Since we are celebrating Sukkot, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles or Festival of Booths) is supposed to be JOYOUS, I figure I should do a show on happiness. After all, God commands us to be happy for Sukkot so it must be an ultimate issue. But first, some questions.
Why should we be happy? Should we be happy? What does it really mean to “be happy”?
If you truly are happy, GREAT! Seriously, good for you. For the rest of us who have good times and bad, good moods and bad, and don’t walk around everyday feeling happy… we should still act happy.
Regardless of how you feel, or what your “inner being” feels, or what life has thrown at you – in general we should ACT happy around others. As Dennis Prager says, we have a “moral obligation to act happy.”
Why? Well rather than trying to explain myself, I’ll let Dennis speak for Dennis.
And now let’s go over some obstacles to happiness
I believe expectations are the key to unlocking life’s disappointments. I learned from Buddhism about the 4 noble truths and the 8 fold path. These deal with suffering and how to end suffering. After studying the Buddhist philosophy I came away with one thing in particular: Have no expectations.
You can have standards and rules for yourself and others, but expectations is where things go array and are the source of tremendous displeasure and suffering. Letting go of expectations requires a change in thinking and life philosophy that may be difficult for many. But I think it is necessary for a happier life.
Thankfully, I had very few expectations anyway so ridding myself of expectations in general was not that big of a deal. But still, it helped me relax and enjoy life in a way I could not have imagined before.
Take a look at your own expectations and how they have either served you or not, and examine the expectations of others and how that effect them and their level of happiness. When you find yourself developing an expectation, it may help to remind yourself that ultimately you have little to no control over what happens in much your life. The main thing you can control is how you deal with life.
A lot of people get caught up in comparing their lot in life with someone else’s. This is a terribly destructive habit. It’s bad for you and it’s bad for the person you are comparing yourself with. First of all, you have no idea about what is really going on in someones life or in their head. You only see what is apparent to you, and you see solely from your own perspective. You are missing sooooooo much.
That person who seems to have a great marriage, with great kids, and a great income might be miserable because of some inner “demons” that torment him constantly. Growing up in Hollywood I found it amazing how often some talent who was just mentioned as having it so great by someone else, committed suicide. You never know what is really going on in someone else’s life. Do NOT assume the grass is greener for his life than yours.
Third… Missing Tile Syndrome.
Another Prager U video:
I have a lot more to say on happiness, and how important it is for us to cultivate in our own lives. I hope to revisit this topic again soon. As Prager titled his book, Happiness is a Serious Problem, and we have a moral obligation to act happy. Why?
Because happy people make the world better and unhappy people make the world worse.
Happy Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah!