Every year on the High Holidays, we think about what we can do to be better people in the year ahead. Well, change is like, hard, especially the self-improvement kind.
So, we thought maybe it’s a bit more realistic to ask ourselves “how can I be less of a terrible person?”
With that change in thinking, here are some tips for being less awful in the Jewish New Year. We’re confident by doing just one of these 18 things, your existence will be that much more beneficial to humanity – and who knows, you might feel like a slightly better person on the inside.
1. Keep your hands off your damn phone
We’re all guilty. If you can’t walk from your apartment to the train without finishing up that text – especially in sub-zero temps – or just sit on said train and think about, you know, stuff for 10 uninterrupted minutes … you should probably re-evaluate your priorities.
2. Don’t wear leggings as pants
Yeahhh … no one wants to see that, mkay?
3. Don’t bring the cheapest bottle of wine to Shabbat dinner
You can cough it up for like, FIVE-buck chuck, at least …
4. Avoid social media on the weekends
At least just for Shabbat. Your followers also deserve a day of rest from your totally awesome Tweets and brunch pics.
5. Zip it on the gossip
Lashon hara is so 5774.
6. Have a baby … okay, maybe just a pet
One of the quickest ways to being a better person is to become totally responsible for another living creature (except for fish – they don’t count). However, if you mess up, you become a worse person, so procreate/adopt at your own risk.
7. Call your mother more
She just wants to hear your voice! Set a weekly reminder on your phone. It’ll be awhile before she catches on that it’s indeed not spontaneous.
No one wants to floss. So, if you can summit this Mt. Everest of daily hygiene this year, then the sky is the limit for you, good friend.
9. Read a book, or anything not on a screen
Remember back in the day when 100 percent of everything you read was on paper? Now it’s not even 50 percent. Try to restore the balance. More literature, less social media click-bait. More non-fiction, less BuzzFeed …
10. Read Oy!Chicago more
… But … if you have to read something on a screen …
11. Get in touch with your inner Jew
Rather than compartmentalize your Jewish identity, feed that piece of you that connects to your Judaism this year. That “piece” is what biologists call a soul.
12. Stop complaining about the weather
Remember how unpleasant you were to be around when you moaned to everyone last winter about how it was too cold and complained this summer that it wasn’t hot enough? Stop worrying about what you can’t control. Or move. Just stop complaining.
13. Volunteer for an organization someone else cares about
Get out of your comfort zone, even in the ways you give back. It’s basically like doing a Super Mitzvah. You can even call you mother (you read #7, right?) and tell her all about it!
14. Give people flowers or cards just because
There’s a much greater likelihood of getting this reaction when it’s entirely unexpected.
15. Stop comparing yourself to others
Although if you are looking in a mirror, that person is also, also awesome.
16. Do a few more horas
Really celebrate the moments worth celebrating and don’t hold back. Doing the hora should become a staple at every birthday party, anniversary, bris, etc., even if it means installing a dance floor in your living room.
17. Partake in a religious or cultural experience different from your own
Not only will this round you out as a person, but it’ll also make you appreciate your own religious and cultural experiences that much more.
18. Don’t be afraid to say “No” once in a while. Or “Yes."
By going against your own grain (especially on Passover, when everyone goes against grain), you’ll get to experience things differently than you are accustomed to. It might be more time with yourself or more time out exploring with friends, but either way, it’s about doing what’s best for you. Serenity now!!