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Can you change?



There’s a story told of a young man who was gung-ho and enthusiastic. As soon as he graduated from college, he set out to change the world. After a couple of years, he realised that this was too big a project, so he settled on changing his country. But that, too, proved to be exceedingly difficult, so he narrowed down his options, and chose to just change his city. Alas, that was also exhausting and difficult. Alright then, he decided, now visibly weary after many years, I’ll just change my community. Maybe just my family? He eventually came to a grinding halt, exhausted from all his effort and lack of success. But he also came to a profound realisation – the only thing he could change was himself!

The result? When he changed himself, he changed his family, his community, his city, and of course, the world.

We’re again standing at a precipice. The year 5782 is about to take its leave, and we’ll usher in a new year, a new slate. Our hopes, expectations, and needs all take centre stage, and we take stock of ourselves. Perhaps this year we should flip things around. Let’s not bemoan or dissect our external realities, hoping that somehow this year, things will change. Let’s simply look at how we can change ourselves.

What do we need to get the ball rolling? Here are some ideas I’ve come up with, elucidated through the acronym “CHANGE”.

C – control – perhaps one of the greatest impediments to growth and happiness! Leave your control tower and throw the keys away. You’re in charge only of yourself, and the only person you can control is you. Everything and everyone else aren’t for you to control, change, direct, or influence. So, resign right now as president of the control committee. It will be the most liberating first step you can take.

H – happiness – choose happiness over being right. Today’s world is filled with ego and selfishness. People do hurtful things in order to preserve their identities or to fill their unwanted needs. Everyone has an agenda, and everyone has an opinion. But don’t get caught up in the fray. Instead of trying to prove you’re right, choose to find happiness. It’s a smoother, kinder way to live.

A – live in a state of appreciation. We’re hardwired always to look at our glass as half empty. Every day, practice finding five things you can be thankful for. Even in the darkest places, there are always things that are good. When we change our focus, that which we perceive as being “not revealed goodness” will be tempered down, and it will give us the courage to live life more fully.

N – practice being non-judgemental. Everyone is going through something. Everyone is fighting their personal darkness. Quit judging them! And even deeper, stop being harsh on yourself! When we stop judging others and ourselves, G-d responds in kind, and won’t judge us harshly either. Learn to give the benefit of the doubt when you see something that you feel is unfair or wrong.

G – acts of goodness and kindness will change the world. We need to be compassionate to the world around us. A smile, a warm greeting, or spending time lifting up another human being has immeasurable benefits not only for the recipient, but for you too. It’s worth more than all the money in the world. It engenders love and peace, friendship, and camaraderie. It gives people hope, and makes them feel loved.

E – finally live life with exuberance, excitement, and energy! G-d woke you up today for a purpose. He believes in you, and wants you to live life to the fullest. Search inside, and find out what your passion is, what strengths you have, and then go out and give it to the world.

I love the saying, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.”

We’re at end of this long and dark exile. G-d is waiting to usher in a world of peace, health, and prosperity. He’s waiting on us! Let’s do the internal work. Let’s change ourselves, our priorities, and commit to being better this year from the inside out. And then G-d will respond in kind, and our world will see the greatest transformation ever.

Wishing everyone a shana tova u metukah – a good, sweet year ahead.

Rebbetzin Aidel Kazilsky is a radio and television host and an inspirational speaker who teaches the wisdom of Torah and applies it to contemporary times.

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