Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Happiness is a feeling of satisfaction and well being. It's something which we all strive for and dream of however few of us attain it.
It is my belief that material possessions can never provide satisfaction. No one has ever had enough money. I have personally known a man worth several hundred million dollars who never smiled and I have known a rabbi of modest means who never stopped smiling.
What can provide happiness is a total absorption with a love of God.
Imagine the infinite wisdom and power of God. Realize that all the beauty in the universe flows from Him.
Don't think of yourself. Selfishness is the poison which destroys happiness. Selflessness creates happiness.
Even when you care for yourself, by eating or sleeping and so on, do so not for your sake, but so that you can love God and continue to serve Him.
Don't think about how other people can help you. Stop using and exploiting others. Think about how you can help them. If you are married, God has given you a spouse as a partner in life and to give you the opportunity to help others. If you have children, realize that they were given to you so that you would be able to care for them. Through this we can emulate God who cares for the universe.
Repeat this like a mantra. Meditate on it. "It's not about me. It's about Him."
In response to some comments on this post, I want to add that I am not claiming that love of God and selflessness are the only paths to happiness; instead I am claiming that they are the the only paths to stable, constant happiness. Injecting heroin will also make you happy for a few hours; however that it is not what I mean by “real happiness”. Likewise, nothing material can bring real happiness since once the material thing is gone, as it surely will be eventually, the happiness is gone too. Meditation, anti-depressants and exercise can numb pain, which is valuable, however that is not happiness. Accepting one's situation without complaining is also not happiness.
Secondly, real happiness is not an easy, instantly attainable goal. It is something which requires great effort every hour of our lives. It is something which we can gradually come closer to. And the rewards are well worth the effort. I would advice praying constantly “God, please help me to love You.” If someone were to ask me if I am happy, I would say that I am working toward happiness.
Also, incidentally, this post is not merely good advice, however it is obligatory, as the Torah states "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
Posted by jewish philosopher at 1:58 PM