Rabbi Mendel Bluming, the rabbi in Maryland, is regularly turned to with the quest of how to find happiness in life.
In fact it is a central Jewish theme because the verse in Psalms 100 teaches that one MUST serve G-d (do their mission in this world) with joy! But how can that be expected when life is often full of pain, loss and setbacks?!
And that’s why it’s handed to us in the form of a mitzvah. Happiness isn’t a reaction to a blissful life but rather an action, a firm ideology to living joyfully regardless of life’s circumstances.
How? Here’s a thought: One can see happiness as being a product of our circumstances, or one can see happiness as the driver of our circumstances.
Joy has the power to tear down barriers. A happy and positive outlook can be the cause of happy and positive results. Not that happy people never have suffering. But happy people aren’t happy to let suffering define them. And that gives them the strength to see through tough period and come out the other end.
We can’t possibly control everything that happens to us or to others. There may be worthy reasons to be sad, and sadness is an understandable and sometimes appropriate reaction. But happiness is not a reaction but an action. We are always able to find reasons to be sad. Or we can focus on living happily.
This is not to mean being blind to the suffering and pain in the world. The Zohar explains that we can feel pain on one side of the heart while feeling joy on the other. I can cry and laugh at the same time. I can be feeling pain, my own or another’s, and at the same time be full of hope and joy.
No, it’s not easy, it’s a lifetime calling.
Menachem Mendel Bluming and Rabbi Moss