Who Do You Work For?
Why are some people fabulously successful yet still unsatisfied? What good is the $400 million you scored in the stock market when your marriage is falling apart...
by Dr. Zev Ballen
I've worked with a lot of people over the years, some of whom were incredibly “successful”. One hard and fast rule that I noticed with all these people is that none of them felt fulfilled when they were only working for their own success and gratification. I'm not talking about lazy people here, or people who achieved their wealth the easy way. These people put everything they had into pushing themselves day and night. Most of them were super-organized and very efficient. Even so, if they were only working for their own self-aggrandizement, honor or wealth, they still didn't feel fulfilled, even when they reached and surpassed the financial or career milestones they'd set for themselves.
In some cases, not only did they not feel fulfilled, they even felt more sad and broken than when they'd started out. Here they had reached the peak of success and they still didn't feel that great. So then, they'd fall into depression and start asking themselves what was the point of it all? What else was there to live for? What was left to strive for, or achieve?
Tony Robbins is a very popular, successful and famous motivational speaker. He once said that he was in the middle of giving one of his motivational seminars, when his stock broker called him during the break, and told him that his investments had just made him $400 million. That's a tremendous amount of money, more than most of us could ever hope to make in a lifetime. But Robbins said that he didn't get a big boost from knowing he'd just become even more fantastically wealthy than before. What was really giving him a lift was being at his seminar, and seeing how he was inspiring and helping other people. He went home later that day, and he explains that his marriage was falling apart, and all the remaining good feeling from the $400 million completely evaporated.
Money, even a lot of it, is not the panacea for happiness and fulfillment that so many of us believe it to be. So if money is not going to make us fulfilled, what is?
We Jews hopefully already know that the purpose of life is not just to make money. As Jews, we serve a Higher Authority, and we want more out of life than a big, fat bank account. Life ticks by, and before we know it, it's over. We can't put life on hold until we've retired, or made our first million or billion, or whatever milestone we're aiming for. In order for us to really feel happy, fulfilled and alive every single day, we need to squeeze all the juice, all the passion out of our lives.
How can we do this? We focus on something called ego nullification, or bitul in Hebrew. It's a word worth knowing.
Once I nullify my ego, I'm not going to work for me anymore, I'm going to work for you instead. It's no longer about me, it's about “we”. I'm going to make a decision to focus on other people, particularly my loved ones, and I'm also going to focus on my relationship with G-d.
We can all make this decision to completely change and reshape our priorities. In a second, we can decide to start living our lives in a way that includes other people and G-d. If we can make a promise to ourselves and to G-d to start living a life of “we”, not me, that's even better. If we have the strength of a promise behind our decision, then it's going to set a bell off every time we get to a fork in the road, where we have to choose between me or we, and then we'll remind ourselves what our real priorities are now. If we choose this path, we'll get Heavenly help to stop living only for ourselves and to live for others. Even if we forget momentarily, Heaven will remind us where we're really trying to get to in our lives, and we'll get right back on track.
Dr. Zev Ballen, Psy.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years. He is the founder and developer of Emuna Therapy, a faith-based method of counseling based exclusively on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Dr. Zev has the endorsements of Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Rabbi Yitzchok Fagelstock, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can write in with questions to Dr. Zev at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call him at: 845-362-8600 (US) or 054-840-9499 (Israel). Dr. Zev resides in Jerusalem, with his family, where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time private practice. You're also welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.