Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2018!

From my family to yours: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

May this holiday season plant the seeds of peace. May your journey lead you to love yourself and others. And may your year lead you to joy, health, and success!

And may God* bless you and your loved ones!

*or no God, or gods, or however you believe.

P.S. Please don’t just remember those less fortunate than you. Actions speak louder than words. Give love, give time, give food, give shelter, and give money to worthy causes.

Ethan Explains Happiness 5/17/16

Do you see those happiness indexes on your social media feed? I explain what’s wrong with them and what you should focus on instead.

From the Quartz article “Denmark beats Switzerland to become the world’s happiest country“:

This isn’t the first time that Denmark appears at the top of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)’s list of happiest countries. 
The Nordic nation also ranked first in 2013, in the SDSN’s second-ever world happiness report, before falling to third place in the organization’s following report, published in 2015.

The SDSN measured average levels of happiness by looking at variables like GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social freedom, and absence of corruption. 
However, in this year’s report (pdf), the researchers looked something new: the SDSN has decided not just to look how happy people are, but also how that happiness may be unequally distributed across individuals. 
In other words, for the first time, the SDSN is looking at how inequality affects national levels of well-being. 

The researchers found that the happiest countries were also more equal—where the distribution of well-being was more even across a nation’s population. 
The group measured the distribution of happiness in this year’s report by analyzing responses to something called the Cantril ladder: Imagine a ladder with rungs numbered zero through 10, with 10 at the top representing the best possible life you can have. 
Where do you stand on the ladder at this time? This year’s report looks at the average ladder scores for more than 150 countries, averaged from roughly 1,000 survey responses collected across 150 countries in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

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L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu 5775

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Traditional foods served during Rosh HaShanah

May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and literally means “head of the year.”

Rabbi Benjamin Blech has an insightful article titled “Jews Don’t Say Happy New Year” on Rosh HaShanah. An excerpt quoting Kathleen Vohs, “”Happy people get joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.” In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants.”

After a year in which Jew Hatred reared its vile, ugly head across Europe (synagogues firebombed in Germany and Belgium, Jews viciously attacked at a synagogue in France), and around the rest of the world surrounding Israel’s war with Gaza.

Let us all, Jews and Gentiles alike, pray for peace. Pray for people to value life more than death, pray for our children to be the future of goodness, pray for the hate-filled to become love-filled, pray for the angry to let it go, pray for the righteous to shine joyful light on the darkness that lurks and leaps, and pray for leaders to step forward.

In this New Year, may peace, prosperity, and joy find you and your family.