This past Friday morning we had a power outage. This wasn’t a typical Friday. It was the second day of a 3-day yuntif—when a two-day holiday (aka yom tov) is immediately followed by Shabbat. Some who lost power wondered if it would come back on in time for them to make food for Shabbat (one is allowed to cook, in specified ways, on yom tov). Others, including my family, who had cooked for all 3 days in advance, hoped that the food they had made wouldn’t go bad.
This was not the first time I was struck by how amazing a refrigerator is—that it enables one to prepare food in advance and keep it fresh for several days. This invention has only been around for the past hundred years. And I thought about how fortunate we are for all our modern technologies. And also how ironic it is that we seem to take them for granted.
If someone from the early 1800s visited our century, they would be ebullient and amazed at seeing our modern technologies and how they make life easier and more comfortable. And yet we, being used to them, take them for granted and don’t flit an eye—except when something stops working.
I wonder how much happier we would be if every day we took a moment to be grateful for our refrigerator (along with each of our other modern technologies)—instead of just rushing about our day overlooking these seemingly trivial aspects of life—which in fact are great blessings.
Expressing gratitude and/or keeping gratitude journals have been shown to increase happiness levels. One aspect of this is by declaring something, we make it so. Speech is powerful. What we say about others and what we say about ourselves makes an impact. We see this in the Torah: G-d created the universe with speech, “And G-d said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3). The definition of the Ten Commandments is literally, “The Ten Utterances.” Furthermore, there is a mitzvah (commandment) to bless a food before we eat it. Through blessing the food we bring heaven into this earthly act/item.
Thus, there is real power (no pun intended) in stating out loud, “I am grateful for the refrigerator!”