Modim anachnu lach. We are grateful unto you.
Our brains are wired, for survival purposes, to focus on the negative. And without question, the stealthy lion approaching us out on the tundra required us to focus on the negative! But a slow-moving grocery line does not require such focus. Traffic does not require such focus. An old boiler that breaks and needs to be replaced does not require such focus. A dreaded dental or medical procedure does not require such focus. And so on….
It is so easy to concentrate on the things that make our lives more difficult or unpleasant, even as we are surrounded with blessings.
The slow-moving grocery line can serve as a reminder that you are blessed to soon have a full refrigerator. The traffic can serve as a reminder that you are blessed to own a car and able to travel long distances quickly and conveniently. The boiler that needs to be replaced can serve as a reminder that you are blessed to have a warm home in the winter. And even a dreaded dental or medical procedure can serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in this age of modern dentistry and medicine! You get the idea.
A colleague of mine refers to this as ‘An Attitude of Gratitude’. It sounds hokey, but it’s a wise approach to daily life. Constantly reminding ourselves to focus on our blessings is a proven method of increasing our own happiness. It also puts us in a state of mind to be kinder to others.
Focus on the traffic, for example, and you’ll be more inclined to edge out another driver for a better position on the road. Focus instead on how blessed you are to own a car, and you’ll be more inclined to yield your position to another driver, making both you and the other driver feel better!
Be ever aware of your blessings. Constantly remind yourself to be grateful, and allow that gratitude to inspire you to acts of kindness. Remember that the most important purpose of Judaism or any religion is to remind us to be good to one another.
Happy Thanksgiving from Ahava to you and yours!
“For the expanding grandeur of creation, worlds known and unknown, galaxies beyond galaxies, filling us with awe and challenging our imagination, modim anachnu lach (we are grateful unto you).
For the joy of human life, its wonders and surprises, its hopes and achievements, modim anachnu lach.
For this fragile planet earth, its times and tides, its sunsets and seasons, modim anachnu lach.
For high hopes and noble causes, for faith without fanaticism, for understanding of views not shared, modim anachnu lach.”
[From the Mishkan T’filah prayer book]