happy yet?


The Bar Mitzvah Boy’s grandma is crying this afternoon, mascara running, as he stands up to wear his late grandpa’s prayer shawl:”I couldn’t be happier!”, she sobs.
The boy, too, once his big performance is over and his tie is loosened is proud and pretty happy.
funny thing, happiness.
Can you remember the last time you were simply, capital H Happy? Happy enough to pause and say – yeah! I’m Happy. Not necessarily the big moments of life’s transitions. Just a mundane moment of happiness?
Z. tells me of the cupcake he stopped to buy today, after a gruelling morning, took a bite, and smiled: Happy.


And I guess I’m thinking more about  happiness tonight perhaps because I’m so aware of it when it’s absent. Have had a few of those days now, for reasons that make me think of how and when I’m happy or not and how much this has to do with the love I get – or don’t – from others, and some others more than others.


The goal is more happiness.
But what does that even mean?


Assuming that ‘happily ever after’ mostly works out in fairy tales, many smart people have researched the nature of happiness. just try googling ‘happy.’ (you’ll find for instance, this quick how happy are you quiz. I scored 60%, and rather surprised myself.) One of my recent favorite books on the topic is  The Happiness Project with paradoxical tips as corny and correct as “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.


For many observant Jews, tonight’s Slichot/Forgiveness service, often held at midnight, is the official start of the High Holidays. With Rosh Hashanna less than a week away,  the inner housekeeping is in full swing on day 23 of prepenting, now focusing on more of the big items on the ‘make life better’ list. The happiness factor is probably on most of our lists. Am I happy?  How happy have I been this past year? what makes me happy, and what doesn’t? what factors in my life support or don’t this elusive happiness thing, and what can I do about it this coming year?


Tonight’s a good night to think about this, maybe even a short writing exercise:


The short list: 5 things that make me happy and 5 things that make me unhappy.


The question: what’s one thing I can change in my life that will help me be happier?


If not ever after, at least day by day?


starting, let’s say, now.


Rabbi Amichai & Lab/Shul’s annual Elul journey into the new Jewish year with 40 daily communally co-created inspirations to help us begin the year with more focus and presence.

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