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Keep a Cheerful Heart

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A cheerful heart is good medicine,
     but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
— Proverbs 17:22

Let me tell you a hypothetical story. There was once an 83-year-old man named John who didn’t have a lot of money. Even at his old age, he had to work. Not only did he have to remain in the workforce, but he also had the kind of job that was physical, labor intensive, and hard on his aging body.

His job was mowing lawns. It didn’t seem respectable or fair to John that he had to work so hard at such an old age. He also worried about what would happen if he couldn’t push the lawnmower anymore. Feeling destitute and vulnerable, John lived out the rest of his years depressed, anxious, and angry.

Now, let me tell you a real story – one that happened recently. There was an 83-year-old man named John who made his living mowing lawns in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. One day, his 20-year-old pickup truck died. John didn’t have the money to replace the truck and so he would push his old lawnmower to his clients’ homes.

Sometimes this meant walking several miles, but John was grateful that he still had a job. When clients Robert and Nikki Norton heard about John’s plight, they wanted to help him. They posted a GoFundMe page for John, and in one month they had raised over $13,000 from 300 strangers. With that money they were able to buy John a pre-owned 2004 pickup truck and a new lawnmower. When they surprised John with their gift, he was overwhelmed with joy. In an interview, John said that he felt like a millionaire.

What’s the main difference between the first story and the second? Perspective. The “real” John has a grateful spirit and an optimistic attitude. And because of that, he will be a happy person as long as he lives, and with God’s help, that will be for a very long time.

In Proverbs we read: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Our attitude in life is far more important than what happens to us. The same thing can happen to different people, and the outcomes can be completely opposite because one person had a good perspective and the other had a sour attitude.

It’s so important that we resolve to keep a good attitude and a grateful spirit. It keeps us healthy, body and soul. If we let our spirit become crushed under life’s pressures, we won’t have the strength to enjoy any of our blessings. Yet, when we keep a cheerful heart, everything in life is a blessing to be enjoyed. Take a look around at all that is good in your life and give God praise.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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