In my new book "Patience," I suggest a hobby that will transform your life. Collect "resourceful states."
Every time you experience a positive state, give it a name, and then you will find it easier to access that state again. Or, when you find yourself in an elevated prayer state, give it a unique name, and when you want to pray with the same concentration or fervor, remember that state. When you are especially kind and compassionate, give the state a name and add it to your list. When you feel inner strength and courage, give the state a unique name and add it to your list.
After making a personalized list of positive, life-enhancing states, you can reread your list whenever you want. This way you will experience your favorite states over and over again. Instead of being in the unresourceful state of impatience, for example, you will be calmer, more upbeat, more empowered, more alive and energized.
Instead of being irritated and upset, you will be able to access serene states. Instead of being angry, you will access forgiveness, compassion, understanding, and unconditional acceptance. Instead of being intimidated, you will access inner strength and courage.
NAME YOUR STATES
When you recall those moments of positive states, try to remember what you were saying to yourself, the mental pictures you saw, the feelings you felt. Remember your way of breathing, speaking, and body language. This enables you to recreate those same states more fully.
The more intense the original experience, and the more vivid the memory, the stronger that state will be now. Be patient. This adds up. The more times you are joyous, the easier it is to access joy.
Label your positive, resourceful states as you experience them. This will make it easier for you to retrieve those states from the mental library of your brain. Or as they say on Wall Street, to have greater state management.
Besides listing standard names such as "joy, serenity, courage, determination, concentration, and energized," create labels that are uniquely yours. For example, if you felt total calm while watching the gentle ocean waves, build a "Watching the ocean waves" state. If you had a great victory, you can label it, "Winning the grand prize." If you’re stuck in traffic, you can access these positive states to elevate your mood.
Have a separate list for the unresourceful states you experience. Instead of saying, "I'm in an awful mood today," you can say, "Right now, I'm in a nervous state." Or, "Ah, this is my impatient state." Or, "Yup, I'm in an irritated state."
You don't have to resist. Just experience it and you will find it easier to gently transition to more resourceful states.
RECREATING THE PAST
Remember your most precious memories of the past. Turn them into states to access at will. I personally recall a state where my teacher, Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, gave me the good news over 40 years ago that I was accepted to his Talmudic academy. I can still hear the words, "Good morning, Zelig. How are you today?"
Your favorite songs are states. Inspiring speakers are states. Words of wisdom are states. Great people you can model are states. For example, your Hillel state will enable you to access a specific type of patience.
It is helpful to list your states in alphabetical order. When will you find the time to read your state list? Whenever you are faced with a challenging situation, you can read it. Whenever you want to mentally prepare yourself to be at your best, you can read it. And whenever you feel the irritation of your impatient state, you can read your list of your greatest and favorite states. After a while, the resourceful states will be an automatic and spontaneous aspect of your personality.
Those who will gain the most from collecting states are the individuals who will calmly be more aware moment by moment of their specific states. The unresourceful states will be stepping stones for accessing life- enhancing resourceful states. This will add more joy and spirituality into your life.
Adapted from Rabbi Pliskin's book "Patience," published by ArtScroll - www.artscroll.com.