We enter the month of Elul, a time for reflection over the past year. And, what an overwhelming year we have to reflect on and what a wonderful Jewish idea that we embrace every year! We now have a whole month to get ready for the Days of Awe. The challenge is how to truly reflect and plan for change. Especially during these challenging times, we must take the challenge to change and grow. I must admit that I looked for an app that would guide me to ask myself questions — I’m sure there is one, but I gave up after searching. Instead I found a great book, “Creating Authenticity: Meaningful Questions for Meaningful Moments,” by Greg Giesen. This is not a Jewish book or even a book by a Jewish author yet the questions can guide us to a deeper place. Take these questions as starters:
Put an alarm on your phone to remind you to stop and think every day.
Commit to answering a question with friends or family at dinner.
Find an email pal to share thoughts each day.
There are many ways to make reflection a habit and you don’t need to stop after the month of Elul. Here are a few questions from the book:
What are you most passionate about in your life and how would someone know it?
What three things do you value most in life?
What has been one of the toughest things you have had to say to someone else?
What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you see yourself in the mirror?
Which of the television shows that you currently watch reveals the most about you?
What is one of the most meaningful compliments you’ve ever received?
What do you wish you were better at and why?
These are just a few and, of course, after you answer each one, go deeper into the question. Think about the “inner you” at the beginning of the month — who are you, then who do you want to be, and, most important, how will you grow to make a difference in our world this new year. This has been a hard year but amazing things have happened and we can make this coming year even better. We must change ourselves to change the world — if not now, when?
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.
Use Elul to set yourself up for a better year