Monday, October 29, 2007

Happiness is a habit

From The Science of Happiness by Stefan Klein

"To live wisely requires the ability to perceive, guide and foresee our emotions. Feelings of happiness aren't a coincidence but the consequence of right thoughts and actions--a concept which modern neuroscience, ancient philosophy, and Buddhism...all agree.

We in the West typically emphasize the value of the correct decision: if only we were to make the right choice at this or that fork in the road, everything would improve. But according to the traditions of Buddhism and the philosophies of ancient Greece and Rome, it is more important to anchor ourselves in good habits, because these form the mind. We should want to change ourselves rather than our circumstances. The rest will come, because with a mind that is prepared for happiness, we will automatically seek out those situations that make us happy.

The importance each of us gives to the conscious choice is in the end a matter of faith. But two things are certain. First, our sense of happiness depends much more on the ways in which the brain perceives than on external circumstances; and second, occasional efforts arent sufficient to change our ways of perceiving. If the brain is to be rewired, repetition and habit are indespensible. And they, in turn, depend on a willingness to make an effort.

People are willing to go to great lengths when it concerns status, career, or their children's development. But when it concerns happiness in everyday life, they can be oddly stingy with their energy. And yet, the way to happiness is quite straight forward: 'The actual secrets of the path to happiness are determination, effort, and time,' explains the Dalai Lama.

To this science can only assent."

"Three insights stand on solid ground and turn up again and again in different contexts.

First, positive feelings can drive out negative ones.

Second, although no happiness lasts forever, we can see to it that we experience more moments of happiness than before and that the pleasure they give us lasts longer.

Third, less important than what we experience, is how we experience it."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is this all I've done with my life?

The next time you ask yourself

Is this all I have done with my life?

Take a moment and wonder

Who is this talking to me.

Is it possible

that this voice booms

from the outside.

That a 2x4 knocks you over

That the Twin Towers look down on you

That a speeding train runs you down?

That this is the voice of someone who is not you.

The next time he comes along with his

boom voice or his big stick

Go tell him to ask

your 100 year old oak tree

if this is all she's done with her life

Just stand there

In one place

giving shade

making oxygen

and being beautiful?

Or maybe he could take it up

with the family dog

What's her contribution after all?

What's she done to earn

her place at the table?

I'm sure he would ask them

if he could.

But he can't

and so

the tree stands

and the dog eats


by not answering

the question

that can't be asked

of them.

A Song for Your Supper


The Ainu [people] say that deer, salmon, and bear like our music and are fascinated by our languages. So we sing to the fish or the game, speak words to them, say grace. Performance is currency in the deep world's gift economy. The "deep world" is of course the thousand million-year-old world of rock, soil, water, air and all living beings, all acting through their roles. "Currency" is what you pay your debt with. We all receive, every day, the gifts of the Deep World, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. How do we repay that gift? Performance. "A song for your supper.

I went on to tell her that i felt that non human nature is basically well-inclined toward humanity and only wishes modern people were more reciprocal, not so bloody. The animals are drawn to us, they see us as good musicians, and the think we have cute ears. The human contribution to the planetary ecology might be our entertaining eccentricity, our skills as musicians and performers, our awe inspiring dignity as ritualists--because that was seems to delight the watching wild world.

Get yourself out of the way

From Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

"The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act,
but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself, but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people."