Self-Actualization, as Taught by a Rabbi

I have always had everything I’ve ever wanted or needed. If it wasn’t provided to me it was at least available to me.

This is why I often feel that I’m somewhere near the tippy-top corner, at the pixel-level, of Maslow’s hierarchy. And as crazy as it sounds, I have often wished that I wasn’t— I have often wished that my life could just be HARDER.

Talk about first-world problems, right?

But I don’t really want my life to be harder, I just want know that it matters. We all do. Instead of driving myself crazy with questions like, “Am I happy?” or “What should I do with my life?” I want to enjoy doing work that makes a difference in peoples’ lives.

I want to feel peace in every moment, including the unstructured ones with the kids, and the “unproductive” ones. I want to learn to always see the donut, not the hole.

I once talked with a rabbi about these thoughts and feelings. He suggested that I take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it.

Then, he said, “Look at the last seven days. Write all the things you did for yourself in the past week to the left of that line, and write all the things you did for other people on the right side of that line. When the items on the two sides of that line balance, you will feel more purpose, peace and happiness.”

I haven’t yet perfected this balancing act, but attempting it has helped me to further ascend Maslow’s pyramid.


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