Let’s talk about hope. Hopes for ourselves, our friends, our families, if we have children, certainly we have high hopes for them. When we think about the world, we all share the same hope, one of peace between factions, enemies, and countries.
To hope is a beautiful thing—at its core, it is desire. Hope is defined as: desire for a certain thing to happen.
As my husband Michael remarks, there isn’t a more extraordinary gift that we are given in our life than the gift of desire. The only reason we enjoy anything is because we have desired it. The only reason we seek is because we have desire. The only reason we live is because we have desire. Desire is so powerful that it quite literally determines the course of our lives.
It behooves us to know what we desire and examine the things we hope for. It’s like the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
As Rosh Hashanah is next week, this is the perfect time to think about our hopes and desires. This marks the beginning of a new year, and we can make of it whatever we desire. It’s as if we all have new lives ahead of us.
I’ve noticed that when people talk about their desires and hopes, they tend to keep them within the realm of what is possible for their lives as they are today. They stay ‘realistic.’ You’ve heard that adage, dare to dream. But most people don’t put much daring into their dreaming.
I’m here to share that there is no limit on what you can desire and receive other than the limits you give yourself.
Your thoughts and beliefs are the most significant determining factors for the trajectory of your future.
That’s not how most people approach their desires, though. We tend to see what is right in front of us and limit what we believe is possible. Much of that is upbringing, the thought patterns that we picked up from our parents, and the instinct to model what we know and see. I suppose that formula is a pretty good deal if you were born into a healthy family, but for the many who weren’t, it’s limiting. To say the least.
All politics and policies aside, take Barack Obama as an example. He was raised by a single mother who didn’t come from a prominent or wealthy family. The odds of Barack Obama becoming President were pretty staggering. What separated him from other kids in a similar socio-economic status was his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. (Her father really, really wanted a son!). She didn’t tell him he could be President (I’m equally certain she didn’t tell him he couldn’t). She didn’t tell him he could be wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. It wasn’t anything so specific.
Simply, she instilled in him that he had the power to make a difference.
I know, that statement lands like a thud instead of a crescendo. But that doesn’t make it any less profound. You have the power to make a difference. I know for some, that’s really difficult to embrace or even believe. But you do! And you know you know this on some deep level because you are painfully aware of when you feel like you don’t. If I asked you right now (I am asking you right now) to recall a time in your life or a situation you were in where you felt like you couldn’t make a difference, I’m sure at least one or two powerful memories come immediately to mind.
Each of us. No matter how famous, infamous, influential, or not, have an immense power to make a difference.
These were the other three values that Stanley Ann Dunham taught her son:
· Be kind and be useful and caring about people who are less fortunate than you
· Be a peacemaker rather than an instigator
· Try to lift people up instead of putting them down
Embodying those three values alone would be a good start for making the year ahead powerful and fulfilling. I could go in-depth on the many lessons in those three simple statements, but each are areas where we can make a difference in our own lives and for the world.
But let’s get back to hope, desire, and being daring enough not to limit ourselves.
You have the power to make a difference in your life, your family, your community, and the world. As you approach this Rosh Hashanah, make a list of desires for the year to come. Maybe you want to buy a house or change careers; maybe you have an idea or business you want to manifest this year. Now, also consider making a list of all the ways you can make a difference and write those down, too. Is there an issue you see around you, perhaps a child that needs extra support, a community that could benefit from your expertise and energy, or a social issue that you are passionate about? You have power to effect positive change, so think of places where you can lend your voice and support. Now, what happens when you look at those lists side-by-side?
The first list, which is completely valid, and I support all your hopes and dreams (unless they are illegal or hurt other people), may feel a little self-centric. But I bet your second list is inspirational, aspirational even.
Kabbalistically, connecting to the energy of Rosh Hashanah builds a vessel for the whole year. You can visualize the vessel as a place with enough room for everything you hope for and desire to manifest, fully supported, and just waiting for you to make it happen. The crux? The size of the vessel depends on not just what you desire but if you want to share it. The more you believe in your power to create change and make a difference, the larger your impact and the bigger your vessel will be.
Ask. Desire. Dream. Hope. But ask with the desire to not just receive for yourself, but with the desire to receive for the sake of sharing those blessings with others. In light of that, our second list is probably looking more and more impressive.
I wish you all a beautiful year ahead, filled with joy, kindness, generosity of heart and spirit, love, inspiration, ingenuity, passion, genius, and prosperity. Happy New Year! Or in Hebrew, Shana Tova!