I planned a trip to College of Charleston to visit my best friend from high school, and one day prior to leaving she called and asked me if I’d like to go to dinner Friday night at a local rabbi’s house for the Sabbath. (This is sort of the Christian equivalent to Sunday morning.) I was hesitant at first because I figured this meant that I’d have to spend my first night of vacation in classy clothes and on my very best behavior, but after finding out that we would not only be joined by three Jewish boys (I’m clearly on the market) but also granted access to the rabbi’s surplus of liquor, I figured I had to at least see it to believe it.
We showed up at his house in Mt. Pleasant to be greeted with open arms by his wife, children and family friends. After wining and dining us, the rabbi broke the friendly chatter among the table to deliver a sermon. Post the telling of a story from the Old Testament, the rabbi unfolded something that has since come to the front of my mind perpetually: “It is pointless to let the struggles that we are confronted with define our lives.” He continued on, saying there are essentially two ways we can choose to address an obstacle thrust into our paths; you can make it a big deal, blow it out of proportion and act like things could not get any worse, OR you can accept that struggles are an inevitable part of life, make the best of it and continuously remind yourself that there are thousands of people who have it worse than you do. Time spent wallowing in your own pity might as well be time thrown out the window — it could just as easily be spent bettering yourself, maturing, helping others or finding the optimism in what seems to be pure negativity. A person who defines his or her life with problems encountered and suffering endured will end up passing on and leaving nothing, but a person who seeks the most positive outlook will have much less trouble making positive progress and living a life that her or she can be proud of.
On a college campus, of all places, pessimism can be overheard all day, every day. Whether you’re so hungover that you’re “dying,” or your friend hasn’t made an effort to fix things, so you shouldn’t have to either, or your roommate is trying to hook up with your flavor of the week, one thing is for certain: Life goes on. No matter if you’re Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Rastafarian, some sort of in-between or atheist, nothing is stopping you from living your life looking on the bright side. It’s not a religious choice; it’s not something you need to be told by a pastor or priest. It’s a way to stay mentally fit and live a quality life you can reflect on years down the road, regret-free.
Recommended: As embarrassed as I am to say this, I was actually feeling insightful enough to purchase "The Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Workbook" during high school, and although I definitely never finished it, the intentions were there. If you actually have the time and drive to, check it out.
Only $10 retail, and you can buy it used for a penny. Now that’s a bargain.