Sunday, August 5, 2012

How to be happy

[Note: Complete cideo from the Daf Yomi Siyum haShas is now available here]

A recent article on the success of Chabad-Lubavitch cites the following from Dennis Prager: [T]he happiness that the vast majority of Chabad rabbis and their wives radiate is perhaps the most powerful asset in the Chabad rabbi’s arsenal. That they maintain this cheerful demeanor given their often-difficult financial and social situation is a credit to them – and to their faith.

That thought reminds me of a statement I have heard from Chabad shluchim: "Wherever I am, even stuck in traffic, Gd has put me there for a reason; I must have a mission to perform here." And this concept can be a great source of happiness, as it eliminates the frustration which is the root of anger. [Leave aside the theological questions of Free Will vs. Divine plan; this is something felt, not deduced.]

Case in point: My trip to the Daf Yomi Siyum haShas, and then back home, last week.

What should have been a simple flight from Toronto City Airport to Newark, with a train into NYC to visit family and then a train to Secaucus, became a full-day ordeal.
Wandering around downtown Toronto looking for the shuttle from subway to airport.
The flight was delayed for 40 minutes.
The train into New York City was delayed another 40 minutes, while we waited in the rain.
Just missing the subway from Penn Station.
What should have been 90 minutes with family reduced to just 20.
The hotel shuttle from the train station that never showed up, so that I wandered in and out of puddles for another 45 minutes before taking a taxi.
Trudging through mud from the hotel to MetLife stadium, because the hotel shuttle was taking forever.
And that was just the trip there… the return trip was another saga.

I am not a person who deals particularly well with frustration, even under the best of circumstances – let alone in 90-degree heat followed by torrential rain, while carrying a heavy backpack and wearing a suit, and thinking about the time I was losing from meeting various responsibilities.

The only thought that kept me sane during that trip was this: If I'm not doing what I had planned, it's because Gd has a different idea of what I should be doing.

Perhaps it was the mishnah I had the chance to learn while waiting for the New Jersey Transit train.

Perhaps it was the random encounter with an old friend on the train.

Perhaps it was the chance to help a young woman lug a heavy suitcase up the steps of the 103rd Street subway station. [Ma'am, I'm sorry that I didn't notice the second staircase you would need to climb, until it was too late to come back. I hope you found someone to help you. What was in that suitcase, anyway?!]

Perhaps it was the opportunity to be a recipient of chesed, when the person with whom I shared that taxi decided to foot the bill himself and spare my last American cash.

Or perhaps it was simply the patience I had to practice.

I don't know, but the mantra has worked for me on occasions large and small, from career changes to traffic jams: If I am here, instead of the place I planned to be, it's because there is something more important for me to do here.

No comments:

Post a Comment