Tag Archive: bankrupt

How to be Happy…Even in a Recession!

Our Sages (see here) relate, “Who is truly happy? One who is content with his lot!” In today’s economic world this statement seems to ring rather loudly. People who spent and spent, and became used to a certain shall we say, “premium lifestyle,” now have to live within their salary–and not their credit cards.

Truthfully, the ancient wisdom contained within Judaism really can allow anyone, through thick and through thin, to live a more meaningful. Let’s be honest. You can either walk around upset at the cards that you are currently dealt; or you can spend your life no longer having to pursue happiness, but rather living a life of eternal happiness!

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal has a blog (yes blogs have gone that mainstream!), “Laid Off And Looking,” that follows eight unemployed professionals as they search for their next employer. Spencer Cutter, laid off from Lehman Brothers last spring, seems to be on his way to realizing what is important in life. He writes:

Now that I have been out of that culture for the better part of a year…I have re-discovered that the quality of my life is not determined by the quantity of my income…I’m focusing a lot less on the paycheck and am placing a much higher premium on a career that will…provide a sense of longevity, stability, and balance. Money is still important, but I’m no longer obsessed…

If there is one thing that some people (and clearly Spencer is one of them) will acquire from this recession we are facing, it is that one needs to occupy their time at a job that serves a purpose and not just look at the amount of zeroes in a paycheck. Spencer seems to be “growing up quick” and realizing that it’s not about wearing the latest designer suit. Rather, it’s about clocking in at a meaningful job and being happy with where you are in life.

To that end, I read with interest that the “happiest place on Earth!” is not Disneyland. instead, it’s the people who live in the Netherlands. Yes….you read correctly…the Dutch are the happiest country! 60 Minutes reports that the Dutch really seem to have realistic expectations of life, and by extension live meaningful and happy lives. As one resident put it:

“Well, in order to see myself as a success I would want to be happy and have a lot of time with my family. I think that’s very important to me. And the money is not that important,” he replied.

“It is more about the softer values, such as not being stressed, and feeling passionate about what I’m doing. ‘Maybe this job is not gonna pay me a lot of money. But I’m gonna love getting up and doing it every day,’” another said.

All in all, while I’m not suggesting that we all pick up and migrate to the Netherlands, I am of the opinion that it’s not healthy to yearn for the “American Dream.” Instead, dream within your own means so that you can follow the timely advice of our Sages. Frankly, once a person has mastered this particular tip on happiness, and it very well may be a tough bone to chew on, you’ll never need to spend your life pursuing happiness or a quick thrill!


Want to schedule Rabbi Green for a talk, or Shabbaton? Got a question? Need an answer? Click here to contact Rabbi Green.

Listen to Rabbi Green's most recent podcast here.
Subscribe or View Archives.