Strategies For Real Self-Improvement

It’s not easy to break with bad habits that keep us from being a better version of ourselves. Are there some concrete steps we can take ? Rabbi Cheryl and Andrew Jacobs are highly praised experts when it comes to teaching simple but effective methods of self-improvement. Naturally it all starts with self-awareness…..

Credit: @findyourish Instagram

Have you ever gone through a day and when it’s time to go to bed, you stop and ask yourself, ‘where did the day go and what did I do with myself?’ If so, then you’re not alone. Millions of people get up in the morning and continue through their day without ever pausing to appreciate the blessings in their lives; without seeing the beauty of the world around them; without stopping to take a slow deep breath. We become so programmed that we become aware of only two times during the day – when we smack our alarms early in the morning and when we fall into our beds at night. That is when we acknowledge our exhaustion and the reality that the next day will bring the same exact thing. But rarely do we take the time to look around us and see our true selves, and how we fit into the larger world around us. In other words, it’s time to become enlightened and self-aware.
What is “Self-Awareness” and Does it Matter?
Our prejudices, biases, hurts from the past, and misconceptions effect our perception and our self-awareness. We’re driven by habit and polluted by our past experiences. It’s very challenging to strip all of that away and perceive the world in an untainted and accurate way. It can take a lifetime to reach a high level of enlightenment. It’s not necessary to live alone in a cave or become a religious individual to reach a higher level of awareness. All that’s really required is to pay attention and observe your thoughts.
There are many advantages to being self-aware:

1 It’s impossible to feel jealous, offended, or have other negative emotions if you’re self-aware. When you’re in tune with yourself, it’s obvious how un-aware others are. You’re much more likely to feel pity when someone acts or speaks against you than to feel hurt.

2 You no longer feel the need to impress anyone else. You’ll no longer chase after achievements or possessions for the purpose of showing off. You’ll be free to pursue your true passions without regard for the opinions of others.

3 Simple things become much more enjoyable. Eating an orange or going for a walk can be as satisfying as driving a Ferrari. The most successful person isn’t the one that has the most. It’s the person that’s happiest and most satisfied with what they already have.

Awareness has a lot to offer. But how does one become more aware? It’s quite simple, yet arduous. Avoid the mistake of thinking that mental exercise doesn’t require effort. Becoming enlightened is challenging in the same way eating only one potato chip is challenging.
Try these strategies on your journey to enlightenment:

1 Meditation is the primary tool to reach enlightenment. Buy a book or join a local group to learn how to meditate. Meditation isn’t complicated, but it must be done with a high level of expertise in order to get the most out of it.

2 Pay attention. Notice your thoughts and feelings as they arise. If you’re sitting in traffic, annoyed that you’re going to be late for work, notice the feelings and consider the origin. What are you feeling? Why? Are your feelings helping in any way? Have you always responded this way in similar situations? Would a child respond the same way?

3 Play the role of the observer. It’s not enough to pay attention. Strive to be objective and non-judgmental in your observations. Imagine you’re a stranger observing the situation with nothing to gain or lose. Be dispassionate. Notice the rise and fall of your emotions without getting involved. Be a scientist.

4 Be patient. Becoming enlightened is like training for the Olympics. It can take years to develop the conditioning and expertise. Enjoy the fact that you’re making small amounts of progress each day. It takes time.

5 Let go of the past. If you’re still upset that your dad walked out on the family when you were six, you’re not enlightened. Being dispassionate about negative experiences from the past are half of the challenge to enlightenment. Let them go.

Self-awareness isn’t just for spiritual, off-the-grid folks. Self-awareness is a worthy goal for any human being. Enlightenment is hard work, but the benefits are considerable. You’ll no longer have to be controlled by your emotions or feel the need to impress anyone. You can enjoy a freedom that you’ve never felt before – and it feels great!

About Cheryl and Andrew Jacobs:

Rabbi Cheryl Jacobs

Background: Cheryl is passionate about helping others on their journey towards spiritual fulfilment. Having spent many years on her own spiritual journey, Cheryl majored in Religious Studies at Hobart William Smith Colleges. She received a Master’s of Divinity from Yale University and her Rabbinic Ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary. Cheryl is a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow. She is committed to empowering and enabling others to discover their best selves and is dedicated to investing in and caring about all individuals without judgment. Her goal is to always strive to understand her fellow spiritual seekers in order to provide what they want and need, while making them feel comfortable, connected and fulfilled. Cheryl makes herself available to anyone seeking spiritual guidance and direction. She is an incredible teacher and pastoral counselor. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to have had her officiate at a lifecycle event can tell you how very special she is. Cheryl and her husband, Andrew, are the parents of Abigail and Jonah.

Rabbi Andrew Jacobs

Background: Andrew is honored to serve as the Rabbi of Ramat Shalom Synagogue in Plantation, Florida. He has been with Ramat Shalom for 13 years and is blessed to be part of such a warm, vibrant community. While he believes that synagogues and churches have much to offer their congregants, for the past several years, Andrew has grown to appreciate that there is a need for new, fresh ways for folks to connect to spirituality. ISH is a product of this appreciation. Andrew majored in Jewish-Christian Relations at Vassar College, earned his Master’s Degree in Jewish Art and Material Culture from The Jewish Theological Seminary and received his Rabbinic Ordination from The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He is a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow. While continuing to serve as the spiritual leader of Ramat Shalom, Andrew teaches courses and leads special program for ISH. He considers himself blessed to be married to his wife, Cheryl, and to be the father of his children, Abigail and Jonah.

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