On the afternoon of July 13, I found myself crying. My 14 year old daughter had just informed me that teen idol, Corey Monteith, had died. I knew I was in trouble. Of course it’s sad when anyone dies. No matter how many Glee episodes I may have watched, though, I couldn’t really claim a close relationship with Mr. Monteith. Plus, he died of a drug overdose, not a fatal disease or horrific accident, which in my book is awful but not tragic. So why the tears?
Generally my life is wonderful. I have a terrific husband, fabulous kids, everyone is, thank God, healthy, a number of jobs that feed my drive and incessant need to move people, two living parents… I could go on, but I really do appreciate all that I have. So how could it be that I was so filled with sadness that another death, no matter who’s, was just too much?
Clearly I needed help. I reached on my shelf for Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. (Yes, I turn to books in times of trouble) While I still have not completely emptied the “sad basket” (Ok, I also consult with professionals), I have learned a few things about happiness and I wanted to share at least one on the eve of Rosh Hashana, our New Year.
Rubin calls it “Enjoy Now” and I call it Being Present.
She mentions Tal Ben-Shachar’s “arrival fallacy” when we fool ourselves into thinking that if I could just get to here, I would be happy. This is an especially easy trap in New Year’s resolutions. We look over our year, make assessments and then think, if I do this next year, then I’ll be happy. As Shachar points out, and we have all noticed, even when we achieve that goal, we aren’t always happy - we just set another goal thinking that will finally make us happy. Truthfully, we need to find our happiness in the present. It reminds me of the Thich Nhat Hanh quote “Life is available only in the present moment.”
We have no idea what will come this year. Maybe great things, maybe more sad ones. All we can do is look at where we are right now. We can redouble our efforts to make this moment the best – through doing good deeds, loving, devoting ourselves to a higher purpose. So this year my Rosh Hashana prayers won’t be about where I will be at the end of the year, they will be about making each moment the best and happiest they can be. Somehow, if I can accomplish that, I hope I will look back at the year and realize I was in fact happier.