The Charge of Getting High
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Anyone can get high! …Okay, not that kind of “high.” I’m obviously referring to an emotional feeling of elation.

You might’ve experienced it these past holidays, after extended time of self-reflection in Synagogue, or in the joy of being with family and friends. The challenge is not so much connecting to such high points; it’s in maintaining the feeling, so that the charge of energy you get during an experience stays and motivates you, even at times when the elation is gone. There’s a common adage which explains that the higher one goes the harder one falls — but reality needn’t be so drastic. Changing your outlook can help you focus on how to glean the most out of each positive emotional current you get!

We often rationalize that reaching an “end point” or final goal is what creates an emotional high. …But what would happen if we viewed it as the starting point?

Imagine that you’re climbing a mountain: if you simply look at the climb alone, then reaching the top is the goal. But say you are going on a journey… a long journey. Climbing the highest of mountains on a clear sunny day means that you can see for miles. You can map out your path, then begin your journey with greater clarity and direction.

Our “highs” are not meant to be an end to themselves; they are supposed to be a step in motivating ourselves towards the whole picture. Climbing just to reach a peak can deliver big in the moment, but might leave us deflated or feeling more disoriented once the moment has passed.

We often rationalize that reaching an “end point” or final goal is what creates an emotional high. …But what would happen if we viewed it as the starting point?

There’s a joke that goes like so: a pilot gets on his plane’s loud speaker and shares that he has some good news and bad news. The good news is, “we are making great time!” His passengers murmur to one another in confusion, “Well, if that’s the good news, then what could be so bad?” “The bad news,” the pilot continues, “is that I have no clue which direction we are supposed to be heading in.“

The high moments in our life last much longer when they are put in context. If your “high” was, say, spiritual enlightenment and self-realization during Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, then use that knowledge for self-improvement throughout the year. If your “high” was delighting in family time spent in the Sukkah? Don’t text each other at different ends of the house every day afterwards! Set aside more time together in the weeks that follow. And there are plenty of opportunities! As we’ll learn in more detail at Digital Detox, November 11th’s Friday Night Dinner, Shabbat primes us to generate more of these “highs” throughout the year, so that we can recharge for the rest of the week.

Over the holiday period, you should have reached heights where your sites were in greater focus than ever. Ironically, when you turn off your Waze for a few days and get in touch with you inner GPS, your direction becomes so much clearer! And then when it ends, it shouldn’t be a “downer,” but rather bring along an excitement to start the journey because you now know where you are going and what steps you need to take to get there. As the saying goes, “the 1000 miles journey starts with one step!”

Now, doesn’t that just make you feel ecstatic?!

Enjoy the journey – and I’m always there to help along the way!

— Rabbi Rafi