Training people to view their own life positively is increasingly important, especially because many people form all kinds of negative attitudes about life based on the news media’s constant emphasis on all the world’s evils and tragedies.
It is obvious that we all will suffer the loss of people we love to the inevitability of death. This is painful and sorrowful. Everyone also fears having a serious illness and their own eventual death. Today, fears, depression, anxiety, and frustration, create misery for an increasing number of people.
One way of influencing people to think positively about their lives is to teach them the importance of saying blessings for the many things they experience in their ordinary daily and weekly life, and at occasional extraordinary times.
Frequently saying daily blessings helps make people grateful for all the good things we take for granted. Gratitude expressed to God and to other people, for their daily activities helps us create positive awarenesses and outcomes for ourselves.
For example, a study of 468 married individuals recently published in the journal Personal Relationships found that “feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you, directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” said study co-author Ted Futris.
The results indicated that spousal expression of gratitude was the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality. “It goes to show the power of ‘thank you,’” said the study’s lead author Allen Barton.
The study also found that higher levels of spousal gratitude expressions protected men’s and women’s divorce proneness as well as women’s marital commitment from the negative effects of poor communication during conflict. “This is the first study to document the protective effect that feeling appreciated by your spouse can have for marriages,”
Gratitude was measured in terms of the degree to which individuals felt appreciated by their spouse, valued by their spouse and acknowledged when they did something nice for their spouse.
Instead of saying ‘God bless you” when someone sneezes; we would do much better by saying ‘God bless you” to our family members and friends who routinely give us reasons to gratefully bless them.
If we thank God for the people who bless us, as well as our activities in the natural world around us, our blessings will increase and the curses of life can be lessened.
Adding blessings for our most important relationships that we often take for granted, will help make our lives more blessed.
It is a Mitsvah (Jewish religious duty) to say blessings praising God at every meal over food and drink. Every morning when we awake it is a Mitsvah to say several blessings because various parts of our mind and body still work. During morning and evening prayers 18 blessings are said, and there are blessings for the weekly celebration of the Sabbath.
There are also blessings to say for special occasions for our sages urged us to thank God for as many blessings as we can, since the more blessings you can say, the more blessed you are. Indeed, Jewish tradition maintains that everyone who is able to say 100 blessings a day is truly blessed.
Among the special occasion blessings there is a blessing for seeing a non-Jewish sage and another one for seeing a Jewish sage. There is a blessing for hearing good news and another one for hearing bad news in accordance with Rabbi Huna’s view that we need both joy and suffering to increase our mental and spiritual resilience; and experience the varied meanings of life’s tests.
Here are a few examples of blessings for special occasions:
On beholding fragrant trees: Praised be Adonai our God, Ruler of space and time, creator of fragrant trees.
On seeing trees in blossom: Praised be Adonai our God, Ruler of space and time, whose world lacks nothing we need, who has fashioned goodly creatures and lovely trees that enchant the heart.
On seeing an unusual looking person: Praised be Adonai our God, Ruler of space and time, who makes every person unique.
On the Divine value of pluralism and human variety when seeing a large number of people: Praised be Adonai our God, Ruler of space and time, the Sage of enigmas, for just as no person’s opinion is like that of another, so their faces are different from one another.
On seeing evidence of charitable efforts: Praised be Adonai our God, ruler of space and time, who clothes the naked.
On seeing people who have overcome adversity: Praised be Adonai our God, ruler of space and time, who gives strength to the weary.
All humans owe God for all the blessings we have received; and thus we must always behave in unselfish ways. This will also benefit ourselves in the long run for ingrates always hurt themselves in the long run.