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February 19, 2017 / 23 Shevat, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘HAPPY’

Can You Choose To Be Happy?

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

In author and educational coach Marshall Goldsmith’s introduction to Raj Raghunathan’s book If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?, Goldsmith asks a seemingly simple question, “What does it take to lead a happy and fulfilling life?”

Goldsmith answers his own question, “The answer to the question, it turns out, is both a little simpler and a little more complicated than you might think. It’s simpler because, ultimately, it doesn’t take that much more than what you already have to be happy. As you’ll learn toward the end of this book, beyond basic necessities and adequate health, it takes just three things to be happy: (1) great social relationships, (2) a sense of purpose (doing something meaningful), and (3) a ‘positive’ attitude toward life – an attitude that lets you feel a sense of being in control even in challenging times. That’s all it takes to be happy.”

He then explains that it is more complicated because now that you know what it takes to make you happy, you would like to understand why it makes you happy. Understanding, however, involves delving into decades of research on the subject. And, once you understand why these three things make you happy, you then need to formulate a plan to get to that happy place.

Well, Raghunathan lays out a bit of a blueprint or plan for happiness by detailing the seven happiness habits you should acquire and the seven happiness “sins” you should avoid. Below, I’ve explained these sins to avoid – check out the book for the corresponding habit to pick up!

            Devaluing happiness. As we go about our daily lives, we create mental “wish lists.” We wish we could lose a little weight, we wish we could make more money, or we wish we could make up with that old friend. Do we ever put “happiness” on our wish list? Do we wish that we were happy? Probably not because it seems such an intangible thing – something we will get to after we lose that weight, make more money, or have more friends. Instead, we need to stop devaluing happiness and start actively putting it on our wish list.

            Chasing superiority. We live in a competitive society which often translates into our wanting to be better then others at something. We want to have the best job, the most well behaved children, the best hair or to make the tastiest challah. We make comparisons with other people and often weigh our own worth in relation to those comparisons. Research shows that the tendency to see how you stack up against others is the biggest deterrent to happiness.

            Desperate for attention. If we always want to be the center of attention, we are constantly looking for approval from others and for outside recognition. This can also greatly reduce the level of our happiness. It can also lead to avoiding relationships that we don’t believe we will be the star of, and therefore shy away from social interactions.

            Being overly controlling. When we desperately feel the need to control others or outcomes (which, of course, is out of our control), we are taking away from our ability to be happy. Making a plan and sticking to it, is a great way to attempt to achieve happiness, but thinking that we can control all elements of our lives will ultimately lead to disappointment and unhappiness.

            Distrusting others. As I mentioned above, a large part of happiness is positive social interactions. If we don’t trust those around us, we will be insulated and isolated. This can lead to missing a key piece of the happiness equation.

            Indifferent pursuit of goals. When we set our minds to being happy, when we create a plan to get there, we need to pursue those goals. This means that we need to care about the different steps of the plan. If we indifferently pursue different goals, then we will not be able to achieve happiness.

            Ignoring or underestimating our instincts. Sometimes we mistakenly think that if we have a plan, we need to stick to it no matter what. It’s great to pursue that plan, but if you see that it is not making you happy or you have a niggling feeling that something is wrong, take a moment to reevaluate. Don’t just rush headlong in any direction!

The reason that Raj Raghunathan wrote his book is because fifteen years after getting his MBA, he spent time with some old classmates and noticed that while many of them were successful in their careers, they were quite unhappy. He observed that many were out of shape or harried. Clearly, these friends were excellent decision makers. They had built empires from scratch and were among the smartest people he knew, so why were they so unhappy? That’s when he discovered the seven “sins” of happiness – and also the seven habits as well.

One quick tip for the happiness habits? Do random acts of kindness. It’s common sense, but when you do good, you feel good. So, make it a habit.

Rifka Schonfeld

Boro Park Resident Turns A Happy 102

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
Sara Markowitz at 102

Sara Markowitz at 102

With bright, cheerful decorations and a birthday cake for the ages, Sara Markowitz celebrated her 102nd birthday with her family, fellow residents, and staff members at Boro Park Center For Rehabilitation & Healthcare on 10th Avenue in Brooklyn last week.

Sara was born in Lublin, Poland, and had two sisters and two brothers. She came to America by herself in 1939 to live with her uncle in Hurleyville, New York. She’s resided in Boro Park nearly her entire adult life.

Jewish Press Staff

Tamar Yonah Show – HAPPY BIRTHDAY to INTR Radio! [audio]

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Can you believe it? Israel News Talk Radio celebrates it’s first birthday! INTR started it’s first broadcast Jan. 3rd, 2016, and it is exactly one year later and the INTR Team is celebrating! Hear exclusive inside interviews with some of the INTR staff, what they do outside of their radio shows, and the story of INTR and its inception.

Follow INTR on facebook: www.facebook.com/IsraelNewsTalkRadio/

Twitter: twitter.com/IsraelNewsRadio

Tamar Yonah 03Jan2017 – 1stBirthday -PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

This Makes Up for Everything: Happy Hanukkah! Chag Sameach from the White House!

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

President Barack Obama issued a Hanukkah greeting on Friday – one day ahead of the start of the Jewish holiday, and at about the same time his UN envoy abstained at a Security Council, throwing the Jewish State to the dogs for the first time since his spiritual predecessor President Jimmy Carter had done in it 1980. Obama explained that “the meaning of this holiday has inspired an American tradition of religious freedom.”


Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in 165 BC by the Maccabees after it had been desecrated by Helenized Jews and their imperial patrons in Damascus. Obama, who hosted more than 1,000 people during two Hanukkah receptions at the White House last week, on Friday afternoon addressed how the values of the holiday apply to everyone, regardless of their faith.

He did not mention that, had the Maccabees redeemed the Holy Temple today, they would surely have been condemned by the UN Security Council, with the US abstaining, because said Holy Temple stood in “Occupied East Jerusalem.”

“For more than two millennia, the story of Hanukkah has reminded the world of the Jewish people’s perseverance and the persistence of faith, even against daunting odds,” the president said. “For more than two centuries, the meaning of this holiday has inspired an American tradition of religious freedom – one codified in the Bill of Rights and chronicled in the enduring promise President George Washington made in his letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island: that the United States ‘gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’

“May the flicker of each flame in every Menorah remind us all of the profound miracles in our own lives. And may the light of hope we shed continue to drive out darkness and brighten the futures we build for our families, our neighbors, our communities, and our world.

“On behalf of Michelle and my family, Chanukah Sameach. Happy Hanukkah!”

It can be safely said, to paraphrase the late Winston Churchill, a man who never pretended to like Jews but nevertheless sacrificed tens of thousands of his countrymen’s lives to end their mass murder, Never has a smaller man said so much and meant so little.


Happy 100th Birthday, Mr. Issur Danielovitch, We Loved You in ‘Cast a Giant Shadow’

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, Montgomery County, NY, on December 9, 1916, will be 100 on Friday. He grew up in poverty with his immigrant (Belarus) parents Bryna “Bertha” and Herschel “Harry” Danielovitch, and six sisters. The family spoke Yiddish at home. The family adopted the name Demsky, so Kirk grew up as Izzy Demsky, and changed his name to Kirk Douglas before enlisting in the Navy in World War II.

In his 1988 autobiography, The Ragman’s Son, Douglas wrote: “My father, who had been a horse trader in Russia, got himself a horse and a small wagon, and became a ragman, buying old rags, pieces of metal, and junk for pennies, nickels, and dimes. […] Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder. And I was the ragman’s son.”

Besides his stellar career, making close to 100 films and being number 17 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest male screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema – he’s the highest ranked living male screen legend – Douglas is also credited with  being on the side of the angels in the effort to end the Hollywood Blacklist.

Douglas had a complicated relationship with his Jewish identity. In 1999, at age 83, he celebrated his second bar mitzvah, telling the congregation at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, “Today I am a man.” He then did it again in 2012, when he was 96, maybe to make sure it sticks. But between his first and second bar mitzvahs Douglas was living well outside his Jewish faith.

In an interview he gave Aish.com in 2000, Douglas explained: “Judaism and I parted ways a long time ago, when I was a poor kid growing up in Amsterdam, NY. Back then, I was pretty good in cheder, so the Jews of our community thought they would do a wonderful thing and collect enough money to send me to a yeshiva to become a rabbi. Holy Moses! That scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want to be a rabbi. I wanted to be an actor. Believe me, the members of the Sons of Israel were persistent. I had nightmares – wearing long payos and a black hat. I had to work very hard to get out of it. But it took me a long time to learn that you don’t have to be a rabbi to be a Jew.”

All his children were born to non-Jewish mothers, but Douglas insists they were “aware culturally” of his “deep convictions,” and he never tried to influence their own religious decisions. In 2004, Douglas’s wife Anne converted to Judaism.

Douglas told Author Deborah Moore in 1994 that the underlying theme of some of his films – The Juggler (1953), Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), and Remembrance of Love (1982) – were about “a Jew who doesn’t think of himself as one, and eventually finds his Jewishness.” The Juggler was the first Hollywood feature filmed in the state of Israel.

Cast a Giant Shadow was a big-budget action film based on the life of Colonel David “Mickey” Marcus, a Jewish-American military officer who commanded IDF units during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Kirk Douglas starred as Marcus, alongside Senta Berger (as Haganah fighter Magda Simon), Yul Brynner (Haganah commander Asher), John Wayne (Marcus’s commanding officer in the Second World War), Frank Sinatra (Vince Talmadge, an expatriate American pilot) and Angie Dickinson  (Marcus’s wife). Melville Shavelson adapted, produced and directed.


Happy Aliya Day, Everybody!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Today Millions of American Jews woke up with the sense of excitement that only happens when two essentially contradictory holidays take place on the same day, like Hanukkah and Christmas, Passover and Easter.

It so happens that on the day the United States is celebrating its Election Day, Israelis are joyously marking Aliyah Day. And should the results of today’s elections drive US Jews to make Aliyah, then the connection is absolutely self-explanatory.

Yom HaAliyah-Aliyah Day is an Israeli national holiday celebrated annually on the seventh of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. This date in itself is a celebration of the unique connection that existed during the time of the Second Temple between the Jews of Israel and their brothers and sisters in the diaspora: the rainy season officially begins on the rabbinic calendar on Shmini Atzeret, the holiday that seals the string of high holidays from Rosh Hashanah until Sukkot. But the rabbis decreed that we not begin to actually pray for rain until the 7th of Cheshvan, to allow the Babylonian Jews who just celebrated in Jerusalem to return home before it started to rain.

Strangely enough, the Knersset legislation known as the Aliyah Day Act 5776-2016 states that on the 7th of Cheshvan the country will celebrate the Israelites’ entrance into the Land of Israel on the 10th of Nissan. We called up the Knesset Aliyah Committee, and blessed Tzipi, who picked up the phone with “Happy Aliyah Day,” which absolutely made her day. As to the discrepancy between the two dates, she explained that the Cheshvan date was picked because the Nissan date falls on a school holiday, which is also a Knesset holiday, just before Passover. So they went with Cheshvan 7, when everybody is still fresh and full of zest at the start of the season.

Also, Cheshvan 7 usually falls on the week of Parshat Lech-Lecha, in which our biblical patriarch Abraham was told by God to leave his home and his family and go up to the Land of Israel.

So, if you want to show up your Israeli friends today, just wish them a Happy Aliyah day and watch them squirm…


The Mitzvah To Be Happy

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Because you did not serve Hashem…amid gladness and goodness of heart when everything was abundant.” – Devarim 28:47


At the end of a long prophecy of what will befall us if we don’t follow the ways of Hashem, the Torah seems to lay the blame on one issue: because you did not serve Hashem…amid gladness and goodness of heart when everything was abundant. It seems the pivotal point of these two extremes is based on simcha, implying that serving Hashem with happiness is critical to our success as a nation.

Rabbeinu Bachya explains that this is because the mitzvahs must be done with joy and complete devotion. When the mitzvahs are done without joyfulness, they are lacking in their effect, and can be part of the spiral downward.

He then gives an example of a mitzvah that wasn’t done with complete motivation. The Midrash tells us that when Reuven attempted to save Yosef from his brothers, he said, “Let us put him in the pit.” His intention was to buy some time to eventually save him. However, had he realized he would be recorded in history as the one who saved Yosef, he would have put him on his shoulders and carried him home to his father. From here we see the importance of doing a mitzvah with complete dedication and commitment.

This Rabbeinu Bachya is difficult to understand on two levels. First, how can the Torah command me to be happy? Being happy isn’t an emotion we can turn on and off like a light switch. And how can we relate the effect of doing a mitzvah joyfully to the case of Reuven?

We are well aware that honor is one of the most powerful driving forces in the human condition. Granted, Reuven was a tzaddik, but the fact that he would have been titled the savior of Yosef for eternity is something that would propel a man to extremes. How can that be compared to something as minor as joy in the performance of a mitzvah?

The answer to these questions can best be understood through a different perspective.

Sheldon Adelson is the owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp. In 2003, his net worth was ranked at 1.4 billion dollars. While that is an impressive sum, it didn’t put him anywhere near the richest people in the world. However, when he took his company public, a rather interesting thing happened. His personal wealth increased by 750 percent. By 2004, his personal worth had increased to over 20 billion dollars, making him the fifth richest man in the world. Forbes magazine estimates that over those two years, Adelson’s fortune had been growing by $1 million every hour.

Imagine for a moment what it must feel like to know your wealth is increasing at that rate. You sit down to a leisurely lunch and walk away a million dollars richer. Open a Gemara for the daf yomi – there’s another $750,000. Lie down for a Shabbos nap; wake up three million dollars wealthier. Every moment I live, I become richer and richer.

I Have No Plans of Dying

The single most difficult concept we human beings deal with is our mortality. While we are cognitively aware of it, emotionally we just don’t feel it will happen. With that emotional blindness comes blindness to the value of our actions. Since in our operating reality I will never die, then what I do or don’t do really doesn’t matter.

If for a flashing moment I were to see what the World to Come will be like for me, I would effectively lose free will. The extraordinary accomplishment of one mitzvah would so overwhelm me that I would be completely and radically different – not different physically, not smarter, but much more driven to accomplish my purpose in life.

When Chazal tell us over and over again that mitzvahs are worth far more than the greatest treasures in this world, it is because they had that clarity. In the World to Come we will look back at every chance we had to grow as the greatest opportunity ever given to man. We will look back at our mitzvahs and they will bring us far more joy than earning than a million dollars an hour.

This seems to be the answer to Rabbeinu Bachya. One of the greatest motivators in the human is enthusiasm. That enthusiasm is based on a value system. If I value money, I will be driven to pursue it, and the acquisition of it will bring me great joy. If I gain a deeper perspective on life, then I experience elation, knowing my net worth in the World to Come is growing at an incredible rate. My investments are paying back in spades. That excitement is one of the most powerful motivating forces, equal even to kavod. With it, a person can reach great heights. Without it, a person’s avodas Hashem can become stale and lose its potency.

Ultimately, joy is a great force that both allows a person to enjoy his short stay in this world and propels him to achieve the greatness for which he was created.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-mitzvah-to-be-happy-2/2016/10/14/

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