February 26, 2014
True happiness has no cause. It is the natural state of our being, when unobstructed. ~Ezra Bayda, from Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts)
“Let it be,” say the Beatles. How hard that is! We think that doing this or buying that or being with this person or achieving that will move us closer to happiness. But Bayda says happiness is the natural state of our being! It’s great good news that we already have it, if we can just clear the obstructions.
One of the obstructions for me is mindlessness, distraction, forgetting to stop and notice the world. Isn’t it easy to get caught in a web of striving? Today I am committing to write a haiku a day to help me remember to take a moment to just be in the world, to notice things outside my own head, and to “let it be.” Satya Robin would call this piece of mindful writing a “small stone.”
So, no matter how trite this may be, here’s the first:
Clouds blanket the sky
Trees are buffeted by wind
Yet daffodils bloom
What are your obstructions to happiness? What will you do to clear them?
August 19, 2010
As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out of present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care and love – even the most simple action. ~Eckhart Tolle
Everyday, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself to expand my heart out to others for the benefit of all beings. ~His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama
While we have almost no control over external events and conditions, our happiness is largely within our control. “Hah!” you say. And I have said the same. But I do believe that dropping our ego identification as much as possible, waking gratefully, and paying attention to the present moment can radically alter our days.
On good days, I work, I play creatively, and I interact mindfully with others. Mostly, on those days, I can act to make it a good day. I’ve learned that if I pay attention to the nourishing things, instead of despairing over the time-wasters and bad habits, the good things increase. While I don’t buy any of that Secret stuff about the laws of attraction, it’s just common sense that where we put our attention profoundly affects our lives.
Tolle makes it sound simple, but the connection between intention and action can sometimes be tenuous for me. I try to remember what Annie Dillard said: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
May we begin each day in gratitude and aspire to act out of present-moment awareness, feeling the flow of life, making it a good day.
November 28, 2009
Happy Thanksgiving weekend!
I shared some favorite quotations on gratitude here. To those I add the following:
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward
I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. ~Martha Washington
When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed. ~Maya Angelou
I believe gratitude breeds generosity and is an important element of happiness. Do you have a favorite quote that reminds you to be grateful?
August 10, 2009
Look deep, deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything. ~Albert Einstein
Nature is not a place to visit. It is home. ~Gary Snyder
It is becoming clearer to me that happiness is a subtractive, rather than an additive, process. What I mean by that is that it is our natural state, but it is layered over with oh-so-much stuff that interferes. Letting go and discarding those things that don’t serve us is our task–not striving to find something we don’t already have. We are an integral part of the universe, of nature; we belong here (because we are here, after all), yet we persist in struggling to feel belonging. At least that’s my theology at the moment.
I am so fortunate to live in a gorgeous place. But when I am unhappy, focused on all that “stuff,” it goes unnoticed. May I recognize that I vibrate with all of nature, and feel that connection in my bones.
Sophia once said to me, “You should feel adored.” We should all feel adored as we bask in our natural homes. We are part of something much greater, but it would be different without us.
I am a thread in the fabric of existence.
No one would miss one tiny thread,
except that it holds the whole thing together.
Who knows the extent of unraveling
once it begins?
March 8, 2009
Be happy. It’s one way of being wise. ~Sidonie Gabrielle Colette
Thanks to Pat Wagner for this quote and the lovely photo of her bathtub full of catnip that accompanies it on her post card. In times of depression, of course, the exhortation to be happy can be a mockery. But I like the implication that for most of us, most of the time, if we have a few tools and techniques at our disposal, happiness is a choice, and a wise one.
This must be true, if we take into account the many who are in suffering and need much greater than our own, but are still able to maintain this state. Consider this quote: “Don’t be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.” ~Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Here are some of the ways I encourage myself to be happy:
go outdoors, especially in the sunshine
pet my cat
learn something new
keep a gratitude journal
share with others in a variety of ways
visit with close friends
keep track of the good things I do for myself each day
make a donation to a cause I believe in
organize and simplify
crochet or knit
What are the ways you practice being happy?
January 8, 2009
The main thing in one’s own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry. ~Maya Angelou
We hear way too much gloom and doom from the media. Yes, it’s true bad things happen in the world. But every day, so many people are doing good work, helping others, showing courage, giving and sharing, speaking truth to power, loving and caring for the world.
While it seems right to be concerned and cry (about the horrors in the Gaza Strip, the shooting in the San Francisco subway, and the other tragedies of the day), we also have to sustain our belief in goodness, laughter, community and sharing. Being human is being all those things, despite the fact that it sometimes feels a bit schizophrenic. Think how healing it can be for people to commune, laugh and remember after a memorial service, to enjoy being together, to remember the loved one who is gone, but also go on living.
I have never cared for the ideas of “positive thinking” or “affirmations” because to me they have always seemed false, a pretense. But if we are genuinely in touch with both the sadness and the joy in life, it is good to remember the things that make us laugh. May we all laugh as much as we cry.
October 19, 2008
Is there a greater miracle than to see through another’s eyes, even for an instant? ~Thoreau
Read the wonderful poem, “Kindness,” by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Compassion and kindness, I believe, spring from a greater understanding of others. I am struggling this week to feel compassionate and kind toward those whose values, so different from my own, are leading them into actions that seem to me to be producing bad karma. I want to suspend that judgment and open to understanding. I want to create spaciousness in my heart, to breathe in their suffering and breathe out peace and light.
I am blessed beyond measure. I cannot help but smile and give thanks. May I remember that all beings want to be happy and free from suffering. May I learn and practice the “tender gravity of kindness.”