Happiness Hacks

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One Candle at a Time

 For a 2 minute audio version click here

On the first night of Chanukah we light one candle, on the second two, on the third three and so on. What lies behind this? 

Jewish holidays and their customs don’t simply commemorate historical events. Indeed they are primarily spiritual. On a Jewish holiday, the same energy that created it re-emerges and allows us to tap into its meaning and message. At the heart of every Jewish holiday is something real and relevant, something timeless and eternal for us to capitalise on.

Lighting the Menorah represents the spiritual and moral strength we all possess to overcome darkness and bring more light and inspiration to ourselves and the world. The Menorah epitomises our personal dedication and commitment to battle our ‘inner enemy’, which wishes to contaminate our inner sanctuary and stop us from being the people we can truly be.

The way we light the Menorah is not simply about numbers or patterns, but is in fact a strategy for meaningful living.


Living a productive life involves turning away from inner negativity by decreasing bad behaviour and increasing in goodness by filling our days with positive energy and actions. Quite simply, there are things I won’t do and there are things I must do.

But on which of these approaches should we focus more of our energy?

The Menorah teaches us not to wait until we are fully clear of negativity and dysfunction. This may never occur; hence we lose the opportunity to make constructive change. By filling our life with positivity and acts of goodness and kindness, slowly the inner darkness will disappear. 

We never begin with focusing on negativity. When working on living a meaningful life, always begin with positivity, even if personal issues remain unresolved. Create a schedule filled with small and manageable positive actions. True, initially the light may be small, perhaps only one candle. But as the days go on, our light will get brighter and brighter. Allow it to grow and the personal miracles will unfold.

Be A Star

For a 2 minute audio version click here 

Even when we make a genuine effort to associate with people who face life optimistically and to spend more time in uplifting environments, it’s still not always possible to escape undesirable surroundings. This could be the atmosphere of your workplace or a toxic family member. And to change one’s employment or disavow a family member is neither practical nor menschlich. 

While we are shaped by our environment, we also have the ability to be proactive and to influence others. We can choose to be givers rather than receivers and when we focus on turning outwards and positively influencing and inspiring others, we don’t absorb negativity from the atmosphere around us.

65. Be a Star.jpgWhen we are in the company of family and friends we should not be afraid to let our voices be heard and to be proactive about our values. This does not mean one should be confrontational or condescending. Rather, we should share what we believe is beneficial, healthy and worthy, in a spirit of genuine love. By busying ourselves spreading positivity and helping others, chances are we simply won’t have time to get dragged down by any negativity in our environment.

In Genesis, to illustrate the sheer multitude of Abraham’s prospective descendants, G-d compares them to the stars of the sky. But the lesson from the stars is not only their quantity. The specific utilisation and the quality of the stars teaches us an important lesson: the stars were the original GPS system. By their light, even one walking in the darkness of the desert or travelling the vast ocean does not blunder.   So too the descendants of Abraham are like stars, possessing enough moral and spiritual light to influence others.

We all have people in our lives who could be, inspired, or moved in the right direction, and it is our unique message and delivery that can help.

Go ahead. Be the star G-d spoke of so many years ago! 

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