Background: I think we are all challenged at what really makes us happy (wow, that’s optimistic). We ask ourselves, “How do I find happiness?” We want a guidebook to give us that answer and unfortunately I doubt we will ever find it. I have written about how to handle depression, but… in the mean time it’s worth exploring new ways and hopes to find our own happiness. The Art of Happiness is a great way to do that.
– The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness. Surveys have shown that unhappy people tend to be most self-focused and often socially withdrawn. Not the happy people, who are more sociable, flexible and creative to tolerate life’s frustration.
– Choose. The conscious decision to seek happiness in a systematic manner can profoundly change the rest of our lives. Create positive triggers to develop the art of happiness.
– Commonality. I always approach people from the standpoint of the most basic things we have in common, a physical structure, a mind & emotions. All of us want happiness and do not want to suffering.
– Great Story. There is an unconscious human need for passion and romantic love. This could be from the Socrates story of Aristophanes, where round creatures had 4 hands and 4 legs. These creatures were rude to the gods. Zeus hurled lightning bolts and split them apart. Now they are people who are looking for their other half.
– Compassion Foundation. Compassion is a state of mind that is nonviolent, nonharming and nonaggressive. One kind of compassion is with attachment- controlling someone, or loving someone so that person will love you back. This relationship is unstable. Any change in the relationship and it crumbles. Then there is genuine compassion. Based on that all human beings have a desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like me. Upon this basis, you will generate love and compassion.
– You are not alone. In the buddha time, Kisagotami was a woman who’s baby died. The woman asked who could save the baby and everyone said to talk to Buddha. She did and Buddha said he could save the baby, if, she could bring him mustard seeds from a house where no child, spouse, parent has ever died. The woman returned in a few days and saw she was not alone in her grief. The law of death among all creatures is that there is no permanence. And that no one lives free from suffering and loss.
– Expect suffering. By recognizing the suffering and accepting it there is a possibility of freedom from suffering. The root causes of suffering are ignorance, craving and hatred. It is natural to suffer. Failure happening. But you can learn from failure.
– Your mind may be the problem. The refusal to accept suffering as a natural part of life can lead to viewing oneself as a perpetual victim and blaming others for our problems – a surefire recipe for a miserable life. All too often, we perpetuate our pain, keep it alive, by replaying our hurts over and over again in our minds, magnifying our injustices in the process. We repeat painful memories hoping that it will change the situation – but it never does.
–Your pain is your own personal creation. If you refrain from reacting to things in a negative way, you protect yourself from that feeling of hurt, that feeling of agony. You can’t avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.
– Perspective. The ability to look at events from different perspectives can be very helpful. With problems, all our attention may be focused on worrying about the problem, and can lead a kind of self-absorption that can make the problem seem very intense.
– The enemy is the necessary condition for practicing patience.
– Extremes? Isn’t going to extremes what provides the excitement and zest in life?… our ultimate aim in seeking more wealth is a sense of satisfaction, of happiness. but the very basis of seeking MORE is a feeling of not having enough, a feeling of discontentment. That feeling of discontentment, doesn’t arise from the desirability of the object but rather from our own mental state. I think that our tendency to go to extremes is often fueled by an underlying feeling of discontentment.
– Dr. Brand came to view pain not as the universal enemy but as a elegant, sophisticated biological system that protects us. But why must the experience of pain be so unpleasant? Unpleasant quality of pain forces the entire human organism to attend to the problem. It sears the experience into the memory and serves to protect us in the future. Finding meaning in our suffering can help us cope with life’s problems. Also, an understanding of the purpose of pain can lesson our suffering when pain arises.
– Bring change. Developing conviction, learning and educating help develop. Change to determination, transform into action and biggest factor is effort. A sense of urgency is critical.
– To change bad behaviors, be constantly aware of the destructive effects of the negative behavior.
– What me worry. If the situation or problem can be remedied, then no need to worry. If there is no way to fix a problem then there is no need to worry cause you can’t do anything about it.
– Everybody has the right to be a happy person. And the right to overcome suffering. Respect the rights of others.
Bottom Line: Get the book. Should give you some new ways to look at dark days and re-shift some of your perspectives. As always, easier read than done.