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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

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One way I learned to create a happier life was to try to find more reasons to smile, and create more reasons to laugh. Even when I was feeling pretty low, the mere act of smiling and laughing helped me train myself to feel better as a default feeling.

Now, when I see people, I try to remember to smile at them, even if I’m deep in my own thoughts. When things get tough and stressful, I try to think of something to bring up that will help people laugh and ease the tension in an appropriate way. Sometimes it’s just the smiling and tone of voice that helps move the mood upward.

I’ve had a long day trying to beat a flu or something, and tomorrow is going to be a day with more than the usual amount of pressure and stress. I’m going to go find something funny to watch before resting, to remind myself to continually find the laughter.

Tomorrow, I’m going to keep on the lookout for reasons to smile. May you find many reasons also!

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While pursuing goals, it’s important we keep our focus on what we hope to enjoy and experience when (and as) we achieve them. Otherwise, the Idea of the goals can take over, distracting us from what we really seek.

Hakuin was a master of zen, who tried to keep his students focused more on the practice of zen than the idea of zen. Meaning, getting their minds undistracted from the pursuit of something elusive, so they may more keenly observe what was right before them.

To remind them, he liked to tell them about the old woman in the village who owned a tea shop. She was a master of the Tea Ceremony, and understood Zen with her whole self.

Naturally, each of his students eventually went down to the village to see her for themselves. And each time, the old woman recognized them coming, and could tell with just one look whether they came seeking to share her Tea Ceremony, or to ask her to explain her thoughts on Zen.

Compassionately, she had resolved to give each student what they sought. Those who came for tea, she graciously hosted with a truly enlightening experience of peace and attentiveness. Those who came for a teaching, she hid behind the door then surprised them with a sharp whack from her fire poker, beating at them until they fled.

Of all Hakuin’s students, only one in ten enjoyed the Tea.

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Since I’ve been practicing it as promised, I want to explain just a little by what I envision by “Have no more conflicts. Enjoy a positive association with everything.

For me, this phrase is a succinct reminder to maintain some measure of calm acceptance, finding a touchstone of positivity in each moment. Since the everyday frustrations seem to keep evolving over time, it helps for my strategies to evolve, too.

By having no conflicts, I mean, don’t get wound up about a situation being different than I might otherwise hope. Where there’s a disagreement or such with an individual, I’m trying to remember to address the actual issue rather than treating the person involved with it as a problem. Yes, I may perceive them as being the one who “started” the problem, but dwelling on that only interferes with finding a solution. Generally they’re caught up in their own maelstrom of frustrations, and having a little patience with that can help clear some of the storm for both of us.

And that’s where enjoying a positive association comes in. If an otherwise negative situation involves someone I like or love, I remember to focus on that while resolving (or accepting) the situation. If it’s a stranger, I remember to focus on the fact they are a human being, and I happen to like human beings.

If it doesn’t involve another person at all, there’s generally something about my situation or environment that I can focus on with a sense of appreciation, or even just humor. Anything that can help me enjoy that sense of positive resonance that we feel when we’re in the presence of something we welcome into our lives.

I hope that helps explain a little about how I’ve been practicing this, perhaps giving ideas as to how you might enhance your enjoyment of your own life. If so, please give it a shot! Just a little bit of trying out a new habit can make a world of difference in how we experience our world.

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I love holidays. I especially love holidays that help me experience especially joyous times for children.

Today, I got to fill plastic eggs with candy and stickers and toys and hide them in the yard for my toddler. I then got to help him find them, particularly one little keychain toy of a character he’s wanted to play with for many months, but I had only just recently found for him. He loves egg hunts, and he especially loved finding this toy.

Today’s holiday is always one of renewal and openness to fresh beginnings. It was especially enlightening to have the pleasure of enjoying it with a child who was ecstatically happy because of one simple, tiny little gift.

Here’s to welcoming the brightness and joy of the little things life brings us, helping us better prepare to receive the big things.

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Today, a friend of mine said that a couple of people had tried to hit her up with pressure-sales pitches. I joked that I had pressured her with a sales pitch to feel happier and have a good day. As in, I visited her at work for her break, and gave her a big, warm hug.

I then commented that I think when it comes to spreading happiness, we do collect a commission. When we help others increase their happiness, it seems to increase our own, as well.

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I’m working at home this morning, and I turned to my home computer and saw where I had started a post last night before falling asleep. I’m not sure anymore what I was going to say.

I’m sitting here with a young puppy whining and barking to play some more, a sun conure squawking about how he wants to play too, and a fussy toddler leaning on me because he’s glad his mommy’s home and he wants attention.  All while trying to figure out how to arrange numbers on a spreadsheet so they help me pinpoint details in a nebulously vague issue.

Within all of this, the moment strikes me as part of a truly beautiful life. Every single annoyance is just one little part of something or someone for which I am truly grateful.

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The other day, I decided to focus on anticipating “bubbles of rightness” in the day that was to come. As it happened, I found myself hitting unexpected “pockets of well-being”, I suppose you could say. It was like hitting patches of turbulence while flying, except it was hitting patches of calm and happiness.

I liked that, so last night I refocused on Spring and the miracle of sudden beauty right when you may least expect it. Because it was a quieter, calmer day than I had yesterday as a whole, I didn’t notice the “calm pockets” quite so keenly. However, I think I’ll count that as a sign of success.

Now that I have a couple of days off for the weekend, I plan to see just how wonderful I can find them to be.

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I’ve been reminded of how easy it is to feel that I’m having one conversation with someone, while they are having a completely opposite conversation with me. We each have our framings, our schema into which our words and phrases fit. Therefore, what appears so clearly one way to me will just as clearly appear diametrically apposed to them.

In this case, I was trying to speak to how hopeful and optimistic I am with the way I’ve observed positive change in this world. Not everything has been transformed to paradise, but so may people have awoken to a happier vision of the future on personal levels. I find this wonderful. However, as I was speaking to someone who feels global paradisaical transformation is required for there to have been positive change, I came across as contradictory and irrelevant.

I’m choosing to be okay with this. I’m disappointed they are unhappy with this world we share, and I’m disappointed I didn’t do a better job at communicating why I’m happy, even hopeful. But we’re both doing the best we can with the brains we have, and I can only keep working on mine.

That said, I still wish them all the happiness in the world. After all, I feel our world can use all the happiness and hope we are prepared to accept.

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Hotei happens to be one of my favorite buddha figures, and I know I’m in good company in that regard. He’s the Laughing Buddha, that big-bellied guy with an almost-as-big linen sack, whose belly you rub for luck. (The statues of him, I mean of course.)

Back when he was alive, he wasn’t the sort of zen master who gathered a school of disciples. What Hotei gathered was a playground of children. In his sack was candy and treats that he’d give to children, who loved to play with and around him. Yeah, he was that fantastic.

As I’ve heard it, sometimes someone would come up to him and tell him he belongs in some zen temple or another. He’d respond by telling them to give him a penny. At times he’d come across a devotee of zen, and he’d tell them to give him a penny as well.

Another story is that some zen monk asked him what the whole meaning was to zen. Hotei set down his heavy bag with a contented sigh. The inquiring monk then asked how zen is realized.

Hotei slung his bag back over his shoulder, and merrily went back to handing out treats to children.

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Just now, as I opened this page to collect my thoughts, I received the notice that I started this blog five years ago as of this very minute.

Five years.

Only yesterday, I blogged my 250th post.

How very sporadic, has been my life.

How very sporadic has been my consciously focused attention…

What’s funny is that I was trying to think of a way to describe how non-mundane the past 36 hours have been.  It’s felt like a veritable “cascade of surprises”, even though individually they are very everyday sorts of occurrences that just happen to be popping out of the blue nearly all at once.  So here comes another “happens all the time” surprise, that in my own life, I didn’t realize was coming:

Happy 5th Anniversary

So very ordinary, yeah?  No gilded scrollwork, no fireworks, but a kind encouragement sent to everyone regardless of whether they’re blogging good or not.  A humbly supportive “congratulations, five years have passed and you’re here to receive this message.”  And I think that’s pretty fantastic.

So I’m choosing to take that “W within the Laurels” as a personal symbol for my practice over the next few days.  I am going to kick my zen practice up a notch, and truly recognize the miraculous side of the mundane details, while also recognizing the everyday-ness of the surprising and spectacular.

Somehow, that takes some of the edge off the oddness of the past couple of days.  It also helps me feel prepared for the surprises yet to come.

I did sort of ask for it, didn’t I?

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