Ben Zoma says:
Who is rich?
The one who is appreciates what he has...
(Talmud -- Avot 4:1)
We all know of very wealthy people who are terribly unhappy, and quite ordinary people who are very happy.
Happiness is the art of taking pleasure in what you have. Unhappiness is the art of focusing on what you don't have.
It's a glorious summer day. All our friends and family decide to go on a picnic. We pack up a delicious lunch and travel to a picture?perfect spot by a lake. The children frolic and play together. Adults stroll by the waterfront, breathing in the fresh air. Birds sing, and a soft breeze lovingly complements the warm sunshine. An occasional cloud drifts by, a small island in the deep blue sky.
You unpack the wicker?basket lunch of homemade breads, salads, meats, fruits, and drinks. The picnic table is spread with a red and whit gingham cloth. Matching napkins adorn every plate.
But wait -- something is missing! You frantically search the lunch basket, turning it over, shaking it furiously. "The mustard! We forgot to pack the mustard!" You collapse, devastated. The picnic is ruined. Who can enjoy a picnic of meats without mustard? You pack up and head for home.
Crazy? Of course! But this is what we do every day. Each morning we wake up, God has given us back our souls. We can breathe, think, move, feel. We are sheltered, and we have food. We have family, and we have friends. And yet we spend a lot of our time worrying, being anxious, and complaining -- about the weather, about the guy in front of us who's driving too slowly, about the noisy neighbors, about a local politician, about five extra pounds, about the lousy paint job.
About the mustard.
We are all looking for the mustard. Instead of counting our blessings and appreciating all that we have, we are continually focusing on what we don't have.
THE MISERABLE MILLIONAIRE
Imagine someone offered you 5 million dollars for one of your eyes. What would you say? Forget it! But think for a moment. If you wouldn't give up one eye for 5 million dollars, that means you are walking around every day with at least 10 million dollars!
We all have our "I would be happy if..." stories. "I would be happy if I met the right person... bought my own house... got a promotion... won the lottery..."
But God wants us to be happy right now. We are to take pleasure in all that we have, whether it is a lot or a little. If you are not happy with your portion in life, then it doesn't matter how much is in your bank account. It will never be enough. You can be a miserable millionaire.
Don't let your desire for the mustard blind you to the beauty and richness all around you, every moment, every day.
Next installment: "Who is honored?"
Adapted from "Remember My Soul," by Lori Palatnik (Leviathan Press, Pikesville, MD, 1998)