Arab villages in Israel are not generally not known for their welcoming attitudes to the Jewish people.
What is it about this very small group of Hasidim – who in their own brand of customs spend around 90% of their time dancing on cars – that almost anyone who sees them will find themselves smiling and laughing?
The central tenets practiced by this group is to live life in a constant state of happiness and to avoid being sad at all costs.
This is a quite radical idea, but it has more than a few grains of truth in it.
Sadness is not a minor malady that is unfortunate.
Unfortunately, it is a widespread problem in today’s day and age.
How to cope with sadness is not a simple question.
Many people like to drown out their sorrow by focusing inwards and delving into the root causes.
This can sometimes be effective if one can properly analyze, understand and then take steps to avoid the root causes that have led a person to this emotional state.
However, the group that chooses to challenge the negative attitudes with positive attitudes are largely choosing what could be called in football terms, “the best defense is a good offense.”
There is much psychological clarity in this approach. It is simply true that if one spends their time focusing on the positive and on pleasant things, it will in some way put aside some of the sadness that one is battling with.
However, I would argue that it is not an ideal solution either. It is a band-aid like solution that works as long as one is occupied with the positive frame of mind.
But, the underlying sadness will often remain.
In an article titled, “Preserving Subjective Wellbeing in the Face of Psychopathology,” Elisabeth H. Bos reaches the following conclusion:
“Cultivating personal strengths and resources, like humor, social/animal company, and daily occupations, may help people preserve acceptable levels of well being despite the presence of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.”
In my opinion, this sums up the essence of what the recipe for a true daily battle against sadness should be based on:
1. A bit of humor
2. A bit of company / friendship (ideally a spouse)
3. Working or volunteering
Lastly, I believe that some intellectual stimulation and daily prayer to a Higher Being are the last pieces of a puzzle.
These raise a person up to a higher level of living and push aside or at least lessen the negative impact of sadness.