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A Happiness Ritual

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar born 1970, is an American and Israeli teacher, and writer in the areas of positive psychology and leadership. As a lecturer at Harvard University, Ben-Shahar created the most popular course in Harvard's history. The subject of the course was “happiness.” In his very popular book, Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment (p. 11), he reveals a “happiness ritual” that has proven to be very successful.
Each night before going to sleep, write down at least five things that made or make you happy — things for which you are grateful. These can be little or big: from a meal that you enjoyed to a meaningful conversation you had with a friend, from a project at work to God.
If you do this exercise regularly, you will naturally repeat yourself, which is perfectly fine. The key is, despite the repetition, to keep the emotions fresh; imagine what each item means to you as you write it down, and experience the feeling associated with it. Doing this exerc…
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Two Standards to Live By

In our last blog, What am I?, we discussed our answer to that question:
(1) Humans are creatures that share things in common with animals and the Creator. They have the potential of acting like deadly predatory wild animals or acting like a mysterious entity that judges its actions by the TOV Standard.
(2) Humans are genetic memetic social creatures.
The first answer came from ancient wisdom text and the second from modern science. Ancient wisdom records time-tested observations about nature, human nature and human behaviors in its stories. Modern science reveals objective facts and creates models for testing “truth claims.” Scientists tell us what we are biologically, but they don’t tell us how to interact with each other. Religion often provides tremendous insights about how people should or should not treat each other, but not about what they are physically.
One of the amazing benefits of combining ancient wisdom and scientific facts in our research is that we discover things from them…

What am I?

What am I? Now that’s a question a lot of people have asked in the history of humans. We (Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and former pastor Jim Myers) created two models for working with that question – after wrestling with it for over 25 years. You may have noticed that use models instead of answers. Most questions about life are better understood by using models that reveal potentialities than statements of either/or answers.
Our models emerged from two sources in which our research and studies focused on during our journey together – one source is an ancient wisdom account embedded in our shared religious texts and the other source is modern science. This makes our approach at the TOV Center unique in many respects – we combine the wisdom of ancient texts with the facts of modern science to maximize human experiences.
As pointed out above, we created a model from each source to help us better understand humans:
(1) Ancient Wisdom ModelHumans are creatures that share things in common with an…

Leynor and Myers on Living Life as a Human

We, Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and former pastor Jim Myers, have learned a lot about living life over the past thirty-years as congregation leaders in a synagogue and church, chaplains of law enforcement agencies, teachers and counselors. We have experienced the happiest moments in life – marriages, births, victories, successes -- and the saddest and most feared moments – deaths, divorces, tragedies, failures. We have been there when babies were born into or adults decided to convert to our religions -- and when people decided to leave them too.
The more people know about what it means to be a human, the better they are at planning and coping with life experiences. We created the TOV Center as a way to accomplish our goals. It is an educational nonprofit corporation. Our information comes from our religions, science and personal experiences. Our religions are great sources of ancient wisdom, morals and values. New scientific discoveries reveal the roles genes and memes play in creating the r…

Why are we are always pointing a finger at someone else?

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins’ book The Wisdom of Judaism is loaded with very useful information. His discussion about “Personal Growth” is based on a quote from the Babylonian Talmud (Bava Metzia 107b): Improve yourself, and only afterward, try to improve others. Below are some quotes from his discussion. I have reformatted the text in a few places to highlight specific points the rabbi made.
Sometimes, when trying to make the point that we need to start with ourselves, I ask people to stretch out their hand and point with their index finger. Then I ask them to notice where the third, fourth and fifth fingers are pointing. . . . There is a wonderful Hasidic tale that illustrates this point. A famous Hasidic rebbe once proclaimed that when he was a young rabbi: his idealistic and romantic goal was to change the world.
After a while, he realized that his aspiration was too grandiose, and so he lowered his expectations and said that he would be satisfied if he could just change his own commun…

Welcome to Lives 1st

A rabbi and a pastor began a journey over 25 years ago. They studied their Scriptures, researched their religions and examined their belief systems. The rabbi is Jeffrey Leynor and Jim Myers is the pastor. They could have never dreamed of what they would discover. They created the TOV Center and the Lives 1st Initiative to share it with people.
● Humans are born with a mysterious force that recognizes and moves them towards fairness, kindness, loyalty, and caring – and away from cheating, cruelty, betrayal and indifference. This can be seen in infants long before they are able to speak.
● Human brains create realities through which individuals view the world, give meanings to what they see and create societies and institutions that reflect their realities. The human brain is the most complex known object in the universe. It connects electrochemical impulses of sensory organs to memories stored in the brain to create realities.
● When realities are in synch with the things the mysteriou…

Learn How to Ride Your Elephant

● The elephant interprets and responds to over 40 million nerve impulses per second, while the rider processes about 40 nerve impulses per second.
● As an information processor the elephant is one million times more powerful than the rider.
● The elephant contributes 95% of cognitive activity.
● In the time you consciously processes four nerve impulses, your elephant processes one million.
● So who is making most of your decisions in life, the rider or the elephant?  The elephant always will make the most, but the rider can become much more involved in the process! Things You Need to Know About Your Elephant
● The elephant’s top priority is survival. It will go to extremes to keep the body alive.
● The primary way it works to keep the body alive is by making good predictions about what will happen next, so it can make sure the body is ready for any contingency. Studies show that the elephant spends 60 to 80 percent of its energy on making predictions.
● Every moment the elephant issues t…