Celebrate your life today. This is such a fundamental idea that I couldn't help but get excited and share!
אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר ׀ לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֪ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד וּבְמוֹשַׁ֥ב לֵ֝צִ֗ים לֹ֣א יָשָֽׁב׃
Happy / Praiseworthy is the person who does not follow wicked council, and in the path of the misaligned he does not stand, and does not sit in the company of the scoffers.
The first word of this verse, Ashrei, is hard to translate into English. The Zohar describes it as seeing the world through an elevated lens, a higher perspective. The Rishonim debate whether or not it means meaningful joy or worthy of praise, or in our language happy or successful. Do you want to be happy and fulfilled? Do you want to be great and successful?
Dovid Hamelech shared an awesome secret with us. If you want to have osher – to feel fulfilled, be successful and see the world with the right perspective, close your heart to negativity. Don’t listen to wrong minded thinking anymore. Any thought that you have that disconnects you from Hashem, from feeling positive and loving, is derailing you from your soul. Don’t follow those thoughts.
This is how the Sefas Emes understands the wicked council, that is, it doesn’t simply mean what negative influences around you may suggest. It means your Yetzer hara thoughts. Thinking that is negative, ego, and lust driven. Pay attention to when you’re complaining, casting judgment, feeling jealous, fear, or lust. All of these thoughts cut you off from being aligned with your true self.
Nevertheless, when you do go down the rabbit hole and follow these thoughts, and you will because nobody is perfect, just stop. Rav Moshe Dovid Volle says that when you catch yourself, immediately stop and admit your thinking is off. Return to your connection to Hashem, to faith, and positivity because that is who you really are. This is the meaning of “don’t stand” in the place of the misaligned.
The verse ends off by telling us not to sit in the place of scoffers. The Admor Ha’emtzai of Chabad explains that even if periodically you do in fact get stuck in the darkness, just remember not to fall into the trap of poking fun at being positive, light, and loving. So long as you keep in mind that it’s the real you, the great version of you, the happy you, you will get yourself back on track.
The great student of the Baal Shem Tov, the Toldos Yaakov Yosef, gives some great advice on exactly how do to do. He says that you should use your emotions as your measuring stick of how spiritually healthy or unhealthy you are at any given moment. Kedusha is when you are connected and flowing and it feels like joy and enthusiasm. Tuma is being cut off and blocked and it feels like negativity, frustration, laziness, anxiety and depression.
Here are his four steps to re-alignment.
1. Be honest with yourself and admit how you’re behaving, feeling, and thinking. Admit that you’re out of alignment with your neshama.
2. Acknowledge that you had lost control and desire to return to being your true self.
3. Know that Hashem can do for you what you can’t do for yourself and even if it feels like a miracle to turn yourself around, Hashem can do it for you.
4. Daven for a new way to think and see the world and commit to following through as best as you can.
King David has given us some great insight on how to live a better life; a life that is both empowered and joyful. Let’s take on the day with revitalized energy and clarity on exactly who we want to be and the type of day we want to have. Only blessings.