It’s the Hebrew month of Adar, the twelfth and last month of the lunar calendar falling under the zodiac sign of Pisces. Kabbalists teach that this month is a prime opportunity to draw down joy and happiness from the Supernal world, which offers an infinite well of joy, not only for the four weeks under Pisces but the entire year. We are all meant to be fulfilled and happy, the Creator’s desire is not for us to feel lack or sadness. So, if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, tap into the energy of Pisces.
Rav Brandwein explains that the moment we can know and live with the consciousness that true happiness is a gift from the Creator and that that gift comes by way of changing ourselves, this is the moment when we can maintain that level of joy in our lives no matter how difficult the situation. Every situation is, in fact, an opportunity to change and therefore to find everlasting joy and fulfillment.
Since I don’t personally know anyone who feels joy and fulfillment every moment of the day, here are 3 tools to help you bring more happiness into your life.
#1 Emotional archeology
This begins with a little Emotions: 101. Our emotions are our internal GPS. They let us know when we are in line with our potential – when we are feeling peaceful, accomplished, or determined – and when we are not – when we are sad, angry, frustrated. This is why we welcome and hope for the ‘good’ feelings and we try to avoid the ‘bad’ ones at all costs. Our emotions are with us every step of our lives and inform every one of our experiences. Without them, the forward motion of our lives would come to a screeching halt, we would find it difficult to even make the simplest decision.
In short, we need our emotions. The good, the bad, and every single one in between. However, the challenge in a month like Pisces is that it becomes easy to overly identify with them. Emotions are data, not facts. They are a way that we can assess certain situations, like taking note of how we feel around certain people, not how others make us feel (because nobody can make us feel anything). Taking a chance to still yourself, mind and emotion, can help you to gain a deeper understanding of what your thoughts and feelings are trying to tell you.
Let’s get scientific. How do you feel right now? Identify what brings you happiness, frustration, joy, anxiety – whatever you are feeling – and then identify what is behind that emotion. And then dig even deeper, what is behind that emotion? Like an archaeologist, sometimes you have to dig deep. I did this with a friend who was having a stressful week at work because of a series of trying experiences with a coworker. What did she feel? Angry. However, anger is always a response to something else. It doesn’t exist in and of itself. There is always a root. She was angry because she had bent over backward, went out of her way, and beyond expectations for her coworker and this woman not only didn’t thank her but demanded even more. Understandably maddening. But, under the anger, was frustration and the feeling that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. Why is the belief that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ so personal? Where does it come from?
It felt disrespectful, of both her time and her expertise. And digging deeper still, under all of that was rejection. She felt her co-worker was rejecting her contribution and talents. Once we got to this root, we were able to look at it objectively. When someone isn’t accepting what you’re offering, it’s not about you, it’s about them. It says more about this coworkers unwillingness to work with others than it does about her talents and contributions, which she knows are valuable. By the end of the exercise, she was 50% less angry.
Once you get that top layer off and you find the first level of emotion, don’t stop, keep digging. Where is it coming from? You’ll get there. It’s not enough to just say “I always feel this way in x, y, z situation” or “Whenever I’m around Jim, I feel sad” because it probably doesn’t have anything to do with Jim. He is just a channel for an insight that you need. As Rav Brandwein taught, challenges are opportunities for change and it’s through change that we find our greatest joy.
#2 Be Present
It’s easy to find ourselves living in the past (where we replay gaffes, mistakes, missed opportunities) or the future (what if’s, anxiety, imagining a crazy dystopia or even utopia). But, what you’ll find is that right now, in this moment, is where we can attain true happiness. Happiness is remembered from our past, imagined in our future, but it is real only in this moment.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
A few ways to bring yourself back to the present:
- Close your eyes and focus your attention on smell. Smell is a powerful sense and is linked to our emotions. Take a few moments and let each scent inform you. What does it make you feel, think, see?
- Take 3-5 deep breaths. Our breathing signals our body when to relax and when to tighten. Count to five on an inhale and five on an exhale. Notice where your body is tense and soften that tension with each breath.
- Find a mantra that resonates for you and focuses on that mantra from this relaxed space. A favorite of mine is “Right now is beautiful and perfect.”
Share a story. Share an insight. Share your feelings. Share your time. Sharing is the single most powerful tool for awakening joy in your life.
“Imagine a world in which people know that sharing with others is the best way for them to achieve fulfillment. That taking for themselves will bring them only emptiness rather than joy. This is a world in which there will be no place for wars, strife, and pain.” – Michael Berg