Some Implications of Simcha:
Loving Your Life
Relationship Workshop: Jewish Insights to Strengthen Your Relationships
Purim Edition: Jews and Booze
מצוה גדולה להיות בשמחה תמיד.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov:
It is a great mitzvah to always be in a state of happines.
Does this sound like a Jewish idea to you? Does it sound like a mitzvah?
How can you be happy, positive and optimistic if that is just not who you are?
Alan Morinis, Gratitude: Hakarat HaTov
When you open up to the trait of gratitude, you see clearly how much good there is in your life. Gratitude affirms. Of course there will be things you are still lacking, and in reaching for gratitude no one is saying you ought to put on rose-colored glasses to obscure those shortcomings. But most of us tend to focus so heavily on the deficiencies in our lives that we barely perceive the good that counterbalances them.
This condition is especially common among we who live in a world permeated by advertising that constantly reveals to us all the things we don't have -- and tells us how satisfied we would be with ourselves and our lives, if only we would buy their product.
There is no limit to what we don't have, and if that is where we focus, then our lives are inevitably filled with endless dissatisfaction. This is the ethos that lies behind the great Talmudic proverb which asks, "Who is rich?" and then answers, "Those who rejoice in their own lot." (Avot 4:1)
Alan Morinis, Gratitude: Hakarat HaTov, Jewish Pathways, http://www.jewishpathways.com/mussar-program/gratitude
According to the Torah, how did the world’s first couple meet? And what does the Torah mean to tell us through this story?
Talk It Out
- Have you ever gotten drunk to the point where you did not know the difference between a good and wicked person? Was that a holy state to be in?
- Why do you think Rava believes that a person should become drunk on Purim?
These lines from the Talmud argue that a feeling of connection with the Divine emerges from moments of true happiness. The Talmud frames this as the joy that emerges from a mitzvah, perhaps from the uplifting feeling of accomplishment or gratitude that comes from having done something to improve the world or yourself. Have you ever had a moment of joy that led to a feeling of being spiritually or religiously connected? Do you have a sense of how you might be able to cultivate moments like that in your life?
The realization that "there is a time for all things" as Ecclesiastes states may help us live our lives more attuned to the emotional possibilities inherent in different moments. Just as moments of sadness or stress cause us to mourn or complain, we must make space for laughing and dancing when there is cause to celebrate. How do you ensure that you make space for celebration in your life? What do you do to recognize these moments of joy?
This blessing, one of seven that constitutes the traditional Jewish wedding liturgy, takes us through a full list of adjectives to describe the joy one feels at such an occasion. Marriage is one of those happy occasions when the "cheer and delight" overflow beyond the couple and the family and the sounds of rejoicing spread through the entire community. What celebratory moments do you think bring the entire community together in happiness?
In this Talmudic story, Rabbi Beroka is given access to the secret knowledge of who among a crowd of people is destined for life in the world to come. Among the few who make the cut are the jesters - those whose job it is to "cheer up those who are sad." Jester isn't usually counted among the "helping professions," but it is clear in this story that they help make the world a better place. To what degree is bringing happiness to the world a part of your career or career plans? How else might we incorporate this goal into our lives?
In this video experiment, the organizers test out the theory that gratitude has the capacity to make people really happy. Watch what happens when people write about the person to whom they are the most grateful in life, and then call that person to share what they have written. To whom are you most grateful? Does recognizing that gratitude make you feel noticeably happier?
Discovered: The Happiest Man in the world
by Catherine Rampell
NYTimes, March 5, 2011
Meet Alvin Wong. He is a 5-foot-10, 69-year-old, Chinese-American, Kosher-observing Jew, who’s married with children and lives in Honolulu. He runs his own health care management business and earns more than $120,000 a year.
Reached by phone at his home on Friday (and referred to The Times by a local synagogue), Mr. Wong said that he was indeed a very happy person. He said that perhaps he manages to be the happiest man in America because “my life philosophy is, if you can’t laugh at yourself, life is going to be pretty terrible for you.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Gallup, the polling company, regularly conducts surveys to find out what people consider to be the key components of a happy life. The NYTimes asked Gallup to put together a statistical composite of the happiest person, and this is what they discovered. What do you think makes Wong so happy? Which components of his life seem to you to be important to overall happiness, and which do not?