When it comes to thinking about how to achieve happiness, sometimes we are presented with what seems like a binary choice: a purposeful life where happiness is a welcome side effect, vs. really concentrating on the pursuit of happiness (while neglecting meaning and service).
Sometimes the road to simcha (Jewish happiness) is a “Rocky” one:
Writing this blog is great and I’m learning new things every day and improving, but I don’t want to act like I’m always happy, or that I have all the answers.
Part of the happiness of Hanukkah (beyond the delicious latkes and sufganiyot, of course) is knowing our purpose, which is a crucial ingredient for experiencing simcha (Jewish joy).
In his amazing book Man’s Search for Meaning, Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl (z’l) details his life philosophy. A man who suffered through the worst life has to offer realized:
Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a ‘secondary rationalization’ of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning (page 121 in the paperback edition).
How does this relate to Hanukkah?