Ok, so that headline was a bit tongue-in-cheek. But honestly, it’s been a tough week. I was thinking I’d take a break from posting. But today I heard a talk that was packed with so many great lessons, I had to write about it. Rabbi Paysach Krohn came to speak at the school where I teach. Although his lessons were intended as a guide on living a meaningful life, I realized they could also help when you’re feeling frustrated with life and have lost hope in humanity.
Three Realizations That Will Restore Your Hope
1. There’s good all around you, if you pay attention
Now that I’ve taught for several years, I’ve developed thick skin — despite the occasional meltdown. But what infuriates me is seeing just how cruel kids can be to one another.
For instance, in my after-school program, I have a student who recently immigrated from Korea and speaks little English. I’ve been encouraging her to speak up more in class.
A few days ago, she was reading aloud when a boy said (rudely), “I can’t hear!” I gently explained to her that her back was turned to him. Then he said, “No, it’s because of her accent.” The girl’s face dropped. Man, I wanted to strangle that boy!
Although at the all girls’ school where I teach, the kids are generally kinder to one another, we all know that teenage girls can be petty and downright mean.
Rabbi Krohn told a story, though, that suggested there may still be hope for our youth. One involved kids getting on a bus. One kid (the speaker’s grandson) noticed a boy down the street, frantically running to catch up with the bus. The crabby bus driver refused to wait, so the grandson got off so that the other boy would not have to walk alone.
As I heard this story, I remembered that last week, my students did a class activity involving independent reading. For one student, an Iranian immigrant, this has always been difficult. But her classmate, who spoke a little Farsi, sat next to her the entire class period, translating the readings.
The point is, it’s easy to dwell on the negativity happening around you — people’s cruelty and plain ignorance. But all that does is make you frustrated and lower your vibration. Before you know it, everywhere you look, there’s something to be outraged about.
Why not seek out the good instead?
2. Even if you don’t immediately see the result of your actions, you’re still making a difference
Another story involved a woman receiving a box of donated clothes. Contained in one of the dresses was an envelope containing $950 — the exact amount she needed for rent.
The person who gave the donations chose to include the money because he knew that a person receiving used clothes would probably need it. Still, he did not know exactly what the end result would be when he chose to include that envelope.
In the same way, our acts of kindness are like “envelopes.” When we say hi to a stranger, we don’t know what will come of it.
Sometimes, your thoughtfulness is met with downright ingratitude. Like I said, I’ve developed thick skin, so it doesn’t hurt my feelings if students don’t listen to me. But what really makes me want to scream is after I’ve so carefully chosen their assigned readings, they don’t even give these books a chance.
I know, for instance, a dry, impenetrable text from the 1600s isn’t going to resonate with them. So I chose Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, which they would quickly see is humorous, captivating, and highly entertaining — if they?bothered to read one page.
But instead they’d rather brag to each other about not reading. Which makes me want to give up on them completely.
After hearing Rabbi Krohn’s talk, I realized there are other ways to view this situation:
- Maybe I need to try another angle, like reading a few pages from the book aloud in class. That might convince the non-readers that it’s at least worth picking up.
- Be grateful for the students who are appreciative. One girl told me she loved the book and couldn’t wait to write an essay about it. This lesson has parallels to blogging, too: when I feel down about my low traffic numbers, I remind myself to be grateful for all my engaged, loyal readers.
- Remember that it can take years for your thoughtfulness to be appreciated. I’m sure parents can relate. In fact, one parent was recently telling me how her sons did not show gratitude for all that she did. I reassured her that they would someday. I, too, took my parents’ love and sacrifice for granted when I was a bratty teen (sorry, Mom!), but boy, am I grateful now!
3. The more you give, the more you get?
Last, Rabbi Krohn told us the story of a family gathering. The baby son of the family hosting the party had wondered outside, ending up in the swimming pool. One of the guests, who happened to be an EMT, was able to reach the baby in time and rescue him.
As it turns out, the EMT almost didn’t make it to the party because he was having financial issues. But the host insisted, paying for the EMT and his family to attend.
When you give to those who are deserving, it will inevitably come back to you in some way.
Yes, the reward might not be as direct in some cases. But it certainly leads to greater happiness and inner peace. It also strengthen your relationships with others.
The giving doesn’t have to be financial. You can always give your time and energy.
The other week, a student asked me if she could interview me for a class assignment. I had a lot of grading to do. I was tempted to say no.
But I decided to help her, and I’m so glad I did. I could tell it really meant a lot to her. Plus, the interview was fun!
It’s what Derek Rydall refers to in his book The Abundance Project as The Law of Circulation: whatever’s missing is what you’re not giving.?
In my case, I felt like I wasn’t getting appreciation from my students. But by putting love out into the world — and taking better care of myself — my world got a whole lot brighter.
- You can learn more about Rabbi Krohn, a renowned speaker, here and check out more of his amazing, uplifting stories here.
- Tell me below: In what ways have you lost hope in others? What can you do to restore that faith?
20 thoughts on “Have You Lost Hope in Humanity (Especially Teenagers)? 3 Pointers for Renewing Your Faith”
Lovely post Kate. There?s plenty of ?good? in the world. Every morning we can choose how we plan to add to it that day.
Thanks, Phill! Yes, it’s all about being intentional. The more I make an intention to do good and to notice the good around me, the more it multiplies and the better I feel.
Thank you so much for this. So much of the news/politics is extremely disheartening. I feel like this just happened to be the perfect time for me to read this! Not only do I feel more hopeful, but you’ve given me a lot to think about (especially regarding the third point).
Yes, the news definitely focuses on the negative. That’s what gets the ratings up and I’m sure if you turned back to any given year the headlines would be similarly negative, but they have a knack for always making it seem like we’re headed for the apocalypse. I do try to keep track of what’s going on in the world, but I think having the news on 24/7 would make anyone depressed and anxious. Glad you found it helpful, Julie!
Love this! I work in youth ministry and I?ve seen many of the same situations, at church. I?d never expect to see that beach joe at church but I work to reach a lot of unchurched or underprivileged kids and this type of thing happens a lot. My husband and I have extensive discussions about the decline of kids and their behaviors. It?s hard not to get caught up on the negative when you?re trying to make positive impact!
Thanks, Stephanie! Yes, just today my school had a speaker, and two girls (both my students) had to be sent out by the principal for giggling, obviously about something entirely unrelated to the lecture. The poor speaker, an elderly man, was confused about why the students would be laughing since it was a serious topic and I’m afraid he thought they were laughing at him. I was again appalled at the level of disrespect (at a religious school, no less!). But again, I reminded myself of how generally courteous, polite, and kind my students are as a whole.
Love your post I could not agree more. If we decide to see good there?s good in everyone even if it might be covered up. You just need to look closely enough. With watching the news and being exposed to all the bad there is in our world, it?s easy to get caught up in this way of thinking. Proactively focusing on the positive brings our hope back once again.
I also like the concept of getting back what you give. Which is true. The energy you put out will return sooner or later. It will always be worth to put some positive energy and attitude into our world!
Totally! Yes, the news definitely gets us into a negative feedback loop where it puts disproportionate attention on all the bad things happening in the world because that’s what gets the ratings up and then in turn people start to see negativity everywhere they look. But if you start seeking out the positive, that will become your perception of the world. Thanks for reading, Marina!
Hi Kate, thank you for this important reminder “Even if you don?t immediately see the result of your actions, you?re still making a difference.” I often want things to happen so fast that I don’t see the bigger picture anymore. Your post brought me back to reality 🙂 thank you!
Thanks for reading, Ye Chen! Yes, both in teaching and blogging, I always want to see results right away. Like I’ll read some article with SEO tips on Pinterest or try some new lesson plan, and I expect it to have some huge impact immediately. I forget that these things take time, and as cliche as it sounds, it’s about the journey, not just the destination.
Beautiful article..thought provoking and motivating…Yes one should not give up easily..we should do our bit without expectations..
Thanks, Krish! Yes, it’s hard to put aside our expectations, but when we do, life becomes so much richer and more enjoyable.
This is a great post. It’s easy to lose hope and always give too much attention to the negativity going on around you. It’s harder to notice the positive and find the strength to give priority to this positive, and not let all the negativity around you to overtake it. I am learning to look at the world one good deed at a time. I truly believe and support your saying above that the more you give, the more you’ll get. Thanks for the post.
Thanks for reading, Mariam! One good deed at a time…that’s a great way of putting it. Now instead of asking, “What can the world do for me?”, I ask, “What can I do for the world?” And you’re absolutely right that it takes more effort to notice the positive, but when we do, our life is so much more enriching and enjoyable.
There is so much good happening in the world everyday by everyday people. Stories like these a great reminder of that. Thank you
Absolutely, Karletta! Yes, for all the stories and examples of people doing awful things, there are many, many more of people doing exceptionally kind things.
This is a really beautiful post, and I enjoy the sentiment behind it immensely! Thank you for sharing. I feel quite inspired after reading this!
Thank you, Alexandra! I’m glad it inspired you. I felt very inspired after hearing that talk and felt I had to pass the message along.
I like this concept–that you should give what you feel is missing. It makes a lot of sense. I’ve drastically reduced how much news I’ll watch these days–but I’m interested in creating, interacting and bringing people together through books, reading, and creative expression. I feel like the stubborn insistence on creating something (or appreciating and discussing something) that holds beauty, value, decency, empathy is a really important act these days. There is a lot I’m angry about, sure, but I am highly focused on ‘givers’ whether they are the social, philanthropical or artistic variety. I think that’s why I get so much pleasure out of facilitating our book club–people are curious about each other. Curious enough to read entire books to see another person’s perspective. Reading, writing and discussing with people from around the world is sort of the thing I can do, so I do it. I’m also really inspired when I see people giving back in other ways–athletes that become community leaders, artists who become activists in their own way…
Thanks, Trisha! Yes, I definitely admire people who take on those leadership roles clearly for the purpose of giving to others because leading any sort of group is not an easy task! Is your book club virtual or in-person? What kinds of books do you read?