Why Be Happy?

Yesterday evening JJ felt pretty miserable. Several times he fell asleep on the couch, but then woke a short time later. A few times he had dry heaves. “How long will I feel so bad?” he asked. “How do I get through this?” I told him that we’d manage the best we could, and he WOULD get through this, and he’d probably start feeling better in a day or two.

On the way home from the Cancer Center yesterday, we dropped off JJ’s newest prescription at the Pharmacy. Because JJ was feeling so sick, we didn’t stay to get it filled. Instead, EJ picked it up on his way to work. The nurse had told us that we could give this third anti-nausea medication to JJ at bedtime and it would probably make him sleep all night. She said that I wouldn’t need to wake up in the middle of the night to give JJ his primary med–I could just give it to him went he woke in the morning. So when EJ came home from work, I gave JJ his new med and he did sleep through the night.

Today JJ is still feeling very unwell. 😦

I have been thinking a lot about our roommates yesterday. They made me ponder a lot of interconnected thoughts.

I thought of a portion of Pirkei Avot. Pirkei Avot, which means “Ethics of the Fathers” in Hebrew, is a collection of ancient Jewish ethics and advice. I have studied this book with a group of Messianic Jews and Gentiles like me who love Hebraic teaching. I love Hebraic teaching because it is so practical and there are so many “on the one hand” and “but on the other hand” thoughts. Two opposite things can both be true at the same time, and we have to stay centered between two extremes. There really is a lot of thoughts to think and extremes to live balanced between. I love it. So this post is about different perspectives that were stirred up by our roommates.

One of the bits of wisdom from Pirkei Avot is “judge everyone favorably.” In other words, we don’t always know the whole story so we ought to give others the benefit of the doubt and see them in the best possible light. It could be that our unfriendly roommates had had an awful week, or were in terrible pain, or felt overwhelmed by additional bad news of the woman’s cancer. Who knows?

But Pirkei Avot also teaches “Don’t associate with a bad neighbor.” We are to choose to view people through the best possible perspective. If someone is usually sweet or truthful but appears one day to be nasty or untruthful, we are to give them the benefit of the doubt and consider that maybe they are having a bad day or that the situation is not as it appears. However, if someone consistently lies, is rude, is abusive, etc., we are not to associate with him because that is who he is, a part of his character, and not merely a result of a bad day.

I also pondered that while we all have bad days, or grumpiness, or misery, and we just can’t take any more….our actions do profoundly affect others. On the one hand, I think we must give our roommates the benefit of the doubt and consider that there might be an underlying reason for their unfriendliness that we know nothing about. On the other hand, their unfriendliness caused our own suffering to deepen and made our very difficult week even more difficult. In their desire for privacy, they could have still acknowledged us with a nod or smile that would have conveyed friendliness rather than hostility. We have encountered people who have suffered deeply but still have a kind word for others.

This made me think of a video from Prager University called “Why Be Happy.” It discusses the idea that our negative moods can profoundly affect the people around us and bring them down. While I believe that we can be honest about our lives, and that we all occasionally have bad days, I also believe that we are interconnected and a negative attitude can bring down those around us.  We all have a responsibility to do our best not to spread our negative attitudes and increase the suffering of those around us. I like a Jewish saying that says “All Israel is responsible for each other.” This is about Israel, of course, but I do think there is a sense in which people ought not to just live for themselves, they also must live for each other.

These are the thoughts I am thinking today.

All morning the snow has been softly falling. It is very peaceful and beautiful. We are so glad we don’t have to go anywhere. We are enjoying the day of rest.

2 Comments on “Why Be Happy?

  1. Hope Teri you will have a bless full weekend and I do hope and pray that JJ is feeling less bad as the past days. I had ti speak today in a church and mentioned your story also. But Teri this is as I feel no longer a place for me. I saw it like being working but I felt so very strange in a church on sunday . Since I celebrate Shabbat for a few years now. I feel so completely different and even don;t know hów to feel there. I think my message about feeling completely broken and what the only way out of it is did came trough but I think that I can’t do this anymore. Felt like not being a part of it. And believe me I’m not someone who is really all that strict about everything. But I have a changed life that I felt so clearly this morning. Love you all ❤


  2. I am sure that our Abba was able to use you even though you felt uncomfortable (He is very skilled at that), but I can completely empathize with your “not fitting in.” We have celebrated Shabbat for a few years now, and it just feels “right” to our spirits, like everything finally fit into place. I love Shabbat.


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