingly benign aspects of ourselves that speak unkindness to others. I assume this is why “Be Kind” made the list…second place, actually. Is the reality that we aren’t as kind as we tend to think?

[38:56] We want to be, but we can’t — but part of us wants to. And sometimes we don’t choose to be as kind as we are because we are afraid of rejections. What if somebody rejects our outreach? And there is danger with kindness. But I think, in the long run, if we are kind we are happier.  

[40:50] 3. Keep Learning – Again, something we know is good, but I wouldn’t think of it off the cuff in regards to a primary happiness ingredient. When you say, “You should keep learning,” it sounds like an altruistic chore. What’s so important about it in regards to happiness?

[41:07] Because it keeps our mind open. What you put in your mind shapes who you are, what you are doing, and how you will change. And a lot of people really do stop learning after they finish school, and it is really sad because we get caught up in certain ways of thinking. And those ways of thinking can make us miserable. But if we keep learning and growing, we give ourselves opportunities to succeed, to build new relationships, to see things from another person’s point of view, to try something new. I see learning as anything that helps us to grow our mind.

[43:07] 4. Invite Others Into Your Life – I’m guessing this is more than just having friends and family…are we talking words like intimacy and vulnerability and accountability and counsel?

[43:21] Absolutely. And a mindset of hospitality, meaning some way this is again helping others, but inviting others into your life. And then to go even deeper, part of the purpose of this practice is to connect us to a community. People who belong to a house of worship, people who are connected with community, live seven years longer. And they tend to be happier.

[45:55] 5. Be There When Others Need You – again, a good thing, but why is it an ingredient for happiness? I’m sure some will hear this and they are worn out and bitter from “being there” too much for others…maybe feeling used up by others. How are you framing this?

[46:26] I think part of us finds fulfillment in going outside of ourselves. When we help serve others’ needs, we are filling ourselves up. It is true for everybody to degrees. Some people have greater happiness in serving others, whereas others find less. This is one of the points that I made out of the book –useless unless you are absolutely a saint, you are never able to do all ten of the practices consistently. There will be times in life when we will be practicing one of them more than others. We can’t do everything, but it is important to find a way to help and serve in the community.

[48:43] 6. Celebrate Good Times – this makes sense, but I assume it’s on here because we don’t do it enough? Are we taking good times for granted?

[48:54] We, I guess, kind of dismiss it sometimes. This is sort of related to number four, hospitality. And so a lot of times I notice a lot of people who are married, many of them met at another person’s wedding. And I don’t think that is accidental. So I think giving ourselves the opportunities will make our lives happier in the long run.

[50:21] 7. Support Yourself and Others During Times of Loss – in supporting others, I assume you’re talking empathy and sympathy…a shoulder to cry on. But then “supporting yourself.” Explain this more…,

[50:59] Everyone in life experiences loss. Just like we had discussed earlier that people experiences failure, everyone experiences loss at one point or another. It could be a loss of friend, a parent, and it is the hardest time in the world. And we need to find the ways to support ourselves, taking time off, finding a community.

[53:09] 8. Pray with Intention – well, this is convicting. Talk about faith. Actually praying about specifics in faith God will answer. Might not be the answer I want, but an answer. I fail here a lot, Evan. I guess I’m not the only one.

[53:41] Prayer is hard; you know it can be so difficult, especially in trying times. And if we can pray with the sense of purpose and intention, it makes prayer more meaningful. But it is a struggle. But I want people to think prayer is a conversation with God, to say things that we can’t say to others.

[54:43] 9. Forgive – Honestly, this one rings true for happiness more than about any. I see lack of forgiveness wreck happiness as much or more than anything. Forgiveness for people, and forgiveness for circumstances…primarily where one feels a victim. I mean, of course not in MY life, but…you know…other people. Few people have NOT heard a message on forgiveness. But where would you make a surgical strike Evan?

[55:25] I think everyone has issues with forgiveness. I see it all the time. Families are broken apart over something somebody has said, and I think the most practical thing we can do is try to focus more on future. And sometimes we get into denial, we prefer not to think about what we might have done with someone’s situation.

[59:41] 10. Look Inside and Commit – ok, this one I had to get back into the book to understand enough to be able to comment. You actually state it in the book as, “Discernment and Commitment.” And go on to say, “Ongoing discernment of what is inside of us, and attention to our commitments, gives life meaning.” In other words, if you seek meaning and happiness, look inside and commit to your path. So in this world of personal development and inspiring true performance and seeking to know and live out our callings, it’s so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and then what we should be doing. Again, by comparison. But even in understanding this ideal, how do you propose we understand enough to truly discern what is best for us, especially as our flesh wars against us and we’re so doubtful about our own minds and hearts?

[1:00:54] Very hard, but also a lot of people just avoid it. We are here in the field of personal development, so we know the power of looking inside. But so many people just don’t wanna go there. So if you look inside yourself and ask the why questions, by exploring our inside soul, where we can grow is the first step. Second is inspirational experiments. We should try new things, we should practice, and if it doesn’t work, we can slow down on them.

[1:02:46] And next, commitment. But you say the point is committing to a “practice.” Multiple…practices actually. So we discern our path, then commit to the specific practices that will take us forward on this path?

[1:03:16] Here is the example for that: for the people who pre-ordered a book, I send them a gratitude template. So there is a practice, we write down three things that we are grateful for. This is being shown to improve ourselves of well-being by 40%. It can take three minutes, it can take five minutes, but reminding ourselves about gratitude is that we may focus our brain on we have rather than what we desire. It will not only put you in a good mood, but also put you in gratitude for the whole day.

[1:04:32] The end of your book is a gift, as it’s in essence a workbook and quiz to get started. Folks, get the essence of the message by reading the book, but you won’t go too wrong flipping right to the back and the “Happiness Quick Start Guide.” Evan takes us through all 10 steps with…baby steps. Literally, a workbook and quiz to go through on the principles of the book. Evan, as people go through the Quick Start Guide, what are some of the first things to come up for them, insights or concerns?

[1:05:20] I have noticed, and what I found surprises me most is that people find the chapters honoring mothers and fathers, people found that to be the most powerful. I did not expect that. Because one of the things that I point out in that chapter is that there is a difference between honor and love. I love my parents and I am very lucky, but a lot of people struggle with that. Like honoring our mother and father is something we should try to do every day.  

[1:07:15] Thank you so much for coming on this show and sharing this conversation, and we are excited about the book. So, folks, go to rabbimoffic.com and you can engaged there. Rabbi, I thank you so much for bringing this all.  

[1:10:11] Coming up is show 485, and we’ll be taking a Ziglar principle from one of our interview guests, posting it on Facebook, and asking how people have struggled with and overcome that principle. My co-host, Michelle Prince, and I will share the comments with you and discuss the real world issues we all face. Thanks for all the great reviews, we count on you to tell others about the show. Will you share, and leave a rating and review in iTunes? Thank you in advance! And thank you mostly for being with us as we strive so inspire our…true performance.

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