William Hamilton

Hello to fresh drive, goodbye boredom

The difference between champions and everybody else is how they handle boredom. Workouts, by their very nature, are repetitive. You do the same reps over and over. Before long, your routine is so ordinary. It no longer delights you. Habit guru James Clear notes, “The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom.”

As we move toward the end of August, it’s time to freshen up. 

This week’s portion of Torah contains a favorite freshen-up verse for me. Moses tells the Children of Israel: “The clothing you wore did not become tattered over forty years, nor did your feet become swollen” (Deut. 8:4). In other words, when you’re close to God, nothing spoils. Divinity is ever-fresh. This is why the left-over manna on the way out of Egypt grew rancid (Ex.16:20). Because the divinity had been drained out of it. Daily portions of manna were vital back then. Today, the same is true of our daily doings. 

A scientific theory like gravity, once it’s announced and accepted, doesn’t have to be repeated twice every day. But spirit-refreshing actions do. This is because the need to stimulate wonder is ongoing. So we all need daily habits that make our mental and spiritual furniture squeaky-clean. You can sense this when your faith feels less like an heirloom and more like a living fountain. Its rewards flow forth for you with creative force.

One way that a well becomes your well is when you return to it often. And you return as often as you do because it continues to surprise you with fresh content. When you’re worn down, its chilled sparkle rouses you. When you’re torn down, its reservoir sustains you. And when you’ve been let down, its fountain stirs and motivates you with invigorated purpose. 

We all have our favorite go-to sources that stimulate us. Sometimes, they’re written works. Sometimes, they’re old friends. Sometimes, they’re hands-on projects that spike your dopamine. It won’t surprise you to hear that mine includes books and experiences that promote the good and the holy. May you revisit your wells this weekend. In doing so, may you rediscover how being around wells each day serves to nourish your well being. 

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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