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Turning Depression into Happiness

It’s one thing not to be depressed, and quite another to be happy. But the Rebbe tells us to turn the actual depression into happiness. Huh? How do we do that? Read on to see the Rebbe’s detailed instructions.

The Rebbe encouraged someone to be happy, and he told him that it is worthy that he should rejoice with Hashem. “Even if you don’t know the greatness of Hashem, but you can rely on me, because I know His greatness… And it is also worthy that you should rejoice with me, that you have merited to have such a Rebbe.” He also encouraged him to rejoice even with mundane things, and he told him, “It is surely so, that in the beginning one must make themselves happy with worldly things, whatever he can, and after that one comes to true simcha.”
(שיחות הר"ן קע"ז)

…Food and feasting are a great reason to make the heart rejoice and to distance depression and worries.

)ספר המידות, שמחה(

On the subject of simcha, through a mashal: Sometimes when people are dancing and rejoicing, they grab someone from the outside who is depressed and gloomy, and pull him into the circle of dancers against his will. And they force him to rejoice with them too, although he doesn’t want to.

So too in the subject of happiness. Because when a person is happy then his depression and troubles stand by the side. But an even greater level is - to work to chase after the depression specifically and pull it into the happiness, so that the depression itself should turn into happiness. He should turn the depression and troubles into joy, in the manner of one who becomes happy: out of great happiness and joy, all his worries, depression and gloominess turn to happiness. So we see that he grabs the depression and pulls it into the happiness, against its wishes, like the mashal.

(ליקוטי מוהר"ן תנינא כ"ג)

And it is easy to find within all troubles and worries some kind of relief which one can use to turn the depression into happiness, which is the main shleimus of simcha.

(קיצור לקוטי מוהר"ן כ"ג)

That which you wrote about that when troubles and confusion come over a person, it is impossible to feel Hashem’s kindness, and only afterwards when they alleviate somewhat do we see the wondrous kindness of Hashem. I know this from a long time already, and I also spoke about it to the Rebbe himself, and he told that that it is true, but even though, his intention was that a person should strengthen themselves specifically while it is very hard for him, to find some kind of relief, until he’ll feel Hashem’s kindness and wonder especially then. And he should at least believe in them with complete faith that Hashem is surely good to everyone at all times, and He already helped him lots of times before, and He surely won’t leave him now too. And this is the main battle; to turn the sadness and sighing specifically into happiness and joy.

(עָלִים לִתְרוּפָה, רנא)

Yidden always have what to rejoice with: that we have merited to be in Hashem’s lot, and to believe in Him that everything is according to His will, which is the main happiness. Because when we know and truly believe that everything is only according to Hashem’s will, we’ll surely rejoice and be happy constantly, because Hashem’s intention is surely always for our good, for ‘everything that Hashem does is for the good.’

)ליקוטי הלכות חושן משפט א-ערב ג:-אות כ(

The Rebbe was once talking to me (Reb Nosson) about avodas Hashem, and he said: “A person mustn’t give in to Hashem!” "מֶע טָאר נִיט דֶעם אֵייבֶּערְשְׁטְן נָאךְ גֶעבִּין" As if to say that when Hashem helps a little, a person shouldn’t say that Hashem has already given him whatever he needs and he doesn’t need to beg Him anymore, because he hasn’t yet received a complete salvation. He still needs to hope for help, confess, and increasingly beg and yearn that Hashem should help him more and more.

Then he said, “But to you we mustn’t say this, for you need to always be happy.” As if to say that if we’ll pursue thoughts of what we still need when Hashem sends us slight relief, then depression and gloominess will come over us chas veshalom. And this middah of depression is the most damaging to our avodas Hashem. Every person must strengthen themselves to always be happy no matter what. Therefore, even when a person is in pain and far from Hashem, they must strengthen themselves to be happy, and make themselves happy in any way possible, through finding a good point in themselves, and through the fact that they were not created a goy, and to turn all sadness and sighing and pain and troubles into happiness. To say, even if I am like I am, but I merited being a Yid, and fulfilling some mitzos every day; tzitzis, tefillin, Krias Shema, tzedakah and so on… And even if my mitzvos are like they are, but they still have good points which cause great glory and pleasure to Hashem; even through mitzvos done by sinners. Because as long as a person is called a Yid, Hashem has much pleasure from him... There are many, many wondrous ways to make yourself rejoice, no matter what…

And usually, a person must make themselves happy with milsa d’shtusa, to make jokes in order to make themselves happy. Usually, it is only possible to make yourself happy through this, because depression and gloominess strengthen themselves over a person most of all; it is the hardest middah to break, and it is also the most damaging of all. A person’s distance from Hashem is mainly only due to depression. Therefore, a person must see to make themselves happy with all their strength, even when a person is pressured and constrained materially and spiritually, whether in sustenance for the body, or for the soul. Therefore, a person must see to always trust in Hashem that in the end, Hashem won’t forsake him forever chalilah, and make themselves happy with whatever possible. All the more so when Hashem gives him some relief in his suffering, and he has some respite, they must surely constantly be happy and increasingly rejoice. Understand these words well, for the Rebbe’s words are very deep. And the main depth is to understand these words to fulfil them with complete simplicity.

)חיי מוהר"ן תקצ"ג)

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