Optimism and positivity.

That’s the Torah’s approach to how we should view almost every circumstance. We try to see the glass as half-full, rather than half-empty.

Even during trying times, we highlight what we have rather than what is lacking, and all that we need to be grateful for, as opposed to focusing on our wants and needs.

On a psychological level, this approach is very beneficial. The more we emphasize our gratitude, the more positive we become as people. As I heard from one motivational instructor, “It’s not that happy people are thankful, it’s that thankful people are happy.”

But on a spiritual level, this approach is even more powerful. Positive thinking can actually change our reality in a significant way.

“Think good, and it will be good” is a popular Chassidic saying, which means that positive thoughts create a positive reality. When we open the channels of our faith in G‑d by trusting Him to create a good outcome, we generate what we are hoping for. By believing that G‑d is infinite, able to provide for us in a way that we perceive as positive, G‑d reciprocates and directs that positive reality into our lives.

Even if things get so bad and we don’t see those positive outcomes—and we see no seed of goodness in our suffering—we assure ourselves with our faith. “All that G‑d does is ultimately for our own good” we tell ourselves, even if we can’t currently comprehend how that is so.

But there’s one time when this attitude just does not work. Moreover, not only is it not praiseworthy to be positive, it is actually downright destructive.

That is when it comes to others.

Never look at the suffering of another person and think, “Well, at least he has something good in his life to be grateful for.” Similarly, thoughts like, “This was meant to be” or, “All is for the good” is completely out of place when it comes to another person.

When you see someone suffering, it is downright cruel to think that this individual has been given a test in order to strengthen him or help her become a better person. Our job is not to philosophically come to terms with another’s pain, but to alleviate it.

This week’s Torah portion, Re’eh speaks about the commandment of charity.

If there will be among you a needy person, from one of your brothers in one of your cities . . . you shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand from your needy brother.

Rather, open, open your hand to him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking . . .

You shall surely give him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him; for because of this thing G‑d will bless you in all your work and in all your endeavors. (Deut 15:7-9)

The Talmud (Bava Batra 10a) comments: “Rabbi Elazar would give a coin to a pauper, and only then would he pray.”

So, the Torah’s approach is this: The next time you see someone suffering, drop the smugly righteous “It’s all good” mantra. Instead, roll up your sleeves and see what you can do to help.