When I first learned the idea of Plato's cave, I was shaken up by the image of the people who were chained to a rock in a cave seeing only shadows on the wall of the life flowing by the fire behind them. They thought the shadows were real. They had no idea what they were missing.

What if, I remember thinking, I'm like those prisoners, only seeing shadows in my life, and believing that they are real? What if the world that I surround myself with is a world of illusions instead of truths? What if I live out my days in a cave of my own making because I am trapped not by chains but by my own beliefs about my limitations?

During the Hebrew month of Tishrei, for a moment we were all "freed" from the caves that we build around ourselves. We saw the shadows for what they were: just shadows. We walked outside and saw the sunlight and the trees and the life-giving waters of the Torah. And we saw that reality is much deeper, much bigger, much more complex than the surface illusions that we focused on before we left the cave.

But now we are returning back to our every-day routines, leaving the rarified air of Tishrei. But we’ve walked outside the cave and have seen that our lives do not have to be limited by mere shadows of reality.

How do we take the light and inspiration with us? Here are eight ideas to bring that clarity with us into each day.

  1. Know your direction. Think about where you are going. Live your life with a compass in your heart. You don't always need to know the exact next step, but you need to know which road you are taking.

  2. Be aware of the obstacles. Know the obstacles that throw you off course. Prepare for them. Beware of self-sabotage every day. Often we are our worst enemies. Stop getting in your own way.

  3. Do it now. Picasso once said: "Only put off for tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." None of us have unlimited time. Run while you still can.

  4. Today is a new beginning. You can re-start your life. You can change the plot. Life, in all its extraordinary potential, is always now.

  5. Keep forgiving others. Assume that other people are doing the best they can. We are happier, we are kinder, we are more open to learning from others when we believe they are trying the best they can with the tools that they have.

  6. Focus on your strengths. Use your talents and resources to make a difference in the world. As author and self-esteem expert Byron Katie once said: "It's not your job to like me, it's my job." Liking and believing in ourselves can make the darkest days much brighter.

  7. Keep learning. In order to see the truth, to focus beyond the shadows that play with our eyes, we need to keep learning. Treasure wisdom. Review it. Let it open your eyes. The more we learn, the more we realize how much more there is to see.

  8. Be curious. Ask questions. Hold onto your sense of wonder. As Albert Einstein once said: "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." We are only stuck if we don't care enough to look for a way out. As Luke asked in Star Wars: "What's in the cave?" And Yoda answered: "Only what you bring into it." What's inspiring in an ordinary day? Only the light that we take with us.