As kids, we’re often told to be a “good” boy or girl. Don’t cry, don’t hit, don’t misbehave. That kind of language may work when we are children to keep us in line or teach us what expectations of us are, but as adults, we start to understand that not everything is so clear-cut.
What is “good” or “bad” behavior? The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that positive actions are ones that help people, and negative actions are ones that hurt others or yourself. But even this definition leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Sometimes we think we are doing good for someone but are actually hurting them. How do we know if we are acting in alignment with the nature of our souls?
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself every day to make sure you are coming from the right place:
1. Do I accept that my soul is perfect, no matter what mistakes I have made? Before we can even start to assess our behavior, we have to first understand that we are perfect at our core because our souls are made by and of the Creator. All of our kindness, empathy, joy, and positivity comes from our souls. That is our true nature, and no mistake or negative action can change that!
However, we each also possess a negative inclination. That’s the little voice inside that tries to get us to doubt, to fear, to act negatively. This voice is not actually part of our being – it is a force that tempts us to betray who we really are.
Know that anything negative you’ve ever done is not a reflection of who you are at your core, but rather you falling prey to this negative inclination. Rather than view any negative actions you’ve done as a personal failure, remind yourself you are pure, perfect, and elevated. Only from a place of self-love can you start to look at the thoughts, actions, and words you need to work on.
2. How often do I listen to the negative voice in my head? By understanding that we each have a negative inclination constantly trying to trick us, we can start to keep track of every time we feed into this voice. This negative force pushes us to yell, be jealous, be fearful, have dark thoughts, act selfishly. But it also exists to give us the opportunity to push it away. That’s a key component of our spiritual growth.
As you go through each day, there will be opportunities to choose: give in to that negative voice or rise above it.
3. Who do I NOT want to become? We spend a lot of time thinking about the future, who we want to become and what we want our lives to look like. We contemplate where we should invest our time, energy, and money, and strategize on how we can be successful. But what if instead of planning who you want to be in the future, you asked yourself the question, “Who DON’T I want to become?”
We all live with expectations that others have placed upon us, and this can lead us to develop habits that go against our nature. Unless we live authentically as ourselves, we will never be truly happy. By recognizing the person that you don’t want to become, you can start to recognize when you take on those traits or habits during the day and eventually transform them.
4. What did I do and think today that is out of alignment with my soul’s purpose? One of the very practical tools the kabbalists speak of is a daily review of our behavior. If every morning you wake up and remind yourself who you don’t want to be, then every night is an opportunity to reflect on how well you held up to that.
What are the thoughts and conversations you had today that are really not in line with your soul? Where did you let the negative thoughts creep in? What are the harmful actions you took? If you are really being honest with yourself, you will always find something every day.
5. Am I pushing myself to be a better person or settling for just “good enough”? If you ask most people, they will tell you that they are basically good people that try their best. The problem with this thinking is that it lacks awareness for the negative inclination, which blinds us to the areas we need to work on. By settling in a place that is just “good enough,” we fail to realize the endless blessings available to us. They are far greater and more abundant than we have any idea!
Every negative trait within you is actually a key that unlocks blessings. If you want more joy, more inspiration, more blessings, then find something within you that you need to work on and begin the process of transforming it. You will find that it becomes a gateway to greater gifts. Conversely, if you go through life just being “ok” and not transforming yourself, then there is so much untapped Light and blessings you have not unlocked.
Even if things are great or ok, know there is so much more of you and your blessings yet to come.
The idea of being a “good” person is a layered, nuanced notion. Remember that at your core, you are inherently good. The question is not how to be a good person but how to become an even better one. It takes dedication to transformation and a lot of self-reflection. Resist the negative thoughts and inclinations throughout the day, and review your behavior as a way to learn and grow. And most of all, never settle for just good enough!