Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


More Wisdom and Insight from Dennis Prager.

Another wonderful week with constant wisdom and insight from Dennis Prager. I don’t know how I would get through the week without him.
On the Ultimate Issues Hour Prager interviewed Donald Rumsfeld about his new book Rumsfeld’s Rules: Leadership lessons in Business, Politics, War and Life. Rumsfeld is the former Secretary of Defense who has been making a list of rules to use to guide ones life. While some of the rules he came up with over his many years of life and experiences, some of them are quotes taken from historical figures. Prager calls it the accumulated wisdom of his life. During the interview, Prager highlighted a few of these rules that especially struck him.
When starting at the bottom be willing to learn form those at the top.
Dennis points out that this is such a good rule of life because there are a lot of wiser people that lived before you and that are living today. So why don’t you try to learn from them? Today’s generation doesn’t live that way, but it is to our own stupidity and loss. The wisest people that I know are all much older and I enjoy learning from them and hearing about their life experiences.

The harder I work, the luckier I am.
Rumsfeld says that the relationship between effort and results is always a perfect example of this. The more you work at it the better you become. I’ve never thought of hard work and luck as going hand in hand, but I understand this rule and believe it to be true. No one has ever accomplished anything through laziness. The more you work hard, the more opportunities will fall into your lap.
Don’t let the urgent crowd out the important.
Prager particularly loves this rule and says it is really the basis of the ultimate issues hour, because the daily issues are urgent, but the important issues are the ones we don’t speak about enough. This rule really makes sense. I think about this all the time at work when people I work with are getting all bent out of shape over unimportant work problems. They tend to snap at their co-workers and be rude to other people. They are so worried about the “job” that they forget to treat others with common decency.
The art of listening is indispensable for the right use of the mind.
Prager added that the reason that his career has been so successful is that he is a very good listener and half the time it’s not just about talking, but about listening as well. This is common sense that is often not followed. Listening is often much more important than talking.
The first consideration of meetings is whether to call one at all.
Rumsfeld goes on to say that a meeting can be an effective way of communicating to many people at once, but people use a meeting as a substitute to deciding something. A discussion is not a decision. I love this rule. I want to post it at work in the conference room.
Men count up the faults of those who keep you waiting.
Rumsefeld states that it’s disrespectful and enormously wasteful of other people’s time. If you keep 10 people waiting for 10 minutes you’ve wasted 100 minutes.
The success of an organization (Prager added 'human beings') will depend on the people you surround yourself with.
Rumsfeld went on to say that his advice to a young person wondering what to do is to go find people that are smart, brilliant and wise and they will learn so much and find so many things of interest.

I really enjoyed the interview with Rumsfeld and have put this book in my long line of books to read. 

This week’s male/female was based on a letter from a listener whose wife of 20 years just filed divorce citing that she has realized that she no longer loves him and has not loved him for a long time. There was no catalyst for the realization, but she claimed he has held her back from becoming what she could be and refuses counseling to fix their marriage. He says he truly loves his wife and doesn’t want a divorce. Prager ask for callers to weigh in with their advice. He wanted to know if anyone had been in this situation and he asked how a spouse could be unaware that their partner isn’t in love with them anymore.

The first caller said it was a midlife crisis and that his wife did a similar thing, but they worked through it. A woman called in saying she did the same thing and that it was a symptom of menopause. Her and her husband worked past it as well. Another woman called who left her husband and said that if her husband had tried to fight the divorce then they would have stayed together. She agreed that it was a crisis, but for her it was a crisis from a miscarriage, not a midlife crisis. A stay at home Mom called and said understand this woman and that she feels under appreciated by her Husband. She said she feels this way because she never gets any recognition for her job well done which is raising the kids and taking care of the house. She said that she wants and needs more from her husband. She has the ability to buy anything she wants and has two vacation homes, but says the only thing she wants is recognition from him because she doesn’t get it from her workplace and that she won’t know if her job is well done until her children leave the house and they have a life of their own. Prager asked her if she put the marriage first, the children first, or if they are tied. She said they are tied, because she is the one that pursues the counseling for the marriage. Many other people were calling in with similar situations. One caller said that resentment from unmet needs is the number one killer of marriages.

In my opinion, I think too many women put all the emphasis on fostering a relationship with their children and none or very little on their marriage. Eventually, they realize that they are not getting the deep, fulfilling, rewarding relationship from their children and that it is one sided (the kids are not looking for this type of relationship with their parents) when they look back to find it in their marriage, it’s gone. The husband has either found something else to enjoy, is unavailable, or has put his energy into providing for the family. A lot of people I work with spend all their free time with their children while taking them to sports or other after school activites. While being involved with, and even coaching a child can be a great way to nurture a relationship with your child, they don’t seem to give equal time to nurturing a relationship with their spouse. It seems that as children get older and start to pull away, that it is the parent latching on and having a hard time letting go (insert one sided relationship). If the parents would have latched onto each other more, the children would not only have a good example in front of them, but probably do better socializing and forming relationships with kids their own age. Kids want to bond with other kids. I know people want to spend as much time as possible with their children when they are young, but people fail to realize that their spouse isn’t guaranteed to be around forever either. I believe if more couples took time for their relationships with one another, then there wouldn’t be cases of people suddenly realizing they were not in love anymore. It is much harder to re-create love among two people than it is to keep it going. Plus, keeping love alive is fun. It just takes effort.

The happiness hour focused on the topic of envy and jealousy. More specifically how everyone is a package so you shouldn’t look at one aspect or trait of a person and envy just that, but instead look at the entire package of that person. You need to see people as a whole and not just look at a pretty woman and be envious of her looks while not knowing what her life is really like. Prager says envy eats people up and jealously, which is worse, is corrosive. He cites the Mother of his friend who told him when he was a young kid that the only happy people she knew were the people she didn’t know very well. What she is saying is that if you knew the person well you would understand that somewhere is unhappiness and pain. Prager insists you cannot envy just one trait, you have to look at the whole person, because people are not just one trait, but a collective and there are so many aspects to our lives. Some of these traits are wonderful some are terrible. You may envy a baseball player’s career, but do you envy his personal life as well? Chances are you don’t know anything else about him. Prager says that it is self sabotaging and intellectually we are fooling ourselves when we envy another person’s trait instead of the whole package. He points out that just about everyone has something that we could envy such as their money, marriage, health, kids, etc, but there are probably few people whose lives we would trade if we knew everything about them. He does point out however, that envy can be a good thing if you want to emulate that trait. It’s bad if it leads to a 'poor me complex' or when you resent the person for having what you want. One insightful caller pointed out that she realized that her happiness lay in the humility to go up to someone who had something she wanted and telling them that they have something she wanted, asking them how they got it, and taking the steps to obtain it herself.

I loved this happiness hour, because I think so many people fall victim to this. I’ve always been very happy with my life, but I haven’t used my envy of other peoples desirable traits in a productive way like that caller said. After listening to the hour and pondering on it I am going to try and approach people I am envious of in an attempt to gain the qualities that they possess to get where they are. A good example is getting in shape. I follow the blogs of people who are in shape and happy with their body. They did it with hard work and determination and while I am completely envious of them I read their blogs as a way to learn what worked for them and try to apply it for myself. I think everyone could use philosophy in all aspects of their life that they want to improve. It goes back to a Rumsfeld rule- When starting at the bottom be willing to learn form those at the top. I plan on doing just that.

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