I recently met with someone who shared that she was feeling depressed. She had been hit with a recent string of bad luck that has brought her down, and that she was finding trouble climbing out of it.
Of course, I validated her feelings explaining that it is natural to feel dejected under those circumstances, but our challenge in life is to dust ourselves off once knocked down. I then prescribed an ancient Jewish secret that is like chicken soup for the soul. (OK – I stole that line). It is called volunteerism and it cures much that ails you.
You see, when we get depressed, we find ourselves so self absorbed with our own problems that it becomes all we can think about. This leads to feelings of loneliness and despair. But, when one volunteers for others, it requires them to divert their attention elsewhere.
This is not an aspirin or pain reliever that numbs your sensations, nor is it a cure all for all of one’s problems. However when one assists others, they find themselves in the [Godly] position of helping and providing. This empowers us to recognize the incredible Divine Power of giving that is instilled within us.
In Psalm 130, we ask [God] to be our shadow on our right side. Our shadow does not do anything independently, but rather just mimes our behavior. What the psalmist is sharing so beautifully is that if we are engrossed in our own world, then [God] will remain in His. But if we share ourselves with others, then [God] will be our shadow and share Himself with us.
When that happens, one would never have the sense of being alone, and one will never feel despair.
Rabbi Ira Ebbin
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