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Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

Economist and professor, John Jelliwell, presented an excellent talk at the Dali Lama Center entitled, “Money, Generosity, and Happiness.” The talk is only 20 minutes long and I believe it’s well worth the time it takes to watch.

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I found this cartoon at theragblog.blogspot.com

In Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy James A. Roberts explores the hidden motivations and false assumptions that fuel our over spending and explains how we can free ourselves from the devastating consequences of materialism.

In the first chapter of his book, Dr. Roberts writes, “It is my hope that reading this book will give you the time, space and motivation to examine your day-to-day behaviour in a way that our hectic lives rarely allow. Some of the studies and statistics I’ll share may surprise you. Some may sound like they’re describing someone else. But they all speak to one undeniable truth: as consumers, we’re not who we think we are. It’s time to bridge the gap between what we say and what we do. It’s time to recommit ourselves to the kind of pursuits that are the true source of our well-being: spending time with loved ones, reaching our full potential as human beings, and participating actively in our world. No small task, but one well worth the effort: our happiness lies in the balance.”

During this season of high stress and high consumption, I highly recommend this book.

You can Listen to him speaking about his book at Consumerism Commentary

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What is the ‘good life’? The late comedian, George Burns, concluded that he had had a good life. Scott and Helen Nearing (homesteaders and social activists) maintained that they had lived the ‘good life’ too. George Burns life was vastly different from the Nearings and yet I suspect that those who knew them each well would have agreed that each of their lives had been well lived.

So many people long for a particular version of the good life that they’ve heard so much about, one that’s filled with images of luxury and wealth. Sadly, all too many of them struggle to achieve this vision in spite of the significant emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological, and ecological tolls that are exacted along the way.

Interestingly, while the notion of the good life seems to be deeply implanted in our psyche, its origin stems from the dreams of those who came before us, and meant something entirely different than what so many of us have come to yearn for. The world was introduced to the concept of the good life by William Penn and Henry David Thoreau and was a vastly different version than popular culture’s turned out to be. To them, the good life represented a life style based on simplicity, personal freedom, meaningful work and spiritual, psychological and intellectual growth and development.

As the economy continues its downward spiral and the impact of global warming intensifies, it seems more important to me than ever that we redefine for ourselves what living the good life can be.

Writer and philosopher, William Henry Channing wrote, “To live content with small means. To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion. To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. To listen to stars and birds and babes and sages with an open heart. To study hard, think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions. Never hurry. In a word, to let the spiritual, the unbidden and the unconscious rise up through the common. This is my symphony.” Channing’s image of the good life is one that moves and inspires me. This is the ‘good life’ that can only be denied to me by barriers of my own creation, otherwise, it is always within my means and within my reach. Today, I plan to celebrate my good life….

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The older I get, the more I become aware that there truly are no ordinary days.

Within my own body there reside one hundred trillion cells that are busily performing a synchronized dance involving a million moves per second, while I go about my life oblivious to it all. My brain alone, a tiny thing really in the great scheme of things, is home to 100 billion furiously busy neurons. At the end of any single day of the week my heart will have beaten approximately 100,000 times, and I will have taken approximately 17,280 breaths without having any conscious awareness of these essential processes.

Today, between 150 and 200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal will become extinct, and every five seconds one absolutely unique and miraculous child will surrender his or her unfinished life due to malnutrition. And within the next 24 hours of my life, approximately 156,000 people will die, and 384,000 will be born.

There is no day that is truly unremarkable or even uneventful. This troubled and still beautiful world is overflowing with firsts and lasts, epiphanies and forgotten memories, mist filled mornings and stunning sunsets, hard won victories and irrevocable losses.

In “The Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd, Jessie, the main character in the novel, observes while reflecting on her life, “I could even feel how perishable all my moments really were, how all my life they had come to me begging to be lived, to be cherished even.” Situated here and now in the midst of this July afternoon I am struck by the moments that have passed me by today unnoticed, uncelebrated, undiscovered.

There is so much to inspire awe that surrounds me. I press a few buttons and I am almost instantly graced by beautiful and meditative music. I recall the incredible courage and strength of a very special client that I worked with this morning. I bite into a sweet and fragrant orange grown and harvested far from where I am now. I watch a tiny bird at the feeder outside of my window, a fragile creature that will fly thousands of miles away in autumn, only to repeat the journey a few short months later. I savor the sight of the coneflowers gently waving in the breeze, their roots buried under the winter snow not so long ago only to rise again and follow the sunlight.

James O’ Donahue wrote, “Each day is a secret story woven around the radiant heart of wonder.” I am blessed by this day, one like so many others, one that will never exist again, one that is saturated with music and miracles.

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In “How We Choose to be Happy,” Rick Foster and Greg Hicks describe a process they call ‘recasting’. In order to learn how to recast:

1. Identify a problem that you’re currently struggling with
2. Next, ask yourself the following questions in regards to the problem that you’ve identified:
• What am I feeling?
• Have I allowed myself feel all of the emotions that might be associated with the problem I’m currently facing?
• In spite of how hurtful this problem has been, what have I learned about myself or others as I’ve struggled with this problem? What have I learned about my life in general?
• Has this problem led me to make any positive changes in my life?
• Are there meaningful changes that I could make in my life that would make me more effective in dealing with this problem or happier overall?
• If this problem is unlikely to change, how can I improve other aspects of my life?

Take your time as you answer these questions, you may even want to come back to them more than once before you consider this exercise complete. Recasting provides you with greater perspective and will help illuminate the lessons that are invariably contained within any challenge that we commit to responding to thoughtfully and consciously.

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“The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. ” Alan K. Chalmers

Bill O’Hanlon , psychotherapist, author, and speaker referred those of us on his mailing list to a wonderful online resource entitled happier.com . Happier.com reports its mission is to “inspire people to be happier.” How does it attempt to achieve this mission? They offer exercises, assessments, a blog, and the latest developments and research on achieving and maintaining happiness. I highly recommend that you pay it a visit.

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According to research findings presented by Ryan Howell of San Francisco State University, ultimately it’s our experiences (what we do), not our possessions (what we have), that contribute most to our overall happiness. Hmmm… Science reinforcing wisdom…

For more you can read:

Study: Experiences Make us Happier Than Possessions

Money = Happiness, But There’s a Catch

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