I wake up every morning with a song running through my head. I never know what song it’s going to be, or if it will be in English or Hebrew. And I never know why that particular song has planted itself in my mind.

This morning’s was particularly odd. It was the children’s song, “If you’re happy and you know it.”

As I walked my dog with the upbeat ditty running through my head, I realized that I am very happy right now. I’m happy that my house and neighborhood were not affected by the huge storm that blew through last night. I’m happy that my little rescue dog is learning to trust me. I’m happy that the great blue heron who was standing by a nearby pond stayed still for me to take a photo.

And most of all, on this grey and windy morning, I’m happy to be alive.

Usually the first thing I say on waking is the morning gratitude prayer, Modeh ani lifanecha ruach chai, “I am grateful before you, Breath of life.” I didn’t say it today, but I think this song was a viable replacement.

As simple as the song is, it brings a deeper message. If you’re happy, and you know it, do something to show it. Clap you hands, shout hooray, and more.  But first you have to know that you’re happy.

Knowing that we’re happy, something that seems so simple, can be challenging. We get caught up in the things that upset up – politics, pandemics, personal and societal problems. It is easy to forget that we have so much to be happy about. The simple facts of having a roof over our heads, clean clothes, plentiful food.

I am writing this on a Friday morning, so Shabbat is almost here. And this Shabbat is the one in which we read the Song of the Sea, the song that the Children of Israel sang after they crossed the Reed Sea, successfully fleeing from the pursuing Egyptian army. It was the beginning of their freedom, and they celebrated by singing the first song recorded in the Bible.

But happiness doesn’t only come in the big moments.  Take a moment and ask yourself: What makes me happy? Think about the little things and the big ones. And  remember the next line of the song – “then your face will surely show it” – and give yourself permission to plaster a huge smile on your face.


This may or may not be a great blue heron. I had to crop the photo to fit on the page; the original is pretty spectacular, because this bird is pretty spectacular.