Fifteenkey

A place to indulge my narcissism... and write stuff...

Tag: happiness

Thankfully Behind the Waterfall

behind-the-waterfall“You should try meditation.” That statement is usually met with a hesitant acknowledgement, and I can tell the receiver is dismissing the idea. For most, meditation is somewhere in the mental card catalog between LSD and “Séance.” It’s too “out there” and something only weirdos do. I wish Donald Trump would meditate. If he did, he wouldn’t be sending out angry tweets at 3AM.

My journey for the last year or so has been toward “happiness.” Well, that’s what I set the GPS for, but getting to a place of contentment isn’t via highway, it’s typically found with the setting that avoids interstates and tolls. It’s a slower, rural route, but the scenery is beautiful. That’s the point. How many times have you driven somewhere and not really “seen” anything on the trip? How about every day commuting? How much of our lives are spent completely unaware of what’s happening right in front of us? Our minds take over with a torrent of thoughts either reliving the past (depression) or worrying about the future (anxiety). Meanwhile whatever peace and beauty might be in the present moment is swept away by the tsunami of thought.

Meditation is like going to the gym for your mind. It’s training that helps you recognize when the waterfall of thoughts is flowing so you can simply acknowledge them and step back into a quieter space. This training pays off when life’s adversity hits. It could be in work, in personal relationships, or in traffic when somebody cuts you off. Instead of reacting from the sudden rush of emotional water, you can step back to the calmer place, take a breath and respond. Not always, of course. After all, we’re human and who the hell does that guy thing he is?!

Anyway, here’s a great 2-minute primer if you’d like to try meditation. I promise you, a year from now you’ll be thankful you did.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Happiness – Let it take a lifetime

happyToday is International Day of Happiness uh, Day. In 2013 the United Nations proclaimed it “to promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration in the lives of people around the globe.” I don’t know why it should be limited to just us on this one tiny orb in the universe, but that’s a post for another day…

So… Are you happy? If so, how do you create it? If not, what’s keeping you from it? Even in the face of life’s sometimes horrible adversities, happiness is a choice.

My happiness quest began shortly after a happiness fall in the Fall. The meditation thing is definitely yielding benefits, but it takes work. That’s why they call it a “practice.” I don’t know about you, but it takes pretty intense concentration to shut up the voices inside my head even for a few minutes, but I keep at it and sense gradual benefits each day. I can’t say I’m “there” yet, and I’m not sure there is a “there.” You just keep trying, and don’t expect to become the Dalai Lama overnight. After a late night in Atlanta recently, my 6AM practice kept being interrupted by the image of a Starbucks cup… Hey, nutrition. Then about a month ago, someone cut me off on the highway. My initial reaction was not very Zen-like, but I caught and laughed at myself, then thought, “yeah, better keep at the meditation thing.”

I can’t say there’s one particular thing working for me, but I’m still listening to the podcasts previously mentioned, and based on my research the tips pictured above and listed here are solid. Here’s one thing… “Being in the moment” is supposed to be a key to happiness, yet it seems an elusive concept to many. It isn’t, but it does require some effort. For me sometimes it’s simply putting the phone down and experiencing life…

“Maddie just spent about 2 minutes explaining her elaborate leprechaun trap to me. I listened intently, watching her happy little face move and eyes shine as she spoke. When she finished, I noticed a smile had crept onto my face. Thanks baby.”

It’s your life. Just be there.

“I’m learning how to be alone. I fall asleep with the TV on
And I fight the urge to live inside my telephone
I keep my spirits high, find happiness by and by
If it takes a lifetime” – Jason Isbell

The Pursuit of Happiness

pursuit-of-happiness-300x300A few months ago, someone I love and respect said, “you just don’t seem like a happy person.” In the aftermath, those words continue to echo in the vast space between my ears. The words roll around like sneakers in a dryer, consistently thumping my attention. Over time, my YouTube search for things like “Physics and Ultimate Meaning” and “Why is There Something Rather than Nothing?way out there began to turn inward as I sought an answer to the more pressing question, “Am I Les Miserables?”

I’ve discovered there’s much scientific study behind happiness, and even a Cal-Berkeley edX course on the Science of Happiness I’m taking. I’ve also learned how meditation can physically alter your brain in positive ways! Oh, side note: Yoga was developed some 2,500 years ago as a way to warm up and prepare the body for meditation…

With all this discovery has come some actual practice. I can recommend two podcasts that I now begin each day with. First I spend 10-15 minutes with Mary Mechley’s Daily Meditation Podcast, followed by another 10 minutes or so with Dr. Robert Puff’s Happiness Podcast. I think how each end their podcast says a great deal about how to be happy:

“You are so worth slowing down for.” – Mary Mechley

“Accept what is. Love what is.” – Dr. Robert Puff

Speaking of meditation, Buddhist monks spend quite a bit of time practicing it and their positive results are indisputable. Monk Matthieu Ricard is sometimes called the “happiest man in the world.” Check out his 20 minute Ted Talk. Here’s a little sample of his insight to true happiness:

“So how do we proceed in our quest for happiness? Very often, we look outside. We think that if we could gather this and that, all the conditions, something that we say, “Everything to be happy — to have everything to be happy.” That very sentence already reveals the doom, destruction of happiness. To have everything. If we miss something, it collapses.

© 2017 Fifteenkey

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑