There is a very, very difficult mitzvah* in Judaism (plural: mitzvot),that people should be happy. In Hebrew, it's expressed by the phrase: מצוה גדולה להיות בשמחה , "mitzvah gedola li-hiyot b'simcha," meaning 'it's a great commandment to be in a state of happiness." That's it.
The Jewish belief is that G-d has put us here for a reason; some say that we actually choose our parents before we are born: each individual has a purpose in life, which we have to discover in our life's journey. Some of us have great insight, even as young people, and we have a sense of what our purpose is. But for most people, that purpose is very hard to determine. During our life's journey, good things happen, and bad things happen. No matter what, we always have free will to decide how we will respond to those events, even if they are outside of our physical control.
My daughter who has RSD/CRPS made a decision about two months ago. She decided that, no matter what, with her legs in constant pain on an average day, and feeling as if they are on fire on a flare-up day, she is choosing to be grateful for all her blessings, and to be as happy as she can be. Before this decision, she was focusing on all the negative: how her life changed in an instant, and how she has to stop everything in its tracks in order to find a cure. She had basically put her life on "hold."
I can't imagine the personal strength it took to change this outlook, but she has done it. Even while we were still in Israel, she told me that she had made a decision--but I hadn't realized at the time how all-encompassing it was--to begin doing the things that she used to be passionate about.
She talked about searching for another voice teacher to re-start her voice lessons. She talked about going all-out with her art therapy and painting seriously, in earnest, as often as she could. She talked about surrounding herself with the music she loves (from classical to pop: her doorbell is several bars from Swan Lake), positive people, and distancing herself from negative 'vibes' which could bring her down. She talked about possibly attending concerts, ballets, plays or musicals in the future. And she has already begun.
In a previous post, I wrote how her attitude has drawn people to her, like the Pied Piper drawing the children to him, but in a positive way. For example, the cab driver who "adopted" her, brings her vegetables from his garden every Friday, for Shabbat. A week or two ago he spent hours attaching the bamboo sheeting she had bought to cover the chain-link fence around her yard, and basically refused payment. She has an incredible support system of friends, and some neighbors as well.
And today I just read about the Mega Millions lottery, which has reached an all-time-high jackpot of $640 million. What was that number again?? I can't even conceive of it. So will winning it buy one happiness? Apropos the huge jackpot (which is a top news story today), here's a view of a well-known psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow on winning the lottery:
That statement is brilliant. It struck a chord so deep, that I am repeating it here, significant phrases in bold.I want to tell you the absolute truth about getting rich, though. I’ve learned it over decades spent talking to people from every imaginable socioeconomic statum, at a very deep level—billionaires and the homeless, CEOs and people on public assistance, U.S. Senators and young people who haven’t ever taken the opportunity to vote.True wealth is only one thing—always, and without exception—and it has nothing to whatsoever to do with cash: It is the absolute, unshakable knowledge that you love yourself, are loved by another human being, have the capacity to love others and understand that love is immeasurable, inexplicable and evidence of a force greater than any one person or, perhaps, all that is mortal.
"True wealth is only one thing--always...the absolute, unshakeable knowledge that you love yourself...and understand that love is...evidence of a force greater than any one person or, perhaps, all that is mortal."
I had only heard of Dr. Ablow in passing, haven't followed him in the media (I don't watch television) nor have I read any of his books. I happened to come across this article on the Google news aggregate, my home page on one of my browsers, and I was blown away. I consider what he has said to be an absolute, eternal TRUTH. Without a solid core of self-love, one cannot really love someone else fully, and no external aids (such as money, even lots of it) can give someone that solid core. The person has to be introspective, and work it out him or herself. I think my daughter is on her way to achieving this. These days, I find that I am asking her for advice...
So my D. H. (Dear Husband) went out shopping this morning for some food necessities for Shabbat. I told him to buy a lotto ticket. Shabbat shalom.
*mitzvah: Commandment and/or good deed