I was driving myself to the dentist today when a car suddenly swerved in front of me. I slammed on my brakes, hoping to avoid crashing into him – only to have the car behind me bump me instead, because of my sudden halt. Thankfully, he was very nice guy and we talked things over and he said he would pay for all the necessary repairs, and we exchanged details amicably.
Later on as I resumed my drive, I found myself wondering why this keeps happening to me. This is my third car accident so far and in each of the cases, thankfully, it wasn’t my fault. It was always a case of the other car bumping into me. But it seems I just have bad luck with my car. I’ve had more flat tires than I can count and…
Hang on, I thought. This “keeps” happening to me? That makes it sound like this is a daily occurrence… When really, it isn’t. I’ve had three accidents so far – in a span of 6 years of driving. I’ve probably gone out in my car nearly two thousand times, and out of two thousand I’ve had three accidents? That’s not too bad, really.
And it reminded me of a short story a friend of mine recently posted on Facebook which goes:
One day, a school teacher wrote on the board the following:
When she was done, she looked to the students and they were laughing at her, because of the first equation which was wrong. And then the teacher said the following: “I wrote that first one wrong on purpose, because I wanted you to learn something important. This was for you to know how the world out there will treat you. You can see that I wrote RIGHT 9 times, but none of You congratulated me for it. You all laughed and criticized me because of one wrong thing I did. So this is the lesson: The world will never appreciate the good you do a million times, but will criticize the one wrong thing you do.”
I found myself thinking… this is probably how G-d feels nearly all the time. Most of us spend a lot of time complaining that we don’t have this or that thing… We need more money, we need a better job, we need a better house, etc. And G-d is saying, “What about the other 9 things I gave you? Why are you focusing on that 1 thing you feel you don’t have – when by the way, in truth, you already do have all 10 things, that 1 just might be in a form you weren’t expecting?”
So, why do we all focus on the 1 that we don’t have, instead of the 9 that we do? There is a lot of destruction going on in the world from acts of terrorism to natural disasters, but there are also a lot of good things going on too, people performing incredible acts of kindness and doing their part in trying to make the world a better place. The sun still shines every day. Rain still comes down. The world still really is more beautiful than it is ugly.
And we should give ourselves this chance too – no, you may not be good at that one thing, but you’re excellent at these nine other things. You have come this far in life, and have achieved so much along the way. Give yourself the credit. Give others credit for their strengths, and forgive their weaknesses. We’re all living life according to the best way we know how, and we all deserve credit for that. Imagine how much nicer the world would be if we could all learn to notice the 9 things people do right instead of the 1 thing they did wrong.
A teacher once drew a dot on a piece of paper and asked his students what they saw. Everyone said “a black dot” except for one student who said “a black dot on a white piece of paper.” Be that one student. Look at the bigger picture. Notice that it’s just one tiny black dot on an entire piece of white paper. The world isn’t all bad, and no one person on it is. Notice the good in yourself, in others, in all the situations you are in right now, and give credit where credit is due. And finally, above all, remember to notice all your blessings – all 9 things that you were blessed with instead of the 1 that you feel you lack – and thank G-d for them. G-d “deserves” more credit than we could ever give Him, but we can try. 🙂
Bernice is a Noahide from the Philippines who spends most of her time playing violin, being involved in musicology research, and writing about various topics (her favorite being Judaism). The rest of the time, she can be found drinking coffee, reading, and convincing herself to workout.