Bare with me as we grind our way through this and sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have 420 keys to happiness. I just have one and also needed to catch your attention.
We are about to experience Passover, our people’s great time of redemption and reflection. “Let my babies go!,” said the great Tommy Pickles. Sorry, I had to throw in a Rugrats reference – yay 90’s kids!
All good talks about Passover mention the integral theme of “in every generation we should remember our Exodus from mitzrayim (Egypt)….freeing ourselves from our personal mitzrayim.” This refers to the arduous task of identifying what is keeping us “slaves,” whether it be mentally, physically, or spiritually. What does this have to do with happiness?
In 21st century America, having the most of everything gives us options. Being the best at everything gives us notoriety. Being the smartest gets us respect. Being the richest gives us power. Being the prettiest gets us attention.
Our world says that these are all freedoms available to us if we want them and we determine the extent to which we achieve them. We live in a generation rich with freedoms, unseen before in history, but we are also the most enslaved and arguably the saddest.
We are slaves to the things that we think will make us the happiest: our iPhones, our checking accounts, the new cars in our neighbors’ driveways, our egos, our appearance, our view for our future, and my favorite – our sense of control. We think that by making all those things priorities, we will be happier, but we are really just tightening our own chains.
I think that the real freedom we try to achieve with the approach of Passover, is the chance to recognize the existence of our internal happiness and where it really comes from. Cough cough, G-d. This is true Yetziat Mitrayim (Exodus from Egypt).
When we were slaves in Egypt we still had incredible power, influence, beauty, and intelligence. Albeit these things may have been momentarily unseen, but they were still accessible. Beneath the literal rubble, dirt, and chains, they were there, hiding beneath the stinging lashes from Pharoah’s soldiers. How else could we have possibly gotten through all that pain?
G-d granted us with the tools to succeed, to be truly free, and to achieve authentic happiness. To escape chains are reach the physical Promise Land. It may have taken over 200 years to realize see it, but once we did we saw wonderous miracles in return.
Just like the Egyptians, people in our lives do lie, cheat, steal, and hurt us. They say really sh*tty things that we can never erase or abandon us when we need them the most. But it’s because of themselves – not us.
This may not make our pain hurt any less, but it’s a sweet reminder that it ain’t our problem, it’s theirs. Don’t be a slave to other peoples’ pain, because it will just create unecessary pain for yourself and you are too special for that. Learning to love, both ourselves and others, in spite of enormous pain, is a pathway to happiness.
Some say that true happiness is actually found by giving it away. As a professional fundraiser, I promise this paradox is true. So, while journeying to freedom by finding your personal happiness, try sharing whatever you do have with others along the way.
I promise that if you give even a little, love a little harder, you’ll get double back. It may not be exactly in the way that you wanted it, but you’ll get it back nonetheless and it will be so freeing.
Last but not least, whatever you are doing specifically today, of all days, to be a happier you, just *remember you are deserving of all the happiness in the world.
Even if you don’t see it right now, remember that you have tomorrow to look just a little bit harder.
Much love and prayers for an awesome today and even better tomorrow.
*In loving memory of my Uncle Craig, Leib Ben Chaim zt”l, and in the merit of all those who need to find their inner happiness, they should find it quickly.