skating - מַחֲלִיק
magnificent - נֶהֱדָר
hardest - הֲכִי קָשֶׁה
for you - בִּשְׁבִילְךָ
slip - הַחְלָקָה
the ice - הַקֶּרַח
Bazooka said to his friend, “You are skating magnificently!”
“What is the hardest thing about skating?” asked bazooka. His friend replied, “The ice…”
One of my great students was consistently crying in class over a simple assignment that he completed easily. When I asked him, “Why are you crying over an assignment that you completed perfectly?” he said, “It stresses me out.” I responded by asking him, “How can you enjoy the experience when you stress yourself out worrying that you are not good enough? You are very good. Yet, you are stressed and not enjoying the process, and that keeps you from being present. You might be cheating yourself.” He shrugged and began to reflect. I suggested letting the process guide him and try to relax and enjoy the experience of learning a language. Sure, the goal is to learn the language, but if you can focus on the process instead of stressing about the results you will be able to embrace the moment and enjoy the ride. It’s like a roller coaster at an amusement park. The ride begins and ends at the same place; what happens in the middle is what makes the journey fun. If you can immerse yourself in the experience you will enjoy the process of learning and actually learn more with less effort.
Learning any skill or sport is difficult for most people, but there is one way to make it easier: eliminate the stress and the worry by enjoying the process and letting go of the outcome. We have become so focused on measuring performance and being results oriented that we are missing out on the pure joy of the experience. We count everything. We should also count our blessings. When we were discussing this idea in class, one student volunteered that his parents ask him and his sisters what they are most grateful for each day. At first he thought it was strange, but after a while it made him more aware and appreciative about all manner of experiences. How strange is it today that a child should think it is strange to focus on an individual experience and to appreciate the moment?
When we embark on an effort to acquire a skill like learning a language, we tend to think in terms of the results. When we become too attached to the outcome we remove ourselves from the joy of just being in the present moment. In doing so, we miss out on all the amazing things happening in learning. Rather than simply
enjoying the process of learning, we have become attached to the routine of measuring the difference of where we are and compare that to the goal of where we want to be. We miss out on the process entirely.
In the world to come, one opinion holds that we are shown a video of our life and all that we have accomplished and all that we became. We feel pretty good about ourselves at that moment. Then we are shown a video of what we could have accomplished and the even greater person we could have become. That is painful. The difference between what we accomplished and what we could have accomplished, according to one opinion, is the definition of Gehinnom. So, at some level, looking at where we are and comparing ourselves to where we could be is undermining ourselves. Perhaps we should instead compare ourselves of today with where we were in the past.
I also tell my students not to compare themselves to others. There will always be someone taller, shorter, smarter or not as smart, more talented or less talented. Comparing is a recipe for unhappiness because it focuses our attention on what someone else has, or has not, and it takes us out of being present for our moment and prevents us from appreciating our gifts.
No matter how out-of-control our day is, no matter how stressful our homework and assignments or other obligations in school or life, the act of being present, and appreciating each moment, can become an oasis that can benefit our lives immeasurably. Let go of the outcome and enjoy the ride. Let’s start today!
For individual, family or group tutoring in Hebrew, all levels, please email [email protected] Maya Yehezkel is a Hebrew teacher at Yeshivat Noam middle school.
By Maya Yehezkel