The How of Happiness

Freud articulated it best when he explained the Pleasure Principle. Ultimately, we all want to be happy. Almost everything we do derives from that one basic desire, whether it is pursuing money, entertainment, love, or intellectual pursuits….we just want to experience joy.

In "The How of Happiness" Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky suggested that up to 40% of our happiness quotient is with in our own control. She outlined ‘a scientific approach to getting the life you want’ and used academic research data to create a systematic approach to help us feel better. This included ‘happiness activities’ such as Practicing Acts of Kindness, Nurturing Social Relationships, Learning to Forgive, Savouring Life’s Joys, Taking Care of Your Body and much more. The book is very good indeed!

This week’s Kosher Sutra is a repeated phrase about ‘everyone who is generous of heart’ (Ex 35:5), ‘everyone whose heart inspired them, and everyone who is generous of spirit’ (Ex 35:21), describing those people who are motivated to help others and build part of the community. This can be understood as Karma Yoga, something which has been explained as ‘selfless community service’.

Karma Yoga is the exercise that takes place away from the mat for the direct benefit for others. Perhaps the puppets of Avenue Q said it best when they sang ‘when you help others you can’t help helping yourself’.