Purim! Do you want to be happy?
Do you know someone who doesn’t?
I know so many people who do battle with feelings that tell them in a million ways that they are up against a brick wall, and happiness will never happen. What do the actual Judaic sources have to say about what builds simchah? How does it get you to that illusive destination. I came upon four different approaches, none of which are contradictory to the others. The reason why it’s worthwhile to examine all four is that people tend to get stuck. You can easily convince yourself that there is only one way to find happiness. If the door is locked, you are sure that there is no other way to get in.
FIRST STEP - DON’T BE RIGID WHEN YOU LOOK FOR HAPPINESS. IT CAN BE FOUND IN MANY WAYS
Gloria was brave. Born with a visible defect, by the time she was of marriageable age, she noticed that no one was banging down her door. She made two critical decisions. One was to find happiness anyway. To seek it consciously in everything she did, and in her attitude towards everyone she encountered. She eventually marries, but she never let her singlehood turn her into someone she didn’t like and didn’t want to be with. Sophie’s husband made a terrible financial mistake (and no, this one doesn’t have a happy ending. They never really got it together financially), Michael did everything he could to get things back on track. This included networking, answering want adds, going online etc. He sent his resume to every place that made sense, and some that didn’t. The best he could find were low paying jobs with no future. He took whatever he could. In his heyday he was busy from right after the earliest minyan till close to midnight. Now he headed home from the office at 5. He dedicated his unwanted free time to becoming an emergency responder. Sophie realized that in spite of his very genuine efforts, they would have to give up the dreams of making it big that were so much part of her. Giving up her dreams wasn’t an easy task. Once she “sat shiva” for them, she noticed something she had blinded herself to seeing. Michael had somehow slowly stepped away from the guilt and depression that had become his personality. She followed his example, and became less of a have-er and more of a giver.
Once you decide that you are willing to explore “new” ways of being happy, you can choose one of the methods in the next few paragraphs (more is coming next week)
DON’T MAKE FINDING HAPPINESS DEPENDENT ON ANYONE OTHER THAN HASHEM
It would be natural for you to feel that I am being patronizing by sharing the secret of this kind of love and happiness with you. And yes, it is a secret. Very few people can move beyond wanting what only Hashem gives from other human beings. The price we all pay for this delusion is enormous, running all the way from self-pity, to giving up on the search.
Don’t give up! Hashem loves you far more than you love yourself, and you can find that love!
So enjoy a very Happy Purim!