How to Catch a Case of “Happy”
Mankind has been engaged in the pursuit of happiness for thousands of years, but it still eludes most of us. What can bring us to this longed-for state of well-being, pleasure, contentment, and joy, and help us stay there?
Experts from Harvard and the University of California at San Diego have just released the results of a 20-year study of happiness, revealing that happiness is… well, contagious. That’s right – just like you can catch a cold from your friends, you can catch a case of “happy!”
In an article called “The Happiness Effect,” Time Magazine summarizes this ground-breaking research that has caused a sensation: “Christakis and Fowler explored the emotional state of nearly 5,000 people and the more than 50,000 social ties they shared. … That led to their intriguing finding of just how contagious happiness can be: if a subject's friend was happy, that subject was 15% more likely to be happy too; if that friend's friend was happy, the original subject was 10% more likely to be so. Even if the subject's friend's friend's friend - entirely unknown to the subject - was happy, the subject still got a 5.6% boost.”
As it turns out, Kabbalists have known and used this “happiness effect” for thousands of years. But Kabbalah goes much further than analyzing the statistics: it states that we have the ability to mutually “infect” (or energize) each other with happiness in such a way that everyone in the world will be 100% happy!
“But,” you will rightly object, “How can we infect each other with happiness if most of us don’t feel much of it?” That’s no excuse, because there is another technique used by Kabbalists that science has now caught on to, as well: just by forcing yourself to smile (artificially), not only will you instantly feel happier, but others will perceive your smile as real. This will, in turn, make them feel happier and more joyful, and the joy will come right back to you through someone else. If all of us participate in this game of “fake it until you make it,” before we know it, the happiness epidemic will spread to every corner of the world!
Something Greater Than Happiness?
But the wisdom of Kabbalah doesn’t stop there. It tells us that this technique of “infecting” one another with feelings and emotions has even greater potential. That’s right: greater than being able to provide sustainable happiness for all the people in the world. It can actually elevate us all to a new level of perception, one that is above time and space, and beyond our temporal physical lives. This is, in fact, what Kabbalah is all about – helping us reveal the Upper Dimension of our existence. This dimension is called “the Upper World” – a world that’s infinite, eternal and perfect in every sense, a reality where we all love and care for each other like family members.
Just as it is possible for us all to attain the feeling of sustainable happiness – a goal that is seemingly unattainable at first - so it is possible to attain the Upper World, the sensation of true eternity, unity amongst all of us, and perfection. How? Obviously, we start out without feeling these things at all, or even having an idea of what they are.
But while we still don’t feel them or even realize how great they really are, we can start infecting (energizing) each other with the feeling that it’s extremely important and worthwhile to attain this higher perception. We artificially rise (or pretend to rise) above our current perception, cultivating the new spiritual perception among us. When we are playing this game of a “spiritual perception,” then just like an artificial smile eventually makes us and others happy, the new spiritual perception actually starts to emerge in us.
Harnessing the Laws of Nature
Besides teaching us how to use the laws of nature, Kabbalah gives us precise, scientific explanations of how they work. It tells us that the prime agent of change (whether we are talking about mood or the spiritual perception) is our desire to reach a better state or higher level of development. This desire evokes something called “Upper Light” – a sort of energy that comes from that future state, from the higher level to which we aspire.
For example, when children desire to be grown-up, they imitate grown-ups and that’s how they grow. Unknowingly, they draw a higher energy - higher because it comes from the next degree of development. This energy comes to them because they desire to reach the next level. This principle works in our world, just as in the Upper World. (“Upper” meaning our next, more advanced state that already exists within us in potential, rather than something found "somewhere out there." It’s just like an adult potentially exists in a child.)
This is the only method to advance from one degree of our development to the next. Even when we observe the dynamics of growth in vegetative or animate organisms, we witness the same principle: the negation of one’s current state and the desire for the next state are the driving force for change and growth.
Hence, Kabbalah teaches us about real forces of nature, and more important, about how to use them to attain happiness. But beyond the regular notion of happiness, we can attain an unbounded, spiritual perception of joy that will last forever, even when we “die” (physically), because we will feel the eternal part inside each and every one of us. Now that’s real happiness!