Purim is a holiday of happiness when we celebrate God's great Purim miracles. What seemed like a desperate and hopeless situation for our people, God turned into a great triumph. God is very happy when we are happy on Purim - and everyday. But it's not always easy to be happy. One big way to increase our happiness is to learn to be 'happy with our lot.' That means to accept and like ourselves for who we are, even the parts of ourselves and of our lives that seem less than ideal.
In our story, a kid learns the secret that happiness comes when we accept ourselves for who we are.
Sue Silvers stood in front of the mirror wetting and brushing down her hair for about the thousandth time. But as stubborn as she was to brush it out straight, her naturally curly hair was even more stubborn and would spring back up again like a jack-in-the box.
"I can't s-t-a-n-d it!" she cried out to her mother sitting at her desk in the next room. "My hair is so...ughh!...Why can't it just be nice, straight and beautiful like my friend Laurie's, instead of this dumb, curly mop?" She slammed down the brush and walked into her mother's office. "Mom, this curly hair of mine is making me miserable..."
Mrs. Silvers knew what was coming next. Ever since 'Hair Today' the new high-end hair-care emporium in town had advertised permanent hair straightening, Sue had been begging, pleading, nagging and cajoling her to let her get the very expensive treatment.
"Can't I just go get it straightened today? I called them and they said they had an opening. It would make me soooo happy!"
"Look Sue," her mom sighed. "I happen to think your hair looks great the way it is. Obviously you don't, so I suppose you can go get it straightened..." She opened her wallet and took out what seemed like way too much money to pay any hairdresser.
"Thanks sooo much, Mom! You're the Best!!!" Sue squealed as she pocketed the cash.
"But," her mother went on. "If you think making your hair different - or anything else about you different - is going to make you happy, think again. Because a person's only happy when he can be happy with who he already is."
Yeah, Sue thought, people with nice straight hair, like Laurie - they can be happy who they already are. Not people like me.
"Sure Mom, I'm off to 'Hair Today.' See you!"
As she sat in the chic, spotlight and mirror-filled waiting room, Sue, who was next in line, couldn't believe that in just a few short moments, she would be going in to get her hair straightened and finally get to be like Laurie and all those other happy straight-haired kids.
Suddenly the frosted-glass door to the inner salon swung open and a curly-haired girl about her age who had just had her hair done walked out.
"Who's next?" cheerfully called out a woman dressed like a combination between an artist and a surgeon.
Sue was about to jump up and take her flight to hair-happiness, when something strange caught her eye. The girl who'd been in before her looked oddly familiar. Why, except for all those curls, the kid looked just like...could it be... "LAURIE? Is that you?" Sue called out.
"Oh, hi Sue!" the girl beamed. "I was going to call you anyway, but now you can be the first one to see my new look."
"But ... but..." Sue stammered as the girl went on.
"Finally I got to give my limpo hair a little bit of life - like yours - instead of those miserable stringy strands that I had. It cost a bomb to get this hi-tech hair curling treatment, but it's worth it to be happy, no?" Sue was stunned.
"To be happy? ...Um, yeah," she murmured.
"So why are you here?" Laurie went on.
"Me ... um..." Sue didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Here she was about to try to make herself happier by looking like Laurie and Laurie had just tried to make herself happier by looking like her! Her mom was right. Happiness wasn't about changing hairstyles or changing anything at all. Suddenly the whole idea sounded silly...
"Who ... is ... next?" the hairdresser repeated, this time a little less cheerfully.
"Oh, I think she is," Sue said, pointing to the woman who'd come in after her, who was thrilled at the chance to move ahead in line.
"Come on, Laurie, I'll walk you home. I was thinking of getting my hair treated, but I think I already just got the exact treatment I need."
Q. How did Sue feel at first about getting her hair straightened?
A. She felt it would make her happy.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She realized that she didn't need to change the way she looked to be happy, she just could be happy with who she was already.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Sue learned that day?
A. She didn't like something about her looks and thought if she could only change it, she'd be happy. But when she saw her friend trying to do the same thing, she realized that a person won't become happy by trying to change herself, but rather by liking and accepting herself as she is.
Q. Do you think Sue would have been happy if she'd gone through with the hair straightening? Why or why not?
A. Perhaps she would have gotten a short-term boost, but the feeling wouldn't have lasted long. As long as we feel our happiness depends on things being 'just so' we'll always find something about us or our lives to bring us down. Real, lasting happiness comes only from self-acceptance and understanding that God gave me my looks and my life because, deep-down, it is truly for my best.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Does self-acceptance stop self-improvement?
A. Not at all. God put is in the world to strive to grow and become the best we can. We just have to know that happiness won't come about by being any certain way or reaching any certain goal, but rather by accepting who we are even as we strive to improve.
Q. How does a stronger connection to God affect one's happiness?
A. It is the key to happiness. Because the stronger we are connected to God the stronger we can feel that our life circumstances - even difficult ones - are His unique gift to us to reach our ultimate spiritual potential and not just random or 'tough luck.'