Four Grades of Happiness: Pleasure, Family, Wisdom, and Spirituality (A four-part series) Grade Two

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Family is synonomous with relationships, love, friendship, etc. All our relationships give us positive feelings and increase our joy. When you have something wonderful happen to you, the first thing you want to do is share it with someone you know. It solidifies and expands your joy to share it with those you love and those who love you.

But since relationships is one step up the levels, its harder to attain, more elusive. We don’t exactly have so much control of our relationships. Certainly they offer infinitely more joy than a corned beef sandwich, but there’s more work involved.

Appreciation

This is the key to all pleasure and joy. The more you appreciate your relationships, the more joy you will get out of them.  Each relationship stands on its own. If you have more than one sibling, each one is its own set of challenges and pleasures. Can you think of what particular traits each person in your immediate set of friends gives you the most pleasure? As you search your heart for this information you are doing exactly what you need to do on a daily basis with all your relationships. This is how to keep yourself in a good mood for having these people in your life.

Parents, spouse, and children can affect our mood most strongly either in the direction of happiness or in the opposite direction. How do we achieve consistent happiness if we are subject to the actions of others?

The first step is to be as independent as possible. This is an important quality to have in life in general. The Almighty is completely independent. Even though the Torah discusses His feelings like anger, regret, jealousy, etc. These are metaphors. He’s infinite and has no human like qualities that are finite, fickle, or malleable.

Of course if your loved one is suffering you want to commiserate and help them feel better. That’s not being dependent. Dependence is when your mood is a reflection of theirs. If they are happy, you are happy. If they are sad, you are sad. You can emphathize and sympathize with someone’s pain without adopting their depression.

The second step is to remind yourself of the things that you are happy about. Recall the other blessings you have. Even if your spouse is upset with you, you still have your eyes, hands, feet, etc. the things you realize are worth a million dollars to you.

And speaking of $, how much money would you put towards a friendship? How much could I pay you for you to never see your best friend again the rest of your life? Just something to consider.

Who do you love?

Most people don’t realize this, but the truth is that you get more joy from loving someone, than you do from someone loving you. Human beings try so hard to draw the respect and admiration of others. We make decisions about the clothes we wear or the car we drive based on the attitudes of others. How much effort do we expend on getting ourselves to love and respect the people in our lives? If someone loves me, it strokes my ego. If I love someone else, their very existence gives me pleasure whenever I think of them.

BTW – this is another aspect of independence. SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING, the soul longs to be one with the Infinite, and the soul longs to be independent. Those two ideas go hand in hand.

Give

Relationships offer us the opportunity to give. Giving is one of mankinds greatest joys.

Forgiveness

With those closest to you, the opportunity for hurt feelings is there more often. If you see someone every single day, statistically, you will hurt eachother somehow sometime. We need to forgive so the natural joy can resurface. Don’t forget to cut people some slack.

Make a list of your top 20 relationships. Write down how and why each one gives you more joy in your life.

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Rabbi Max Weiman’s new book on happiness, A Simple Guide to Happiness: From a mystical perspectiveMWeiman@kabbalahmadeeasy.com is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, and from the author by emailing