What is happiness? We live in a society that has taught us to think that “if I have this” or “when I have this”, then I will be happy. If only I got this job, then I’ll be happy. If only I have a nice, beautiful house, then I’ll be happy.
Modern day happiness has been reduced to a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s seen as a goal or a destination. With the Jewish High Holidays and the new year upon us, I’d love to share the Kabbalah approach to happiness, which is exactly the opposite of the first paragraph. By listening to a couple of spiritual podcasts including the Weekly Energy Boost, hosted by The Kabbalah Centre, I realized that happiness is actually the human starting point for Jewish culture.
Kabbalah is an ancient spiritual wisdom that empowers us to improve our lives, discover our purpose, and achieve the lasting fulfillment we are meant to receive. The Kabbalah can be studied by anyone regardless of their faith or path.
Happiness is a commitment to an outlook that fills us no matter what the outcome is. As a Jewish woman, I choose a happy attitude at the outset, bringing a joyous energy into my daily life and every little thing I do. Even things I don’t necessarily enjoy, like washing the dishes, or taking the garbage out.
Another “happy” podcast that I enjoy tremendously is hosted by Yale professor Laurie Santos, called the Happiness Lab. My attitude is: I want to be happy first, and then get to work. Easier said than done, especially when life throws obstacles and difficulties at us, like Covid, unemployment, political crises, etc—and that’s just the beginning. They are real. Other times, we are our own worst mental enemies. I’ve learned to detect when I become my enemy and decided that I can monitor my feelings if I can learn to discipline my thoughts. Over the years, I have accumulated a couple of usable tips to recharge our happiness battery:
THE WORLD WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY
Yes, it’s true. This universe wants us to bring our positive energy and share with everyone around us. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, that thing is also looking for you. Data suggests that happiness even builds your immune system.
The Kabbalah approach to joy sees happiness as a foundation, regardless of the outcome. In other words, it’s the journey that matters and not the result. Life is hard, but life is also wonderful. When we start with joy, we invite the divine presence and energy into our lives.
GIVING AS A PATH TO JOY
Especially during these dark days that we’re living, it’s easy to find comfort in sadness and depression and settle into a dark void.
When you do someone else a favor, you may be helping yourself as well, because when you give, you create light, which helps dispel that dark void of sadness.
In other words, are you felling sad? Give! Bake cookies and give to your neighbor. Make a soup and feed your family. Give time to someone you love. Give attention to a person who needs it. Be in service with a supportive attitude as the act of giving will help you deal with sadness.
Words are powerful. The narrative you tell yourself and you tell the world impacts your thoughts and feelings. Choose your words carefully. Be sure to use positive language for your own self talk and reinforce it by saying positive things to other people. And remember always: If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.
GRATITUDE IS THE ABSOLUTE FOUNDATION TO HAPPINESS
When faced with challenging times like this pandemic, it is so easy to focus on all the things that are going wrong. Generating an attitude of gratitude stops the negative madness and puts you back on track by focusing and appreciating the good that we have, if we can just focus on it. Start a gratitude journal. Everyday write three little things that made you happy. It can be silly things like a great salad that you ate. A great conversation that you had with a friend. A piece of good news that you’ve received. When you focus on the good, you bring more of it. When you focus on the bad, you bring more of that. So again, discipline your thoughts and focus on the little things.
THE MOMENT IS NOW
With a long list of things to do, we can easily get overwhelmed by the commitments and the expectations. Take a deep breath. Slow down. Pause and be present. Enjoy what you’re doing right now. Not an hour from now. Not tomorrow. But right now. Realize that being alive is a blessing.
Meditation is a great way to bring this all together by simply asking for it and concentrating on the positive energy that you have inside yourself. You can read a great article about meditation written for Mom and I Today here.
Here are some of my favorite sources for spirituality, positive energy, meditation and finding happiness:
Knowing Clarity by Ana Jardim Messenger
Weekly Energy Boost, by The Kabbalah Centre
The Happiness Lab, by Laurie Santos
A Bit of Optimism, by Simon Sinek