The month of Adar has just begun and in this month we are told to increase our simcha. So one might think – what does it mean to increase simcha? How is this done?
Well it makes sense that in order to be filled with joy, we must be positive. We must strive in all our daily situations to have a positive attitude and to look for the good. That means that when we are washing the dishes, and we accidentally lose our grip and drop a glass on the floor, watching it shatter to pieces, we think, “this was meant to be! It’s all good!” In other words, it means leaving judgement at the door, and embracing positivity.
I once heard someone say that in order to understand true simcha, true positivity, we should think of our wedding day (or a day of intense joy such as this one). Think of a day when you were completely enmeshed in the sensation of happiness. Picture how busy you were with simcha and exuberance, and how little time there was for anything else. On that day, everyone seemed good to you. Not just did they seem good, but you loved everyone! That person that you’re normally jealous of? You think, “Wow what a great dress they have on!” That neighbor that sometimes bugs you, “I must grab her for a dance!” No-one seems to be a bother that day. You are simply blind to judgement because you are just too filled up with joy!
To that end, let’s think about our relationships on a regular day. Are we at times negative, or judgmental? I would think yes and I would even go as far to say that one of the most important relationships we have is with the person we are often most judgmental of – ourselves!
Go back to the dishes example. Normally, we drop our glass and we say, “Ugh, I can’t believe this! How could I be so clumsy? Whats wrong with me?” or we forget about an assignment we had to do, and we think “I’m so irresponsible. When will I ever get it together?” As a whole, we are so hard on ourselves. And to top it off, we think it’s good! We think, if we’re not judging ourselves, we’ll always be…lazy, irresponsible, clumsy, fill in the blank. We think, by being hard on ourselves, we’ll keep ourselves in check and finally get it together. But it’s not true!
Think about how much more you get done on the days you feel empowered by a success, or enriched by something you accomplished? Think about how much easier it is to complete a task when you are thinking, “Wow I’m amazing!” than when you’re thinking, “I can’t do anything right.” Think of that day of total elation. Didn’t you think you could just take on the world? Wasn’t life so much brighter? When we are kind to ourselves we are much more capable and much happier.
In Adar, we are told to increase our simcha. So let’s do that…by being positive and kind – to ourselves! Try in Adar to love yourself, to be compassionate to yourself! Leave personal judgements at the door and see just how much more simcha you suddenly have!
By Ashely Cohen
Ashley Cohen has written about various Jewish women’s topics such as self-esteem, spirituality, and personal growth. She is the author of Inside Out-A Jewish Girl Blog, the advice column in myFYI, a nationally distributed lifestyle magazine, and various articles and videos for publications such as Aish.com. She holds a Master’s degree from Queens College in School Counseling and a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University in Fashion Merchandising, Business, and Creative Writing. She currently lives in Woodmere, New York with her husband and baby where she is pursuing an Advanced Certification in Mental Health Counseling.