Want to live longer? Be healthier? Feel lasting, abiding happiness? Who doesn’t?

On three warm July evenings in three cities in western Canada, more than 800 people seeking answers on how to be more content came to hear Israel’s “Guru of Happiness” Prof. Yoram Yovell of Hebrew University provide insight on the subject.

Hosted by CFHU’s Western Region, Prof. Yovell’s talk, titled “The Science of Happiness,” captivated his audiences in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Prof. Yovell is an associate professor in the Division of Clinical Neuroscience at HU’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Centre in Jerusalem.  As a scientist, he researches drugs targeting the specific areas of the brain where physical and emotional pain reside. By identifying the exact receptors in the brain that trigger intense sadness, his lab discovered alternatives to opioid treatments, giving hope to some of the most severely depressed patients they treat. Prof. Yovell’s description of his ground-breaking therapy and the way it’s changing the lives of suicidal patients gave everyone in the audience an even greater appreciation of how important happiness is.

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Here are three tips Prof. Yovell gave about happiness:

  1. Happiness is not a miracle, but rather something to work on. Few people are genetically happy. The rest of us need to devote time and effort to making ourselves happier. So, go ahead and work on your happiness but make sure your efforts are in the right directions.

  2. Pleasure ≠ happiness. Pleasure is an essential ingredient of happiness and by all means enjoy it but remember that because of the way the pleasure circuits function in our brain, maximizing pleasure will never lead us to sustained happiness.

  3.  Most of our happiness ultimately comes from meaningful things we do in life and from our meaningful relationships. Focus on those and you’ll find that much happiness comes from action and from contributing to the welfare of the people and causes you care about.


VANCOUVER

Yoram Yovell in Vancouver

(Clockwise from top left): CFHU Vancouver Chapter President Stav Adler, Western Region Executive Director Dina Wachtel, Prof. Yoram Yovell; Prof. Yovell presenting; Dr. Andrea Rogow-Kowaz (whose parents’ memorial fund sponsored this tour in Western Canada) with Prof. Yovell; MC Dr. Lara Atkin with Prof. Yovell.


CALGARY

 (Clockwise) - Vancouver Chapter President Stav Adler, Western Region Executive Director Dina Wachtel, Prof. Yoram Yovell; Prof. Yovell presenting; ; MC Dr. Lara Atkin with Prof. Yovell Dr. Andrea Rogow-Kowaz with Prof. Yovell. (Clockwise) - Calgary Chapter President Cheryl Baron, Prof. Yoram Yovell, MC Sharon Bercuson; Prof. Yovell presenting; Prof. Yovell at the podium; the new Calgary library.

(Clockwise from top left): Calgary Chapter President Cheryl Baron, Prof. Yoram Yovell, MC Sharon Bercuson, Hebrew U Alumna; Prof. Yovell presenting; Prof. Yovell at the podium; the new Calgary library.


EDMONTON

(Clockwise) - Debbie Sniderman, Western Region Executive Director Dina Wachtel, Prof. Yovell and his daughter Naomi, Chapter President Howie Sniderman; Prof. Yovell presenting; Howie Sniderman, Prof. Yovell, University of Alberta Vice President of research Wally Dickson, Dina Wachtel; Prof. Yovell at the podium. 

(Clockwise) – Debbie Sniderman, Western Region Executive Director Dina Wachtel, Prof. Yovell and his daughter Naomi, Chapter President Howie Sniderman; Prof. Yovell presenting; Howie Sniderman, Prof. Yovell, University of Alberta Vice President of research Wally Dickson, Dina Wachtel (photo courtesy of Bernie Estrin/Publisher of Canada Jewish Pipeline); Prof. Yovell at the podium.