Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Thanksgiving - A Time For Humble Reflection

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What are you thankful for? Is it what you have, who you love, where you live, your spirit, your health or a combination of all the above? Have you ever asked yourself, who is thankful for me? Although that question may appear self serving it is not as self-centric as you may think. It is a personal assessment of your value to others. When the question is answered with humility rather than egotistically it becomes a selfless approach toward your value to the world around you. If you believe you have value, what a wonderful element of your life to be thankful for. What value do you bring to the table, and what aspect of your behavior, personality, and character creates your value recipe? As there is a variety of food that makes for a scrumptious Thanksgiving meal, there are many wonderful characteristics of you that make you a valuable human being. It might be as simple as your energizing smile, or as complex as your skill on the operating table, but both have value.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is more about quiet reflection, gratitude, and the humanity we demonstrate to others, then the manic accumulation of more and lack of human consideration that begins the day after. On a Thursday Americans reach out to and provide for those who may have little to be thankful for, and the Friday after trample one another to get the newest piece of technology. The irony of human behavior is always enlightening, and sometimes disheartening. What is more important when applied to the value of you, what you get or what you give back? You will discover the more thoughtful you are of others the more meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling your life will be.

We all like nice things, but what you drive, live in and wear does not by itself structure a personal character of substance and quality. It has always been and will continue to be a consistency of acting on the principles and values you believe in, resulting in the betterment of those around you that will be the type of character that is most respected and treasured. Thanksgiving may include stuffing, but it is not about stuff. It is about family, gratitude, humanity and the practice of being more selfless than selfish. It is also a time to express to those who perceive they have no value to reinforce and validate to them that they do. To hope is to believe the future will be brighter. However, it is also important to realize that what you personally hope for will only come to fruition when you participate in the process of making it happen. A couch potato has little hope of getting off the couch if they feel someone else is to do it for them.

This Thanksgiving take a moment to express to someone you love an aspect of their personality or character that you believe inspires others to look up to them and respect them. Maybe it is their humility, compassion, intelligence, empathy, attitude, energy or other positive attribute they possess, but this day share your appreciation for them with them. It is also a day with family to revisit, reinforce and renew the very core values that reflect what your family stands for and believes in. What are your family's core values? It is a discussion worth having as it brings an aspect of understanding and unity that as a family we are in the challenge of striving to live a fulfilled life together.

Every family has its ups, downs, successes, failures, joys and sorrows, and dysfunction will always abound. However, seeing the goodness in each other, reflecting on happy memories rather than sad ones, realizing life is too short to worry about all the things wrong with it, and celebrating the simple things will make for a thankful, harmonious and joyful turkey day celebration. May God Bless you and those you love this Thanksgiving Day, and may we all strive to be a bit more thoughtful of one another in the course of living life to its fullest.



Good Intentions Do Not Supercede Unethical Practices

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Throughout the course of my life I have witnessed and experienced actions by others where there own righteous belief in their ethical intent is used to justify unethical behaviors to reach the ultimate outcome of that intent. Simply, they believe the ends justify the means regardless of the consequences in getting there, or the people and families they destroy in the process. No matter how good your intentions may be being dishonest or deceitful invalidates them. Who do you trust, and how do you know whom to trust? I wish there was an exact science to answer that question, for there would be much less hurt in the world. I do not believe being honorable is traced to a human genome. It is born out of a cultural understanding that being honorable preserves human dignity, decency, mutual respect and is the foundation for any healthy relationship both personally and professionally.

Sad to share with you, but I am more leery then ever in my life when it comes to putting my trust in those I encounter and deal with. My initial trust stems from an actual belief that the person I am dealing with is honorable, and has a genuine interest in my wellbeing and me as a person. How naive is that? The naivety is revealed every time you have been scammed, lied to, cheated on and deceived. You will experience, if you have not already, that those who tend to be the most trusting are those who are victimized the most by those who are the least trustworthy. As author, social theorist, and economist Thomas Sowell said, “One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them.”

It might be simple to understand, but why then do so many of us continue to be burned, deceived and taken advantage of? Maybe, because there are still some of us who actually believe in the genuine goodness and welfare of others, and do the right thing when it comes to our interactions with those around us. As much of our society becomes more self-absorbed, the challenge to believe there are those who actually believe in the value of selflessness and the importance of honor is a greater challenge. We all know those who are not trustworthy, and yet sometimes we believe we can earn their trust. That is a huge mistake. For example, there are those who are just waiting for you to say something to them that can be used against you. Maybe used in a bit of gossip or a put down of you in order to artificially elevate their own sense of self-importance. Fact! Those who do not genuinely respect themselves are never genuinely respectful of others. Why? Because they would have to be honest with themselves, and sincerely understand what they stand for and believe in. This cannot happen unless there is a foundation of ethical core values that guide their behavior.

Without behaving in a way that reflects ethical values there is little chance to develop any self-respect. Without ethical values, recognizing the need for personal honesty will only occur when the personal suffering from their own unethical behavior surpasses the consequences of their unethical behaviors toward others. However, that is not always the final straw as there are those who will never accept the importance of being personally honest, even if it is at the expense of friends and family. No matter what you do you can never earn the trust of an individual, nor viably trust anyone, who is knee deep in their own sense of importance, self-centeredness, and self-driven agendas.

I do believe there are wonderful, and good intentioned people, who are honorable in their dealings with others. However, in today's world it might take a bit more due diligence by those who care about such a thing to actually find them. Personally, I believe that conducting oneself with honor is the mark of a person with a high quality of character, self-respect, courage, humility and personal accountability. There are no excuses for those who believe in living am honorable life.



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