Tens of thousands have learned how to infuse their daily activities with happiness through Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s many bestselling titles, and they rejoice when he releases a new book. Another Rabbi Pliskin book means more insights and wise counsel, more practical advice and great stories.
For me, personally, there is one more cause for rejoicing: A new book means a new column for me to write, and that means I have the opportunity to speak with one of the most positive, effervescent, and joyous people I’ve ever been privileged to meet: Rabbi Pliskin, the “happiness specialist” of our time.
Here are some highlights of my conversation with Rabbi Pliskin about his newest book, Upgrade Your Mind, Upgrade Your Life: Daily upgrades for your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.
AS: Can you tell us about “upgrades”?
RZP: People often use the word “change,” but “change” implies that I must stop doing something and start doing something else. “Upgrade” is a process that keeps happening. When we upgrade our technology, it doesn’t mean the technology was not good; it means we’re making it better. Wherever we are in our lives, the idea is to keep upgrading our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. This book has 100 short chapters to show us how to upgrade the important areas of our lives, to help us live the best possible life we can.
AS: Wow, 100 chapters, 100 traits and behaviors to upgrade! How did you choose so many?
RZP: It wasn’t a very long process, because I’ve been talking, thinking, and teaching this for close to 50 years! Though they are all important, I consider 6 traits to be the key ones: gratitude, joy, kindness, compassion, self-confidence, and courage. A person who lives with these traits will live in a totally different world from one who lives with negativity and resentment.
AS: The title of each chapter is also an “affirmation” that you suggest readers repeat often. Can you explain how that works?
RZP: When you focus on an idea that you want to integrate and internalize, and you repeat it many times, it becomes a part of you. Neuroscience has discovered that when you think a thought even once, you create a neural pathway. When you repeat that thought, the neural pathway grows thicker, creating microscopic changes in the brain. Or, as Rambam said so long ago: How do you get a middah to be part of you? Do it over and over.