And you shall be happy in all that the Lord your G-d has given you (Deut. 26:11)
Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. — Hellen Keller
Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery. —- Spike Milligan
King Solomon said in his famous book Ecclesiastes, “I praise happiness,” and yet he also concluded “What does happiness accomplish?” Is happiness praiseworthy or worthless?
The Talmud explains that King Solomon was referring to two types of happiness. The happiness derived from doing a mitzvah – fulfilling G-d’s command — is praiseworthy. However when happiness comes from some other source—it is worthless.
It is basic human nature to want to be happy. However, the urge for happiness in its primitive form can be satisfied through lusts and cravings. We feel good when we eat, drink, win the game, indulge in pleasures, etc..
But transient pleasures do not fulfill our soul. A life of lust leaves our inner-self empty and depressed. Deep and lasting happiness comes only from serving G-d. In other words, serving to bring absolute goodness and love to the world. And when we do good —we feel good. Only good and meaningful acts gives us real happiness. This is the type of happiness that King Solomon praises.
Yes, you could go see a hysterically funny comedy and laugh your guts out. But no movie runs forever. You could go play some basketball, work up a good sweat. But even if you win the game you can still feel like a loser. Only doing good and giving love will bring you and others true happiness.
The Torah teaches, “Vitality and joy are in His place.” The prophet Habakkuk teaches us, “I will rejoice in G-d.” When you realize that G-d is the context of your life and make serving G-d (Absolute Good and Love) the theme of your life then you will be filled with vitality and joy.