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Are you happy??

ב"ה 

happy_face.jpgWe’ve just entered the month of Adar and with it comes the adage from the Talmud ‘upon entering the month of Adar we increase in happiness’.

I used to wonder about the mandate to be happy; happiness is a mood or state of being, one that seems more likely to be determined by our circumstances or events surrounding us than the month we find ourselves in. How can we suddenly become happy just because we have turned a page on the calendar?
 
Somehow, switching the feeling on and off doesn’t seem to ring particularly true. Sure we can fake it, but how will that affect our emotional state?
 
If you have had the opportunity to study some Tanya (fundamental work of ChaBaD philosophy written in the late 1700's) you’ll have come across the earth shattering notion that in fact, ‘the mind should control the heart’. Our minds not only can but should dictate how we feel. If we meditate, or focus, for a bit on being happy then we can actually become happy.
 
Cognitive therapy agrees with this Chassidic concept by making the assumption that thoughts precede moods. Cognitive therapy teaches that by altering our thoughts we can actually change our emotional state, determine how we react to situations and therefore make us a whole lot happier.
 
So if being happy is something we can do, what if we just don’t feel like it? You know, things might not be going our way or ‘I’m just having a bad day’ or week for that matter. Why should we feel obligated to change our mood when we enter the month of Adar?
 
According to Dennis Prager, (author of Happiness is a Serious Problem) ‘happiness is a moral obligation, because happy people make the world a better place and unhappy people do the opposite’. If you spend some time with a generally happy person, and then some time with a chronically unhappy person, you will know this to be true. Prager believes that it is our obligation to the people around us to be happy, whether we feel like it or not.
 
The Sefer Hachinuch (Book of Education) explains that “hearts follow actions”. The Torah includes many details to govern the way we perform a Mitzvah because it is the actions that will ‘draw our hearts and minds along’. Our actions help us direct and guide our emotions.
 
The Jewish view is that happiness is not a goal and is not really determined by external influences. Happiness is an avoda, it takes work. We can accomplish it, not only to enhance our own quality of life but also that of the people around us.
 
So let’s take the challenge during this month of Adar and increase our happiness!
 
Suggested ways to be happier: 
 
· Focus on the positive in our lives and in the people around us.
· Be grateful for things and people in our lives.
· Do something we find meaningful.
· And if all else fails turn up the music really loud and dance!
 
Let me know how you go:)
 
Happy Adar and happy Spring break,
~Nechama~

Picture of the week:

IMAG0068.jpg

Chabad and Jewish Heritage Programs leaders meeting.

 



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