Don't worry. Be happy.

A beautiful philosophy in charmingly simple words.

But is it realistic? What if I have stresses that I can't ignore? Should I stick my head in the sand and just smile?

Happiness isn't that simple. Happiness is a frame of mind, and it's deceptively difficult to achieve - and maintain - that mindset.

Happiness doesn't mean buoyant frivolity. That's temporary and it isn't deep. To me, happiness means a genuine inner peace and balance; it means that my world makes sense.

So I'm not talking about artificially-inspired joy (alcohol, etc.), nor externally-stimulated joy, i.e. a great party. Those might make me feel good, but I'm not experiencing a genuine, internal happiness; I may simply be numbing my unhappy self with external forces.

So how do I achieve a happy frame of mind?

When I feel that my life has purpose, and that the things I do are genuinely in the service of that purpose, I'm on the road to happiness.

I may still be working hard, and dealing with difficult situations. But if I'm living for a worthy goal, I feel internally balanced and happy.

But this purpose needs to be:

  1. Something I truly value.
  2. Something which is genuinely a deep-seated purpose of mine (not just a side beneficiary of my life efforts).
  3. Something substantial and enduring.

For all the above reasons, I don't believe I can be happy building sand castles. I need a more genuine anchor.

Raising a psychologically and spiritually healthy family is one good example. If I set my family as my goal, and build my world around their healthy growth, that can bring me inner peace.

If I go to work to provide for them, and they're not just the beneficiaries of my career, I can maintain inner peace in the face of challenge. I can endure significant stress because I'm doing it for a higher purpose. For them.

In Judaism, holiness is the purpose which can bring balance to all of life. So if I believe that I and my actions truly matter to G‑d, if I believe that my every action can change me or my world for good, that every action is cosmic and enduring in a true sense, then I can have a genuine inner peace.

The stresses are there. But I believe that embracing these stresses and accepting them wholeheartedly is itself a part of my soul's growth and maturation. Each moment can become an eternally shining nugget of meaning.

How can we not be happy?