When I was growing up on Long Island, the cooler and shorter fall days invoked a sense of loss. I loved the heat, the beach, and the endless days of summer. Once the fall chill hit the air, hope and possibility were diminished in my young mind. I eagerly awaited the winter solstice; even though the days were still dark and cold, hope was renewed knowing day by day, the light would increase and the long summer days I cherished would return.
In those years, a bright spot during the dark days of winter was Hanukkah. For eight nights, the light grew brighter as an additional candle was added to the menorah, the ritual candle holder used for the holiday.
Over time, I came to value each season. The loss of hope I felt as the days shortened faded. The lighting of the menorah took on greater meaning; it symbolized in difficult and hopeless times, it is possible to shine a little light to dispel the darkness.
Inspired by the divine qualities of Kabbalah's Tree of Life, and in honor of the eight days of Hanukkah, here are eight recommendations to help bring more light into your live and dispel some of the darkness in this world:
Set your intention to increase the light. We choose whether we add to the light, do nothing to increase it, or create more darkness.
Increase acts of loving-kindness. Love is a call to action. Use your love as an active force to help propel you forward and to do good.
Set healthy boundaries. Welcome in people and things that nurture you and bring you joy. Reject what does not support you and makes you weaker.
Restore balance and harmony. Take time to examine where your life is out of balance. Look at the totality of it including work, health, relationships, and spirituality to honestly access what needs to be changed.
Perseverance. Use endurance to help you hold the vision to increase the light. Do not give up on it or allow yourself to get moved off course by distractions.
Pursue peace. Everyday, spend time in meditation or in a quiet place to calm your mind and think about what you are grateful for.
Live from a strong foundation. The unconditional love the Divine offers us is a safe haven beyond our thoughts, feelings, and circumstances. Returning to this core relationship is a dependable source of strength and power.
Walk your talk. When we align our speech and actions with our highest intentions, we live with dignity and integrity. Use your speech and deeds to illuminate, to build up, and to share more love.
An earlier version of this post first appeared in The Huffington Post.