The Torah Road to Happiness

I recently read the following on the site of Dr Martin E. P. Seligman one of the leaders of the Positive Psychology movement.

So the core thesis in Authentic Happiness is that there are three very different routes to happiness. First the Pleasant Life, consisting in having as many pleasures as possible and having the skills to amplify the pleasures. This is, of course, the only true kind of happiness on the Hollywood view. Second, the Good Life, which consists in knowing what your signature strengths are, and then recrafting your work, love, friendship, leisure and parenting to use those strengths to have more flow in life. Third, the Meaningful Life, which consists of using your signature strengths in the service of something that you believe is larger than you are.

Does this seem consistent with Torah views of happiness?

Can we use these findings to introduce our coreligionists to Torah or is the quest for the Pleasant Life so ingrained, that the Good Life and Meaningful life don’t appeal to most people?

4 comments on “The Torah Road to Happiness

  1. Hmm. I was just learning in Mes. Shabbos about the associations between Shabbos and a verse in Eicha. The prophet bewails
    תזנח משלום נפשי
    (My soul has been neglectfully without peace)
    נשתי טובה
    (I’ve forgotten good)
    and the Gemora associates the first with Shabbos candles and the second with all sorts of extra nice things we do to enhance our Shabbos.

    The question that commentaries ask is why isn’t eating and drinking, which is a bigger Shabbos Mitzvah than the others, in there? The answer, to use your terminology, is PLEASURE.

    Yermiahu after the Churban wasn’t concerned about Israel’s lack of pleasure. But the GOOD and MEANINGFUL life?

    That’s the heart of Judaism.

    How can we shoot for anything loweer??

  2. Why not? One can find much in the early works of the Baalei Musar that is almost verbatim to the much earlier works of Benjamin Franklin.

  3. Everyone (or nearly everyone) has some things which make him happy. From a Torah perspective, a person also has to consider what ought to make him happy and why certain things now make him happy. Unless (maybe) introspection makes the person unhappy?!

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