Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Resurrection - Time To Begin Anew

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During this Holy Week there will be many reflecting on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. I believe his resurrection is an enduring reflection of the hope, love, goodness and forgiveness that we all have the ability to exemplify. Regardless of your faith, an understanding that each day is an opportunity to resurrect your own internal goodness is vital to a happy and fulfilling life. To forgive your past mistakes and failures, and those who have hurt you is a challenging task, but will have a renewing, freeing and rewarding outcome. The meaning of the resurrection is more than just a moment in time. It is a moment in time that never dies for it continues in the spirit of all of us, and all that is around us. As Martin Luther said, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf of springtime.”

A definition of resurrection is, “the revitalization or revival of something, revive the practice, use, or memory of (something); bring new vigor to”. What might you want to revitalize in your life, or bring an element of vigor? It is easy to focus on what might have been, could have been, and should have been. It is more difficult to let go of yesterday, work in the present, and plan for your future. What are the values that structure your present, and build your future? What elements of your life are you wishing to resurrect and improve upon? Your attitude, work skills, education, health, nutrition, compassion, empathy, and professionalism are all examples of areas you may wish to revisit, assess and improve upon. To take accountability for what was, recognize what needs to improve, and live the ethical core values you believe in is a resurrection worth experiencing.

We all have our struggles and no one is from a perfectly functional family, nor has a problem free existence. However, the ability to persevere through the dysfunctions and the problematic issues will rely on the very values that form your character, strengthen your resiliency and solidify your self-respect. When made aware, we all have the ability to resurrect our own foundation of worth, and be the example to resurrect the goodness in those around us. As Hillary Clinton stated, “It is often when night looks darkest, it is often before the fever breaks that one senses the gathering momentum for change, when one feels that resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy.”

An attitude of “can do” is essential to the accomplishment of what “will be”. Resurrect your inner spirit and drive to be the best you can be in all you do. Initiate resurgence in goodness, and be a positive example by the ethical behaviors that define a person of integrity. Resurrect a personal understanding that we all may be somewhat different in personality and viewpoints, but very similar in the desire for happiness and respect. To be resurrected in spirit does not contain negativity, prejudice, judgment or self-centeredness, but rather a selfless joy in recognizing the spirit in everyone and the positive abilities that each person possesses. It may be an idealistic thought, but why not believe and hope for the best in humanity. As author Aberjhani said, “Hearts rebuilt from hope resurrect dreams killed by hate.”

It is never too late to explore the best in you. A rebirth of spirit and the essence of your existence are not just reserved for Easter Sunday, but a lifelong journey to attest the very fabric of the amazing potential of every human being, and the contribution each of us can make. Being honest with who you are and what you stand for reignites your personal spirit, and the belief that you can be all you want to be and wish for. As the Resurrection is the very cornerstone that defines Christianity, resurrection of the spirit and a rebirth in the personal belief in your potential, is the cornerstone to a bright future, contentment and ultimate happiness. As Frederick W. Robertson said, “He alone can believe in immortality who feels the resurrection in him already.” Wishing all of you a very Happy Easter and Passover, and enjoy a wonderful Easter Dinner and Passover Seder with family and friends.



Willpower - An Ageless Attribute

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The motivation to achieve personally and professionally can be a daunting task. The demands of life, and the distractions that occur in the process of maintaining life balance can be a formidable challenge. Your willpower to drive forward directly relates to your strength of character, and a solid foundation of self-respect. Your strength of character provides a platform for your life’s purpose, and your self-respect generates your level of confidence to accomplish that purpose. How much do you believe in yourself and the principles that you stand for? How strong is your willpower to work hard, parent effectively, live an honorable and personally honest life, and live healthy? Have you given up, or do you believe you have a purpose, and the ability to continue to contribute to yourself, and more importantly those around you?

Recently, my mother who is 88 and resides at Wesley Health Care Center, spent ten days at Saratoga Hospital as a result of a fall. In the immediate aftermath of her fall and seeing her physical state, as a family we had doubts in her ability to pull through. To our amazement once again, she had the will, the desire, and the zest to persevere and make a remarkable recovery. Although the road for her to return to her previous state of health is tenuous, her determination to continue her life with purpose is exemplary. What are the roots to a resilient willpower, and how do you harness it? Willpower is defined as, “the ability to carry out one’s decisions, wishes, or plans; strength of mind; self-control.” To harness the will to be resilient is dependent on the very core values that motivate you to live a purposeful life. Without a foundation of core values that sustain you, your life will have little direction. Your attitude will be negatively impacted, and therefore your will to persevere diminished. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Ethical core values also develop the willpower to cast away temptation and defeat elements of evil. If you genuinely believe that honesty is a vital characteristic of a fulfilled purpose, then you will have greater willpower to avoid the temptation of dishonesty. If integrity is a core value that you genuinely believe defines who you are, then you will have greater willpower to fend off situations that might compromise your integrity. It is having the willpower to do the right thing over any evil temptation that continually builds your character and self-respect. How many individuals who succumbed to unethical or unhealthy temptations are proud of themselves, and free in thought and spirit in the aftermath of forfeiting the willpower to do the right thing? Are you exercising your willpower on a daily basis that reinforces the very core values you believe in? Do you have the willpower to set that example?

The American Psychological Association expanded on the basic definition of willpower by including more specific behavioral applications. These include, * the ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals, * the capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse, * the ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system, * conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self, and * a limited resource capable of being depleted. I believe we all have the potential to develop the willpower to push us toward the accomplishment of our desires and aspirations. It is the continuous process of putting into practice the core values you believe in that generates that power. It is also making a concerted effort to ask yourself in harmful and tempting situations, what will be the consequences in lacking the willpower to do the right thing? What hurt might I cause others or myself if I lack that willpower?

Although the willpower of my mother did not revolve around resisting temptation, she had the willpower to be resilient through her physical and emotional challenges. She had the willpower to not relinquish a purposeful belief in herself. As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said, “Nothing can withstand the power of the human will if it is willing to stake its very existence to the extent of its purpose.”



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