What is the key to happiness? Teddy Roosevelt said that the key to happiness is having low expectations!  Buddha said: that happiness doesn’t depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think. The Capitalist path to happiness may be just having friends poorer than yourself. But I believe Judaism offers the best guide to happiness.

Among all the positive psychology books on happiness I own, I only needed one. Our Torah. This week Torah instructs us on the delivery of the first fruit offerings. Upon completion of the task,

וְשָׂמַחְתָּ֣ בְכׇל־הַטּ֗וֹב אֲשֶׁ֧ר נָֽתַן־לְךָ֛ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ וּלְבֵיתֶ֑ךָ אַתָּה֙ וְהַלֵּוִ֔י וְהַגֵּ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּקִרְבֶּֽךָ׃

“you shall enjoy, together with the [family of the] Levite and the stranger in your midst, all the bounty that your God has bestowed upon you and your household.”

Dissecting Deuteronomy 26:11, you could create a TED Talk on happiness. The elements of happiness are these.

1. Have the right attitude. As Winnie the Pooh said, “the most important decision I will make today is to be in a good mood.” Unless you are open to enjoyment you won’t feel happiness. The text offers a divine urgency to being happy. If God wants you to be happy, who are you to do otherwise!

2.  Come together with others. Spend time with varieties of people. People who you respect and people you don’t yet know. Some people who are richer, some poorer, some more powerful, and some less so. Happiness increases through companionship.

3.  Share what you have.  Be generous and be kind.  However much or little you own, sharing creates happiness.

4.  Whatever you have, be grateful. You have been blessed with opportunities. Each day offers something new, and the possibility of something wonderful. If you are blessed with much, appreciate the bounty. If you are blessed with health, be supremely thankful. If you are blessed with friends and family, treasure them.

With the New Year approaching, I am focusing on gratitude. I am grateful even for the opportunity to reflect on mistakes I’ve made and opportunities I’ve missed. I’m grateful for my community with whom I will pray and eat and sing and laugh.

Thank you for reading my blogs all year long and for your feedback which has been so thoughtful and encouraging. And I thank God for new opportunities for us to enjoy life together.

Rabbi Evan J. Krame