Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Secret to Happiness

It rained all day yesterday. It was gloomy and grey. It was a good day to be introspective. However, while musing introspectively, I discovered a shocking revelation in a little essay compiled from interviews with senior citizens about what brings happiness. Having lived so long, the over 70 set really ought to know. Introspection is not a key to happiness! According to the seniors, when they wallow in introspection, they invariably land upon all the bad choices they made, the risks they wished they took but  didn't, and the dreams and goals they forfeited.
"Ohoh," I thought introspectively, "Introspection is not conducive to happiness."
The list went on. Some I agreed with, some I didn't. But I found one glaring omission in this list. I have seen many studies that link deep spiritual beliefs with happiness. This one didn't mention faith at all.

I am reading a wonderful book by Chaim Potok, Davita's Harp. It is a book for introspective people. It is not a happy book. Such subjects as the holocaust, fascism, communism, pogroms, and Guernica are discussed. It was a book to match the gloomy grey day. The heroine, Ilana Davita ultimately finds happiness in her Jewish roots and traditions which her parents had not taught or believed. The book starts telling us Ilana was raised by a nonpracticing Catholic dad and a nonpracticing Jewish Mom. Of course I was hooked, as this was my story. My parents are fantastic, and have never tried to dissuade me from the yearnings of my heart. I, like Davita, found comfort and solace, and truth in the God that my parents had not embraced. The more I explored the richness of my Jewish and Christian roots, the more I felt the arms of contentment surrounding me. I cannot answer all the questions of faith, but I do rest in its joy, in its truth and rightness.

When I am 70 and the NY Times comes to ask me the secret to happiness, I will tell them I would like to ammend their former list. This is my contribution to the list, 15 years in advance:
Introspection leads to happiness...but only if I dig deep enough inside myself to find the seed of all creation, of all that I am, of all that I aspire to become- one with my Lord. Introspection, and faith, will be at the top of my list. Deep in my soul, I know God lives.

Job 19:
6 And after my skin has been destroyed,
   yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
   with my own eyes—I, and not another.
   How my heart yearns within me!

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