Day Six: Choose Life!
Jewish tradition teaches that the choices we make and the actions we take are significant. Maimonides, in his codification of Jewish law and belief, argues strongly for the primacy of individual responsibility:
Do not let enter your mind that which is said by (some): that God decrees from the start whether a person is to be righteous or wicked (Laws of Teshuvah 5:2).
In Deuteronomy 30:19-20 God tells us, "I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life—if you and your offspring would live— by loving ADONAI your God, heeding God's commands and holding fast to God.
We make choices everyday. Today we're going to think about how we can make GOOD choices.
But who would knowingly choose death and curse? We all want life and blessing. But achieving these goals takes a lot of effort. So we get distracted and take the easy route instead. The escape route. Each day we are confronted with many escape routes. Daydreaming, spreading rumors instead of holding fast to the truth, checking our email for the seventh time this hour...
Judaism says the opposite. Life and blessing lies in how we resolve conflicts – in using our free will to grow – not to quit. To face reality – not to escape. To live and not to die. When we escape problems, we escape the chance of becoming great. It's a constant battle every moment of our lives.
Here are three steps to help you choose life!
What Do I Do?
Step One: Self-Awareness
Become aware of the choices you're making. Life is a constant stream of decisions. Once you become sensitive to the fact that you are constantly making choices, then you can monitor them. That's using your free will actively, not passively.
Don't let decisions just "happen." Put your periscope up. Ask yourself:
Why am I reading this right now?
Am I just surfing the web?
Or do I have a specific goal?
Your decisions shape your life and determine your destiny. Take charge. If you don't, you're just a pedestrian watching as life passes you by.
Step Two: Be Your Own Person
Don't accept society's beliefs as your own unless you've thought them through and agree with them. Live for yourself, not for society. Evaluate your past decisions. Start each day anew. Don't remain bound to guidelines and determinations you made years ago, or even to ones that you made yesterday.
Step Three: Identify with Your Soul More than Your Body
Within each of us, a fierce battle is raging constantly. It's a battle between the cravings of our body, versus the aspirations of our soul. There are times when you know objectively that something is good for you, but your physical desires get in the way and distort your outlook. Don't be ambushed by your body. Identify whether it's your body or your soul talking. Until then, you don't even know why you've made a decision. Avoid the escape routes. Choose what is meaningful and productive. Choose life. (Gratefully adapted from aish.com)