Sara Chyrek, Brooklyn, NY
MyLife Essay Contest 2018
Many times one may think to themselves how they can attain happiness. So, one may buy a new car, a new outfit or get the newest technology that’s out there. But does this really make them happy? One may feel content the first moments when they can show off their new car to their friend, but it might diminish shortly afterward. So the question returns, ‘how can I attain true happiness’. Even shortly after the world was created, the ‘search’ for happiness began. The snake told Chava that by eating from the Etz Hadas her eyes will be opened ‘and the woman saw that it was good’(1). Chava was looking for something better, something to her benefit, but was it better? One must be sure that their search for satisfaction is leading to positivity. More important than one’s physical pleasures which is only temporary one must find the spiritual pleasures that is eternal which will bring about the inner joy.(2)
The question that might be constantly on their mind is about fulfilling my pleasure, my satisfaction, my desire and my happiness. But the answer lies deep within the question. Their focus is on themselves and about how they’ll feel better, but if one directs themselves to making someone else happy then they’ll become happy too. If one pays attention and cares about how others are doing and feeling they are opening their minds and hearts for others. The deed that one does for another, whether it be a smile, a kind word or and encouraging phone call, lights up the world. One will make their neighbor happy while lifting their mood and the others.
Throughout life, everyone encounters challenges and tests. Time and again one may wonder lamah, why, were they given this challenge but one must separate the word ‘lamah’ to l-mah, for what reason were they given this test. The first aspect that one must always keep in mind is to trust Hashem (G-d) and that there is a Divine Purpose for everything that happens to him and that Hashem is leading every element and detail of his life. One must constantly train themselves to remember that the very fact that Hashem allowed it to happen shows that it must be for the good and is Divine Providence.(3) Hashems Will is the epitome of goodness although it may just me hidden or revealed. Man views the situations which doesn’t look good as negative since they don’t understand that the hidden good comes from a very high level which can’t be expressed as positivity in this low world.(4) Everything that one encounters is a opportunity to find Hashem and serve Him in the best way. Being b’simcha (happy) even in the hard times shows how much one trusts Hashem that He wants only absolute goodness for them. In situations of which the goodness is hidden one must search for Hashem since Hashem conceals Himself in this world.(5) Through finding Hashem in every situation goodness and blessings will be revealed.
Oftentimes Hashem will give a person tests to bring out the great potential and revealing the greatness within them. The tests (nisayon) that they are faced with raises up a banner (nes) for them to improve, and as a result it increases the reward that Hashem will give them.(6) The strive and work to pass the tests brings out ones strength and commitment and enables them to develop a deeper and stronger bond with Hashem. One forms this bond and connection with Hashem though giving pleasure to Him by improving oneself and passing the test – fulfilling the purpose of the test. The greatest pleasure that one can get in by giving Hashem pleasure and doing the shlichus (mission) that Hashem sent them for. Which is transforming the material (the struggle) into spiritual (the growth and improvement), creating a dwelling place for Hashem.(7) What can bring greater pleasure than that? This can happen every single moment when one makes Hashem happy and they become happy too. These challenges were not given to a person to become sad and pull them lower, but how much more so, for one to overcome the challenge and bring them higher than before. This is the precise reason for the pain. It is the message that Hashem is sending through all this. One must not try to escape it by pulling themselves lower and ignoring the message.
The Tzemach Tzedek, founder of the chassidic movement, teaches ‘Think good and it will be good.(8) With the emunah one will make peace with their situation and live with the mindset that Hashem want only good for them. This way one will not defeat the purpose but will succeed in the achievement of attaining the reason of the test.
The joy found especially during times of despair can change the world. Sadness is a barrier to serve Hashem, a obstacle that tries to prevent a person from following the Torah.(9) Unproductive sadness will, G-d forbid will discourage a person to think that he can’t improve and have lightheadedness toward correcting himself(10). It is brought out in Psalms ‘Serve Hashem with joy’(11), this teaches how every aspect in ones service to Hashem must be with happiness. It states in Vayikra, “Vachi Bahem”- “and live with them”(12) which means to do the Mitzvot with liveliness and energy.(13) When one does Torah and Mitzvot with happiness they bring Hashem down to this world, bringing down the infinite light. Even more so, when one connects to Hashem, which is gaining the ultimate joy, through learning Torah they bring down Hashem Himself Who condensed His Chochmah (Wisdom) into the Torah.(14) This concept is too displayed when one dances on Simchat Torah, they dance from the joy of the holiness of the Torah and that we were given the great privilege of being able to connect to Hashem in such an amazing way.(15) Serving Hashem with joy is the key to the great connection to Hashem and the true joy found within a person.
When in the midst of a situation of misfortune one must either,
- Work on it to improve, which will then lead to the removal of sadness
- Accept things the way it is since it isn’t in a person’s control and they must move on.
One must always deal with the situation appropriately letting, no matter the circumstance, only lift them up. Sadness should never get to the point where it is extremely hard to get out of, G-d forbid. If a negative thought emerges in one’s mind, they must dismiss it immediately ‘ with two hands’ and fill one’s mind with productivity and positivity.(16) Having active feelings and finding solutions while pushing away any negativity in ones mind follows the command of “You shall not follow after heart and after your mind by which you go astray”(17). One must transform any down and sad feelings into positive energy in one’s mind and which in turn affects the rest of their being.(18) Tanya explains that once a person is in control over their thoughts they are able to take control over their feelings, speech and actions. This is because every single person was created in a way to be able to have their mind controlling their heart.(19) One must focus their mind to the correct and positive way, the way that ones Neshama (G-dly Soul) wants to be, which is serving Hashem with joy and it will be a life changing experience of gaining inner happiness.
When feelings of sadness overcome a person due to the negative thoughts and deeds of which they do (Teshuvah) they must direct it to something good. Sadness over their spirituality aspect (Ruchnius) must not remain low and feel in despair but rather, at the correct time one must reflect about it and plan ones efforts to take action, in order that it will bring them higher. It is now more important to Hashem that one improves and serves Him with Simcha then continuing to be down and depressed. From the pain that one had from their mistakes, they can bring about a stronger and more powerful joy then before. This is because they are now reconnected and close with Hashem.(20)
Another approach to gaining inner happiness is being grateful for the things one gets and has. The expression of gratitude starts from the very first moments when one wakes up in the morning. The first words that leaves one’s lips everyday is thanking Hashem for returning their Neshama to them and giving them life. If one continues with this attitude of gratefulness throughout their day it will reframe their life. Instead of looking at things about how negative they seem, one must be sure to direct themselves to wear the correct ‘glasses’, to look at the world and everything that happens in a positive manner. It states in Deuteronomy ‘Rejoice with all the goodness that G-d has given you'(21), One must onstantly train themselves to put things in a positive perspective and appreciate all that he is given. Engage in positive activities, thoughts and speech. Get into the habit of thanking Hashem for all that happens. The air one breathes, nature, family and friends are all a blessing. The more gratitude one shows the more happier they become and goodness and kindness they will see.
Throughout life a person may find themselves wondering what inner true happiness is. After trying out different things they might come to the conclusion that this world is temporary and ephemeral so they will find that the purpose of this world is to do what Hashem wants them to do and follow His laws. So, one can derive from here that whatever they do must be done in a way to make Hashem happy. Once it is clear that Hashem wants only good for them and any tests are to their benefit, then they’ll strengthen their connection to Hashem and doing what He wants and bringing Hashem joy which ultimately leads to one gaining the genuine and inner joy. Ones inner happiness comes from giving others and Hashem pleasure by fulfilling His desire.
● Try to focus on others instead of satisfying yourself
● Remember that Hashem wants only good for you
● Find Hashem in every situation
● The tests we are faced with is to elevate ourselves through improvement
● Challenges strengthen our connection with Hashem and give pleasure to Hashem which leads to the true joy felt within us
● Joy is a crucial part of our service to Hashem
● Keep your mind focusing on the positive because the mind controls the rest of the body
● Sadness from your shortcomings must be directed to productivity
● Having gratitude leads us to a positive lifestyle
● Every night thank Hashem for two things that happened that day
● Ones inner happiness comes from giving others and Hashem pleasure by fulfilling His desire
1 Bereishis 3:6
2 Bereishis 3:6 kili yokar, v’kii taivah hu l’einichem
3 Hayom Yom, 29 Sivan
4 Tanya :Chapter 26
5 Isaiah 45:15
6 Berashies 22:1 Ramban
7 Hayom Yom, 27 Teves
8 Likkutei Sichos Vol 36 pg 4
9 Tzavaat Harivah, sect 44
10 Tanya Chap 1 1
1 Psalms 100:2
12 Leviticus 18:5
13 Likkutei Sichos Vol 1 pg 152
14 Tanya Chap 4
15 Likkutei Sichos Simchas Torah pg 1168
16 Tanya Chap 12
17 Numbers 15:39
18 Tanya Chap 3 1
9 Tanya Chap 12
20 Tanya 26
21 Deuteronomy 26:11