In this week’s parasha, Yaakov knows that his sons and their descendants will be stuck in Egypt for quite some time. While he could not change this fate, he certainly could try to give his children the tools to deal with it and come out the other end strong and ready to become the great nation Yaakov expected them to be. If you were in this situation, what tool or strategy would you give your children?
To a certain extent, we all do this with our children. We want them to be prepared for any possible situation that life might throw at them. What tools or strategies are best to impart to our children to deal with life? Put another way, what self-identity do we want our children to have?
We all see ourselves in a certain way, we call this our “identity”. Michael Berzonsky tells us that there are three main ways that people create that identity and the consequences of those three ways. The healthiest way to create your identity is what Dr. Berzonsky calls an informational style where you actively seek out, evaluate and use the information to create your identity. He found that people who used this style were the best at problem-solving.
Sherry L. Beaumont then went ahead and took this research a step further. She wanted to know what habits of the mind are associated with informational style identity. She looked at the wisdom which includes self-reflectiveness, at mindfulness and she looked at savoring which includes counting your blessings.
Not surprisingly, what Dr. Berzonsky called informational style identity matched up with being reflective, I guess when you are looking for information and evaluating it to create your identity, it means you have an informational style identity. Also, mindfulness is part of an informational identity style because you are evaluating the information you have found. But savoring and counting blessings may be a little bit of a surprise. Perhaps after you have done all the “hard work” of seeking information and evaluating it and then reaping the rewards you have more of a tendency to then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, not in a selfish way but in a satisfying way. You can count your blessings after doing the hard work to earn them.
Getting back to Yaakov, he knows his children and grandchildren will be stuck in Egypt for many generations. He wants them to have a strong identity and be prepared to be a great nation when the ordeal is over. What is the best way he can give them the mindset they will need? Let them be reflective of their strengths and to learn to count their blessings. What is the best way to convey that? Give them blessings based on their strengths. Zevulun, for example, is blessed with success at maritime endeavors, a strength of coastal residents. Naftali, already a swift runner is blessed with speed.
Yaacov helped his sons and descendants create healthy identities based on their strengths and teaching them to count their blessings. And when the whole ordeal was over more than 200 years later his family had become the great nation that lives on today.
Have you counted your blessings lately?
You can reach Dr. Shaya Kass at Shaya@MindfulAboutLife.com or at 1-800-544-0559
This newsletter is published by Dr. Shaya Kass and is meant for informational purposes only.
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash and is in the public domain
The articles discussed in this newsletter are: Berzonsky MD. Identity style and coping strategies. J Pers. 1992 Dec;60(4):771-88. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1992.tb00273.x. PMID: 1469598. and Beaumont, S. L. (2011). Identity styles and wisdom during emerging adulthood: Relationships with mindfulness and savoring. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 11(2), 155-180.