Tag Archives: true happiness

Thich Nhat Hanh: True Happiness

art of Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.”

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

“Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”

“At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it.”

All quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh

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What Does it Feel Like?

Alms Offering to 10000 monks - Chiang Mai, 2013

From the CEO hustling to make more money, or the monk standing with his alms bowl — they all have something that they want. It doesn’t matter if it’s to save the world or buy a faster car — there is a desire.

The question “what do you want?” could be asked. We can learn a lot about a person by probing a little and getting to know what they are seeking. But a better question would be, “if you had what you wanted, how would it make you feel?”

Not that this is easy to do (I think it takes massive patience, awareness, practice and trust), but I totally believe that if you work on the desired feeling first, it can attract things/goals that match its likeness. Not only that, but it can truly satisfy the root of one’s desires in general.

If the CEO felt that money would bring him the feeling of security or confidence, if he made that the primary goal instead of money, and cultivated it and imbued it in every fiber of his being, if that harnessed trait was attractive, obvious and undeniable when interacting with him — I honestly think it would influence the amount of money he would earn/generate. He would attract great wealth with much more ease and grace. And if the monk felt unconditionally content and joyful, I think people would fill his alms bowl in appreciation of the feeling that he radiates. He would gracefully attract the abundance needed to sustain his life purpose, well-being and sense of joy.

This is a quote from a blog post I wrote a few years back: “I feel that it is important to get clear regarding the feelings you want (the intangibles) more so then the things you want. I don’t believe that we ever really want things (specific relationships, bodies, homes, etc.), I believe we want how these things make us feel. So why not get it down to what it really is? It’s a feeling.”

Just to be clear, I’m not saying it’s easy to be confident or feel secure when you desperately need money, or feel content or joyful when you are feeling hungry. I’m not saying that at all. But what I am saying is; if you aren’t clear about what you really want — and haven’t accepted that it’s not about that specific thing (or goal), that it’s really the feeling you are after — then you will never be satisfied. You will always carry an insatiable missing in your being and always be plagued by never ending goals.

If you find that this is something you are struggling with, let’s get your focus and target aimed at something that truly serves you.

Think about what it is that you want or need, or crave. How would you feel if you had it? What emotion does it bring you? How does it light you up? What does it feel like to be in that state? How does it balance you and make you whole?

Is it possible to create that feeling, knowing, energy, light or sense of balance within yourself without having that thing/goal?

Is it possible that you could you do both? Could you work towards the feeling and the thing/goal? Could you make the feeling your primary focus? And the thing/goal a secondary desire?

Can you live the feeling you desire fully and intergrate it into your everyday life and way of being? And in time, with lots of practice, see all that it can do for you? It might bring some interesting things, people, resources, opportunities and experiences to you. I think it’s worth a try. (I’ll be working on it myself!)

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Filed under ask yourself, big thinking

From The Inside Out

What I know

What I know is that living close to friends and family, owning a beautiful home, having children or pets, earning an academic degree, being busy with a well-paying career, wearing top-notch clothing, owning the best gear, sporting a fit body or claiming someone as your life partner… does not equal health, well-being, fulfillment, a passion for life or true purpose. It does not equal happiness. I’m very much a believer that life is best lived from the inside out. Meaning; your greatest investment of time, money and energy is best spent on that which can never be taken away.

For everyone it’s a little different, so I can only speak for myself. The happiest times of my life were always the simplest. They were the times when I was most simple, totally present, gracefully aware, tenderly compassionate, extremely dedicated, playfully curious, vulnerably humble, completely open or bravely honest. These moments could have been with me alone or with anyone. What makes them/it special is the connection and the aliveness of the moment.

Here are a few examples that apply to happy/fulfilling experiences I had over the last week or so…

Over the winter I tried to preserve some of my summer garden. To my pleasant surprise, much of it survived! But what made me most happy, wasn’t that things were still green or still growing after a bitterly cold season — it was the feeling of my hands in the soil, digging and being part of the ongoing process. I loved feeling intimate with my garden plot, bending over, digging things up from winter, planting new seeds for spring and seeing the aliveness and magic in nature. It wasn’t having the garden that made me happy, but the feeling of being present to life — to the aliveness of myself and the aliveness of the soil, and actually connecting with it, fully.

My dog Pen-Pen is the sunshine of every morning. When I wake up, it’s like she hands me my smile. It’s as if she is the reason I am happy. But I know in my heart that she is my reminder to be happy, and grateful, and loving, and generous. It’s her aliveness that reminds me of my aliveness. But I wouldn’t be able to see this or appreciate it fully, if I was in a rush or lost in my thoughts (or daily to-do list.) The reason I experience this so much from/with her, is because I slow my/our moments down. I take the time to be fully present with her (which is also being fully present with myself.) I take time to simply be with her, which is taking time to simply be.

The same can go for my body. Whether it’s fit as a fiddle or in need of work, it’s so easy to take it for granted (like any other relationship.) But when I am good to it, and I see how amazing and alive it is — that’s when I experience health and happiness in my body. I feel my eyes magically open in the morning, or I feel the strength of my legs carry me for miles, or I see the deft capabilities of my fingers — it’s all a big wow! And what could be more amazing than my heart beating without me asking it to? Or my lungs breathing me, fulfilling my needs and taking care of me? How loving and marvelous is that? Why would I ever want to take that for granted or not be good to my body/self? Yet, it’s so easy to do.

So as you can see with those three examples, it’s not the body, the companion or the garden that makes me happy — it’s the presence, openness and attention I have when experiencing those things. The same can go for your home, friends, careers, finances — whatever you like! Those things are best lived from the inside out.

As many of you know, I’ve studied/taught/practiced meditation for a long time. I think meditation is very helpful for learning mindfulness, or what presence looks like as a structured practice. A designated time or place to meditate is great. But the real practice comes when you don’t bring a meditation practice into your life, but your life into a meditation practice. Instead of having an hour that you are fully committed to presence — I think a bigger, more fulfilling practice would be having a life where ongoing presence is the priority and goal.

I can definitely say that I want a fitter body, a better home, a bigger income, an exciting career, and even another dog! I do! Why wouldn’t I? All of those things sound fabulous! But more than that, I want full presence and deep appreciation for what I already have (whatever it may be.) I want to feel fully alive and full of glee, from the inside out. It’s the way I want to spend my time with all that I have and all that I love. To me, that’s a good life. It’s also a good daily practice. It’s something that can never be taken away and can forever grow within me.

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