The problem with trying to find the solution to the current economic instability is that the answer has nothing to do with money. The solution is this: We are Blessed. Beyond imagination.
How could this be the answer? Aside from the fact that it is one of the most fundamental truths we can ever know, gratitude is a spiritual state that unleashes creativity, perspective, and all the wisdom we need to walk through life. Imagine if collectively, as a nation, we turned toward gratitude. How would that change our thinking about how much money we have, what we consume, and our understanding of what is happening right now?
Judaism teaches that what happens in the outside world is always, always, a reflection of what is happening on the inside world. A greedy mind is a mind without wisdom and common sense. A fearful mind is a mind without wisdom and common sense. The insecurity we see today is the inevitable result of people living in a state of agitation, without peace of mind. The solution therefore is in the opposite direction.
Seeing with eyes of gratitude; feeling like “but for the grace of God go I,” is a simple, honest truth about our lives, no matter what our financial position may be at the moment. It’s also the most practical course of action we could take to deal with the financial situation or any situation. The reason is simple: What perpetuates downward and upward spirals is the very thing that created it in the first place.
People feel bound by their fearful or sometimes greedy thinking. The moment this changes we will begin again to do commerce with perspective and confidence. Our minds will automatically move from focusing on what we don’t have to seeing what we can do with what we do have. This shift spurs the creativity, perspective, and vision to see and capitalize on the daily opportunities that are being created around us.
On any given day in Jewish life, gratitude is being imbedded in our experience through the blessings we make during the day. There is a custom to say a beautiful prayer of thanks the moment we open our eyes in the morning. We have blessings in the morning for the most simple, yet fundamental, things about being alive. We make blessings of thanks before and after we have the privilege of eating. The Talmud actually states that we should strive each day to say at least a hundred blessings; a hundred moments of focusing us on gratitude; a hundred opportunities to not focus on what we don’t have and to treasure what we do.
On a personal level, this moment in time is an opportunity for all of us to have a shift in our relationship to money and its value in our life. We have to ask ourselves, if what we truly value is all the things money cannot buy — family, love, giving — then why does it frighten us so much if we lose money? Have we started to believe that people who don’t have money can’t have those things? That is impossible. So, as they say these days, “It’s on us.”
Having said that, we are all human and have our moments of frailty. It’s a given that we are going to have moments of feeling frightened, regretful, and like we’ve “lost” that something that makes us feel secure. There will be times that it looks like security can only come from something outside of us. How do we relate to those moments? Does it seem like our human frailty is coming out, or more like we really have something to be afraid of?
I’m not suggesting there aren’t people going through great challenges. People have been forced to sell their homes, declare bankruptcy, and file for unemployment. However, many of the people who face these challenges go through with great grace, perspective, and yes, even gratitude. We have all met people like this in our lives. What allows them to do so is their level of understanding about where value and joy come from at any given moment. Their understanding protects and guides them through the most difficult times and lights a path for the rest of us when we are feeling challenged.
It’s time for us to turn away from the “problem” and continue looking toward the solution. Time to look for the feeling that comes from seeing we are truly blessed.
As always, gratitude will save the day.