Many people seem to be bored with their lives. They look for diversion in activities such as swimming with sharks, bungee jumping and extreme sports. Others obsessively pursue whatever is new – fashion, music, or high-tech gadgets.
This boredom really stems not from a lack of novelty, but from a lack of appreciation of life itself and all the blessings of life. A person who takes pleasure in his very existence, who savors the beauty of the natural world and the richness of human relationships is unlikely to be bored, or to take anything for granted. A young child finds the world endlessly fascinating; but too often the sense of wonder erodes in adulthood. Through the recitation of blessings, Judaism tries to help us retain this unspoiled perspective and increases our appreciation of the pleasure and wonder of life.
Rabbi Yehudah Halevy, a 12th-century philosopher and poet, taught, “God wants us to rejoice in the good that He has given us, as the verse states, ‘you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given you.’”
A crucial technique in achieving this goal is enhancing our awareness of what we really have. This is done by saying a prayer of appreciation to God before we benefit from His world and by thanking Him after we enjoy His blessings. These prayers are called berachot, blessings. If we go through each day, understanding the blessings that we recite, we can become happier, more generous people, grateful to God for all His goodness.