Joy to the World

We all strive for happiness. The question is: Where to find it?

Discuss these Torah sources with your teens to explain the Jewish view on attaining happiness. Happiness comes from appreciating what you have.

Includes both Advisor and Teen versions.


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This is THE question of a lifetime.

How do I find joy? How can I be happy? There has to be more to life than just school, sleep and having some fun?

What is it all about?

Even before the first source, take a moment to dispel the myth that happy means smiling ear to ear every day. The emotion of happiness that we are discussing is an internal sense of accomplishment toward our goals.

SOURCE 1

"Who is wealthy? One who is happy with their portion, as it says 'When you eat from the toil of your hands, it is your happiness and good for you.'" - Mishna, Pirkei Avos, Chapter 4, Mishna 1

The Torah does not believe that there is a dollar amount, a house size or a particular car model that yields - or doesn’t yield- happiness. Only when you are happy with your lot can you actually be considered happy. Only when you happy with what Hashem has given you can you be happy.

SOURCE 2

"The more one possesses, the more one has to worry." - Mishna, Pirkei Avos, Chapter 2, Mishna 8

Being happy does not depend on how much you have; in fact, the opposite may be true. The more you have, the harder it is to take care of those things. Rather, happiness is knowing that what you have is enough.

The Coca Cola Exercise

Sometimes in order to appreciate something, we have to take a little time to think about it. So here is an exercise that you can do to help you. Each person in this group has to name a profession or person that was involved in the can of Coca Cola you can buy in the store. For example, the person who dug the metal out of the ground, or the person who made the red color that they put on the can, or the person who purchased the ingredients that go into that can.

Advisors, as you go around the room and collect answers, go with the flow for a few minutes. After you feel that ample time was left for the NCSYers to consider who was involved in making a can of Coke, ask them to do the same thing to their own lives. Each NCSYer should say one thing or person that make a positive connection to their lives. After an amount of time that you see fit, bring everything together: So what would your life be like if you did not have those things that you just mentioned. What if your did not have your health the way you do, your house the way you do, etc? The fact that we have these things in our lives make our lives that much better. It makes people realize that in each of our lives there is plenty to be happy about. The more happiness we want in our lives, the more time we should try to find the things in our life that make things so pleasant. But if we always focus on what is considered to be bad, what is annoying, we will not be satisfied with life.