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GATEWAY TO HAPPINESS

  • (C)

    Happiness is an obligation to our Creator.

    • 1.

      The Baal Shem Tov (founder of the Chassidic movement 1700-1760) said, “The

Almighty has sent you into this world for an appointed errand. It is His will that you accomplish your errand in a state of joy. Sadness implies an unwillingness on your part to carry out the Almighty’s will.”

2. A righteous person will enjoy even a small amount of food to such a degree that he might appear to be a glutton. Such a person enjoys what he has, not from a hedonistic love of pleasure, but from an awareness of the benefits the Almighty has bestowed upon him. He takes pleasure in becoming closer to the Almighty, and this benefits him both physically and spiritually. (Chochmah Umussar, vol. 2,

  • p.

    74)

    • 3.

      Rabbi Chayim of Volozhin (1749-1821) wrote: “When feeling joy, you will be

able to gain more from one hour of study than many hours of studying when sad.” (Ruach Chayim, Avos 6:6)

1.5 Formula for happiness The classic mussar (ethical writings) work Orchos Tzadikim (unknown 14th Century author) states the following formula for happiness: “If a person obtains all that he desires and nothing causing him sadness befalls him, he will constantly be happy. His face will shine, he will be physically healthy, and be slow to show the signs of old age.”

At first glance this passage seems to describe an unreachable utopian state. But with a closer look we have an insight on how to obtain happiness. First of all, refrain from desiring what is beyond your reach. The simpler your desires, the greater the chance you will be able to meet their requirements. Anything extra you obtain beyond these demands will give you increased happiness, so you have nothing to lose and much to gain by lowering your demands and expectations. This does not rule out striving for realistic goals, only that you give up your demands for things you are not able to obtain.

Secondly, do not allow events to cause you sadness. At least in common day-to- day occurrences master a perspective of life that will enable you to accept what happens without becoming sad.

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HAPPINESS IS AN OBLIGATION

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