Quite a while back I PVR'd a show called "HAPPY". It was a movie airing on public television; a documentary about how happy or unhappy people in western society are these days. Super interesting. (Side note, I've watched a lot of documentaries on public tv lately that I should probably blog about too..) Made me reflect on things that I already learned about being happy and googling other things about happiness like these links about food addiction and addictive personalities vs eating right. This link was really interesting, found on psychologytoday. It's a story about Kisagotami, a young woman whose first child died suddenly somewhere around his first birthday. Desperate in her love for the child, Kisagotami went from house to house in her village, clasping the dead child to her breast and asking for medicine to revive her son. Most of her neighbors shrank from the sight of her and called her mad, but one man, seeing her inability to accept the reality of her son's death, directed her to the Buddha by promising her that only he had the medicine she sought. Kisagotami went to the Buddha and pleaded with him for medicine. "I know of some," he promised. "But I will need a handful of mustard seed from a house where no child, husband, parent, or servant has died." Slowly, Kisagotami came to see that hers was not a unique predicament. She put the body of her child down in the forest and returned to the Buddha. "I have not brought the mustard seed," she told him. "The people of the village told me, 'The living are few, but the dead are many."' The Buddha replied, "You thought that you alone had lost a son; the law of death is that among all living creatures there is no permanence." It's in how we deal with death and crisis that is important.
The root cause of our unhappiness is our inability to observe ourselves properly. We are caught in our own perspective, unable to appreciate the many perspectives of those around us. And we are unaware of how insistently this way of perceiving drives us. Only through the uprooting of our own self-centeredness can we find the key to happiness. Buddhist meditation practice is one way to catch hold of this "me-first" perspective and begin to examine it.
Happiness, then, is the confidence that pain and disappointment can be tolerated, that love will prove stronger than aggression. It is release from the attachment to pleasant feelings, and faith in the capacity of awareness to guide us through the inevitable insults to our own narcissism. It is the realization that we do not have to be so self-obsessed, that within our own minds lies the capacity for a kind of acceptance we had only dreamed of. This happiness rarely comes without effort to train mind.
So what can we do to improve our mood and become more self aware.
Learn more about serotonin and dopamine and what you can do to help these levels.
Okinawa people live longer than anyone on the planet! What they do that you can do.
Gardening is good for the soul. Look at inner gardening.
Practice gratitude every day. Thank you thank you thank you.