“Randye, I really hesitated bringing up the topic of happiness tonight, because of your book. I don’t want to negate your message.”
Those words, from the leader of our Mussar study group (I’ll explain later) last night.
I so appreciate her concern, but immediately move to set the record straight.
Constant happiness has never been the goal of my book – or, indeed, of life. I state that right away in the first chapter, and in the subtitle: Shortcuts to More Serenity in a Complicated World. (Italics added here for emphasis)
Why more serenity?
So we can be less distracted by needless anxiety, creating more emotional space for things like appreciation, love, and service to the world.
Happier is not the same as Happiness.
When we are Happier, we can meet life’s challenges with a clearer mind,
What is Mussar? It’s “a traditional Jewish path of spiritual development that leads to awareness, wisdom, and transformation.”
I think of it a Jewish Zen of a sort. Mussar’s roots are in Judaism, but the applications seem universal.
Ethics, philosophy, spiritual belief… the group meets every week or so on Zoom to explore teachings that cultivate “personal growth and spiritual realization.”
That description comes from the back cover of our optional textbook, Everyday Holiness. From its chapter on Trust:
“t makes sense that God created this world replete with all its difficulties. It’s because it’s not our job description to be happy and fulfilled….It is only when you are running after the elusive goal of being happy that this world seems so terrible.”
From my book:
We’re not supposed to be happy all the time. We’ve got a beautiful range of emotional states that co-exist so we can tell the difference between them – and put all that energy to good use.
There is no conflict here.
Not “constant happiness.” That is not the goal. Just happier – so we can love more, work better, have the space to find and fulfill our life purposes.