People want to be happy.

Happiness is just around the corner.

They sincerely believe that they're just one, short step away from true satisfaction in life.

If they could just lose that extra pound of weight or get their nose straightened, then they'd have attained perfection. If they finally get that raise they deserve, or win the lottery, then they'll be happy, right?

What would it take for you to be happy?

Single people want spouses. Employees want job satisfaction. Mothers want sleep and sports fans want their team to win the championship.

All valid desires, all justifiable aspirations; but would they make you happy?

Would turning over a new leaf bring me any closer to my goals?We've all met unhappy beauty queens and discontented millionaires. Marriages break up and dream jobs go sour. Sleep gets boring after a while and planning for next season starts the day after the champion is crowned.

I might not be happy doing what I'm doing now, but would turning over a new leaf bring me any closer to my goals? Is life just an endless conveyor belt of unmet expectations?

We Were Once Happy...

An essential part of every wedding is the series of seven blessings, known as the Sheva Berachot, proclaimed under the bridal canopy. (Click here to see the blessings with English translation.)

The relevance of most of them to marriage is obvious: we welcome G‑d to the ceremony and acknowledge Him as Creator. We pray that the marriage should be long-lasting and that the union be blessed with children. We acknowledge the centrality of Israel and Jerusalem in our lives and outlook, and issue a call for friendship and fraternity.

In the sixth blessing we pray for happiness, but we reference that request with a seemingly strange allusion:

Grant abundant joy to these loving friends, as You bestowed gladness upon Your created being [i.e. Adam] in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, L‑rd, who gladdens the groom and bride.

I've always been puzzled by this: why is the ultimate expression of connubial bliss that of Adam, when he wedded Eve, in Eden. Sure, they were living in a paradise, but they had neither clothes nor security. They were beguiled by the serpent of temptation and, all too soon, were summarily ejected into an uncaring world. What did they have to be so happy about?

They were happy because they had each other.

And only each other.

...And We Still Can Be

When entering into a relationship you've got to believe that this is exactly rightMost of us don't have the time or inclination for true contentment because we're too busy gazing off into the distance. Constantly anticipating the newer and bigger thrills that lie ahead distracts us from the gifts we have at hand. We want, we want more and we want it now. But by the time we've obtained that first object of desire, we're already focusing on the next one coming around the corner.

Whatever I've got, whatever I do, wherever I go, I can't help wondering if I couldn't be doing better.

But Adam and Eve had no such misconceptions. He was the only man on the world for her, and she couldn't find a better spouse if she'd tried. He had found his woman of valor and could now afford to devote all his attention to her.

This is not at all the same as closing your eyes and forcing yourself to be content with your lot; that's just self-delusion. Don't try to fool yourself by trying to pretend you don't really want more than you have now, rather, know that there is nothing else to have.

The art of happiness is accepting that what you have been given by G‑d is perfectly calibrated to your personality and needs. When entering into a relationship you've got to believe that this is exactly right, there is nothing else you'd rather be doing. When you acknowledge that, you'll work to succeed in your marriage with all the energy and strength you'll ever have.

The blessing we offer to a new couple is that this day should be the pinnacle of their happiness. And tomorrow again. And then the next day. Because there is nothing and no one else in the world for you, and this knowledge should leave you truly happy.