Good Morning Everybody,
When you think about your achievements, what comes to mind? Do you think of school or job related successes? Or perhaps a contest or award you’ve won… Or some kind of honor you’ve received?
I think there’s a notion that an achievement equates to an extremely praiseworthy ”Wow” accomplishment. You know, “Oooh, an ACHIEVEMENT.” Which is fine, and I certainly don’t mean to diminish those kinds of achievements. But if we hold by this definition, we may come to the horribly mistaken conclusion that we haven’t achieved very much in life. After all, those kinds of “whopper achievements” are few and far between. And that could leave us feeling more aggrieved than achieved.
But thankfully, from a Jewish point of view, this definition is FAR from accurate. The holy Vilna Gaon taught that the essence and purpose of life is overcoming our negative character traits! And we know that the Mishna in Pirke Avos (4:1) teaches us that the definition of being strong is to subdue one’s inclinations. So could there be a greater achievement than not responding to an insult? Or not bearing a grudge when someone’s wronged you? Or forgiving someone when it’s really hard to? Or how about not listening to lashon hara when something juicy is coming your way? Or greeting someone warmly when you’re in a bad mood? Or simply getting off the sofa to help someone when you really don’t want to?
Friends, thank G-d every single day brings us countless opportunities for magnificent achievements! Life becomes so much more meaningful and satisfying when we recognize that every time we rise above our nature it’s a HUGE VICTORY. Regardless of how “ordinary” our life might feel sometimes, each moment, each little test is another achievement waiting to happen. We’re collecting multiple achievements on a daily basis! And when we let that sink in, each day becomes an adventure. We feel a sense of purpose as we negotiate the day, and derive pleasure from overcoming the challenges Hashem sends our way. Some tests we’ll win, and some we’ll lose. But tradition teaches us that putting forth sincere, ongoing EFFORT is what counts the most.
So after 120 years, even though we might not win any lifetime achievement awards, we’ll have the pleasure of knowing that the life we lived was itself an achievement.
Have a purpose-driven day everybody,
Keep on Building!
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