The Science of Happiness

1115scienceofhappyHappiness is firmly ingrained in Jewish tradition. In fact, when we evaluate the newest scientific research on happiness, we can correlate much of its findings with the Jewish way of life. Judaism encourages community participation filled with food and tradition while research shows us that those involved in community are happier people. Judaism prescribes family values, relationships, celebrations and working through loss according to accepted rituals. The science of happiness shows us that strong family relationships and supporting one another through loss, helps us to adopt a happier outlook toward life. Our Jewish traditions and way of life have been passed down through the generations, while the science of happiness is a fairly new endeavor. How wonderful that they correlate, that living a life steeped in Jewish culture and tradition helps us find happiness!

A truly happy person finds it easier to express gratitude. We are thankful for all the blessings that fill our day. We start our day with the “Modeh Ani” thanking G-d for another day. Beginning our day by acknowledging a blessing sets us up to perceive happy tidings as we move through the trials and tribulations that come our way. Expressing our gratitude for the good things we encounter or trying to place a positive spin on most situations, models gratitude for our children. This makes it easier for them to find happiness as they grow through good and difficult situations. We all desire that our children grow into happy adults. Let’s take a page from the science of happiness and one from our Jewish tradition and culture, let’s acknowledge our blessings, model gratitude and live a happier life!  _

Sue Penn is the mother of three, Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, president of Jewish Reconstructionist Educators of North America and a member of the Jewish Educators Assembly.

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