This month is devoted to mental health and breaking the stigma of struggling with it. Now, more than ever, we need to show love and empathy to each other.
The Tzemach Tzedek (1789–1866) taught us to think of ourselves as vessels for blessings. He would say in Yiddish, “Tracht gut, vet zein gut” which translates as “Think good, and it will be good.” Literally, the act of believing in a blessing is the vessel for receiving it. Getting your mind, body, and spirit into the mode of preparing for and accepting blessings, living with complete faith that they will come– that is how you receive blessings. The converse is also true, making it that much more important to focus on the good.
Each of us has the power to uplift those around us. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said, “With happiness, you can give a person life. A person might be in terrible agony and not be able to express what is in their heart. There is no one to whom they can unburden their heart, so they remain deeply pained and worried. If you come to such a person with a happy face, you can cheer them up and literally give them life.”
The Baal Shem Tov taught that humility in the wrong place will cause you to block your own and others’ blessings. If a person thinks, “Who am I to do this good deed? What difference does it make? Who am I to pray for my friend? I am insignificant,” that person blocks the blessings and goodness that they can bring into the world. Humility in the right place, however, brings abundant blessings.
We are all vessels. We recognize our physical vessels (our bodies) and seek out professional help to heal them when they are damaged in order to restore the blessings of good physical health. But we are also spiritual vessels and they too, can become damaged and unhealthy. Mental health exists at the intersection of spiritual and physical health. Just as we would ask for guidance and help in healing our physical vessels, we must also be humble enough to recognize when we need spiritual help. Accepting when we are in emotional and spiritual pain is the first step towards taking radical responsibility for our lives. When we do that, we begin to open ourselves and expand our capacity to receive all the blessings that life has to offer.