After learning last month about the fundamental meaning of happiness, we spent the past few weeks learning about some additional aspects of simcha.
We learned that a person can maintain a deep sense of calm and happiness by realizing that everything happens for a good reason, even when we don’t yet understand how. We also learned that you can feel joy whenever you overcome your desires, because exercising self-control will help you acquire that internal strength (and reward!) for eternity. Finally, we explored how happiness leads to giving, and giving leads to more happiness.
Pesach is coming up, and we are all going to get very busy preparing for the upcoming holiday. How can we maintain our sense of joy throughout the upcoming busy month?
An important Torah concept taught by the Baalei Mussar is that we can affect our feelings by doing certain external actions.
The source for this concept is the Sefer HaChinuch [Mitzvah 16] who explains the reason for one of the laws of Pesach. There is a halachah that when eating the Korban Pesach, we are not allowed to break any of its bones. Why not? The Sefer HaChinuch writes that breaking bones while eating is something done only by poor people who are starving – they are so ravenous that they eat hastily, paying no attention to the unrefined manner in which they are eating. It is therefore not befitting for us, the Jewish people – sons and daughters of the King (Hashem) and role models for the rest of the world – to break bones while eating like dogs or poor starving people would do.
When did we become this Mamleches Kohanim V’Goy Kadosh, a nation of royalty? It was when Hashem took us out of Egypt and declared us to be His special nation (Am Segulah).
Therefore, every year at this time when we celebrate leaving Egypt, we do actions that exemplify this special quality that we are a nation of royalty. When we eat the Korban Pesach in a refined manner, it ingrains in us the recognition that we are refined people, because – as the Sefer HaChinuch writes – Ha’Adam Nif’al K’Fi Pe’ulosav, a person is shaped by his actions.
Therefore, if we are trying to become happier people, one way to do it is actually quite simple… just smile! The more you do actions that express happiness, the happier you will be.
Yes, it may not give you the same deep sense of happiness which you can achieve through growth, giving, and deep realizations, but it’s an easy way to give yourself a small pick-me-up throughout the day. Lots of little smiles will go a long way toward increasing your overall sense of happiness.
Every day, smile at yourself in the mirror while thinking about something that makes you happy.
- I’m so happy to have a comfortable shirt. (SMILE)
- I’m so happy that I’m not having a bad hair day. (SMILE)
- I’m so happy that I’m not feeling sick today! (SMILE)