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 a steak, drink wine, win the game, indulge in sexuality, etc..
But transient pleasures do not fulfill our soul. Deep and lasting happiness comes from serving G-d; Absolute Good. When we do good —we feel good. 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.
The Torah teaches, “Vitality and joy are in His place.” The prophet Habakkuk teaches, “I will rejoice in G-d.” In other words, make G-d (Absolute Good) the context of your life and serving God the theme of your life. Only doing good and giving love will bring us and others vitality and lasting joy.