Is Happiness a Luxury?

The answer may surprise you.

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Comments (33)

(26) onlyme, October 19, 2012 2:38 AM

I believe that our grandparents from Europe, while probebly not as obsessed with happines as we are today, WERE happier- with their potatoes, clothes and roof. We are spoiled, misrable people today. Airconditioning and happiness belong in completely separate catagories. An inner contentment with life is a total neccessity- it is a prerequisite for everything else which is good in life. It is something which every single human being should have.

(25) Richard Price, August 12, 2012 8:17 PM


Happiness, joy , feeling positive, well if you can't access this state of mind , then survival at best is a really grim affair , but if like the great beings of old you prize the inner state . Then maybe survival can be transformed into something akin to a child scampering around in the dirt seeing as Blake would say the universe in a grain of sand .

(24) steve, August 12, 2012 12:20 AM


My thoughts: I agree with Dennis Prager. It's a moral obligation to be happy. Everyone, everyday, can choose to live a moral life. So, choose to be happy. It's a necessity for a more fulfilled and richer life.

(23) Frederica Steller, August 11, 2012 8:55 PM

Is happiness a luxury or a necessity?

I loved this video! I've thought about that question many times; and found it can be either one, depending on your own viewpoint.

(22) Nachshon, August 9, 2012 6:44 AM


As I am studying this weeks portion. I see 3 different threads. 1st The mitsvot to love the convert. I do not think this thread is relevant in this subject content but please some one prove me wrong 2nd Being thankful after your needs have been satisfied. "relevant" do I thank Hashem daily for the woman I have been blessed with? When I don't, strife always comes in to the relationship. When I do give thanks/praise to Hashem for my wife, peace and harmony comes to our house and that in turn becomes a happy home and relationship The 3rd thread goes to how Moses was a role model to Israel on how to connect to and serve Hashem. On this aspect there are some incredible connections here that I don't have the word count available on this post to exploit. If I could render it into but a few words whether it be your relationship with Hashem , your Spouse , your Children etc etc .. Shake of the shackles that keep you from being connected to Hashem, your Spouse, your Children and your purpose in life that Hashem has set before you. Your freedom//joy/Happiness etc in all things you do have a inner-connection to Hashem. Press the pause button, and let your spirit listen to Hashen's quiet voice. May you be blessed and kept safe by the creator of all things

(21) Marsha, August 8, 2012 11:58 PM

Happiness is a state of mind

Survival and difficult times does not negate happiness. Happiness is a level we should all be striving for. Learn Tehillim (Psalms). Dovid Hamelech (King David) had a very challenging life. Most of Tehillim was written when facing difficulties/survival. Yet to write Tehillim, he had to be in a state of simcha (happiness). Additionally, there are many people throughout Jewish history that were known to be full of simcha (happiness) even though they had many challenges in their life. It would seem people with high levels of emunah and bitachon (trust in Hashem) are truly happy people no matter what is thrown at them.

(20) Joe, August 8, 2012 10:55 PM


it's a necessity in regard to living life to it's fullest

(19) judith, August 8, 2012 8:28 AM

about clinic drepressive and happiness

If one is clinic depressive one would better see a psychiater. If the psychiater prescribes anti-depressiva because ones body needs it, one would better take it. I truly hope the pills work so that one can, like the rest of us, learn and exercise to focus on the good things in life. I am exercising every day, because It doesn't come naturally to me neither. And I pray that HaShem helps me. Without his help I would be nowhere.

(18) anonymous, August 8, 2012 2:25 AM

I think it is a necessity. Why? It is s necessity because we are supposed to serve Hashem b'simchah. guess what though. We create our own happiness. Is it still a necessity? I think so. In other words perhaps happiness is a necessity that we are suppose to create?

Anonymous, August 8, 2012 10:04 PM

It is a necessity and...

It is a necessity and if we feel we are lacking in this area we definately need to work on it. I was in a rut for many a good reason and have been working on this and thinking about this all summer. How to pick myself up and overcome sadness? It's just as important as working on manners, kindness, emunah, and any other aspect of Judaism and life. We help ourselves and others when we have joy.

(17) Anonymous, August 8, 2012 12:17 AM

Happiiness is a choice, and it is a necessity for healthy living. A person living in survival mode can find things to be happy about such as enjoying nature, seeing /receiving Hashem's gifts, being with family & friends, finding things to laugh about/at. The list goes on. Studies have shown that the poorest of people are often happier than the richest. It comes down to attitude, finding/seeing the good, helping others,etc. I am surprised at your topic-and the fact that you didn't address your own question!

(16) Joe, August 7, 2012 10:49 PM

define luxury and necessity

only than can one answer

(15) Melanie, August 7, 2012 10:47 PM

You need to be happier to be alive than you are unhappy to be alive. After that, it's a luxury.

You need to be happy enough to want to continue living. Sometimes that's in your power, and sometimes it isn't. (The brain can be chemically incapable of feeling a sufficient amount of happiness; this is known as clinical depression.) If you are not happy enough to continue living, you will soon die; even if you do not purposefully commit suicide your immune system will fail with your daily endeavors. This much happiness is a necessity. Do you need to feel like you're petting a puppy all the time? Probably not.

Anonymous, August 8, 2012 10:00 PM

You are absolutely right.

You are absolutely right and those who are in depression need to seek professional help.

(14) Sandy & Chana Goodman, Dallas Texas, August 7, 2012 10:09 PM

Happiness is a state of mind

Happiness is far from being a luxury. It’s a necessity because we are required to serve Hashem with simcha. So what is happiness? It’s a state of mind—an attitude if you please. No matter what stage of life you are in—be it in wealth or poverty, health or sickness, married or single, YOU and ONLY YOU can decide if you will be happy. In Pirkei Avos it tells that the one who is the richest (and the happiest) is the one who is satisfied with his/her portion on life. It does not mean that we should not try to improve ourselves but it does mean that we should be grateful for the gifts that Hashem has bestowed upon us. To quote Rabbi Pesach Krohn, “Where do you find the city of happiness? It’s found in the state of mind.” Sanford (Sandy) & Chana Goodman Dallas Texas P.S. Neither of us have ever thought of air conditioning as a luxury even when growing up. (We are your contemporaries). Both of us hate hot weather and living in Texas it would hell without it. Sandy & Chana Goodman

Anonymous, August 8, 2012 9:59 PM

I lived without air conditioning for 2 years in the south of Israel.

I lived without air conditioning for 2 years in the south of Israel and finally bought a new and working air conditioner this year. For me the new purchase was indeed a luxury. I am thrilled with it and appreciate every moment of having it. Happiness, however, is not like an air conditioner. In difficult times and in easy times it is important to bring joy into one's life. Those who don't manage to do this are in danger. Those who succeed gain incredible strength from it. How many books are presently on the market about bringing happiness into one's life? Tons! More proof of its importance.

(13) Sherry-ann Berger, August 7, 2012 3:41 PM

Happiness is choice.

Real happiness doesn't come from things, but rather how one chooses to perceive a situation. I have had cancer, had runaway husband and I could choose to lay down and die, but how will that help me? I look at these situations at the time and feel the feelings that I must, but I choose to live my life with Joy because I know that Hashem is in control and I am still here to enjoy my children and my grandchildren. What do you choose?

Darlene, August 8, 2012 9:52 PM

May Hashem continue to give you strength to live your life sith joy.

I have been through other kinds of real tragedies. I hope that you will have things easier in the future and that you will always succeed in bringing joy into your life. Here is more proof of the importance of joy and happiness as a necessity and not a luxury. I just shared with someone today that making time for fun is a serious matter. We need it for our mental health and to thrive. It's important to make happy moments.

(12) darlene, August 7, 2012 1:59 PM

So people should be content with being sad?

What about "serving G-d with joy"? Obviously, joy or happiness is considered important to Hashem. He wants us to receive pleasure from His world. There are so many writings which state this. You say that people way-back-when didn't think of being happy they thought of surviving. I have spoken to people who lived in Israel since its early days when they had very little, most tell me that people were happier then. So I guess life wasn't just a matter of "surviving" but of receiving joy from the simple pleasures of life and from relationships. That too is food for thought. Happinesss isn't a luxury. It is a necessity. Hashem wants us to be happy. Waking up every morning feeling sad drains on of energy. Feeling happy gives one energy.

(11) Anonymous, August 7, 2012 1:50 PM

We must display happiness if we want our kids to stay Jewish

We need to radiate emuna, calmness, happiness and joy and then our kids will want a piece of the action. If we go around with a scowl and constantly kvetch - they won't want to follow in our footsteps - they'll think that there may be some better alternative to Judaism.

(10) ruth housman, August 7, 2012 1:35 PM

the padding

Actually I think it's I Pods, but it might be I Pads. But pods are also homes, as the dictionary will tell us, and certainly Pads, as in Come to my Pad and have a cup of joe. The padding is always a new mattress and we keep getting more padding, all the time, but happiness is a different matter. Happiness is certainly less a matter of goods but more a matter of happi nest. As in how we live this, with our children, our families, and each other. And that is where we find true meaning. There are people who keep eating, and it's a known eating disorder and then they are bulimic. I am not referencing now the genetic overeating disorder in which people do not know they are full. But eating itself is a form of comfort, and that's why people eat and overeat, and it could be said, it's the same for anything done in excess, as in the accumulation of goods, we really do not need, but we do KNEAD each other, and there's the "rub". I wouldn't call happiness an obligation. I would call it something we all strive towards, and we get it by putting real meaning into our lives, by not being mean to ourselves or each other. And we find that happiness is actually freeing and freedom itself. For me it could be that inchoate feeling of awe under a night of stars, by the beach, contemplating the ebb and flow of the tides, and that incomparable lantern above. I just saw the parable in incomparable, and I see that we can draw from life itself, great metaphoric connectivity. I ask these days, Is there anybody out there? As I write, heart and soul, down the lines, seeing it's ALL GOD and that language bears such incredible wealth, a geode of meaning, which I plumb when I write on a most conscious level.

(9) Chavi, August 7, 2012 12:15 PM

Happiness is an attitude

'Ivdu es Hashem B'simcha' - serve G-d with Happiness. While we cannot control the events in our lives, we can control our attitude with which we greet these events. It is our choice to either focus on the half of the cup that is full or the half that is empty. Like the gentleman, when asked "How is everything?" responded: "Couldn't be better! Because if it could be better, it WOULD be better!" We have to understand that everything that happens to us is orchestrated by the One Whose love for us is infinite, and everything that befalls us is ultimately for our benefit, whether or not we understand it. Even when we are in pain, if we recognize that it has been orchestrated by our Father in Heaven, Who loves us more than any other, we can be happy in that awareness, even through pain.

(8) Anonymous, August 7, 2012 12:12 PM

Happiness is in the mind.

Happiness comes from how you look at things. Pirkei Avos: Eizehu oshir hasameach b'chelko! Who is rich? Whoever is happy with what he has. It has nothing to do with material objects. It has to do with our frame of mind and how we accept adversity.

(7) Frank Adam, August 7, 2012 12:11 PM

Happiness? You work for it.

This discussion - like liberty - has negative and positive side: freedom from and freedom to..... Originally to be "merry" was the negative meaning you were happy as nothing was troubling you, which is quite an achievement in a subsistence or even early industrial society if you have something on the table, work and the bailiffs and landlords are paid off and away. This explains the carol line, "God rest you merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay..." However to be happy positively in that you take pleasure in your achievements, companions and music art etc That is for you to make an effort and not just press buttons or otherwise expect to be served like someone born into the purple of more wealth than sense - NB money and wealth are not the same. This is why those who have never had to make an effort to acquire the self confidence of any particular competence apart from spending on bread and circuses can end up dismally eg the late Barbara Hutton and the like.

(6) joe, August 7, 2012 11:33 AM

Happiness is a gift from God to all those people who love God with all their hearts and all other people, including their enemies. Yes, it's very hard to love until it hurts but those who do it are surely the happy people.

(5) Anonymous, August 6, 2012 3:27 AM

A lot of good points here, but I don't think we should be putting iPads in the same catagory as happiness. Happiness is not based on AC or cellphones. And actually happiness is an obligation- "Ivdu es Hashem b'simcha."

(4) Annette, August 6, 2012 3:01 AM

I like your thoughts R' Yaakov. Now that I'm on my own...

a 'kindle'?? what's that?? 2nd car for me alone: a luxury! one good car is a necessity cell phone: that's the only phone I have, I need it an a/c a luxury? with the windows & doors open? stupidity happiness? is the manifestation of the gratitude I give to G-d for His gifts to me! KISS: keep it simple, silly!

(3) TMay, August 5, 2012 11:33 PM


Maslow came up with a Hierarchy of Needs. As one need is satisfied, another need takes its place. I think we need "purpose and meaning" in our lives more than "happiness". We also need "hope". We also need "a sense of belonging". "Happiness" is a by-product. There are plenty of people still at the food, clothing shelter stage, and that group seems to be getting larger at the moment. Stages are: bodily/physiological needs, followed by safety needs, followed by love/ belongingness needs, followed by self- esteem needs, followed by self- actualization needs. One can make oneself miserable at each of these stages for the lack, even though one has the needs from the previous stages met.

elana, August 7, 2012 1:43 PM

yes to maslow

I always have said that before you can be "happy" you need to have your basic needs met first; I mean food shelter etc.Just like Marlow said; Thank god most of us live in today's times without worrying too much about where our next meal will come from and where we will be to eat it and if we will be safe to eat. The Torah says "who is happy, the person who is happy with his lot" first a person needs his lot and now work on being happy with it. We need to separate the necessities from wants.

(2) sharon, August 5, 2012 8:28 PM


Happiness is neither a luxury nor a necessity. It is often a God given gift and other times a decision achieved with effort. In the western world it has very little to do with material possessions.

liora, August 6, 2012 4:39 PM


Thank you! I completely agree with you.

Joanne, August 7, 2012 12:06 PM

Good points Sharon

I agree with you Sharon.

(1) Danny, August 5, 2012 3:48 PM

Very interesting

To me that is a weird question. Of course, it is much, much better to be happy. but one can obviously survive without happiness. So, happiness is very close to a necessity.


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