What is all that stuff at the beginning of the Jewish prayer book? (FYI – the Hebrew word for “prayer book” is Siddur). Did you ever look at a prayer book?
Right at the beginning is a long list of stuff. It is stuff that you say every day. It is a long list that includes a ton of really obvious statements like: I can see, I have clothes, I have shoes, I can walk, and I can think.
Don’t you know that already? You know you can walk. You know you can think. You know that you have shoes and clothes. Why does the prayer book want you to read through a long list of things you already know? It seems like a waste of time.
But it’s not. Believe it or not, the list is there for a reason. It is as an exercise. It is there to teach you something.
It is there to teach you the secret of happiness.
Here is a secret: Most people don’t know what happiness is. Most people think, “I am going to be happy when I get that new thing. I am waiting for a new thing and when I get it I am going to be really happy.”
But they are mistaken. It isn’t true. The new thing won’t make you happy. It is nice for a while, but soon you get used to it and start thinking, “When am I going to get the next new thing?” Most people aren’t satisfied with the things they have. They are always thinking about the next thing.
It is like when you want one of those electronic things – the DS – what happens? You want a DS. You need a DS. You really have to get a DS. And what happens when you get the DS?
You want a DSI!
Yikes. Most people are worried about the next thing. They take the things they have for granted.
And that is why the Torah teaches that the secret of happiness isn’t when you get the thing you want. The secret of happiness is: appreciating the things you already have.
Look at the things you have. Realize how much you have. And appreciate it. “I have this. I have that. I have this. This is so awesome. I appreciate it.”
How do you feel? I bet you feel great. When you think about the things you have, you feel great. And that is the secret of happiness.
The prayer book starts with this list to teach you this lesson. It is a tool. It gives you an opportunity to think about all the things you have but probably take for granted: like seeing, walking, and thinking.
Think about it. If you lost your eyes, how much would you pay for new ones? Millions. So if you have eyes, realize that you are walking around with millions of dollars in your head. Appreciate that. How about if you lost your feet? Same thing. Appreciate that you are walking around on something worth millions of dollars. Don’t take it for granted – think about it. And appreciate how much you have and how awesome it is.
When you are aware of how much you have, you feel great. That great feeling is called happiness. Be happy! Use this tool to remember how much you have.
Don’t worry. Be happy.