My Never-Ending Journey to Happiness
By: Devorah Sisso
Six years ago, I set off on a journey...
I closed a 9-year-long chapter in Israel, sold everything I owned—everythingggg—packed a few suitcases, said my goodbyes to everyone that had walked alongside me till then, cried and kissed the wall that had been my rock for close to a decade, got on the back of a tender (airport shuttle) with my family and took off, into the unknown...
Back then, I thought I had a plan for the life I envisioned for myself. The script was very clear in my mind. It went something like this: Arrive in New York, rent an apartment, get an awesome job, sign my kids up for school, and live happily ever after, with my family and Target close by.
I remember the nerves I felt throughout my body, and the worry that gripped my heart, when what I thought was going to happen simply did not. In fact, the opposite of everything I had hoped for was happening instead...
Life as I knew it began to unravel, each day a little more. Feelings of failure and insecurity took the place of certainty and strength. Every morning, I woke up with a pit in my stomach, tears in my eyes and deep dissatisfaction in my heart. I lived every day believing that I had it bad, that G-d was unfair with me, that people didn’t get me, and I would be alone in this prison called my life.
I kept going about my life in a normal way, fulfilling all of my daily responsibilities. I would learn and teach Torah and deliver talks of inspiration and motivation, and when my listeners would praise me for how wonderful they felt after hearing my classes, I would feel that at least I was doing something worthwhile for others, because everything I was learning and teaching wasn’t cutting it for me.
About two years after touching down in JFK, I had an incredible breakthrough—really it was more like a breakdown, which then brought about the breakthrough.
At the time, I was living back in the house I had grown up in, sleeping in the room I had slept in as a young girl—only now with 2 small children under the age of 3, no money, no job, and a status that made me cringe whenever I thought about saying it to others: newly divorced.
The dreadful feelings I'd wake up to and go to bed with were already sadly familiar, only now there was this added dimension of embarrassment, as I was no longer a part of the "normal" community of people I knew.
Feelings of failure haunted me for months on end...I had failed at making my marriage work, I had failed at providing a stable life for my two kids, I had failed at being the woman I had expected myself to be and become. Negative, self-destructive thoughts poured in from every direction, and I believed every one of them. After all, if I thought it, then it must be true, right?
One day, a few months after my divorce, I hit rock-bottom in my mind. I broke down and cried deeply, beseeching G-d to help me. I no longer wanted to feel like I was a prisoner of life; I wanted to live it, I wanted to be happy again...I didn't believe it would actually happen for me after so many years of pain, but I knew one thing for sure, and that was that Hashem listens to those who call out to Him in truth, so here I was, calling out in total truth and vulnerability. In that moment, I begged Him to show me the way out. I was no longer willing to suffer the abuse of my own thoughts and feelings—thoughts reinforcing my failures, focusing ONLY on what wasn't working out, highlighting the vast distance of where I was in respect to where I should've been at my age. I understood that my perception of reality was precisely what was holding me prisoner, and I wanted OUT!
"קרוב השם לכל קוראיו לכל אשר יקראוהו באמת"—G-d listens intently to anyone who calls out to Him in all honesty.
He always listens, but something else happens when you call to Him with nothing and no one else to depend on as a plan B.
That’s when I had a major breakthrough.
I felt a surge of energy and motivation to climb out of the dark hole I was in. I dedicated most of my days to the process of learning and healing. I listened to classes online and went to therapy, but still came up with very little. I was determined to find a solution, because I wasn’t prepared to accept life as it was anymore. There’s a quote I read which summed up my feelings at the time. It read, "Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change." I needed a change ASAP!! I began researching Jewish texts that spoke of the mind and its power, and suddenly, I discovered a world of information which I never knew existed.
This knowledge blew my mind, and I quickly began following the recipe that eventually changed my entire life.
I started waking up earlier and happier, and most importantly, the sinking feeling in my gut had disappeared. The more I practiced the steps in shifting my thoughts and training my mind, the better I felt; suddenly life began to deliver in ways it hadn’t in many, many years.
I began teaching this work, and soon, women from all around the world were calling in to take part in what turned into a 6-part course on mind-training, called “BREAKTHROUGH”!!
The secret to life is knowing that pain and hardship are part and parcel of it. Confusion, loss, loneliness, betrayal, hurt, sadness, etc. are all emotions that we will experience in our lives, just as we get to experience happiness, security, love, inspiration, connection and success. It’s all part of being alive; it's a packaged deal. Pain is a friend; it's a pal that forces a person to regroup and re-establish what's important in life, as well as what needs to be let go of.
From all of my searching, I found one very profound understanding—and that is that I am my greatest investment! I can learn to value myself more by investing in myself, whether through learning, taking a class/course on self-development, speaking to a life coach, healer or therapist, making better food choices, exercising, drinking water and most importantly, making my way out of behaviors that are self-destructive and self-harming on whatever level. These harming/addictive behaviors—i.e. thinking/speaking negatively of yourself, eating unhealthy foods and not taking good care of your body, being involved with people that don’t see or value you (they don’t because you don’t, by the way), and by simply not honoring yourself and what is yours—send out a loud message to the world that YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT IMPORTANT OR VALUABLE ENOUGH for anything meaningful to come into your life! In training yourself to treat yourself with the honor and respect that YOU DESERVE, will in turn bring out your true beauty to the world around you, and then you will naturally be attracting those things that you've long hoped for.
I learned that wherever you put your focus—that is what’s going to become pronounced in your life. If you focus on your problems, they'll get even bigger and scarier and more confusing than they already are. If you sit and mourn the life you should be having, the work you should have done, the opportunities you missed and the lack of progress in your current situation, then you can just expect to receive more and more of what you’re presently receiving—emotional and mental paralysis.
Just imagine standing in front of a buffet, with an empty plate in hand, and whatever you put on your plate is your meal for the evening.
I made my life about this understanding; what I choose to put on my plate (in my mind, in my life), I will be chewing on for a long while. This awareness opened my eyes enough for me to begin making the changes necessary. I began to think of ways to make myself healthier by incorporating the things I know are beneficial in making me a better version of myself.
I started by changing my focus from what I didn’t have to what I did have. I listened to a class a day, got into yoga, hired a life coach, ate healthier, and made sure to say thank you to G-d numerous times an hour for the myriad of blessings in my life. I created mantras that would empower me, and stopped playing the old, broken records that depleted me of my energy. Most importantly, I stopped looking for someone to blame for my lot in life, and instead started taking responsibility for myself where I was right now, and making sure I was moving slowly and steadily in a better direction.
In a nutshell, I treated myself as a priority and not as a punching bag!
Over a considerably short amount of time, I began to see improvements—big ones and small ones. As I began to wake up happier and calmer, my business started to pick up speed, my day-to-day became a lot more enjoyable and the walls around my heart started melting, allowing for great opportunities to come my way.
Today, as l sit in my cozy Rechovot apartment in the holy land of Israel, I reflect back on the last 6 years, and I see so clearly how every step along my path was divinely orchestrated, how every tear and fear guided me toward my higher self. Today, I look back and feel overwhelming gratitude for every ounce of pain and discomfort; it's only because of them that I found myself.
This month of Adar is all about happiness. According to Kabbalah, happiness is a vessel that we can create by the choices we make in our minds and by where we choose to put our focus—on the thing that isn't working or on what is. Knowing how to create more blessing is an art, but once you follow the steps to self-development, positive thinking, gratitude, and emotional well-being, then those vessels of happiness are formed, and all the abundance and blessings can be poured right into your life.
It's worth taking a peek outside of your comfort zone, outside of the same thoughts, same emotions, same eating habits and same self-defeating mantras, so you can find all the happiness and shefa which you've been so desperately searching for.
is an internationally acclaimed Torah educator, motivational speaker and life-coach. Born in Israel and raised in the United States, she has a gift for connecting with Jews from all walks of life. Her energetic and soulful presentations have inspired literally thousands of people from across the Jewish spectrum, ranging from college students and Birthright participants to seminary students and young professionals. Devorah is especially known for her INCREDIBLE life story and her well-known BREAKTHROUGH Series, a 6-part training course on the power of the mind and the "Law of Attraction", based strictly on Judaic sources. Devorah has since developed BREAKTHROUGH II, a deeper look into the inner workings of the Nefesh and how to heal it through a Kabbalistic technique called Ein Habdolach. Devorah is widely regarded as one of the well known "stars" in the field of Jewish education. She recently moved to Israel with her family. Her recorded lectures can be found online on her YouTube channel, "Torah by Devorah", and on TorahAnytime.com. More information about Devorah and free video classes can be viewed on her website www.Devorahspeaks.com.