Don’t settle for existence, work to thrive.
By Rabbi Daniel Cohen
Many people today are frustrated and disheartened by the divide that seems to have arisen in this country and across the globe. This discord affects everything from family relationships to the workplace, leaving people frustrated and fearful that it’s going to get worse and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Yet the answer to the turmoil isn’t difficult, and it lies within each of us, says Rabbi Daniel Cohen.
“We have to ask ourselves every day: What did I do today to uplift another soul?” says Cohen, author of “What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone? Creating a Life of Legacy. ” “We are called upon with the talents we possess to rise to the occasion – every day.”
For example, think about the people you encounter in a day, the emails you receive or the requests for advice. “Is it not possible that you could have done more, given more or listened more to people?” he says. “Of course there is! This isn’t meant to depress you, but to alert you to the numerous possibilities you possess to make an impact.”
Cohen suggests you begin by taking a quiet hour and digging deep within yourself. Who are you? Who do you want to be? If you could only speak one more time, what would you say? Why not say it now?
“Everyone deep down wants a more inspired and authentic life,” Cohen says. “Rarely do we take the time to find that sacred space to listen to our inner voice and solidify our most cherished values.”
If you want to create a life that fulfills your purpose and leaves the world a better place, Cohen provides suggestions on how to reach that goal, such as:
Being an agent of kindness.
When you walk into your local coffee shop or go to work, what can you do within the next few minutes to make someone’s day? Pay for coffee for the person standing behind you? Smile and make eye contact with someone passing in the hall instead of staring at your smartphone? “Perhaps the person was having a tough day and by acknowledging them, you’ve made an impact on their lives. One human being in the briefest of encounters can change a person’s life,” he says.
Making courageous choices.
We make big and small choices every day and some are easier than others. At the end of life, many people regret the things they didn’t do. “When we die, we won’t be judged against someone else’s life but against our own potential,” Cohen says. “Did we do the best we could with the hand we were dealt?” To get yourself in the habit of making better choices, wake up every morning and decide one good deed you will do that day and think more about the person in your life who motivates you to make better choices.
Seizing meditative moments.
Meditate every day to reflect on your own humanity. Use prayers or poems or your own journal writings to think about who you are, your relationships and what you’ve done to make an impact. This gives you an opportunity to consider what you’ve done right, and what you need to correct.
“The sources of our faith may be in a higher power, within ourselves, or in friends or a spouse who believes in us more than we believe in ourselves,” Cohen says. “We all need cheerleaders in life. Who are yours? Are you harnessing all your resources? The more you do, the more successful you’ll be on your journey.”
Cohen says living inspired stems from an awareness that life can change in an instant. It means taking nothing for granted and not assuming you’re owed anything. Start a gratitude journal that lists new blessings every day. Write a letter of thanks to your parents, a mentor or a friend who laid the foundation for your success. “This one day, the moment you’re now experiencing, is holy. Unlock it. Cherish it. Harness its full potential,” he says.
Discovering your renewable energy.
Identify your talents and skills, and what makes you smile. When do you feel the most alive? “Remember that your life is a gift latent with infinite potential,” he says.
Finally, Cohen says we must remember that each of us has a purpose in the world, and choices to make.
“God endowed humanity, each of us, with the ability to choose between good and evil, harm and healing,” Cohen says. “Your life is a candle. You are a flame. You can ignite thousands of lights in your world every day.”