GATEWAY TO HAPPINESS
The way to have a guarantee of happiness.
A truly happy person does not allow his happiness to be dependent on any
external factor over which he does not have control. (Chochmah Umussar , vol. 2, pp.331-2)
One who makes his happiness dependent on wealth, fame, success, or other external factors will not be able to master happiness. External factors will be his master. Only by mastering a positive attitude to life’s varied situations will you have a guarantee of happiness.
2. Seek happiness in a way that depends only on yourself. We see this concept in the passage in Pirke Avos 4:1 (Chapters of the Fathers) which states that the wise person is one who learns from everyone (independent of any intellectual deficiencies in himself); the honorable person is one who honors others (independent of whether others honor him); the wealthy person is one who is joyful with what he has (independent of how much or little he owns). This passage clearly teaches us not to seek or demand happiness in factors dependent on anything external to us. (Daas Chochmah Umussar, vol. 3, p.250)
Base your happiness on your own thoughts and attitudes, and you can be its master. If you tell yourself that you can only be happy if others do or say what you wish, your happiness is under the control of those people. You can never have a guarantee how others will behave. Even when they do behave as you wish, you are likely to feel uneasy about how they might behave in the future.
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz (1874-1936) wrote in a letter to his son: “I constantly try to think along the lines of the attitude expressed in this passage. I do not make myself dependent on any other person or any specific place. I am therefore constantly happy.”
4. There are definitely external situations which are conducive to happiness: good health, a good marriage, a large number of close friends and relatives, wealth, fame and honor. But none of these can guarantee happiness. Some wealthy and healthy people are nevertheless depressed. Conversely, some financially poor and sickly people manage to be consistently cheerful. Once you accept the responsibility for making yourself happy independent of good or bad fortune, you will be determined to work on your thought patterns instead of chasing illusions.
HAPPINESS IS AN OBLIGATION