Somehow I Am Different

Narratives of searching and belonging in Jewish Budapest

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On Recognizing the Good

Last week, I met with my Jewish book club, in which we are reading a book on Jewish mindfulness. We discussed values of gratitude and compassion. One book club member shared insight with the group that I would now like to share with you.

On recognizing the good:

Take some time to notice how hard everyone around you is trying. In America, we tend to respond to other people's labor by comparing: "That person is lazy" or "Look at that sad sack slaving his life away." We don't realize that by comparing instead of appreciating, we actually cheapen the value of our own efforts by training ourselves to perceive the world as uncooperative and unrewarding. This is why many of us find work disagreeable, for in ceasing to thank others, we come to find our own tasks thankless.

So today, walk where people are working and silently acknowledge their efforts: not just people scrubbing floors or lifting heavy things, but all the men and women taking care of themselves by running errands or just sitting together with those they love.

Even when people's actions strike you as misguided, notice the struggle to be happy beneath what they are doing. Notice trees bending their branches toward the sun and the bricks in buildings resisting the entropy of time.

The whole world is flowering around you, and as you learn to see with eyes of praise, you will see your own life flowering, too.

Thank you, Gabe, for sharing with the team. For more words of wisdom like these, explore Paul Weinfield on Facebook.

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