This Shabbat we will announce the new month of Adar. As the expression goes: “when Adar begins, our joy increases.” This month contains the holiday of Purim, arguably the most fun (and frivolous) holiday on the Jewish calendar; its celebration is a kind of mash-up between Mardi Gras, Halloween, and New Year’s Eve…all based on the Book of Esther.
Our tradition tells us to be happy, but it’s not like we can just flip a switch when the month begins and suddenly find our mood improved. Making ourselves happier involves effort and practice, but it is something that most of us are capable of accomplishing. A recent article on www.cnn.com discusses this topic along with the research showing that being happy can actually help us live longer! Here is the link: https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/30/health/happiness-live-longer-wellness/index.html. It turns out that we can concentrate on certain behaviors that can lead us to be happier, which has a kind of snowball effect.
Judaism gives us many opportunities to find joy–more than just on Purim. The blessings and prayers we recite help us to focus on the many good things in our lives; they help us to recognize the beauty and wonder of our world. The Sabbath and holidays also have elements of celebration, allowing us to transcend the often-depressing reality of most of our days. Adar is an opportunity for us to re-focus on joy. It is not a one-time shot, but rather an ongoing practice that cannot only make us happy, but also give us more time to enjoy that happiness.