Scientific Proof That Keeping Kosher Can Increase Your Happiness
There are a lot of reasons for keeping kosher. Of course the best reason to keep kosher is because G-d said to, because it’s written in the Torah. We could do it because it’s a mitzvah (and who doesn’t need to get some extra merit in the world to come?!). Some people who aren’t even Jewish keep kosher because it’s healthier – yes, even today, with all the FDA regulations (FDA regulations really don’t mean much, to tell you the truth). But here’s another reason to keep kosher: IT CAN ACTUALLY MAKE YOU HAPPIER.
Yes, as in more joyful, more smiley, less depressed. Happier. Why? How?
Well, in my last post I spoke about the power of choice. Choice is undeniably a good thing – up to a point. As with all good things, it is fantastic in moderation, but dangerous in too-high doses. In fact, too much choice can be paralyzing. It can cause you not to choose anything at all.
Another side effect of choice is making the wrong choice. If you only have 3 choices and you’re not thrilled with the one you pick, you can always shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, it was the best of the bunch!” But if you have 3 dozen or 300 choices, suddenly if the one you choose isn’t the best, you end up blaming yourself. Surely ONE of those choices must have been the perfect choice!
The result is that although we have more choices and we may choose something that is objectively better than what we would have chosen previously, we are LESS HAPPY with our choice.
Here’s where keeping kosher comes in. When you keep kosher, you inherently have fewer choices. Even if you live in Israel, where entire supermarkets are kosher, there will always be some things off-limits to you. You can’t buy pork chops, you can’t have calamari, and even if you can put cheese on a soy burger, it never tastes quite like the real thing. If you live, as we do, in a community where there are far fewer kosher options than, say, Jerusalem or Monsey, your choice is restricted even further. I can still buy pickles, but I don’t have to choose among 20 different versions: Instead, I have 3 to choose from. This applies across the board.
And you know what? The same thing can apply to other areas of Judaism as well. Dressing modestly means mini-skirts and skimpy tank tops are out of the running, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other options you can use to express yourself. But if there are 200 tops in the department store and only 20 are tznius and of these only 2 suit you, then after choosing between them you will be happier than you would if you did not keep tzniut and had to choose one out of 20 tops that suit you.
And there is scientific proof to back this up. If you don’t believe me, just check out this TED video! Enjoy and happy kosher keeping!