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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 12, 2007 / 22 Teves, 5767

Happiness may be closer than you think

By Betsy Hart


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Is happiness all in your head?


No. But we may be able to influence our own happiness more than we, well, think.


I first came across the academic study of "happiness research" when reading "The Progress Paradox," a book by Gregg Easterbrook. The paradox, he writes, is that in the West we have ease of life, health, prosperity and leisure time unimaginable to previous generations. Yet our depression rate had gone up by 10 times since the 1950s.


Yes, a good deal of this is due to better reporting, better recognition and less social stigma surrounding depression. But most experts believe there also has been a significant increase in actual cases of depression during the last 50 years.


What's going on? Easterbrook looked at the work of Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has pioneered the new interest in happiness research, in his 2003 book. He says Seligman believes that reasons for our rising depression rates include our country's rampant individualism (if our setbacks become all about us, they take on huge significance), an overemphasis on self-esteem (there must be something wrong with me if I'm not happy at this moment), the teaching of "victimology and helplessness," and runaway consumerism.


Well, Seligman and his colleagues were back in The New York Times magazine this week in a spread entitled "Happiness 101," by D.T. Max, who is writing about the increased interest in positive psychology — particularly on college campuses.


Max describes research into the "hedonic treadmill," the situation in which feeling good only creates a hunger for more pleasure, whereas doing good, presumably then being "other" focused, is what can lead to lasting satisfaction. He recounts a class on positive psychology taught at George Mason University in Virginia. The students were first asked to do something they themselves found pleasurable. Then they were asked to do "good." They gave blood, collected clothes for a battered woman's shelter and so on, and generally reported more long-term satisfaction with the latter course of action. The professor then went on to focus on gratitude and forgiveness, close relationships and love.


Such courses are being replicated around the country. "Positive psychology brings the same attention to positive emotions (happiness, pleasure, well-being) that clinical psychology always has paid to negative ones (depression , anger, resentment)," wrote Max.


Can such an emphasis lead to more personal happiness? Certainly common sense, as well as the early research, seems to say "yes." Neuroscientist Jeffrey Schwartz shows in his 2002 book, "The Mind and the Brain," that while it's long been known that what we do can physically affect our brains, new research is actually showing that what we choose to think about can affect the physical wiring of our brains, too.


So, for instance, Schwartz found that people who only thought about carefully playing a piece of music on the piano over time had the exact same physical changes in their brains, as measured by CT scans, as people who physically practiced the same piano piece over time. Schwartz determined with similar studies that we can sometimes choose to think differently about things, change the physical wiring of our brain and, in doing so create, a kind of "upward spiral" for ourselves.


None of this is to minimize the seriousness of depression, by the way, or to suggest that there aren't real physical causes of it that often need to be addressed. But it does seem our creative human fullness may be more at play in determining our own happiness than we thought. As the article in the Times suggested, the growing study of human happiness is suggests it is appropriate for us to deliberately focus our thoughts on what broadens us, elevates us and connects us to others. And the result may be that focus helps bring us the greatest satisfaction and happiness.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.

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