You have a constitutional right to be happy.
Yet I wonder how many people are actually taking advantage of this right.
Give a look at the declaration or independence. It’s stated clearly that “all men are … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It seems to me that happiness is different from life and liberty.
It’s natural to want to live. Normal, healthy people will do everything they can to live as long as possible.
It’s very natural to want to be free. Here, too, normal and healthy people will live their lives as freely as possible.
But happiness… that’s another story.
Is it natural to feel happy?
Is it common?
I am afraid not.
In fact, it is unusual to meet someone who is really happy most of the time. Most of us, me included, are experiencing a myriad of emotions, but happiness is not the most prevalent one.
In Judaism, happiness is not only a right, it’s actually an obligation – a Mitzvah!
As the verse states, “serve Hashem with joy!” Our service of G-d, done through every detail of our life, should be conducted with joy.
And now we enter the Hebrew month of Adar, when “Mishenichnas Adar, marbin besimcha”: when Adar enters, we are required to increase in our joy and happiness.
Combined with the understanding that happiness is a Mitzvah, we can gain some insights.
- We shouldn’t expect it to be easy. Every mitzvah has its obstacles, and this is no exception. In order to have joy, we must overcome an inner struggle: worries, fears, and all sorts of legitimate reasons why we can’t be happy.
- We can do it. If G-d asks us to do something, he knows that we can do it. After all, he created us and knows us best. So when He says “be happy”, He really says “you have it within you”.
- There is always a reason to be happy. The Mitzvah to be happy is not about living in la la land, detached from reality. Rather, to be aware of the many gifts we have in our lives and to always look for parts that are worth celebrating.
So let’s be happy. Not because it’s easy, not because it’s natural for us, but because it’s the right thing to do.
[Oh, and did I mention that it’s going to make our lives so much better?]
May we always be happy and may we always have only reasons to be happy!