During Hanukkah, count your blessings one by one

Rabbi Weiman is a speaker, teaches Jewish history at Esther Miller Bais Yaakov, and is author of the new book, “48 Things, 49 Days,” (Targum Press) as well as “A Simple Guide to Happiness,” “A Map of the Universe,” and “the Everything Learning Hebrew Book.”

By Rabbi Max Weiman

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, comes at a time when the nights are longer providing more darkness. Nothing is a coincidence. The sages also say that Greece is synonymous with darkness, since they wanted to uproot Judaism from the Jews. We celebrate Hanukkah by counting out the days of the miracle of the oil, i.e. each night another candle. Why not just light all eight every night? Because the act of counting one-by-one also reminds us to count our blessings one by one. Give each candle its own night. Count your blessings slowly and focus on each one. Magazines like to print new recipes for latkes. Well here is a recipe for happiness inherent in the lighting of the menorah.

Whole Living Magazine wrote an article about Philadelphia psychologist Martin Seligman, the best-selling author of Authentic Happiness, and how he has revised his outlook to five key elements he refers to as PERMA or Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.

One tip he gives is to write down three things that went well each day, whether from luck or skill. Being aware and reflecting on positive events lifts our mood. Focus on your blessings. Most people agree this is a necessity to happiness. Our mind often turns over and over our problems and worries because they are unresolved. Yet reviewing problems and worries wears us down and keeps us focused on negativity.

We need to focus on positive things to be happy. Every problem has a silver lining. Every bad thing could have been worse. A person hurt in a car accident can be thankful it wasn’t worse, thankful friends and family care about her and wish her well, thankful there are medical emergency people and equipment to help deal with the pain and injuries, etc.

This doesn’t mean ignoring problems, but focusing on blessings will give you the best advantage for dealing with problems. In a positive upbeat mood you are in a better position to find solutions to difficulties.

So try Seligman’s tip. Keep a journal and add three things every day. And over the course of time you just might train your mind to always think about positive things and be thankful for blessings. If you can accomplish that, you will definitely have a happier life.

And if you thank the Almighty for your blessings, you’ll not only have a happier life, you’ll have a more spiritual life as well.

Rabbi Max Weiman is Director of Kabbalah Made Easy and author of ‘A Simple Guide to Happiness,’ available on Amazon.com.

More of his articles and may be found online at www.kabbalahmadeeasy.com.