Make A Habit
By Rabbi Nicole Guzik
Every day we have a choice: to wake up and embrace the blessings of the world or wake up and groan about what the world seems to have yet provided. How many of us listen to the alarm clock and feel gratitude for the shining sun, the ability to breathe, and the opportunity to start anew? Too often we moan and yawn, wishing for more hours of sleep and dreading the day to come.
But that perspective makes all the difference in the ways we approach our relationships, business or personal. Each one of us has the potential to positively motivate another, enabling someone else to climb the ladder of success.
All it takes is a few choice words or a few choice actions to change someone’s day…possibly, to change someone’s life.
Two different scenarios come to mind.
Story #1: My office door backs up to a hallway in the synagogue and I overheard one of our wonderful security guards say to a congregant, “I hope you have a good day.” The sigh in response from the congregant was just as audible as the guard’s greeting. The congregant followed with, “Well it hasn’t been a good day so far.” Listening intently, I heard the guard answer, “Well, how about now? Starting right NOW, I hope you have a good day.” I could almost hear the woman smile, “Ok, you’re right. Starting right now, I will have a good day.” It was just a few words. But the guard reminded her that even at our lowest points, it is possible to turn the day around, to begin again and start having a good day—right at that very minute. Right at the very moment in which it may seem impossible. His ordinary words changed the course of her day.
Story #2: I joined a new gym. It is a gym I passed a thousand times and finally gathered the courage to walk in. After taking the tour and working out for a bit, I found the owner and said, “Thanks, see you around.” The owner looked at me in the eye and said, “Nicole, I’ll see you tomorrow.” To which my heart jumped out of my chest. My mind started to race in every direction. “See you tomorrow…but I might be busy tomorrow. I don’t even know what I am doing tomorrow.” But you can imagine where I was the next day…right back at the new gym. And at the end of the next day’s work out, the owner said, “Bye Nicole, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I would be lying if I said I have been to the gym every day since, but those few words certainly stuck with me. His refrain made me more motivated to show up than I ever was before.
Both the security guard and gym owner habitually offered these words. Perhaps even without thinking, their routine behavior causes countless cases of changed paths.
There is a phrase in the Talmud that reads: “mitoch shelo lishma ba lishma.” Someone that does a mitzvah without the proper intent will eventually come to do the mitzvah with the proper intent. Meaning, if you make something a habit, even if your underlying reasons have nothing to do with the act or people you engage with, you will eventually come to perform the act with the intended meaning. In other words, if you start each working day with a smile, even if the morning brings frustration and anger, that smile will catch up to other parts of your day, infusing positivity where you least expect it. If you go to work and offer a cheerful hello to your colleagues, even to colleagues that you would otherwise ignore, your workplace will be known as a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The original intent isn’t what counts. It is the constant choosing to bring mitzvot, compassion, determination, and gratitude into this world that leads to living a life of blessing.
Make a habit: thank God each morning for a beautiful new day. Look at your employees or employer and wish them well. Offer a greeting to a stranger. Express appreciation to those that helped you get to where you are today.
Then do it again.
Your small act, your few words hold the potential to change someone else’s life for the better. Perhaps, just perhaps, you will even change your own.