Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Recognizing and Appreciating the Good

Posted on Facebook by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Four years ago today [June 10], Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns died heroically in the line of duty protecting Museum staff and visitors from a brutal attacker, avowed racist, and antisemite. The memory of Officer Johns's outgoing personality, affection for people, and irrepressible optimism continues to inspire us to counter hate. His memory occupies a permanent place in our hearts, as do our thoughts for his family. We will never forget you, Officer Johns.
HaKarat HaTov - recognizing the good - is a central concept in Judaism. I was so glad to see this post up for all to see. This brave man gave his life to protect others. He must have known that by serving in a public Jewish museum that he was putting himself in danger. We honor him by remembering what a sacrifice he made.

If I can use this chance to make another point --
Recognizing the good can change your life for the better. It is easier to notice all the bad around us (especially if you watch the news regularly) than it is to see the good in general - or the good that happens to us in our own lives.

I would also say that recognizing the good is only the first step. The second step would be to appreciate the good that is done for us. To fully appreciate something takes time. It would require us to do something that we don't truly do anymore - take a quiet moment for ourselves.

I would suggest that we each take a moment at the end of the day with an empty notebook - take only 5 minutes if that's all you have (or more if you can) - and list the good that happened to you that day. At first it may be hard, but try to come up with one to begin with. Build from there. Do not include your sports team winning or that you're glad the day finally came to an end. Try to be positive. Before you know it, you will be needing a new notebook. This exercise will change your whole attitude toward life.

It's so easy to see the bad, the negative and let that drag us down. But that's not why we are here. G-d gave us each a special talent to make the world a spiritual place, a positive place - a place where G-d would like to dwell with us. To uplift our corner of the universe, to turn the negative into positive is the point of living.  Let us begin by recognizing the good done for us - and hopefully appreciating it as well.

For another idea: Thanksgiving and Shabbat Dinner

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