Friday, October 30, 2009

Do children add to our level of happiness?

Most people seem to have the understanding that children brings happiness into life. Research however, shows that the level of happiness in marriage is declining with the birth of the first child. It is called the “ U- effect” as the decline continues until it reaches the bottom when the children are 12 to 17 years old and from there it rises again.
Children often “ruins” a woman’s career, they cause a couple to have less time for one another and they are “heavy” on the bank account.

A research on what women like to do showed that to spend time with friends, to rest, to eat, to do sports, to watch television, to prepare food, to talk on the phone are enjoyed more than to take care of children.

I must admit that I was more than shocked about these results as I would have had a completely different order on my list of what I like do. Spending time with my girls would definitely be on top of my list and that has been the case since they became a part of my life. Actually I didn’t like this particular program until the following point…….

Professor Tal Ben Shachar has defined happiness as follows:
Happiness = pleasure and meaning. ( he would even write it like this: Happiness = pleasure and meaning.)
For something to be meaningful you need to feel that it is important and that it adds something to the world, and it has to be something that you are willing to pay a high prize for. With other words; For something to add meaning to life there is a need to work hard and for a long time.

So the conclusions concerning children are that:
Children do not necessary bring pleasure, but still they bring happiness to most of us because happiness is a combination of a little pleasure mixed with a lot of meaning.
We are the ones to decide what is meaningful to us.
Maybe it would be good for some people not to have children.

Elin Elkouby

Friday, October 23, 2009

How does work influence ones feeling of being happy?

An average person living till the age of 80 will spend his/her adult life as follows:
20 years sleeping
15 years working
10 years in front of the television.
6 years cleaning, preparing food and dealing with bank, post office etc.
3 years in a car
2 ½ years shopping
4 months sex ( with an average of twice a week )
The rest of the time is spent waiting for the lift, going for a walk, having coffee with friends etc.

From the above list we can see that working takes a big share of our lives. Research has shown that a person who works lives longer, is more healthy, is less depressed and has more satisfaction in life. 9 out of 10 winners of a lot of money actually continue to work.

For work to be satisfactory it is important that the worker has a feeling of doing something important and meaningful. Research has shown that nurses, workers in kinder gardens and primary school teachers are the people that express the highest level of satisfaction concerning their work. It is interesting to note that these professions are usually not very well paid. Lawyers, people who work with hi-tech, business men etc are paid much more but express less satisfaction.

Happiness is a feeling or an understanding and therefore is also very individual.
For people who work it can be useful to ask one selves a few questions:
Do I work only to get money?
Do I dream about quitting?
Do I feel that time stands still at work?
Does my work has any importance at all?
If all the answers are negative it is about time to do something about it.

Elin Elkouby

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I do not spend too much time in front of the television but there has been a really good series on happiness for the last few weeks. Usually I don’t make notes as I am watching but this time I felt that I really wanted to get some of the information down on paper. It seems like we have lots of wrong ideas concerning what this is all about and what can add to it and because it is so important to us scientists have spent a lot of time trying to learn more.

How much is happiness dependent on wealth?

Many people seem to believe that if they won a lot of money they would be more happy but research have found that this is far from being the truth. Money does have an impact on our lives, but to be rich does not bring more happiness than having enough to pay for house, food and clothes. Most people get used to whatever is “more” or “better” very quickly and therefore gets back to the same level of happiness very soon after the “achievement”.

What makes us really happy cannot be bought for money. Whether we are happy or not has less to do with how much we earn and more to do with how we choose to live. Research show that the amount of money that people earn is less important to them than earning more than their friends. It is a sad fact that we seem to compare ourselves to others and this affects our level of joy. – A research made among sports men who won silver or bronze medals during the Olympic games showed that the ones who won bronze were happier than the ones who won silver. The explanation is that they compare themselves to the ones who didn’t get any medal while the ones who won silver were sad that they didn’t win gold.

People who let money direct their lives and who spend too much time thinking about it are less healthy. A wise man once said “what does it help to have all the money in the world if the angel of death won’t take bribes.

There are a few conclusions to be drawn from this:
1. Above a certain level it is true that more money does not bring more happiness.
2. If you want to be happy do not live next to people that are more wealthy than yourself.
3. Be a volunteer! It is healthy!
4. Thinking too much about money is a risk to ones health.
5. In order to be happy it is important to “invest” in good experiences (dinner with friends, a walk by the sea etc.) rather than in things.

Elin Elkouby

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sukkot- The Feast of Tabernacles

We have celebrated Jewish New Year and fasted on Yom Kippur and will be entering into a new holiday in just a few days. This time it will be one of the three festivals for pilgrimage and it is called Sukkot in Hebrew and the Feast of Tabernacles in English.
The two other festivals for pilgrimage are Jewish Pessach, translated to Passover, and Jewish Shavuot, translated to the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. These two Jewish feasts have Christian parallel feasts, but that is not the case for Succot, at least not yet………

It is interesting to read the prophecy in Zachariah’s last chapter from verse 16 which describes that non Jews from all over the world will come to celebrate this particular feast every year. Many have wondered what is so special about this particular feast.

The Bible tells us that the reason why the people of Israel have to live in booths on this day has to do with remembering that the Lord brought them out of Egypt from slavery to freedom.

Many Bible scholars believe that Jesus was actually born into this world on the Feast of Tabernacles. They base this belief on information in Luke: 1 which gives information about Elisabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist, and of Mary who goes to stay with Elisabeth for three months after she has become pregnant herself. It says in verse 41 that the baby leaped in her womb when Mary told Elisabeth that she was pregnant.
Earlier in the chapter we get information about Zechariah who is a Levite and therefore has service in the Temple. We learn that he belonged to the 8’th rotation of Abijah and therefore, based on information in 1. Chronicles:24,10, we also know when his time for serving in the Temple was.
When we put all these pieces of information together it points to the time around Sukkot to be the time for the birth of Jesus. In a spiritual way it makes perfect sense that the Messiah should be born on a holiday remembering the freedom from slavery.

But there is more to it: The seventh month is obviously not the first month, yet it is in this month that we celebrate Jewish New Year. New Year certainly symbolizes some kind of new beginning.
It will probably be during this time that the Messiah will come back and again cause the world to enter into another kind of “season”. Time will reveal all these secrets to us one day.

Elin Elkouby

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yom Kippur

is coming up. This day everything stops in Israel. No cars, no TV, no synthetic kind of noise…..Wonderful.

This is the holiday for bicycles and for walks but most of all it is a day of prayer and fasting. There are more secular than religious Jews in Israel, but Yom Kippur seems to be Holy to most people.

It all started in the Bible when G-g instructs the people of Israel the holidays of the seventh month. It says that on the tenth day of the seventh month, which actually begins at sundown on the day before, shall be a day of fasting and sacrifice. As the Temple in Jerusalem is no more and sacrifices cannot be done prayer has become the substitute. It is not allowed to do any kind of work on this day.

Yom Kippur in Israel starts with an early evening meal. It is usually a big meal as it is supposed to keep people going until sundown the following day. Fasting is understood as meaning no eating as well as no drinking. …….That is the hard part of it !

Children up to the age of 12 or 13 , Bat- or Bar-Mitzvah age, do not have to fast. Elderly people or people with diseases and pregnant women also do not have to fast.

One of the passages read from the bible on Yom Kippur is the prophet Jonah. This book has four chapters in it and the first three verses of each chapter says something about Jonah’s position to G-d; running away, coming back to, walking together with or running ahead of.

It is good to take at least one day a year for the entire people to give a thought to this matter.

Elin Elkouby

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It’s Jewish New Year or Rosh HaShanah.

There are so many things to say about this holiday but I will only get into a few things. First of all it is strange that “New Year” is celebrated on the first day of the seventh month. This makes sense only if we remember that “our ways are not God’s ways and that our thoughts is not God’s thoughts.”
We need to be released from our way of understanding “time” which is controlled by the sun and the moon, day and night, the seasons of the year. If we try to relate to time not as a straight line but rather as a circle where the “beginning and the end” meets up it may start to make more sense.

God created the world in six days and He made the seventh day a day of rest. This number seven has ever since become a symbol of “the beginning of a new spiritual season”. (Just check this with Leviticus 23 and pay attention to how many times the number 7 is mentioned.)

So the Jewish New Year starts on the first day of the seventh month. (…a month which contains some other major holidays as well; Yom Kippur and Succot/ Feast of Tabernacles) One other name for the holiday is “the feast of the blowing of the shofar”. A shofar is a ram’s horn and it resembles the ram which was caught by it’s horns and which was used as a sacrifice instead of Isaac. The story from Genesis : 22about Abraham ‘s willingness to sacrifice Isaac on God’s command is read in the synagogues.--When Isaac asks about the sacrifice Abraham replies that God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering. The ram was not a lamb and it belongs to the goat family and not to the sheep family.
If we add to the story that Isaac was in his thirties when this happened, that he had to carry the woods for the sacrifice on his own back, that the blowing of the ram’s horn symbolizes “God as King of Kings and Lord of Lords” and that the word ram in Hebrew actually is from the same root of words as God it may cause our understanding of the story to grow in a prophetic sense.

Elin Elkouby

Friday, September 11, 2009

Haj Amin el-Husseini
is a key person to the understanding of the conflict in this land. He was born into one of the richest and most powerful of all the rivaling family clans in the region in 1893 (or 1895). He studied religious law at a university in Cairo and continued at the Istanbul School of Administration. A pilgrimage to Mecca in 1913 assured him the title Haj.

He fought with the Turks during World War I, but switched side to support the British upon his return to Jerusalem in 1917. He was a pure breed “Islamist” and the engine behind the Arab anti Jewish riots which swept over the land from 1920 and onwards. His instruction were simple; Kill the Jews and loot their homes! ….Jerusalem. Rehovot and Petach Tikva were attacked within the first year and 47 Jews were killed as a result.

Haj Amin el-Husseini was supported by anti Semitic forces within the British Administration in the region and given the title of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem as well as appointed President of the Supreme Muslim Counsel thereby making him both the religious and the political leader of the Arabs. Once he was in power he started terrorizing and intimidating anyone who opposed him. He killed Jews and eliminated any Arab who opposed his strategy of violence.

His methods were no different than the methods used today. By using lies he managed to fuel the Arab hatred against Jews. In 1929 riots broke out in Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron, Motza and Jaffo and resulted in 133 Jews being killed 67 of them belonging to the Jewish community in Hebron. The background of these riots were false accusations about the Jews being a threat to the local mosques.

From 1936 to 1939 the riots led by Haj Amin el-Husseini costed 415 Jewish lives.
In 1937 he expressed his support for Germany and asked the Nazi Third Reich for help to prevent Jewish immigration to the land, to oppose the establishment of a Jewish State and to provide the Arab population with arms. He was finally deported and exiled by the British.

Haj Amin el-Husseini developed close relationship with the Third Reich and its leaders. He received financial support from Germany during the riots of 1936-39 and actually had Adolf Eichmann paying him a visit in the land. While in exile in Syria he aided the pro Nazi revolt in Bagdad and ended up being Hitler’s special guest in Berlin until the end of World War II.

After the war he moved on to Egypt and was received as a national hero. He was never tried as a was criminal, in spite of numerous accusations against him, because the Allies were afraid of reactions from the Arab world. While living in Egypt he arranged the assassination of the Jordanian king Abdallah because he had given the position as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to someone else. The Jordanian kings to follow ensured that Haj Amin el-Husseini never came back to Jerusalem. They knew that it would be a threat to peace in the region.

Haj Amin el-Husseini died in exile in 1974.

Elin Elkouby