By Jo Strausz Rosen

How do we invest in our well-being, and what are the returns to us and to our families? How can we find more joy in living, even though we experience the difficulty of unexpected changes. Some changes are positive and life enhancing, and others are horribly unsettling and painful, like the sudden loss of a loved one, or friend.  Our wins and losses inform our own responses to life.  The ups and downs can shake us, yet guide and lead us to make new decisions, set new personal goals, and evaluate how we are doing.  

A friend of mine used to say, “what can I learn from this?” whenever she experienced an unplanned change. We think of the German phrase, “Man tracht un-Gott lacht” Man plans and Gd laughs. The random nature of events has challenged and perplexed us since the dawn of humanity. We strive for reason and order in our lives, and chaos brings confusion, discomfort and sometimes anger.  “Life giveth and taketh.”  How can we stand strong? 

Staying active, working, volunteering, and keeping busy with projects and activities that provide us with good feelings are just some of the ways we can move forward to enhance our well-being. Our physical and emotional health and our relationships are enhanced and strengthened when we are working and engaged in purposeful activities. We can choose to stay calm, breathe through the hard moments and seek the silver linings that are not always obvious at first. How we courageously face setbacks, graciously accept successes, and cherish good fortune are good indications of how much we have invested in our inner resources. 

It is rare that we go through life without experiencing loss. We also know that time heals along with caring friends and family.  When we can’t shake the grief and withdraw into clinical depression, we can lean on professional psychotherapy and medication, which are often helpful. It takes time but we can always find the returns of our investment in inner resilience. 

Grieving is a necessary and healthy human ritual. Our relationships and the passage of time, combined with mourning, provide healing and ultimately, relief. Staying strong, we can remind ourselves of the quote, “this too shall pass.”  We can light our internal candles of hope during the worst of circumstances. We can open our minds to new possibilities to refocus ourselves. With aging comes wisdom and resilience. With forgiveness and gratitude now and into old age, we can keep learning how to appreciate every moment and can find joy in the smallest of things.  This joy is the return on a lifetime investment.  

Spend some time with the resilient residents of JSL who grace our spaces and teach us through smiles and shining eyes the abundant returns on a lifetime in investing in ourselves and in our relationships with others. The Atlantic magazine columnist Arthur C. Brooks writes, “Your well-being is like a retirement account: The sooner you invest, the greater your returns will be.” 

Shabbat Shalom.

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