An important factor in spiritual rehabilitation is reminding ourselves what we have to be grateful for. The attitude of gratitude teaches us not to take for granted that which has been granted us.
There are five major ways of doing this. One is by becoming fully aware of what we have. The second is realizing that it is more important to want what we have than to have what we want. The third is by being grateful for the catastrophes that might have happened from which we have been spared. The fourth is by envisioning our life without who and what we often take for granted. The fifth is by envisioning what matters most.
In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye reminds us that in Jewish tradition there is a blessing for everything–for eating bread, for seeing beauty, for smelling a wonderful fragrance, for waking up in the morning! Try this Fiddler on the Roof exercise to remind yourself of what gifts you will find when you express your gratitude for all the blessings!
As mentioned earlier, Tevye reminds us that there are blessings for everything, including for details as simple as getting dressed, for health, even for a successful venture in the washroom. There is a blessing for just about everything so you don’t overlook anything, and this is precisely WHY there is a blessing for everything–to evoke our awareness of the many, many blessings we so often overlook.
Being aware of these blessings is a stimulus to evoking the attitude of gratitude. Realizing what the withdrawal of any of these blessings would mean to the quality, and even the quantity, of our lives can only stimulate our awareness of how much we have, and of how grateful we ought to be.
There is a Yiddish proverb that reads, “If you cannot be grateful for what you have received, than be thankful for what you have been spared.”
Adapted from Crafting the Soul, by Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin, Ph.D. (Lantern Books, 1998). Copyright (c) 1998 by Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin. Reprinted by permission of Lantern Books.
Adapted from Crafting the Soul, by Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin, Ph.D. (Lantern Books, 1998).