Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Why are poor people often so happy?

It’s free, and they only need to smile and mean it

They say to themselves: We already have no money. If we also have no happiness, then we have nothing.

It’s not really true, but maybe it can help the people who think they are not poor to become jealous and also choose to be happy.

Poor people say: When you laugh, you’re rich. There’s something to it.

Our Sages already teach us that who has 50 wants 100; who has 100 wants 200; who has 200 wants 400. Not only is it never enough. The more you have, the more you feel you lack.

Billionaires, so I’m told, generally have one big problem: depression. It’s unbelievable. So many people think more money would make them happy. Clearly not so. The super-rich do the craziest things to forget their empty and sad feelings. Addictions give short-lived relief, but after indulgence, they feel even lonelier. They have affairs, ruining their marriages. They drink alcohol and smoke tobacco, ruining their healths. They lie for profit, ruining their friendships, making them lonelier still.

When we’re sad, it’s impossible to connect with others or G^d. Therefore, we make bride and groom happy, not just self-confident, feel loved, etc.

Lasting happiness (and love) comes from giving, not from receiving. Feeling that you contributed, that your life is not wasted.

Realize how poor you feel and that no money will ever make you happy. Then smile and mean it. End of problem!

When I look around in the synagogue on Shabbat and see all the sour faces, I don’t think: Poor things—they must have a hard life. I think: They have too much money. Someone suggested: But it’s the war. Not true. (Although it could help to guard your mental health.) The guy whose son was murdered on October 7 smiles.

Happiness comes also when we reach a self-chosen goal through effort. The essence is the effort. No strain, no gain, say our Sages.

Instead of spending lots of time and energy amassing wealth, one can become happy in no time. Raise the corners of your mouth and mean it. The happy feeling comes immediately.

That’s not something we should do. Shoulds never deliver. Just do it.

Children have nothing and look how happy they are. Happiness is not something foreign we need to adopt. When we hide our inborn exuberance we’re short-selling our authenticity.

We are happy when we focus on what we have, not what we could have.

Surely, life is not always fair. Cry about your disappointments (busted unrealistic expectations) to become happy again. That’s what kids do.

Can’t you help being unhappy because you are overly worried, or are you overly worried because you refuse to be happy?

Yes, there is war, there is hunger, there is evil. Does that improve by making a sour face all day long? Does it hurt less like that?

Generations Z and Aleph aren’t depressed because they lack a future, but because they’re told they can’t do anything to make a positive difference.

As Moses (Deuteronomy 30:12-14) teaches: This isn’t above the mountains or across the sea. Close by, in our hearts (awareness) and mouths (!) it is.

The town’s fool is known for his ’embarrassing’ silliness. My experience is that people don’t think you’re stupid when you’re happy.

Being sour-faced is not a private affair. You rob others of their joy too.

Smiling helps to connect instead of staying lonely, be optimistic and maintain hope instead of being depressed, say something friendly instead of being grumpy, be humble instead of being blasé, be happy for others instead of jealous, think afresh instead of sitting in an unmotivated rote, love instead of hate, be grateful and satisfied instead of displeased, and to be generous instead of being stingy and needy, etc. Be happy now.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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