Thinking good, friends....finances
Another important point to mention is that whenever someone becomes frustrated or angry or disappointed in life, they tend to look for someone to blame in life. Someone who is responsible for their suffering. Children in particular look to blame someone…parents are usually the most “convenient” to blame since they are closest to the children!
The trick is to learn and to educate our children not to play the blame game. Rather each one has to do some internal searching, deep in their hearts, and find areas that they have to improve in.
When things do not go our way, we often become angry or frustrated or depressed. All of this stem from the same cause: lack of understanding or recognition that whatever happens to us in life is from G-d, is preordained, and is for good. If we truly internalize that, we would not feel so anxious, angry or frustrated. We would know that what is happening is best for us whether or not we understand it. But easier said than done….
However, the reality is that everything is by Divine Providence. Once we begin to look at life that way, we see things in a different way, through different “glasses”. When the taxi is late, we realize it is from G-d. When we cannot find what we want in a store when shopping, we realize we are not meant to have that item. When we get stuck in a traffic jam, it is a test…how will we react? What can we do to pass the time constructively? Say some psalms (tehillim)? Some additional prayers? Listen to a Torah class? We simply have to learn to view life differently. In a more positive light.
The third Chabad Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, said “tracht gut vet zein gut”: think good and it will be good. This is the power of positive thinking. And it really works! We have to learn to think good no matter what the situation.
One time my husband forgot a very important bag in a taxi. The taxi was already far gone and we did not even have his number or his name. It was a private taxi in a south American country and there was no taxi company like the type in North America. We were devastated. Then I suggested that we practice thinking good. So we both sat down and started thinking that the taxi man would return with our bag , projecting those thoughts into the air. Well, sure enough (and much to our amazement) within ten minutes the taxi returned, rang our bell and the man told us he found the bag and came back to return it! This was nothing short of a miracle. The miracle of positive thinking!
Children always want friends. I guess adults do too. Kids need to socialize. They need to be busy. They need to accomplish in life. They need to feel useful and happy….and they desperately feel they need friends to acknowledge their self worth. Little do they realize that friends can also be a disaster……it all depends on who the friends are and on what they learn from their friends.
Parents have to watch carefully who their children’s friends are. Parents have to know who their children associate with and what they are picking up from others, even on a subtle level.
Facebook and technology has made that difficult. However, it is the responsibility of every parent to watch over their children. G-d gave you your particular child or children and each one of us is responsible for these children. We have to recognize our responsibility and live up to it.
Kids need to be busy. Boredom is something that plagues society. People are not physically as active as past generations were. Children need jobs to do. They have to learn to clean, cook, and work at home. Of course school keeps children busy but there are people who home school their children. The challenge is even greater to keep one’s children occupied with productive things. Teaching your kids a skill is great, I think. Let them learn to do something that they can use for parnassa later. Let them learn to bake, cook, sew, do sheitels….anything they may have an interest in, as long as it is a “kosher” and ‘safe’ activity.
Never be afraid to give your children jobs and duties at home. WE often want to “spare” our kids too much work, to make their lives “easier”. This is a destructive attitude. Children who work hard are more self confident, are happier, busier and do not have time to sit and get into themselves so much. I am not talking about overworking kids, but just giving them jobs and responsibilities and of course teaching them to cook and clean and do things around the house. It is important even for their future.
WE used to live in a society where everyone had maids. It was the norm. I refused to have a full time maid because I was afraid my children would fall into the pattern of society where nobody does anything at home: no cooking, no cleaning, not even making their own beds. I have a friend who said when she got married she was so embarrassed because she did not even know how to make her bed! Her husband asked her if she was going to make the beds and she was so ashamed to tell him she had no idea how to do so.
Okay, that is extreme….but this particular society was used to maids and kids grew up with maids doing everything. They never lifted a finger. The problem with that is when they grow up, if they don’t marry someone wealthy and they don’t have a maid, they fall apart and cant function. We have to prepare our kids for every situation in life. Besides, if a kid does not have work to do, they sit and do other unproductive things and get into garbage….children need to be busy. If they are not busy with good things then they get busy with nonsense.
I remember when my kids were small some of their friends used to play house. Everyone used to fight to be the maid because the mother does not do anything! That is how the kids in that society were raised. I thanked G-d that my children were not brought up spoiled like that.
Today I woke up thinking that a big part of frustration or depression in society is connected to insecurity. If one feels very secure and happy, frustration and depression does not usually enter into the picture. But frustration arises a lot from a feeling of insecurity. Lack of money, lack of a marriage partner, lack of health…..all these, and many more, lead to frustration and a feeling of not having control or power. And actually, that is what frustration is: a lack of control over what you want to have or do or get!
So as I am developing this idea, I realize that insecurity is very much a part of frustration. Maybe we are getting closer to a way to minimize frustration…by minimizing insecurity.
But how to do that?
Well, the first thing is to increase one’s trust in G-d. That is in fact the main thing.
And, when you look at it, most problems are a test of one’s faith in G-d.
If someone is struggling financially, it is important to pray for greater success. And I really believe a big part of financial insecurity has to do with awakening in a person the idea that we must not put our faith or trust in money….our security should not be based on how much money one has but rather our trust has to be totally on G-d. But most of us panic if we are financially going through a hard time. We start to worry about how we will manage. Who will pay our bills? We wont be able to do all the things we want to do….this is where frustration comes in.
Of course everyone needs to be financially secure to some degree in order to function properly in society. And I really do pray that everyone should have what they need without having to struggle or go through insecurity. But even if one is not struggling financially, one’s security and inner psychological feeling of happiness or trust should not be based on having parnassa: it has to be based solely on G-d. Because the same G-d that gives you wealth could, G-d forbid, take it away if He so desires. We have to know any success is only from Hashem.
And the same with every other aspect of our lives. Nothing should be taken for granted. If one is healthy, thank G-d every day for that health and pray that it should continue. Never assume if you eat a healthy diet you will automatically merit good health. Yes, it is a vessel for the blessing, but let’s remember it is a blessing and Hashem is the One giving that blessing!
Same with wealth: many people mistakenly feel it is the “work of their hands or their intelligence” that brings wealth. That is totally false. Wealth is a blessing from Above and has nothing to do with one’s hard work or intelligence. It may appear that way, but that is only a test. Because in reality we see many intelligent, even brilliant, people who are not wealth, and many talented people who are hard working and get nowhere….
Also, one should definitely not measure ones’s self worth by how much money one has. Self worth should be measured in terms of moral integrity, holiness, purity, good deeds….money is a blessing and if one is blessed with wealth it should be viewed as an opportunity to help others, to give charity , to do good. To use it only for one’s selfish pursuits would be an abuse of wealth. A lack of recognition that we are G-d’s partner in Creation and we have to give Him pleasure by doing what He wants.
I was also thinking today about what a wonderful world this would be if every person would spend more time thinking of another…of what we can do to help someone, cheer up someone, do good for someone…this is what life is all about. To think of others and do for others. Then we truly live up to being created in the Image of our Creator. Then we truly start to fulfill our purpose in life. As the Torah says, the world exists because it is based on kind deeds and goodness. Love and kindness are what makes the world go round, as the saying goes.
Well, when the redemption arrives, the world will be a place of total goodness and kindness and consideration. The question is what each of us can do right now to make that happen faster, to prepare ourselves for that new reality. We can practice doing more kindness, helping others, giving more….this is the preparation for redemption on a personal and general level.