The Bible Says to Rejoice, But Is Happiness Really a Choice?

10/04/2010 05:18 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In the Bible, in a discussion of the Jewish holidays, we find an odd commandment: "And you shall rejoice!" But is happiness really a choice?

You can't command something if it's not a choice. So I've been asking myself: in what way is happiness a choice?

I'm thinking of gratitude. Yes, there are so many reasons to be angry or despondent. There are innocent people suffering across the world. Children don't have enough to eat. Nations are embroiled in wars. Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians still seems like a far off dream. Global warming is real.

And of course there are personal reasons for feeling down. Life is chaotic and uncertain. Love can be elusive. Money is tight. Traffic is awful.

And still the biblical command echoes through time. You shall rejoice. Yes, there are so many reasons to cry, but it would be a crime to ignore all the reasons to dance.

It's so easy to wake up in the morning and say, "I'm having a bad day." You slept through your alarm, the kids are whining, you burned your toast, you spilled coffee on your pants, the freeway is a parking lot. But we all need to stop! Take a look around. The world isn't conspiring against you. What if the world is conspiring for you?

You are alive. You are here in this place at this moment. Take in the blessings that are here. Every one of us is surrounded by them. What are yours? What beauty did you ignore today? Look at the sky. Look at the earth. Listen to the sound of your own breath. Look into the eyes of the person beside you. Feel the strength in your arms and legs. Know the strength of your own spirit. The strength of your convictions. You power to act. You ability to make this world a little better for someone who is counting on you. This whole world is counting on you.

Yes, and then there's your power to choose.

Happiness is a choice. Choose it.