A chassid once approached Rebbe Nachman, z”l, with a heartfelt question. “Rebbe, I feel like such a lowly person. The negative way that I see myself permeates my life and I have a hard time being happy. How can I be free of it?”
“It is forbidden for one’s confidence in self to falter for even an instant.” Rebbe Nachman responded. “You need to learn to vitalize yourself by focusing on your good points. Think about it for a moment: isn’t there anything good, any mitzvah, you have ever done?
“You need to say to yourself: ‘Haven’t I ever done anything good? Don’t I fast on Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av and the other obligatory fasts even when I feel sick? Don’t I sometimes go to the mikveh? Despite all my negative thoughts and actions, I work so hard and yearn so much to improve my spirituality and save myself. No matter how bad it is, I still have some good points. On some occasions I really have done the Creator’s will.’
“In this manner, you’ll be strengthened and find vitality. Don’t give up for any reason! If the negative inside threatens to overcome you, you need to go back over the same good points and go with this path, each day, each time, while you struggle through whatever it may be. Throughout that time, you will surely have opportunities to do good—G-d helps us so much all the time.
“We can at least pour out our heart to G-d, mentioning every single good point or quality, and even the simplest ones, even things which were done not through your own efforts, but are still mitzvot.
“For example: ‘Master of the world! However I am, however sorry my spiritual state, as You and I know the pain I bear, You have still done an astounding kindness for me by making me a Jew. After eight days, they gave me a birs. I worked hard to learn alef beis, to pray and study the bible. I endured many painful experiences to attain this knowledge. I worked hard for it…”
When Reb Nosson, z”l, met someone who was having a hard time focusing on his positive points, he explained their importance. “You need to follow all of the different paths of advice that Rebbe Nachman revealed to help you find joy, especially through focusing on your good points. And be aware…one’s entire connection to Judaism depends on this!”