Mindfully Increasing Joy
The new month of Adar is upon us. And with it, the well-known expression “when
Adar enters, we increase joy.”
According to the Chassidic Rebbe, Chaim Elazar Spira, (Minchas Elazar)
“ Whatever we can do to increase joy - there is a mitzvah in doing so, and each person has to evaluate this according to his own heart and soul... It is a mitzvah, insofar as possible, to increase the mitzvah-related joy in his heart and in his affairs”
It's a mitzvah to increase happiness, but there's no guidebook.
“Everyone according to his own heart and soul “ is not exactly a how-to manual.
Happiness is something we can cultivate with practice!
In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 20 to be the International Day of Happiness. It’s easy to understand why they see happiness as something to celebrate: Happy people are healthier; they get sick less often and live longer.
Happiness is not just a personal issue; it’s a matter of public health and national well-being.
Below are a few happiness exercises to get you started by the Greater Good Science Center in Berkley. They suggest several happiness practices to increase joy and well being. Here are a few for you to try:
1) Three Good Things exercise- Keep a journal and write down positive things from your day. At the end of your day, write down three things that were positive and made you feel good, including how they made you feel. For example, something kind a colleague or family member said to you, enjoying a cup of coffee, or something nice you saw while walking. And then briefly explain why you think each good thing happened-which focuses your attention on the sources of goodness that surround you.
Make some time for yourself to think about these good things.
2) Meaningful Pictures
Remembering positive events is not the only way to happiness– finding and appreciating meaning in our lives can also bring us happiness.
During the week, look for sources of meaning in your life such as family, friends, work experiences, and hobbies. Take about 10 pictures of things that are meaningful to you. At the end of the week, spend some time reflecting on them: What does each photo represent, and why is what was photographed meaningful to you?
Write down some of those thoughts if it’s helpful.
3) Use Your Strengths exercise- invites you to consider your strengths. It’s easy for us to focus on our weaknesses and things we don’t like about ourselves. In this practice, every day we choose one or more of our strengths or positive attributes during the course of a week. A few examples include curiosity, creativity, kindness, humor, and justice. You can choose the same strength or work on different ones.
We make a plan to utilize our positive attributes in a new way. For example,
creativity in a work project, or curiosity for our partner’s or children’s interests.
At the end of the week, write about what you did, how it made you feel, and what
4) Random Acts of Kindness is doing something nice for someone else, just because you want to, with no ulterior motive. Being kind makes us feel better, and helps us
to thrive in our communities and societies.
It doesn't matter if we know the person or not.
Here are a few examples:
Doing an act of service for someone else
Giving your time to someone else (volunteering)
When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
For more happiness practices:
Practicing cultivating happiness is not meant to ignore or negate unpleasant things or annoyances that happen to us in life, but it can’t hurt to spend some more time appreciating and seeing the good in our lives.
The month of Adar is a wonderful time to cultivate happiness.
To learn about living mindfully and mindfulness-based stress reduction: