This post is about the Jewish month of Kislev, as it relates to The Chazak Plan: A 12 Month Journey to Spiritual Strength.
Rosh Chodesh Kislev begins Wednesday night, the 11th of November, and lasts for two days.
During this month we celebrate the festival of Chanukah, which commemorates the miracle of the oil, the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks and the rededication of the Second Temple. A key message of the festival is expressing gratitude to God for the miracles He performs on our behalf.
Each day, preferably at the beginning of the day, spend time feeling grateful for the blessings your Creator gave you. Thank Him for His many gifts, for the bright side/silver lining of your difficulties, and for signs of His help amidst your challenges. Consider inputting this daily practice of expressing gratitude into your checklist.
In addition, express appreciation when someone does something beneficial for you. You can do this in person, on the phone, via a quick email or text, or with a written note.
Questions for the month:
“What is something I am very grateful to God for? What can I say to Him to express my appreciation?”
“Who is someone who has helped me? How can I express my appreciation?”
Here is an excerpt from the post, “6 Tools to Enhance Your Mood” on the topic of gratitude:
“According to research, being grateful increases our happiness. Begin your day expressing appreciation to God for at least one blessing in your life, preferably out loud and in your native language; elaborate on how you have benefited from this blessing.
Try this powerful practice to supercharge your mood: First, focus on life’s deepest joy: That God – the Creator of the entire universe – wants to have a personal relationship with you (no matter what you’ve done in the past). Then, pick an upbeat Jewish song and dance and/or sing to God, expressing your desire to come closer to Him and your appreciation for all that your Father in Heaven does for you.
This is one of the quickest ways to improve your mood. Try it at least once, even if you think it is silly. If you find this practice beneficial, do it each morning.
(The music of Shlomo Carlebach is one great choice to dance and/or sing to. Even just listening to his music can uplift your mood. You can listen to full-length tracks at http://www.sojournrecords.com/artist/shlomo_carlebach. Some fast paced songs available on this webpage are: Oseh Shalom, Tov L'hodot, Harachaman Hu Y'zakeinu, Yamin Usmol, Hashem Melech, Tshuatam, Siman Tov and Am M'kadshai.)
Each day, make a conscious decision to focus on and be grateful for what goes right, the blessings inherent in every day. Savor and delight in life’s pleasures, enjoying them mindfully. Express appreciation for the help others give you.
In addition to appreciating what God and others have done for you, appreciate yourself. Focus on and take delight in your positive qualities; praise yourself for your achievements, good deeds and the challenges you have overcome. Also look for and praise the good you see in others.
At the root of a low mood is often a mindset of minimizing the good in our lives and maximizing the bitter – the things we have we wish we did not and the things we do not have we wish we did. To feel happier, do the opposite: Maximize what you have and what is going right and minimize what you do not yet have and what is difficult (minimizing difficulties means not blowing them out of proportion but still addressing them as appropriate).
The next time you are in a low mood, ask yourself, “What bitter aspect of my life am I over-focusing on? What blessed aspect am I ignoring?” Then switch focus; think about how the bitterness in your life is really manageable, and how the blessings in your life are really amazing.
A fundamental belief in Judaism is that whatever happens to us is from God, out of His love for us and for our benefit (Tractate Berachot 60b). While the main benefit of a difficulty is likely obscured from your view, try to find some benefit or bright side to a challenge, for which you can be grateful.
When we are grateful for the blessings in our lives, we are more likely to not take things too seriously. Look for the humor in life. Throughout the day, remind yourself to smile, even if only a slight one; this will help you cultivate an inner sense of lightness and joy.
Part of gratitude is realizing that the gifts God gives us are not exclusively for our own use; He expects us to share a portion of them with others. Research shows that giving to others enhances our health and happiness; it even increases our longevity.
Helping others reminds us that there are those who are less fortunate and to be grateful for what we have. Look for ways to share your time, talents and resources; volunteer or adopt a cause or charity. Each day, see how you can be of service to others.”
Take care, and may God grant us success in the coming month,