10 Practices of “The Happiness Prayer”

Happiness is not always pleasure. It is not always ease. It is connection.

There is a special Hebrew prayer that many of us don’t know. It’s called Eilu Devarim (pronounced ay-lu deh-var-eem), which means “These are the words.”

It was written over 2,000 years ago. But it is still perfect for today.

Ten short verses make up the prayer. Evan Moffic, a Jewish rabbi who helps people of all faiths, has rewritten the prayer for modern English readers. He then expands on each verse in his newest book, The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today.

Here is Rabbi Moffic’s paraphrase of the Happiness Prayer:

How will you find happiness in this world and peace in the world to come? By learning these wisdom practices from your ancestors:

  • Honor those who gave you life
  • Be kind
  • Keep learning
  • Invite others into your life
  • Be there when others need you
  • Celebrate good times
  • Support yourself and others during times of loss
  • Pray with intention
  • Forgive
  • Look inside and commit

But more than reciting and singing this prayer, Rabbi Moffic has also lived this list of truths for years. When done with such intention, such practices sink deeply into your soul. (I’m thinking of focusing on one per month as a spiritual practice in 2018.)

Ultimately, our faith is built on such everyday choices, he says.

“[Happiness] comes, like winning in baseball, from doing certain things faithfully and consistently. These practices sustain us through the inevitable pains and downturns of life.”

Quotes from The Happiness Prayer

Here is a short quote from each of the ten practices in The Happiness Prayer.

  1. Honor those who gave you life

“Honoring the past sometimes lets us move out from under its shadow. We carry less baggage as we walk into the future. . . .

Children who know their parents’ and grandparents’ histories and stories tend to be healthier and happier than those who do not.”

  1. Be kind

“You do not lose kindness when you give it away. You get more.”

  1. Keep learning

“We study ourselves in order to change ourselves. We go outside ourselves in order to empathize with ourselves. And it works.”

  1. Invite others into your life

“Hospitality is not something that happens only at one’s house. It can take place at one’s spiritual home. . . .

Things do not bring happiness. People do. Happiness is more of a who than a what.”

  1. Be there when others need you

“Here’s what I tell myself: presence is what matters most. I once heard it said that 80 percent of life is showing up. When it comes to comforting the sick, it is 99 percent.”

  1. Celebrate good times

“Sharing in another’s celebration takes us deep into community. . . .

A wedding is about more than community. A wedding reminds us of something bigger than ourselves. It reminds us that life is fragile. And we need to embrace every opportunity to celebrate.”

  1. Support yourself and others during times of loss

“Our presence can also symbolize God’s presence. . . .
We make God’s invisible presence visible when we are there for one another.”

  1. Pray with intention

“[Prayer] is a way of opening a door for God. . . .

Prayer brings our attention to what matters most.”

  1. Forgive

“Our pasts, like our futures, are not set in stone. Their meaning changes as we change.”

  1. Look inside and commit

“Happiness actually isn’t a onetime, far-off destination. Happiness is the path, and we find it through the journey.”

The book also includes a “Happiness Quick Start Guide.” It has five questions for each of the ten chapters. You can do them individually or as a group.

Perhaps one or two of the practices resonate more with you now, but others may later. Rabbi Moffic reminds us that doing these spiritual exercises regularly will benefit us in the same ways as physical exercise does: They leave us in excellent shape, and the next time we need to spiritually sprint, we’ll be ready.

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I first heard of The Happiness Prayer on the Typology Podcast with Ian Morgan Cron. Listen to the interview here with Rabbi Moffic.


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Watch Rabbi Moffic talk about The Happiness Prayer here.


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Of the ten practices, which one do you need the most?
Which one is the most difficult?
Please share in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

13 thoughts on “10 Practices of “The Happiness Prayer”

  1. floyd

    Awesome! That’s what this world needs. It points to the power God gave all people with the gift of free will.

    Leave it to Ian Cron to dig up the good stuff. Love that guy.

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