Posted on June 25, 2012
“Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot” (Pirkei Avot -Ethics of our Fathers 4:1). Our sages tell us this to remind us that it does not take money to make a person rich, but rather his or her gratitude toward G <3 D. For my birthday, I received a small and extremely colorful journal whose inner pages have been begging to be occupied with something as cheerful as its colorful exterior. After much thought and having recently read a lot about gratitude, I’ve decided to keep a consistent gratitude journal. I’ve started one in the past and it was the most refreshing experience being able to sit down for five minute a day and list the things that I was grateful for from that day. It was also great to bring everywhere and take out on the train or in line at the grocery store and either fill in more things I was grateful for around me, or to read from my prior moments of thanks.
In an article I read recently, Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin brings up that “our sages teach that lashon hara kills three: the one who said it, the one who listened and the one about whom it was said. If slander injures three, then the inverse must be true as well; hakarat hatov is able to heal at least three people. If we took more time to praise the other, imagine how much healing would be in the world.” I like this point a lot, and have been giving a lot of thought to both the detriments of lashon hara and the benefits of giving thanks in our daily lives. My friend and I are starting to learn about the laws of shemiras halashon (guarding your speech from slander) soon, and with the knowledge gained from that, coupled with the gratitude journal I plan on keeping up with, I hope to be able to create a more positive and peaceful space within myself. Being grateful daily, has the power to create positive thoughts and dispel the negative ones that we often let rule our lives.
We can all benefit from looking on the bright side of life (cue the Spamalot song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”) and from recognizing the blessings that we may forget to acknowledge daily, like the air surrounding us or the blue sky up above. And even when the sky is gray (which some may put on their list of things to be grateful for!), and the day seems to be going poorly, we can remember that we still have our senses, our families, our homes, or whatever we have in our lives at that moment when nothing seems to be going right. Keeping a gratitude journal and filling it up little by little day by day, can become a ritual that brings us closer to our happiest and most productive selves. It is important to remember that being good to others sometimes starts with being good to ourselves and that both can be achieved with kindness and with positivity. So how about it…what are you grateful for?