December means family time. We celebrate holidays. We take a little time off. But many of us greet this with a feeling of worry.

Do You to Find Happiness These Holidays?

Our country feels more divided. The ties that bind us feel more frayed. I’ve read some accounts of siblings cutting themselves off from one another because of the way they voted in this year’s election.

Is there a way out of this conflict? Is there a path to recovering what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature?”

Make This Assumption

Yes. But it starts with an important assumption. We need to assume that those who disagree with us have good motives. We can question their ideas. We can question their decisions. But we can’t assume bad motives. Especially during the holidays.

Take a political example: Let’s see we support Obama Care and our cousin does not. Do we assume he doesn’t support it because he doesn’t care about people who get sick and die because they can’t get health care?

Or do we assume he cares about people getting health care, but he does not think Obama Care is the right way? If we assume the former, we will never find a way to talk. If we assume the other, then at least we can try.

Watch Your Words

We also need to watch our words. As a parent of two young children, I see the way they respond when frustrated with one another. They call each other names and even say things like “I hate you.”

Now, of course, my wife and I stop this, and soon enough they are playing together again. But their behavior shows us how easily disagreement can descend into name-calling.

When we start calling each other names, we are talking past one another, making it harder to ever find peace.

There’s a reason society develops manners. They help us get along. We need them during the holidays. And we need more in political and civic life today.

Say “Thank You” 

We also need to more gratitude. Even as so many in America struggle, we also live in an extraordinary time and place.

We enjoy a better quality of life—cell phones, dishwashers, grocery stores filled to the brim—than any other time in human history. Sometimes in the midst of our anger and frustration, we need to step back and say thank you.

That’s the logic behind the first prayer Jews say every morning. It begins with the words Modeh Ani L’fanecha, meaning “I am thankful to be alive today.”

We say that prayer every morning even if we feel angry. We say it even if we are in the midst of tragedy. We say it even if we don’t feel it at the time.

We begin the day with gratitude because life itself is a gift. That is the secret to finding the “better angels of our nature.”

To get more inspiration for finding happiness and making better choices, get Rabbi Moffic’s free gift here.

 Where do you find hope in our divided society?  

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad