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).
Bridget Jones’s Diary was a book (and series of movies) about a young British woman who was constantly writing down resolutions in her diary…and then breaking them. I can relate.
I’m almost 40-years-old and since high school I have been writing out pages of resolutions to live by. Sometimes I stick with them longer, other times I break quickly. But eventually procrastination and/or laziness get me every time. This feeling of being undisciplined is poisonous to my self-esteem and I constantly feel like I’m not living up to my potential.
Judaism offers a secret weapon that is CRUCIAL for the search for simcha (Jewish joy)…
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.
An elderly American woman approaches two monks in the Far East and asks to be taken to their spiritual guru. They explain that it will take five days of climbing a steep mountain to reach him and because he’s so exalted, she will only be allowed to say six words in the guru’s presence. The woman agrees. When they finally reach the guru, the monks are surprised to hear her exclaim, “David, come down from here immediately!”
Everyone said it would be difficult to raise kids within the framework of a “mixed marriage” and they were right. After a decade of marriage and the birth of three cute kids, my Jewish–Israeli wife would be the first to tell you that married life in Israel with a Jewish-American husband hasn’t always been as smooth as Philadelphia cream cheese on a delicious whole wheat bagel (and she would never use such an American metaphor).
There are several well-known personalities who have become famous, in part, by challenging the existence of God and organized religion. Science is often used to discredit the validity of God, by pitting evolution vs. creation theory, or demanding scientific evidence of God’s existence, etc.
This tactic continues today, despite religious leaders such as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who have stated that holy texts were never meant to be science books.