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Growth through Psalms

May 9, 2009 | by Zelig Pliskin

Exploring Psalms for life transforming thoughts.

An excerpt from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's latest book, "Growth through Tehillim: Exploring Psalms for Life Transforming Thoughts" published by Artscroll.

"The kindness of God is all day long." (Psalms 52:3)

Whatever day it is right now as you are reading this, the kindness of God has been there for you from the beginning of the day, until this moment, and the kindness of God will be with you for the rest of the day until the new day starts. Tomorrow again you will be a beneficiary of the kindness of God, and this will continue each and every day for your entire life. This has been going on from your very first day of life and each and every day after that until this moment.

Imagine how you will feel when you experience an entire day with this awareness. From the moment you open your eyes in the morning until you go to sleep at night, every moment will have awareness of God's kindness towards you.

Allow yourself to be aware of being the recipient of constant kindness for an entire day. Every movement you make is an aspect of God's kindness. Everything you own is an aspect of God's kindness. Every interaction with other people has aspects of this kindness. Every bit of food you eat and any water you drink is an aspect of this constant kindness.

And what about the things that you usually overlook? On the day that you decide to become more aware of the kindnesses you experience, you will be notice more and more things. You will see what you might not have seen before. You will hear what you might not have heard before. You will feel feelings of gratitude and joy that otherwise you might not have felt.

You will find yourself being more aware of God's presence. You will allow your mind to be filled with thoughts of appreciation of God's kindness to you. You will be more present oriented. You will focus less on anything you are dissatisfied with about the past. You will be free from stressful thoughts about the future. You will be focused on the present kindnesses.

When you do this, if your mind needlessly wanders to some thoughts that are not conducive to appreciation of kindness, gently and lightly direct your consciousness to the present kindness that you are experiencing. Just knowing that your mind has the ability to direct your thoughts is a wonderful kindness of God. How exactly does your mind direct your thoughts to thoughts of kindness? We have no way to explain this with our present limited knowledge. But the knowledge we do have of what we are able to do is something for which to be grateful.

And what would your entire life from now on be like if you would take this verse as a focus to frequently think about? And there is only one way to really answer this question accurately. And that is to make this a verse that will frequently be on your lips. For when you repeat it out loud and to yourself, your inner mind will focus on the kindnesses that you are experiencing right now on this day.

A joyful middle-aged man was asked, "What was a major breakthrough in your life?"

He related, "I used to be what one would consider a negative person.
"Until about ten years ago I would frequently complain and kvetch. I usually focused on what I didn't like. Each and every day a number of things weren't going exactly as I would have wanted them to. I would blame others for not being the way I wanted them to be. This would make me unhappy. I considered myself a constant victim of circumstances. I would have been much happier if other people and my life in general would be more the way I wanted. In addition, I never had enough money. And I was terrified that in the future I would be short of the money I needed. I was filled with insecurity and anxiety.

"Then a Rabbi told me that he could tell me four words that would totally change my entire emotional life. I was skeptical.

"'Four words?' I challenged him. 'Do you really believe that after three years of therapy that helped a bit but didn't make me a happy person, you can just tell me four words and those four words will transform my entire way of being.

"'I'm not claiming that these four words are magic, and that just by my saying them or your repeating them, you will become a happy person. What I am saying to you is that these four words contain a mind-set that will totally transform your life when you give thought to what they mean and you frequently think about this during the day. I'll only agree to share them with you if you give me your word that you will make a serious effort to apply them for just one day.

"'One day is a long time,' I argued. 'What about for just one hour?'

"'Nothing doing!' the Rabbi said firmly but kindly. 'If you aren't committed to think about this for an entire day, I don't think that you are serious when you say that you would like to know how to improve your emotional way of being. If you don't care about your own emotional well-being, my just wishing you well won't really help you. For this to work you need a real commitment. After a day of applying what I'm suggesting, if you feel that you prefer to be grumpy, negative and depressed, that's your choice. But I want to know that you really mean what you say when you say that you truly want to become a happier person.'

"'I saw that the Rabbi was going to be stubborn, or as he would say, 'steadfast' about not telling me his formula unless I committed to giving it a try for an entire day, so I reluctantly said I would go for an entire day.

"He then told me the verse that has been my motto and blueprint for life ever since that moment. The four Hebrew words "Chesed El kol hayom -- the Kindness of God is all day long." Since I said it in Hebrew it was just four words.

"He told me that I should start the next day from the moment I woke up until the end of the day. It was amazing! That day was one of the best days of my life. I kept projecting how wonderful my life would be if I kept this up each and every day. At times I would feel bad that I had wasted so much time in the past feeling needlessly miserable, but that too would be a lack of focusing on the kindnesses of God. I realized that it would be much wiser to view my past unhappiness as a way to gain greater appreciation for the present happiness in my life."

An excerpt from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's latest book, "Growth through Tehillim: Exploring Psalms for Life Transforming Thoughts" published by Artscroll. In the words of Artscroll: "Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, noted author of numerous inspiring books, presents us with the key to Psalm's hidden treasures. In his captivating style, he offers analyses of many verses of Psalms with practical suggestions for how to implement their message to transform our lives."

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