Rabbi Dr. Benji Levy
7 Steps to Increase Happiness
(First published on Aish.com)
#Time-tested Jewish ideas to attain happiness.
The following seven Jewish ideas can help you move in the right direction in your pursuit for
1. Rid your heart of hatred
Hatred hurts the hater. The Torah instructs us not to hate your brother in your heart
(Vayikra 19:17). By learning to let go one is able to achieve greater peace and
acceptance on the path to happiness.
2. Work to resolve doubts
Our sages teach that there is no joy like resolving doubt (see Proverbs 15:30). Doubts
can lead to insecurity and we all have them. But some are there to be resolved. The first
step is by really listening to your inner critic and questioning what it’s telling you. Are
those concerns valid? Is there evidence to support them?
Oftentimes just by questioning you’ll realize which doubts deserve attention and which
don’t. Let go of doubts that are out of your control and resolve those that are within your
3. Sometimes Expect Less
I recently saw a study which showed that when it comes to happiness, it doesn’t matter
so much whether things are going well. It matters whether things are better than
expected. When you expect less it is more likely that the outcome will exceed your
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for more, it just means that being realistic and
expecting less in certain areas can lead you to greater happiness..
4. Give more
When you give - be it of your time, money, expertise or self - even a small gift, gesture or
compliment, your body responds by producing “happiness” chemicals such as
dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. Give more and you produce more, making you
happier because giving is a gift. As the Torah says, “You shall surely open up your hand
to your brother” (Deut. 15:11).
5. Choose life (Deut. 30:19)
Choosing life doesn’t just mean maintaining consciousness, it means doing the things
that make you feel alive, that challenge and empower you. Experiencing the joys of living
allows you to live with greater joy.
6. Don't covet (Exodus 20:14)
Jealousy and unhealthy comparisons are the thief of joy. When we focus on what others
have, we lose sight of the good we have and at the end of the day, we have all that we
need. Which leads to one more idea...
7. Focus on what you have
Once we have established not to be jealous of what others have, we can consider
happiness as contentment with what we have. The Mishna teaches, “Who is the rich
person? The one who takes pleasure in his lot” (Ethics of the Fathers, 4:1). When we
take the time to focus on what we have, we realize how much there is to be grateful for
and utilize it with happiness.