Minute #632: A Matter of Choice

The greatest act of chessed in all of history was the creation of the physical realm. Hashem, the ultimate giver, had no one and nothing on which to shower his beneficence. Therefore, He created creatures and things that could benefit from His kindness. The proper state of affairs, therefore, would be for everyone and everything to be satisfied and happy. Yet, it seems that most are discontented and lacking what they need to be satisfied.

The people who are happy look at their environment and say, “The world is so beautiful, how can anyone be sad?” On the other hand, were you to ask a despondent person why s/he feels so down, s/he probably would reply, “Everywhere I turn I see problems. How can anyone be happy?”

One might think that the difference between the two is a reflection of what portion of the individual’s needs are fulfilled and what portion is lacking. But that is not the case. Two healthy people whose basic needs are met may have very different perspectives on their lot in life. Even though their status is basically the same, happiness may be far from the grasp of one of them while the other may be living in bliss. One’s attitudes determine how one sees the world and one’s place in it.

How one feels is something one can control. One who sees the proverbial glass of water as half empty is only an attitude away from seeing that same glass as half full. Since we all, to a large degree, have control over our attitudes, we have the choice to be happy or to be sad. Happiness is a matter of choice — and the choice is yours.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Do not be hot-tempered and easy to anger, nor like a corpse without feelings. Rather show anger only over important matters in order to prevent others from behaving wrongly on future occasions (Hilchot De’ot 1:4).

Even when you have a practical, constructive reason for getting angry, only appear as if you are angry, but inwardly remain calm (Ibid., 2:3).