Dear Rachel,

Maybe you can help me, as I don’t know what else to do. I have a wonderful life. A great husband, good kids. My husband has a good job, and we have a nice place to live. Sounds amazing, right? Well, I am not happy.

My entire life, I have always been a “grass is greener on the other side” type of person. I keep telling myself that I have nothing to complain about. And there are times that it works. But then there are these moments when I start to think, “What if my life was different?” I conjure up all of these dreams of a different life. These dreams always lead me to believe that everyone’s life is better than mine. Sometimes these fantasies can be quite vivid, and then I start looking at my life and get depressed.

I know that I have to stop this, not only because it is making me miserable, but because it’s causing me to lose out on the life that I have now. I already know that even though I think that everyone has it better than me, it isn’t true, but these feelings are still there. Can you give me any other advice?

Wishing Things Were Different

Dear Wishing,

Wow. This letter must have taken a tremendous amount of courage for you to write. Your honesty and desperation are quite touching, and I appreciate how hard it must have been for you to reach out and ask for help.

Awareness is the first part of appreciation

So, let’s see if I can help you.

First of all, you should know that your complaint is very common. In today’s age of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, we are able to keep in touch with others like never before. However, while these can be excellent tools, they can also be quite damaging to people’s sense of happiness and fulfillment. Remember, people always put their best foot forward on these sites, and no one really ever knows what is going on in someone else’s home and mind.

However, that doesn’t really address your issue. Your question lies with you becoming happier with your life now, irrespective of others.

First of all, you are very lucky that you have so many blessings in your life that you are aware of, even if you can’t appreciate them right now. Awareness is the first part of appreciation, so you are on your way. Next, you should take the time to really think about one good thing that is going on in your life every day. Focus on that one aspect, and try and concentrate on it for a few minutes. During that time, think about how you got that, and what you needed to do to get it. Chances are that whatever you choose is something that you thought you once wanted, and now that you have it, be thankful for getting something that you want. Also, spend a few minutes thinking about how different your life would be if you didn’t have that blessing in your life. By doing all this, you will slowly come to appreciate not only the things in your life, but your actual life.

Remember that Hashem doesn’t give us anything we don’t need for our personal development. Additionally, there is a saying in Ethics of Our Fathers (4:1), “Who is rich? One who is happy with his lot.” What does this mean? On the surface, it may seem to be referring to personal wealth; however, the deeper meaning is for someone who is not materially rich, but spiritually and emotionally rich. This wealth can come only from the knowledge By finding one or two things that you are excited about, that energy will spill over into other areas of your lifethat you are given everything that you need, and by knowing this, you can truly be happy with what you have.

Of course, there may be some things that are truly making you unhappy, so try and figure out if any of these things are within your power to change. Maybe you need to get a job to feel better? Or, take a class in something that you always wanted to learn. Find something that will help ignite the passion that you are lacking right now. By finding one or two things that you are excited about, that energy will spill over into other areas of your life as well.

If you feel that your depression is overpowering, it may be a good idea to speak with your doctor and/or a competent therapist to determine if counseling and/or medication may be necessary to alleviate some of your symptoms.

I hope that you achieve the contentment you are longing for.

Rachel