The Art of Happiness
The art of happiness is like any art -
the more you practice it, the better you get at it!
The following inspirational stories reveal the amazing secret of happiness.
Even when you’re in a bad mood, and things don’t seem to be going the way you want them to go. You can still choose to practice the art of happiness
when you remember this secret.
The Art of Happiness
in the Month of Adar
Our Sages said, "When Adar enters, we increase in our simcha --
joy and happiness." The whole month (or two months, in a leap year)
is a time in which the dynamic of transformation is emphasized.
In Adar, the terrible threat that hung over the entire Jewish
community in the times of Haman was transformed into the joyous
holiday of Purim.
Adar teaches us that darkness can be transformed into light,
and bitterness into sweetness.
The name Adar has various meanings, one of which is "strong."
In Adar, we experience the strength, "Adir," of G-d.
The Talmud relates that during the month of Adar, Jewish mazal,
usually translated as fortune or destiny, is particularly potent.
The mazal of the Jew is synonymous with the higher levels of his soul,
which is always intrinsically bound with the essence of G-d.
During Adar we have a unique opportunity to draw down Divine energy
into our lives, by doing good deeds that are imbued with joy.
In the month of Adar, happiness is in the air;
all we have to do is reach out and grab it.
But how do we do that?
In traditional Jewish style, we have a joke, a true story,
and a Hasidic story to answer this question.
First the joke (Heard from Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson):
There was a man who was talking over his concerns with
his family doctor, "Doc, I think my wife is going deaf."
The doctor answered, "Well, try this when you go home
so you can test her hearing. Ask her a question from some
distance away. If she doesn't answer, move a little closer
and ask again. Repeat this until she answers, then you will
be able to tell just how hard of hearing she really is.
The man went home and did what the doctor said.
He walked in the door and called out, "Honey, I'm home.
What's for dinner?" He didn't hear any answer.
He moved closer to her, "Honey, I'm home. What's for dinner?"
Still no answer. Again and again he repeated this until finally
he was standing right in front of her, "Honey, I'm home.
What's for dinner?"
"For the tenth time," she screamed, "We're having POTROAST!"
The Pursuit of Happiness
is all in the Perspective
Now the true story:
Last Thursday night a wonderful thing happened, but it did not
look so wonderful in the beginning. I was driving home after
a long day at school, bringing out the talents of children.
I have a commute of about 10 miles. After a mile or so, my car
began to lose power and then it died altogether. Fortunately,
I was able to glide off the main road as I was losing power
and stopped in a quiet neighborhood.
I had a sinking feeling...
"Oh no," I thought (knowing nothing about cars), "What if my
clutch just went out. Maybe it's the generator or something in
the electrical system. Maybe the head gasket blew and I'll need
a new engine. Maybe I'll have to get a new car altogether.
Where am I going to get the money for expensive repairs
or a new car?"
I called my husband to get the card number for the towing service
because I didn't even have the card with me. While I waited for
them to arrive I called my daughter and said,
"Guess what, my car just died!"
"Oh no," she cried (she shares the car with me), "What are we
going to do?!" Then the towtruck arrived. The driver got into
my car and tried to start it up without success.
"Lady," he said, "I think you ran out of gas."
"Out of gas?" I shouted, "I never even thought to check the gas!"
I called up my daughter right away, "Good news!" I said,
"Baruch Hashem! Thank G-d, I just ran out of gas."
Then I thought about what I had just said.
If, when my car had first stalled, I had thought to look
at the gas gauge right away, my reaction would have been
completely different, something like this:
"How could I have been so dumb? Why didn't I check the gas?
What a drag..." and so on.
But because I had imagined so much worse, the idea of running
out of gas was delightful good news - but it got even better!
As it turned out, my husband was returning from an errand
and was only five minutes away when I was up and running again,
so he met me at the gas station and we went out to dinner,
enjoying a lovely unplanned date in the middle of a busy week.
So, what is the shared message on the art of happiness of the joke and this story?
The following Hasidic story will reveal the amazing secret
of happiness that is present in every situation in your life,
no matter how bleak it might seem at first.
*The Art of Happiness
The two saintly brothers, Rebbe Zushe and Rebbe Elimelech,
who lived in 18th century Poland, wandered from town to town
for years. Disguised as beggars, seeking to refine
their characters and encourage and teach their fellows.
Once while traveling with a group of vagabonds,
one of the beggars was accused of stealing. Since justice then
was not like justice now, the entire band of beggars was thrown
into jail where they spent the night.
When they awoke in their prison cell in the morning,
Rabbi Zushe noticed his brother weeping silently.
"Why do you cry?" asked Rabbi Zushe.
R. Elimelech pointed to the pail situated in the corner
of the room which the inmates used for a toilet.
"Jewish law forbids one to pray in a room
inundated with such a repulsive odor," he told his brother.
"This will be the first day in my life
in which I will not have the opportunity to pray."
"And why are you upset about this?" asked R. Zushe.
"What do you mean?" responded his brother.
"How can I begin my day without connecting to G-d?"
“By not praying in this room,” said R. Elimelech,
“You have achieved a connection with G d.
True, it is not the connection that you had sought.
Yet, if you truly want the Divine connection,
you would be happy that G d has afforded you the opportunity
to obey His law at this time, no matter what it is."
His brother's viewpoint, allowing him to view his problem
as part and parcel of his relationship with G-d,
elated R. Elimelech's heart. The awareness that the
waste-filled pail in the corner of the room allowed him
the opportunity to enjoy an intimate, though different
type of relationship with G-d inspired him so deeply
that he began to dance.
The two brothers were now holding hands
and dancing in celebration of their newly discovered
relationship with their Father in heaven
The non-Jewish inmates imprisoned in the same cell
were so moved by the sight, that they soon joined the dancing.
It did not take long before the entire room was swept away
by an electrifying energy of joy, as dozens of prisoners
were dancing and jumping around ecstatically.
The guards heard the commotion and came running. Witnessing
the two brothers dancing—with their long beards and flowing
tzitzit—the guards asked the other prisoners what had happened.
"We have no idea!" they answered mystified.
"Those two Jews were discussing the pail in the corner when,
all of a sudden they came to some happy conclusion and began to dance."
"Is that right?" sneered the guards.
"They're happy because of the pail, are they?
We'll show them!" They promptly removed the pail from the cell.
Rebbe Zusha turned to his brother and said:
"And now, my brother, you can begin your prayers."
*Adapted from the Hasidic story of Yerachmiel Tilles http://www.ascentofsafed.com
Happiness Information for a Lifetime
So, here is our conclusion:
The art of happiness is largely a matter of perspective.
We think we are serving God one way,
and God tells us, "No, I want you to serve me THIS way.
We don't always have the choice of our circumstances,
but we do always have the ability to choose to be happy.
We may not be happy about our situation,
but we can always be happy to serve God.
May you be blessed to always be happy
in your service of God.
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