For thousands of years, Jews have a tradition of waking each morning with a prayer on their lips that essentially says, it’s great to be alive. One of the deepest pleasures in life is the realization that one is alive. Have you felt it recently? To be a conscious, thinking, experiencing being is an awesome thrill. We find a confirmation of this truth in the book of Lamentations, “The person who is alive has no reason to complain.” Unfortunately, we only seem to experience this deep pleasure when we are faced with the possibility of death, like when we have a serious health scare. In such moments, a different prayer comes to our lips, If I could only have another regular, normal, boring day of life, I’ll never complain or be negative ever again.
Every day in the Nazi death camps there were daily selections. If your name was called, you knew this was your last day of being alive. Even though each prisoner was a starving, tortured skeleton of a person, they closed their eyes, praying that their name would not be called. Staying alive, even in such horrible conditions was each person’s ultimate desire. Life is good. Life is really good. The joy of being is a great pleasure.
Why don’t we feel this pleasure regularly? Why do we continually miss out on this awesomely deep and expansive pleasure? What’s more, every one of you reading this agrees with me, that it’s great just to be alive.
This is the problem. As soon as we say it’s great to be alive, what immediately comes to mind is a but. It’s great to be alive, but I’ve got a headache now. It’s great to be alive, but I’m still not married. It’s great to be alive, but I’m feeling anxious about my job. And on it goes, endlessly, but after but after but after but, until it become virtually impossible to access the joy of being. Right now, make a list of your buts. We have endless excuses why it’s not possible to enjoy the awesome pleasure of being alive right now. So we think, perhaps one day when all my problems are solved, then I’ll be able to experience the joy of being alive. The tragic truth is that if we continue down this path, we will some day come to the end of our lives, uttering, as we expire, our final “but.”
To make sure this doesn’t become the story of your life, try this. Every morning when you wake-up say the prayer, “It’s great to be alive.” And then three times a day, morning, afternoon, and evening, say what a friend of mine taught me to say, If I’m not six feet under ground it’s a great day. Make this a habit. It could change your life!