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Positive Psychology is considered the science of happiness, but is essentially the study of finding happiness in life. As a society, we erroneously believe happiness stems from external possessions such as wealth, prestige, or other worldly pursuits. Such is not the case. Positive Psychology believes that happiness is dependent on your state of mind, while Judaism takes happiness a step further. Finding happiness in Judaism ultimately means living a life of truth and values. Happiness results when we are engaged in what we should be doing.
“For one who knows the light of truth, there is no sadness in this world.”
- From the letters of the Chazon Ish
True happiness cannot be gained from external success or accomplishments. Harvard Business School studied the correlation between wealth and wellbeing in 2009. The study found that people tend to overestimate happiness resulting from wealth by 100 percent. In fact, having money does not guarantee happiness. The American Dream that touts that success brings happiness is but a fallacy. The science of happiness has proven that it works in the opposite way: those who are happy will succeed in life. Happier people are more productive, resilient, have stronger and healthier relationships, and are not only better at getting jobs, but at keeping them as well.
In their book Positivity and The How of Happiness, Positive Psychology pioneers Barbara Fredrickson and Sonja Lyubomirsky offer 20 scientifically proven happiness activities. We can work on maintaining a happy and positive mindset by practicing the following activities:
1. Being open.
2. Find nature nearby.
3. Using strengths.
4. Dispute negative thinking.
5. Develop distractions.
6. Create high quality connections.
7. Practice spirituality.
8. Flow activities.
9. Meditate mindfully.
10. Meditate on lovingkindness.
12. Cultivate kindness.
13. Savour life’s joys.
14. Ritualize gratitude.
15. Avoid social comparisons.
16. Visualize your future.
18. Cultivate optimism.
19. Work toward goals.
20. Learn to cope.
Implementing any of these 20 activities into our everyday lives can help us become happier people. We know that happiness is a state of mind that brings success, rather than external possessions and accomplishments. Prestige and money can never guarantee happiness but rather a connection to spirituality and a sense of higher purpose can. With that in mind, we can work towards our goal of truly finding happiness in life.