As we approach Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, many of us will decide to fast. Fasting is used as a method of “atoning for our sins”, as well as providing an opportunity to focus on the important aspects of Yom Kippur. With each passing year, I have found fasting to be easier and easier, especially when I am fully engaged in the Yom Kippur services and spending time praying with family and friends. However, there are definitely points where I struggle throughout the day and want to do nothing more than break the fast just a few hours early.
On Yom Kippur we pray for forgiveness from God and atone for the hurtful decisions we made in the past year. We also prepare for the coming year, creating our own game plan for success. In an attempt to make this year’s fast not only easier, but also more thoughtful and meaningful, here are 4 things to think about (instead of food) on Yom Kippur:
1. Profound Gratefulness
It is extremely easy to go through life without taking the necessary time to be grateful for everything we have in our lives. Many of us are blessed with incredible people, things, and opportunities in our lives that we often forget about. But we must be willing to show gratitude and appreciation towards others. In fact, studies have shown that thinking about the parts of our lives that we are grateful for on a daily basis actually makes us happier.
What/who are you grateful for? Why are these things and people important in your life?
2. Loving Relationships
Humans are naturally social beings, but how many of our relationships do we take the necessary time to cultivate and improve? Relationships make us stronger and more resilient, allowing us to experience trust, connection, vulnerability, and joy.
Who are the people that your make your life better and more meaningful? In what ways do they contribute to your life?
3. New Adventures
When was the last time you tried something new that completely changed your perspective of the world around you? Life presents many of us with opportunities every day to significantly change our lives, but we must be willing to expand our comfort zones and seize those moments. Whether it’s taking a road trip with friends, going to an exciting concert, or just trying a new restaurant, there’s no better time than the present to try new adventures!
What are new adventures that you know you want to experience? What will make these experiences meaningful?
4. How To Give Back
As we reflect upon all of the blessings and privileges we have in our lives, it is also important to think about how we can give back to our communities. While it is obviously clear that donating to food banks, visiting the elderly, and collecting school supplies for children are great options to support our local communities, we often times underestimate the power of a smile or kind word to someone needing it.
How will you contribute your skills and passions to your community? What are every-day actions that will make the world a better place?
I hope that these topics help you not only think about something else other than food, but also help you have a thoroughly meaningful Yom Kippur.
G’mar Chatimah Tovah — May you be inscribed in the book of life!
Originally published at evanltraylor.wordpress.com on October 3, 2014.