Judaism is a way of life built upon taking responsibility and fulfilling obligations. Perhaps the most crucial personal mandate of Judaism is to take full responsibility for one’s life. As Hillel famously said, “If I’m not for myself, who will be?” Here is a check list of the ten most fundamental responsibilities of being a human being.

1. Know what you’re living for.

Perhaps the ultimate responsibility of a human being is to clarify what one is living for. Every successful business person lives with a constant awareness of what his mission statement is. It would be unimaginable to ask a business person what product he’s selling and getting a response like, “Hmmm, not sure. It seems to change every week.” It is the same in terms of managing the business of our personal lives. To maximize our investment in living, we need to live with clarity of what our goal is and to keep it in mind constantly throughout the day just like a business person.

Question: What are you living for?

2. Know yourself.

Knowing yourself requires being honest with yourself and taking complete ownership of your strengths and weaknesses, character flaws, fears and dreams. A useful pathway to self-understanding is to acknowledge and explore your feelings. Understanding why you feel a certain way in a certain situation will reveal great insights into how you tick. Some one who is out of touch with how she feels is like an Air Traffic Controller who does not watch her radar screen, inattentiveness in both cases inevitably leads to nasty crashes.

Question: What is your greatest fear? Why?

3. Take responsibility for your emotional problems

Life is tough. The pain of living often leaves us with emotional wounds that, like physical wounds, don’t go away by themselves. They need to be identified and attended to. What we feel we can heal. What we dismiss persists. Running away from our emotional struggles will only end in more pain and self-damage.

Question: What painful issue have you been avoiding facing head on?

4. Love yourself

Self-love is the experience of confidence and empowerment. The opposite of self-love is self-hate. Self-haters have no life because they live in a state of shame, insecurity, and powerlessness. No matter how much you suffer from diminished or damaged self-worth, it is absolutely incumbent upon you to find a way to love yourself. People who love themselves are more successful in every area of life. God invested in each and every one of us a holy soul, bursting with goodness and potential for growth. Tap into your latent powers.

Question: Describe three virtues you have within yourself.

5. Identify and make your unique contribution to the world.

Once a person has identified his life goal, then it is necessary to identify the unique creative way that he expresses it in the world. Every person has a unique creative potential and therefore a unique contribution to make to the world. When a person fails to believe he has a purpose then he has no future. And when a person has no future, he loses the present as well. This is because one’s joy in the present largely depends upon being able to envision a future.

Question: What activity makes you feel fully alive?

6. Think for yourself

There are two tendencies in life. One is to move towards independence by thinking for your self. The other is to follow the crowd, giving into social pressure, and letting others think for you. Thinking for one’s self means clarifying and owning one’s values, priorities, and goals. When you do this, you will be living life on your terms, not on someone else’s.

Question: How do you think you are being swayed by social pressure to do things you don't really believe in?

7. Learn and grow

The goal of life is about constantly growing in order to become your best self. Each of us has so much potential. In order to develop our vast potential, we need to constantly be learning, seeking truth and wisdom. This is why the most important commandment in Judaism is to study Torah. In order to harness our great potential we need clarity. One of life’s greatest pleasures is gaining insight and making changes that transform our lives. How can one waste time when there’s so much potential to actualize?

Question: How can I better use my time in order to learn and grow?

8. Be happy, be grateful.

Life is beautiful. A happy person is someone who is content with his portion. And the truth is that all of our portions are rich. The obligation to be happy is actually implied in the last of the Ten Commandments. “Don’t covet or desire what others have.” In order not to covet or be jealous, one has to be happy, i.e. content with one’s portion. A big obstacle to feeling really content is our tendency to play the “when-then game.” When I can drive, then I’ll be happy. When I get married then I’ll be happy, etc. etc. The ultimate source of happiness is what I call “feeling the joy of existence.” If you can imagine looking around for the last time, and saying goodbye to the world, you will begin to understand what the joy of existence means. Will we continue to moan and complain all the way to the grave?

Question: What one thing can you do everyday to tap into the joy of existence?

9. Be a giver, not a taker

Giving is defined as consciously choosing to give others pleasure and not causing them pain. There certainly are few greater pleasures than giving. Giving is an experience of self-transcendence while taking is about being self-absorbed. To give or not to give is the ultimate choice for a human being. The best place to evaluate one’s self is in one’s family. Do they see you more of a giver or more of a taker?

Question: What are the ways you cause pain to others? How can you give more pleasure to the most important people in your life?

10. Be a part of something greater than yourself

Human beings need to join with others in order to accomplish something great. One way to do this is find a cause. Judaism maintains that we have a responsibility to build and take care of the world. The Rabbis say, “Every day a person should say, the world was created for me.” The world is mine, not to use or abuse but to take responsibility for. They also say, “It is not up to you complete the job, but you are not absolved from trying.”

The ultimate experience of being a part of something greater than one’s self is to be God’s partner in building the world. There is nothing more self-transcending than having a personal relationship with the Eternal.

Question: What is your cause?