My Recipe for Happiness During Corona
“Will your camp be open this summer?”
“How about your preschool in September?”
“Are we going to get paid at the end of this month?”
“Are we going to have a minyan for Shavuot?”
“Do you think there will be a second, more deadly, wave of Covid-19 in the fall?”
“When can we go to the pizza store? Or bowling? Or ice skating?”
There are so many unknowns right now. So many reasons to feel frustrated, angry, depressed.
No one seems to know anything, and the isolation is wearing us all down.
I’m not used to this. I’m used to running events, a preschool, camp, Hebrew school, lectures, classes, Shabbat services, dinners, parties, and programs. But now my life revolves around my kids, my home, and a couple of Zoom meetings every day. I try to maintain a schedule. I still wake up at 5:00am and run two miles every day, which definitely helps, but is not enough on it’s own.
And yet, I am happy.
Of course I have my moods like everyone else, and I am certainly frustrated with the current situation. So how do I do it? Here’s my recipe.
Think to yourself, “What would make me happy today?”
For me, well … I’d be thrilled if G-d saw fit to bless us with another set of triplets! If our Chabad center suddenly received a $10 million donation, I would be ecstatic. And I wouldn’t say no to a two-week exotic cruise.
But this kind of happiness is derived from external circumstances. These are things that make me happy, but it doesn’t mean I’m truly happy inside. How do I get that?
Surrender. Control. Give.
Surrender. I surrender myself to G-d. I know He has a plan and I know that my livelihood comes directly from Him. Yes, right now it seems like our income sources have crumbled, and the more days that go by the harder we will have to work to rebuild. But G-d can provide, even in quarantine. He is not limited by the physical circumstances that limit us. Surrender yourself to G-d and His plan, and you will feel a deep peacefulness replace the anxiety in your chest.
Control. We all like to feel in control, but even when it seems like we are, it’s illusory. We are not in control and neither are our elected officials. G-d is. Every single thing that happens is because He wills it so. The fact that Covid-19 swept across the globe was His doing. And we know that everything He does is for our good, even if we don’t see it at the moment. When we embrace the fact that G-d is steering the ship, instead of trying to counter-steer, we can let go and enjoy the ride.
Give. Inspire others. I find that when I focus on myself, the misery accumulates, but when I give to others, the happiness can push through. So if you want to tap into that happiness, call and check in on a friend. Send words of encouragement (or flowers!) to someone you know is struggling. Donate to your favorite charity or individual in need. You’ll be helping others and improving your own state of mind in the process.
Oh, and if you want to make me happy today? Drop a comment and let me know what this article means to you!
Hope you have a happy Shabbos!
Rabbi Uriel Vigler