Happiness is wanting what you’ve got, not getting what you want and turning what you have into enough.
We have recently celebrated Shavout and one of the major themes of this holiday is the expression of gratitude. The theme going right back to the time of the Temple where each person, upon bringing their first fruits to the temple would recite passages to express their gratitude for a successful harvest.
Modern-day gratitude and thankfulness research, in an area of study known as ‘positive psychology’, has identified gratitude as the ‘forgotten factor’ in happiness research.
Gratitude Interventions — Psychological and Physical wellbeing
In an experimental comparison it was found that those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis and exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms and felt better about their lives as a whole. They were also more optimistic about the coming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events. Persons who keep gratitude lists are more likely to make progress toward important personal goals whether they are academic, interpersonal or health based.
Measuring the grateful disposition with well-being and spirituality
Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. Disposition towards gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling status more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions.
Grateful people don’t deny or ignore the negative aspects of life, they rather build on what issues materialise to enhance the situations.
It has been found that those who regularly attend religious services and engage in religious activities such as prayer and reading religious materials, are more likely to be grateful as they are more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and a commitment to and responsibility to others. Gratitude does not require religious faith, but faith enhances the ability to be grateful. The Hebrew term for gratitude is hakarat hatov, which literally means ‘recognising the good’ and one tool for practicing gratitude is the ability to recognise the good that is already ours.
When one opens up to the trait of gratitude we are able to see clearly how much good there is in our lives. One can become grateful when we consciously engage in the practice of gratitude and when we practice being grateful it is easy to transform into someone who easily finds the positive in life. There is an understanding that to be grateful takes practice and effort. This practice by no means ignores that we still live with pain or that we lack for important things in our lives. It does, however, provide us with a tool to help us balance our focus between the things we lack and the good we have.
There are many ways in which we can express gratitude and one of the tools given to us in Judaism is by the blessings (Brachot) that we say. Brachot can help us to slow down our busy lives by creating stopping points as we move through our daily routine.
There is a story — probably urban legend, but full of truth nonetheless — concerning the famous violinist Itzhak Perlman.
One evening, Perlman was in New York to give a concert. No sooner had he finished the first few bars than one of the strings on his violin snapped with a gunshot like force. At that point he was close enough to the beginning of the piece that it would have been reasonable to have brought the concert to a halt while he replaced the string, to begin again. But that is not what he did. He waited a moment and then signalled the conductor to pick up just where they had left off. He now only had three strings with which to play his soloist part. He was able to find some of the missing notes on adjoining strings, but where that wasn’t possible, he had to rearrange the music on the spot in his head so that it all still held together.
He played with passion and artistry, spontaneously rearranging the symphony right through to the end. When he finally rested his bow, the audience sat for a moment in stunned silence and then they rose to their feet and cheered wildly. They knew that they had been witness to an extraordinary display of human skill and ingenuity.
Pelmain raised his bow to signal for quiet. “You know” he said, “ it is the artist’s task to make beautiful music with what you have left”.
We have to wonder if he was speaking of his violin strings or his crippled body? Is it true only for artists? We are all lacking something and so we are challenged to answer the question: Do we have the attitude of making something of beauty out of what we have, incomplete as it may be?
How about thinking about your last 24-hours beginning with where you were this time yesterday and going all the way through waking up today and to this moment making a list of what you are grateful for to recount all the details in our lives that are worthy of our gratitude.
May the month ahead be one filled with gratitude and joy as we prepare for the upcoming holidays and the changing of seasons.
Diana Sochen Executive Director
Special Events August
Twilight Suppers Booking Essential for all evenings
Sea Point 13th Dr Anastasia Tomson explores diversity with empathy R70
Milnerton 22nd Deborah Two Oceans Marathon Organisation R70
Wynberg 21st An evening with food entrepreneur Ina Paarman R70
S/Suburbs 5th Stephen Rautenbach Sculpture Gallery, Stellenbosch
19th Dunes Restaurant, Hout Bay
19th Saartjie Baartman Centre
29th Spice Route, Paarl
Milnerton 27th Stephen Rautenbach Gallery, Stellenbosch.
Sea Point 7th Stephen Rautenbach Gallery, Stellenbosch
21st Craft Exhibition in Milnerton
21st Kalk Bay to Save our Sea Exhibition
28th Hillcrest Berry Farm, Stellenbosch
Milnerton 2nd David Hersch R10
Wynberg 14th David Hersch R10
Sea Point 28th David Hersch R10
Sea Point 2 – 4 September with guest presenter, Shane Baker from New York. Booking Essential.
Save the Date
New Pathways for Ageing
CJSA Biennial Seminar Wednesday 6 November
R350 includes teas and lunch
booking essential for all functions
Social and Personal
Woolfie and Glickie Bloom — great granddaughter
Ida Surovsky — great granddaughter
Sadie Graziani — great grandson
Bennie Katzenberg 96, Barry Lipshitz 80, Charles Sacks 80, Bernard Saven 70, Ethel Stein 80, Ida Surovsky 85
Sadie Graziani — granddaughter
Becky Joffe — grandson
Ruth Katzeff — granddaughter
Alan and Silvana Silverman — granddaughter
Bella Silverman — great granddaughter
Anita Stoch — grandson
Selwyn and Leah Borkowf 50, Nat and Ettie Yamey 60
We extend our wishes to our members who have not been well:
We extend our sincere condolences to our members those who have lost family members:
Deborah Hayes — brother in law
Janice Ospovat-Burman — husband
Amanda Summerfield — father
Maureen Summerfield — husband
We extend condolences to the family of members who have recently passed away Brenda Morris, Herbert Hirsch
We welcome new members to the CJSA family:
Alyson Franco, Felicity Krowitz-Osorio, Michelle and Godfrey Shev, David Whitelaw