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Happiness…

April 14, 2016

“Happiness is a goal of every human being, and it comes to us through small pleasures, big victories, strong emotions, love, and even surviving love, whether experienced by our body, by our imagination, or reformulated by our memory.” – “Run or Die: The Inspirational Memoir of the World’s Greatest Ultra-Runner” that I have just finished reading, by Kilian Jornet

Happiness-comes-when-we-stop-complaining-about-the-troubles-we-have-and-offer-thanks-for-all-the-troubles-we-dont-haveTorah Parsha (Portion) Metzora in a Nutshell from www.chabad.org

Last week’s Parshah described the signs of the metzora (commonly mistranslated as “leper”)—a person afflicted by a spiritual malady which places him or her in a state of ritual impurity. This week’s Torah reading begins by detailing how the recovered metzora is purified by the kohen (priest) with a special procedure involving two birds, spring water in an earthen vessel, a piece of cedar wood, a scarlet thread and a bundle of hyssop.

A home can also be afflicted with tzaraat by the appearance of dark red or green patches on its walls. In a process lasting as long as nineteen days, a kohen determines if the house can be purified, or whether it must be demolished.

Ritual impurity is also engendered through a seminal or other discharge in a man, and menstruation or other discharge of blood in a woman, necessitating purification through immersion in a mikvah.

I was planning to take a few weeks off doing my blog, but a follower of my blog made me feel guilty and I noticed a Tweet for a TED Talk on a topic I had been thinking about doing a Blog on. The rest is history…

In the last few days I have felt joy and happiness and I have watched others whom I am sure experienced the same feelings.

As a parent I was very proud and happy to watch Michaela in the school musical, but what was more impressive was that she looked so happy, content and was so confident on the stage. Her smile just made her glow. YIP – PROUD DAD! PS – The School musical was superb.

As a sports fan I was so happy to watch an Aussie cyclist win the Parix-Roubaix, but what was more incredible was watching Matty Hayman’s joy at winning this classic in such a spectacular manor.

Today’s my day. The sun is shining on me,” said Orica-GreenEdge’s Mat Hayman shortly after winning a five-man sprint to take Paris-Roubaix.

So my question is what makes you happy and how do we find happiness? I certainly do not have the answers, but will share a few thoughts.

Many people say that one of the keys to happiness is helping others, this may be physical helping, giving charity or maybe even being part of a team. This is highlighted after reading about Matt Hayman’s win after 15 attempts and a broken arm in February. Matty did not stop trying and was always happy to play a supporting role to his team.

“But this year after coming off an injury that I had in Het Nieuwsblad, I was really just coming here to enjoy the race that I love a lot. I was happy to be back in the team and I trying to help anybody that I could.”

You all know how much I love my training. Training and keeping fit makes me happy. Triathlete Daniela Ryf posted on Social media that training brings her happiness The feeling after a training session😊💪😄This is one of the many reasons why I do it over and over again. Every day. Up to a few times a day… #Training #PursuitOfFitness #BringsHappiness

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski brings down an interesting though on happiness when commenting on the following verse from Psalm 23 – “May goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life (Psalms 23:1)” – “If we asked people for their goal for life, many would say, “to achieve happiness.” While this answer is certainly understandable, happiness is not the primary goal of creation of man. Indeed, the Scripture states very clearly: “Man was created in order to toil” (Job 5:7). And the Talmud explains that this means to work on the Divine mission, to fulfill the Divine will. If our primary goal is happiness, we are certain to be frustrated. The average person’s life is abundant in distressful happenings. If the primary goal is to do the Divine will, then those times of happiness that do occur can be enjoyed, and the times of distress are borne without bitterness.”

Another key to happiness may be relationships. Relationships with family, friends and your collegues. In this week’s Parsha we learn about Nidah (ritual impurity of a woman) and the temporary separation from physical contact of husband and wife during this time. The Parsha says – “If a woman has a discharge of blood that emerges from her body, seven days she shall be ritually unclean because of her menstruation. And anyone touching her shall be unclean until evening.” (VaYikra 15:19)” This abstention helps foster renewed appreciation and desire. When the Nidah period ends the couple is fully reunited. Rabbi Bernie Fox[i] brings down a beautiful thought on marriage, but this also applies to friendships and other relationships – “Marriage involves a lifelong partnership between husband and wife. This is a wonderful relationship. The Almighty did not create the human to live in solitude. The marital partnership is essential to human happiness. However, marriage presents challenges for both partners. It requires compromise predicated upon mutual love and affection. The emotions flowing between husband and wife bind the partners together as a unit.”

We tend to think strength, happiness, wisdom and honour are reliant on external circumstances – how much wealth you have, how strong you are, how much you know…. Jewish wisdom shows all four are internal; it’s all up to the person himself. Want to be rich? It’s about your attitude, not about how much money you have. Want to be smart? You don’t need Einstein’s genes, just the ability to open your eyes and watch people around you. Want to be strong as a hero? It’s in your heart – just be strong enough to do the right thing. People often think happiness is based on what you achieve and acquire. Happiness is a state of mind. You can have everything in the world and still be miserable. Or you can have relatively little and feel unbounded joy. As the Talmud says, “Who is rich? The one who appreciates what he has” (Ethics of the Fathers, 4:1). Happiness comes from mastering the art of appreciating and consciously enjoying what you already have.

BUT – A recent study issued by Princeton University’s Center for Health and Well-being[ii] finds the financial threshold required to “buy happiness” in the United States, measured in yearly income, is approximately $75,000???

On a day when everyone is celebrating the retirement of the great NBA star Kobe Bryant, I noticed that early in his career he made the following comment in an interview with Newsweek – “… Indeed, asked if he’s happy, Bryant shrugs and says, “I guess, maybe. Not really.” Then he adds rather poignantly, “I really don’t believe in happiness.” Many have commented on WHY he said this? – was he young and not happy that he had not reached his potential, was it tough to carry the burden of being such a high profile star, did he battle to understand this love/hate relationship he had with fans and was he was an introvert[iii] worked harder and became more comfortable with who he is. As a sports fan – Kobe gave us much to smile and cheer for. An old school mate Donna Yevilov commented – “20 years in the NBA, 20 years living in Los Angeles, So much emotion. The memories…My Happy Place. Staples Centre and My Lakers…Thank You Kobe Bryant”. A fan said watching his last game “Happiness is.. watching”.

It is often very tough for retiring sportsman. There are many documented stories of both success and failure. Kobe’s coach Byron Scott made the follow comment before his final game – “The last four or five months, he’s been at peace with his decision,” Scott said. “I just want him to be happy when this is all said and done.”

Happiness will never come to those who don’t appreciate what they already have” – Kobe Bryant on Twitter

As mentioned I noticed a Ted Talk on happiness. I have not watched it as I thought I would rather try put some of my thoughts down before I watch it, but loved this quote – “Happiness is not something we find; it’s something we make.https://t.co/WdT0buaJD6

This same thought is similar to what the Dalai Lama says – “Happiness is not ready made. It comes from your actions”

As you know that I #lovehealthyliving and enjoy all that goes with this lifestyle. I get such joy from the food we cook and bake, the posts to social media, the Blogs I research and write and of course from #lovegoodcoffe & #lovecraftbeer. I noticed this quote –

“Eat healthy, sleep well, breathe deeply, enjoy life. #‎myrelationshipwithfood #‎life #‎happiness #‎happinessfromwithin #‎relationship #‎enjoyinglife #‎fitnessjourney #‎mindful #‎mindset #‎mindfulness #‎mindbodysoul #‎mindfuleating #‎sleepwell #‎karma #‎instamood” – Instagram Post from @MyRelationshipwithFood Chef, Lisa Roukin.

As I said I most certainly don’t have the answers, but like everyone I strive to be happy, to enjoy other people’s “victories”, to see other people who are happy to and to enjoy all that I do. I think the one of the most important ingredients to happiness is to TRY!

“I am happy. I stop and rest for a moment, breathing hard, my hands on my knees. I am chasing no one, and no one is chasing me. I think how happiness isn’t a destination but rather a path to follow, spending time along that way and postponing its inevitable end.” – Kilian Jornet

[i] https://www.ou.org/torah/parsha/rabbi-fox-on-parsha/parshat_metzorah_2/  

[ii] http://www.pnas.org/content/107/38/16489.full.pdf

[iii] http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts

That’s a good starting place, but there’s plenty of recent literature and research that shows a correlation between introspection, depth of thought and time spent alone. There’s always room for balance, but often times extroversion (in the media and workplace) is heavily in focus because the nature of extroverts. So it’s always nice to be able to relate to introverted celebrities like Kobe or Kevin Spacey or something.

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2 Comments
  1. Granny permalink

    Great blog – agree with all the quotes you used. As the Granny I,too, felt such joy watcging Michaela shine with appiness as she danced – true “naches.” Well done Ian.

    • Got more Naches as parent thanked Loren tonight as Michaela did her daughters make up every night. 😃

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