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Work with all the layers of everything else, the life experiences that have partially sculpted and forged you. Work through your fears -- don't be defined by them -- doing so is where your self-worth and value, as with love, expands all possibilities. We can blend the four layers of personal value together in the manner of a thick onion soup: Motivation or drive for behaviour: our why at any moment in time. Competence or intelligence to adapt and do: filters like IQ and EQ. It took me back to when my dad would take me fishing on Sunday mornings. Watching him row the boat--shirtless, tan, relaxed, happy even--made me feel like I had the strongest dad in the world, like I was safe and he loved me because he was with me. He did all the dirty work--worms, hooks, guts--and taught me not to fear the gore of it all. I have to remember to talk about fishing with my dad. When I watched my mom spoon-feed him his pureed food and wipe his chin like a baby in a high chair, I thought to myself, She is doing her duty, despite the many times she hated him as a husband. How will I ever deal honestly with their marriage in his eulogy? For a decade, Steve the rabbi was taking notes for the eulogy Steve the son would someday write. You might think that helping so many people through loss, death, and grief would be a terrible burden. Those are just your worst impulses, trying to tempt you into behaving badly. The Laziness Lie encourages you to ignore your body's warnings, push through discomfort, and ask for as few accommodations as possible. And at the end of all that struggle and self-denial, there's no reward. You never actually earn the right to take it easy, because the Laziness Lie also teaches you that you can never, ever do enough. The Laziness Lie encourages us to aspire to an impossible level of productivity. It sets us up to expect full, eight-hour workdays of unbroken focus, followed by evenings filled with exercise, Instagram-worthy home-cooked meals, and admirable side projects. According to the Laziness Lie, a worthwhile person fills their days in ideal, industrious ways.

They don't skip doctor's appointments, fail to get their oil checked, or miss days at the gym. If someone lacks the energy to make it to the polls on Election Day because they just finished working a grueling third-shift job, the Laziness Lie says they're to blame for everything going politically awry in this country. Other factors influencing who we are: life experience and everything else. These layers bubble and simmer together, compounding or softening different ingredients or specific traits. They also influence our value: who we really are at the core of it all. To highlight this I'll quickly share two historical characters, side by side as: Yet their underlying values and value systems -- vastly different -- determined their overall legacy judged by history in polarising ways. Challenge life's lessons to unlearn, relearn and continually learn so the patterns of behaviour fuelling our choices are relevant and improve the quality of value we add to all aspects of our world. Personal value is the equivalent of the fifth divine element, the one known as aether. Sometimes I cringe when the answering service calls me in the middle of the night because I just don't think I can show up again so soon to carry another family's pain. There are many early mornings or late evenings when I say to Betsy, I have to write a eulogy now. Who willingly walks into rooms so full of other people's pain? I wish they would ask for one of the other rabbis. Yet despite how hard it can be, guiding all those families through making that stew of stories has taught me so much--not about death, but about life. Writing so many eulogies has given me lessons in how to live my life as a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a rabbi, and a friend. I know now how I want my family to answer the questions I ask other families in the wake of death when the person doing the asking will be some other rabbi, and I will be no more. When a part-time student doesn't have the mental energy to study after caring for her children all day, the Laziness Lie says she isn't smart enough or virtuous enough to get a college degree. There's no limit to what the Laziness Lie will do to persuade us that we need to be doing. Our aspirations can climb and climb, but they'll never hit the ceiling, because the ceiling doesn't exist. If you're a diligent employee, the Laziness Lie will berate you for not volunteering more often, or for not doing enough for your family and friends.

If you devote your life to serving other people and meeting their needs, the Laziness Lie will point out that you're not working out enough, or that your home is a mess. If you win a massive award or hit some other life-changing milestone, the Laziness Lie will smile politely and say, That's very nice. We're all taught to take immense pride in our achievements, but we're also discouraged from resting on our laurels when we do accomplish something great. No level of success grants a person the social permission to stop and catch their breath. It's a culmination of all our experiences, opinions, preferences, biases, prejudices and values. The other four values in the Value Model (tangible, emotional, service and relationship) are like the four classical elements. What we find is that components within each will resonate more than others because of who we are and how we function. As for polishing up on personally adding value, there are already many clues in the descriptions and stories shared in this article. Identify how you really like to function: embrace your strengths. I have learned that loved ones remember and miss the seemingly little things the most--the things that made them laugh or the times we showed up to rescue them with a simple hug, letting them know they were not alone. Walks on the beach, a game of catch, a day fishing on the sun-dappled water, a loan when you were broke, a date to get your nails done together, ice cream on a hot summer night, a smile when you walked in the room. Mostly what I have learned from listening to so many stories of a person's life set against the backdrop of death is that life and love are essentially about time--time spent consciously, deliberately, mundanely, lovingly together when you could otherwise have been apart. Most people think that the rabbi, minister, imam, family members, or friends write the eulogy for a person who has died. Did I really create my father's eulogy or anyone else's over all these years? The profound and simple truth is that we are each writing our own eulogies every day with the pen of our lives. The Laziness Lie teaches that the harder you work, the better a person you are, but it never actually defines what an acceptable level of hard might look like. By forever moving the goalpost and never actually allowing a person to be vulnerable and have needs, it's setting us up for failure right from the start. This past year, my mom suffered a hip injury that would not heal. Instead of resting and attending physical therapy, she kept aggravating the injury by standing all day long at her job as a dental hygienist. She kept dragging herself to work for weeks (which became months) even though it was clear her body couldn't sustain it.

It got harder for my mom to walk or stand, and she was starting to dread going into the office. She'd been a dental hygienist for over forty years, she kept reiterating to me; So the inevitable kept getting delayed, until my mom's pain got so intense that she had no choice but to call in sick for every shift she had on the schedule. Instead of being the planned, scheduled affair she wanted it to be, my mom's retirement became an emergency decision, announced to her coworkers via text message. Make an effort to identify how they prefer to function. Be the first to adapt your manner of approach, methods of communication and use a more conscious choice of language and words. You don't need to change who you are to improve the quality of all relationships. Tap into the why of your inner drive, then align your goals, self-rewards and choices. Ask questions to figure out what's driving those around you. Now, let's talk about the funeral tomorrow, I usually say when I feel the stew of stories has simmered to perfection, or I have to get to my next meeting soon (there is that splinter of ice again). It is time for me to walk the family through the details of the coming day--when to arrive, where to park, where to sit, who will speak and in what order, who will bear the casket--all the choreography of death. Buddhists study, meditate, and work at embracing impermanence their entire lives. For the rest of us--and perhaps even for them--it is numbing, painful, frightening, surreal, and strange to be in the presence of a dead body and to return that body, whether whole or in ash, to the earth and the elements. I have seen more than a thousand dead bodies, and it is clear that the body is not the person--that there is so much more to us than our corporeal being. It is the impermanence of the body that has convinced me of the eternality of the soul. Physics tells us that energy never dies, it merely assumes a different form. The Laziness Lie kept my mom from admitting to herself that it was time to stop working. It keeps many of us from taking the time we need to recoup, or from spending our younger, typically healthier years doing things we genuinely love. So many of my friends and loved ones are hurting themselves in similar ways, leaving their health, relationships, and years of their lives as offerings at the altar of hard work. It has made us terrified of living at a slower, gentler pace.

This understanding of the world has left many of us constitutionally incapable of caring for ourselves, let alone extending full compassion to others. What's worse, the Laziness Lie is so deeply ingrained in our culture and our values that many of us never think to question it. To fully appreciate its far-reaching impact and how it became so integral to our culture, we have to look back centuries, into the origins of capitalism. The Laziness Lie is deeply embedded in the very foundation of the United States. You can then adapt your approach, collaboration and communication. Read through the five categories in the EQ framework again. Ask questions and set simple actions around the ones you know you wish to improve on. Regular planning for skills, competence and attitude Set time aside each month for the business of continual learning. You should never be so busy that you sacrifice learning. I never feel this more deeply than when gazing upon a dead body, a vessel emptied of its life force, a force that must surely now exist elsewhere. Just before my father's funeral service began, the rabbi walked me and my family into the chapel the way I have walked so many families into facing death for so many years. In that moment I understood how the rabbi felt, but I did not understand how I felt. I sat, Betsy at my side, our children, Aaron and Hannah, there too, and I could do nothing, nothing but sink my head in my hands, bent over, and weep. I did not want to believe that we were about to begin the funeral of my dad. We were going to bury him and there was nothing, nothing I could do to stop it. He did not look like himself in the casket, although maybe he did. The value of hard work and the evils of sloth are baked into our national myths and our shared value system. Thanks to the legacies of imperialism and slavery, as well as the ongoing influence that the United States exerts on its trade partners, the Laziness Lie has managed to spread its tendrils into almost every country and culture on the planet. The word lazy first appeared in English around 1540;