Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Readers,

Purim, and the joy it brings with it, is now over. With Pesach coming soon, we are all overwhelmed in various ways. While some are overwhelmed with hosting children and grandchildren, others are overwhelmed with not having a place to really be comfortable. Those who have the money are still overwhelmed with how to use it for Pesach. Those who struggle financially are thinking about how they will actually make a nice Pesach with all the requirements. In every situation there are challenges. Taking a step back, I realize, “Happiness is a Choice.” We all have challenges. However it is how we view these challenges and how we handle them which makes all the difference. If we see our brochos and value them we will ultimately be happy. While it is hard to host a large family, we can step back and say, “Thank you Hashem for my amazing family!” We can find joy in our children and grandchildren and try to view this opportunity as a bracha. While it is difficult to feel that we have nowhere to be, we can find the best solution and make the best of it, finding joy in whatever situation we arrange. If we have parnassah and can do whatever suits us best, we need to be thankful for the choices we have and the ability to use it as needed. If parnassah is tough and making Pesach is a challenge, we need to focus on our other brachos and try to find happiness in what we do have. None of this is easy, but changing our perspectives can be a game changer in life.


Are you choosing happiness? Are you focusing only on your problems? Or are you focusing on all the blessings that Hashem has given you? In life we all get challenges. However, we must make a choice. It is how we cope with our difficulties that makes the difference.

In his famous book Man In Search of Meaning, Victor Frankl writes about surviving the Holocaust. Frankl decided to find meaning in life by trying to use his suffering to make himself a better person. According to Frankl, while a man’s destiny in life is affected by his circumstances in which he finds himself, he is ultimately free to choose the path in his life. Even in the worst situation possible, man always has the freedom to choose his attitude towards life. According to Frankl there are three ways to find meaning through work, through love, and through suffering. Frankl motivated himself to live by thinking of rewriting a manuscript that the Nazis took from him. The image of his wife also kept him alive. Man should try to find meaning and purpose in his life. Every human has the capacity to change his attitude and behavior in every possible situation. Frankl reaffirms this belief of tragic optimism and saying yes in spite of everything.

I meet all kinds of people in life. There are those who wallow in self-pity and are depressed about their circumstances. While others rise above difficult situations and even find ways to grow and help others in spite of their difficulties.

Life is a choice. We can’t choose our nisyonot but we can choose how we deal with them. It is difficult to be positive when you feel challenged by life. However, you will be a very lonely person if you are negative and depressed. People run away from negative people. People gravitate to positive loving people.

What happens when someone is negative and beats you down? “Don’t React – Act” The negative person unfortunately derives joy in making you miserable. When you react in a positive manner to a negative person, he or she loses their ability to control you. Suddenly, they realize that their negativity is not going to affect you. You will not engage in the negative cycle. This actually empowers you as a person.

When someone screams at you and you answer calmly and positively, you are winning the battle by answering a negative with a positive. As you read my letter to my readers I hope that these ideas change the way you deal with your lives. Everyone gets challenges. It is incumbent upon us to change the way we react to these challenges. May Hashem give us the koach we need to deal with the challenges He gives us and may we all find happiness and joy in our lives!


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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to [email protected]. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at