Friday, September 4, 2020

False Expectations

There was a story about two friends in the park, and one of them looked pretty glum. One friend inquired of the other, "why do you look so gloomy"? He replied that three weeks ago, he had a distant cousin that passed away who left him fifty thousand dollars. Then two weeks ago, another relative passed away and left me one hundred thousand dollars. And last week my grandmother died and left me a half-million dollars". The friend asked him, "If you had several relatives leave you so much money, why do you look so sad"?" He replied, "It's been almost a week since then, and no other relative has died"!!! I think of this as I contemplate why it is such a challenge for us to have gratitude in our daily life. We learn so much about the benefits of gratitude both in the Torah and secular culture. Gratitude has also been shown to have health benefits as well. Research has shown that it enhances one's mental health and physical health. If that is the case, why do we struggle many times to express out our gratitude? There are various reasons, but I believe that a primary reason is people having false expectations. We frequently have many expectations for the people in our lives. These expectations from our parents, spouses, children, friends, teachers, rabbis, etc. lead us many times to disappointment. It's essential to reassess if our expectations are realistic. Perhaps the expectation needs to be adjusted and recalibrated. (Obviously, every relationship requires a certain amount of commitment and dedication. It's just important to reflect if the expectations we have from others are aligned with reality.) More importantly, it would be valuable to pivot from expecting things to occur to be grateful for whatever we are blessed with in life. There is a compelling mitzvah of Bikkurim at the beginning of this week's Parsha. One was required to bring the first fruits of the harvest to the Beis Hamikdash/Temple in Jerusalem and express his gratitude to G-d for the bounty. One did not have to bring up all the fruits, just a portion of them for this mitzvah. The is emphasizes that when the economy is going well, and there is produce in the field or cash in the register, let us be grateful for the blessing. As the year of 5780 draws to an end, let us reflect on the importance of not expecting the blessings that we have in life and once again recommit to expressing our gratitude to G-d and our fellow man.

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