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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Dr. Benji Levy

7 Steps to Increase Happiness

(First published on

#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.

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