Somewhere along the line things change. We grow older and become more demanding, harder to please and we lose this childish contentment. As we become jaded by life’s disappointments, we feel that we need a reason to be happy. If you see an adult walking around with a big smile, you ask, “What’s wrong with you, why are you smiling?”
The difference is, a child is not self-conscious. They are free to be happy because they are not yet aware of themselves. It is only when we mature and become more self-aware that we also become more self-absorbed. We have worries and concerns, unfulfilled desires and unrealised dreams. None of us can honestly say we have it all, and we can always find reason to be upset. But a child isn’t so aware of themselves and what they are missing, so they have it all. Their lack of self-consciousness leaves them free to enjoy life and be happy.
The more you are concerned with your own happiness, the farther you are away from achieving it. As soon as you forget about what you need and instead focus on what you are needed for, the good you can do for others rather than the good you can get for yourself, your childlike joy comes flowing back and you are happy.
This is the focus of Purim, a time to give gifts to friends, donations to the needy, to say LeChaim, loosen our grip on our self and thank G-d for the opportunity to be alive. Even in the darkest times, by becoming mission-focused rather than self-focused, we can access our inner joy. Happiness is not somewhere out there; it rests within, in that part of us that is forever young and forever giving – our soul.
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