The Key Is to Be Content: The Answer to a Social Media Junkie’s Prayers


At the end of August, I was DONE with summer. Too much heat. Too much humidity. WAY too many mosquito bites.” I can’t wait for fall,” I thought to myself.” Crisp weather. Cozy sweaters. Huddling around the fireplace. Fall can’t come soon enough.” And then, just a few days later, the temperature dropped, my two youngest kids got sick, and I suddenly remembered the trouble with cold weather: the little ones spend most of fall and winter with runny noses and coughs. “Ugh,” I thought to myself, “here we go again.” The grass is always greener, after all.

It occurred to me that this feeling of always wanting something different from what I have is a big reason that I’m drawn to social media. When I think about it, I know that I’m incredibly blessed – my life is full of wonderful people and wonderful things. And yet, so often, when I’m with the people that I love, I feel a pull to run to this other world that exists online.

What’s so appealing about the online sphere? The possibilities, I think. Anyone from anywhere could be in touch at any moment. Who will retweet next? Comment next? Thumbs up next? At the end of the day, though, even the nicest message from the biggest fan or an interview request from the most prestigious media outlet can’t compare to what I have with the *real* people in my real life. And yet, unless I stop myself, and force myself to appreciate what I have right here and now, the pull is constantly towards online.

Despite all of the amazing blessings that I have, my life is not perfect. And so when I daven (pray) each day, I daven for the difficult parts of my life to change. For the obstacles to be removed. For better opportunities to arise. But it occurred to me recently, that just as I must force myself to appreciate what I have in my real life over my online life, I must also change the way that I pray to reflect this concept.

I can’t only pray that my reality will change. I need to pray, that I will change. That I will have the strength to overcome whatever difficulties are thrown my way for as long as they come. Intellectually, I believe that whatever God gives me is ultimately for my good, but if I’m so busy asking for things to be different, am I truly internalizing this idea?

I will continue to go online,  just as I will continue to pray for life to be less difficult, but I’m committing to a change. I will begin my prayers each day, first asking for strength to endure the challenges that I face before I ask for the challenges to go away. I will also start shutting down my laptop and smart phone during family time and try to best to not even wonder what might be happening online while I’m with my kids. I will even try to appreciate the cold weather and all the challenges it will bring: sick children, high heating bills, being trapped for days on end with restless children after a blizzard. (OK, maybe I’m not ready to appreciate all of that just yet.)

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Allison is the Founder and Director of Jew in the City. Please find her full bio here.

Comments

  1. I like this. But, it has an unanswered question: how to be content (without a catastrophic crisis)? How to appreciate what you have? How to realize that what we “usually” think is so important, really is inconsequential, after all? I’ve been on both sides of this equation and don’t have an answer. How can one be so wise when things are going well?

    • Thanks for your comment and question, Lila. I tried to answer this, but I’ll say it more explicitly now since maybe I wasn’t clear enough. Chazal (our saintly rabbis) say that the way to be content, is basically to be content! In Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers) they ask “Who is truly rich?” and answer, “he who is happy with his lot.” Being content really comes down to attitude. It’s about forcing yourself to recognize all the blessing that you have and to stop going after that which you don’t have. So the practical steps that I tried to give were to do my best to be present with my family while I’m with them and put the world of social media out of my hands and out of my mind and even to change the way that I pray, so that my first goal isn’t about changing my reality but instead asking God to grant me strength to make the most of my current reality. I hope that helps!

  2. Fashion-isha says:

    Aah so relatable! Knowing that we all feel the same way is so comforting!
    xo
    Sharon

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