Everybody’s idea of happiness is different. (For some clues about how different, take a handful of buzzworthy quizzes.) Your idea of relaxation might be a four-star beach; your friend’s could be backpacking. You might aspire to being a musician or a CEO. Another’s dream is being a priest, a seeker whose job is to make ritual and to bless.
This reading tells us about the seven-day purification process for Aaron and his sons to become priests. But because I think this whole story is really about/for us, it suggests how to shed whatever’s keeping you from living not just holier but happier.
So, what would make you happy?
Most folks want to change something: from their bodies to a bad job, an unhappy relationship, or an unhealthy habit. We hope the payoff will be a better life, a good life. I’d like to expand the “good life” to be more than a satisfied sense of achievement and self-indulgence. I’d like it to include goodness in the moral and ethical sense.
One of my favorite bumpers stickers has always been If you want peace work for justice. Collectives, whether they’re tribes, nations, or political parties, tend to have goals that seem complicated. Individuals are easier. They mostly want to be happy. To not have to fret about safety, love, or money. To know the bills will get paid, that there’ll be food on the table, and that the house and kids are squared away. That there’s hope for the future.
Social equity breeds peace. Happy people are less likely to fight or kill.
If you decided to initiate yourself as a happier person, what would it take? Making and keeping vows? Making more time for your own priorities? Doing more for others? How would you do it and how will you know when you’re there?
The classic Buddhist answer is to shed desire. But for most of us there’s always one more nagging gimme, big or small, profound or silly.. The classic Jewish answer is similar: be happy with the life you’ve got. See everything that happens to you–no matter how undeserved or painful it may sometimes feel–as a chance to step up and show your faith.
Those may be the enlightened views, but small steps are a great start. Happiness with ourselves can amplify our caring and compassion for our friends and neighbors. And happier, more satisfied, people make this a better planet to hang out on.
We’ve all seen zillions of internet and email promises of Just 10 steps to [insert goal]. They generally include buying vitamins or pills, CDs, or books. But what if, as this reading suggests, taking seven days to focus on initiation could actually change you. Commit to doing any one thing, and actually stick to it. You might not become a priest, but what if you could become more/less _____________?
What if you committed to one change for the next seven days, just to see how you’d feel on the other side? Nothing dramatic, just a single right step, repeated consistently. I’m going to do it, and pay good attention along the way. Please join me.