Happiness Training

Dear Parents,

Sukkos – Zman Simchaseynu; The Time of Our Joy. One reason the Rabbis give for Sukkos being specifically designated as the time for Simcha, above all the other Yomim Tovim, is its proximity to the Yomim Noraim; right after we have achieved a Kapara, atonement from Hashem, is a very fitting moment to be B’Simcha.

Hashem orchestrates all circumstances, large and small…Perhaps we can suggest another connection between the Yomim Noraim and Simcha.  Much of our focus in the process of Teshuva and Tefila was directed towards imbibing the realization that Hashem controls all events in our lives. What happens to us is not happenstance, not accidental.  Hashem orchestrates all circumstances, large and small, for the express purpose of helping us fulfill the purpose for which we were put on this earth.  Thinking deeply into this concept brings a person great joy – my life has meaning, everything that happens has a purpose, ultimately, everything is for the good.  A person with this attitude can’t help but be B’Simcha.  Therefore, what better time of the year to celebrate with Simcha, than right after Yom Kippur?

-my life has meaning, everything that happens has a purpose, ultimately, everything is for the good. We are instructed to take the lessons of each Yom Tov and carry it throughout the year.  How do we achieve Simcha during our daily lives, with all the pressures and frustrations?  How do we imbibe this attitude in our children?  Most people believe some people were born with a sunny disposition, and others were not.  It’s just the way it is.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  A person can train him or herself to react to the vicissitudes of life with a more positive attitude.  But, even if it’s an enormous struggle for an adult to change his attitude, we have the opportunity to shape our children’s attitude, before any negativity gets ingrained.

We can help our children to learn optimism as a life attitude.How can that be done? I’m a “the glass is half-empty” type of person, you may say, so how can I impart something different to my children?  Ask yourself – is that a good enough reason to perpetuate an attitude of potential misery on your kids?  There are practical steps that can be taken. When your children come home from school, train yourself to ask – “What was the best thing that happened today in school?”  “What’s your favorite class/activity in school?”   At the breakfast or dinner table – ask each person seated around the table – “tell me one good thing that happened to you today.”  “What was the finest part of your trip/activity/play date?”  The opportunities for finding good are endless. They simply require our focus and attention.

We can help our children to learn optimism as a life attitude. A small redirecting of our conversations and focus when they’re young can help Simcha be a central feature of their personality – throughout their lives.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and a Simcha-filled Chag and year.

Rabbi Kalman Baumann


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