“On the lowest level of pleasure are all the natural physical pleasures in this world”, Bracha Goetz and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

We often do not feel gratitude because we take things for granted in life. We actually need training to not feel “of course” about everything we have, and to instead feel gratitude to the source of the countless gifts in all of our lives. Without that outlook, gratitude is elusive. As we all know, times are […]

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We often do not feel gratitude because we take things for granted in life. We actually need training to not feel “of course” about everything we have, and to instead feel gratitude to the source of the countless gifts in all of our lives. Without that outlook, gratitude is elusive.

As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.

What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?

One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Bracha Goetz.

Bracha Goetz is the Harvard-educated author of 39 books that help souls shine. They can all be found on the Bracha Goetz Amazon Author Page:

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the back story about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?

I try to write the kind of picture books I wanted as a child — books that explain deep spiritual concepts in a clear and joyful way.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I learned that children’s lives were saved from sexual abuse through reading books I wrote on that important topic.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

Rabbi Noah Weinberg taught “The purpose of life is to experience the greatest pleasure possible.” This changed my life as I came to understand that we really are here to experience pleasure. And then I learned that spiritual pleasures are the greatest and most lasting pleasures. I had been searching for years for the purpose to life so this resonated with me deeply and gave my life a clear direction that I did not have before.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?

The Way of God by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto explains that there are five levels to the human soul and these seem to correspond to the five levels of pleasure that Rabbi Noah Weinberg taught. When I read about this, I began sharing it with others through giving videos and podcasts during the pandemic. It has helped my soul to shine by helping other souls to shine with deep pleasure during this time.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, sharing about the five rungs on The Pleasure Ladder is helping people to experience more gratitude in life since gratitude is the ticket to pleasure. Another exciting project that I am working on is a children’s book about eating healthfully. A picture book about water safety is also due to be released soon.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful to my husband as he encourages me in all of my creative projects. He takes care of things like paperwork — including taxes — and I am so thankful to him for doing that.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?

Gratitude, according to Jewish wisdom, means recognizing the good. It involves focusing on the virtues of something or someone.

Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?

We often do not feel gratitude because we take things for granted in life. We actually need training to not feel “of course” about everything we have, and to instead feel gratitude to the source of the countless gifts in all of our lives. Without that outlook, gratitude is elusive.

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?

If we feel gratitude for the food we eat — if we can mindfully focus on how it is designed to be delicious, has a pleasant aroma, looks bright and colorful — and is also nutritious — then we will be more appreciative of the natural foods that fill our earth. Then we will be less interested in eating processed food that is less nutrient-dense. We will then fill up on food that offers us much more vitality, greatly benefiting our health and enhancing our lives.

Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?

There is a Jewish guideline to express gratitude when we awaken for being granted another day for our soul to be able to live on earth. This helps to start the day off in a positive frame of mind, grateful to be alive. Throughout the day we learn to continue to express gratitude, saying blessings before we eat or drink anything — and even after using the bathroom. All of these guidelines for gratitude help us to appreciate the abundance of goodness in our lives and this naturally leads to joyful feelings.

Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?

To get a sense of the abundance of pleasures readily available to us, we can learn about the five rungs on The Pleasure Ladder. Each higher rung on the ladder brings us more lasting pleasure. And the ticket to experiencing all the pleasures on each level is gratitude.

On the lowest level of pleasure are all the natural physical pleasures in this world. When we have gratitude for the healthy food designed for us, for example, we experience pleasure. Appreciating nature and dancing or stretching to music also brings us pleasure. These are just a few examples of physical pleasures that have the potential to uplift both our bodies and our souls. It is amazing to discover that all the natural physical pleasures were actually designed to uplift our souls. When we forget that we are spiritual beings, though, we also forget the spiritual purpose of all the pleasures we have been blessed with in life.

On the second level of The Pleasure Ladder is love. Love is the emotional pleasure we experience when we focus on the virtues of another. In other words, when we are grateful for someone’s positive attributes, we feel pleasure People don’t have to ever wait or long for love. They can bring the pleasure of love into their lives at any moment by simply appreciating someone. This is an empowering understanding of love because it is not dependent on anyone else. It is totally within our power to experience love at any time, uplifting us both emotionally and spiritually — through gratitude.

The third rung on The Pleasure Ladder is the pleasure we derive from doing something meaningful. When we engage in meaningful pursuits that make a positive difference, it brings an even greater level of pleasure into our lives. When we do something good for our community, for instance, it is a way of expressing appreciation for our community because it shows that we care about it and want to contribute to making it even better.

The fourth level up the ladder is the pleasure we receive from doing something creative. We tap into the creative flow of the Universe when we use our creative abilities. We don’t feel like eating — or even sleeping sometimes — when we are in the midst of this pleasure zone. Using our unique talents, we are grateful to be able to share a part of inner selves with the world and make a positive impact.

The fifth and greatest level of pleasure is transcendence — the experience of connecting with everyone and everything, with us all connected to the very same source. It’s when the illusion of estrangement clearly dissolves, and the veil of separation between us is lifted. The gratitude we experience when we recognize that we are intrinsically connected to everyone and everything in the Universe brings a sense of awe, of bliss. We may not remain looking up at a night-time sky filled with stars forever, but the memory of doing so, stays with us, and it is a pleasure we can return to again and again for spiritual nourishment.

Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?

Each level up the pleasure ladder brings more expansive realms of connection into our ​lives, moving us away from the feelings of isolation and alienation that lead to widespread addictions, including food addictions. When we overeat, for instance, we are trying to fill our inner emptiness by continuing to eat, since it brings immediate, though fleeting pleasure. Since we want the pleasure to keep lasting, we keep eating, but what we really want is more lasting pleasure in our lives. Since the inner emptiness is a spiritual hunger, no amount of food can fill it up.

So the next time you are feeling that way, try asking yourself, “Is it my body that is really hungry — or my soul?” And then think about what else you could do that very moment to could bring more pleasure into your life. Maybe it is counting your blessings, maybe it is opening the window to feel a breeze, or maybe it is leaving a sweet message for someone lonely. Notice if suddenly the big bag of potato chips stops calling your name so loudly.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?

Can I recommend my own memoir? It’s a grateful story about finally finding the spiritual nourishment that filled my soul.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m working on spreading the word that we are all spiritual beings housed in physical bodies, and we need spiritual nourishment in order to thrive. Gratitude provides vital nourishment for us spiritual beings.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

All of my books can be found in one spot on the Bracha Goetz Amazon Author Page:

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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