Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just be happy

In a nod to actually becoming my parents, my husband and I have developed the habit of watching CBS News Sunday Morning. It's a dependable topic of conversation between me and my Dad, and I take comfort in my conviction that I'm still not old enough to watch Face the Nation.

Today CBSNSM is running a piece on Jimmy Fallon. I have to admit something- I really only like watching celebrity interviews if the person turns out to be nice, a regular Joe or Jane, relatively egoless and cognizant of both the amazing life they have and how lucky they are to have it. Jimmy Fallon seems to be this sort of fella. I always like watching SNL at the moments that he starts to crack up, laughing despite the cameras and the audience (it reminds me of old Carol Burnett shows, and how much I loved watching them make one another laugh). When watching his show, I always seem to detect a whiff of a kid on a surprise trip to Disneyland, who can't believe he gets to do what he's doing. Watching the story, I think how happy he seems, right as Russ Mitchell comments, "He seems thrilled to be doing whatever he is doing." I agree, he just seems humble and happy, and slightly mystified at his success.

You might think "Well, it's easy to always be happy if you're rich and famous!" I think that money and fame have absolutely nothing to do with it. Neither does a job, or a spouse, or even a child. We've all seen the rich and powerful fall mightily, and those laid low by natural disaster positively glow with the ecstasy of being alive. We've seen people that have whatever it is we are seeking yet still have no joy . Here's the secret--- I think it's easy to be happy if I commit to just being happy. If I'm always looking to be happy "when" or "if" ("...we open a cheese shop...," "...we get pregnant..," "...I get that spare bedroom finally cleaned out..."), I know I'll never get there By then I'll have moved on to the next step, the next "when," the next "if". If I can look around and think, like Jimmy Fallon, "Wow, I don't believe I get to do what I'm doing!" then I'm more than halfway there (although unlike Jimmy Fallon, I'm not at all mystified by who my blessings come from- they come from G-d and I always want to remember it). Sometimes "what I'm doing" is as big as traveling to Israel or getting married (or else it may be moving into the home of your dreams, or getting a promotion, or buying that car you've dreamed of and worked for since you were 16). Sometimes it's as taken-for-granted as breathing or walking, or the smile on a baby's face when they see you (note I don't say "as small as", because there's nothing so small that it doesn't need to be celebrated as a gift).

In Pirkei Avot (Ethic of the Fathers), Ben Zoma says, "Who is rich? The one who is appreciates what he has." I just try to remember, whether it's a dinner at a new restaurant with my husband, or a flight to Greensboro and back in the same day, that I'm lucky to be doing whatever I'm doing. I want to feel like that kid at Disneyland. I'm committed to being happy, not "when" or "if", but now.


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