Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

On Being Happy

Posted: 06/11/2012 in Buddhism, Happiness, Karma, Practice

I have no idea what to write. True story. I sat down to my laptop with the intent of writing a new blog post, but my mind is blank.

And that’s a good thing.

I’m not pecking away at the keyboard bitching about the bullshit going on in my life, complaining about finances, work stress, my son’s attitude, etc. Typically this is where I would vent about the pressures and troubles in life, and what I’m doing to get through it by applying Buddhist principles and meditation and shit.

In general, my stress level is pretty low, I’m not worrying so much about everything, and overall I’m one happy motherfucker (thanks in part to having an awesome woman that came into my life 6 months ago). However, the analytical asshole that I am, I wondered what changed, so I’m going to spit-ball a bit on this…

I think in the beginning of following this path, I used Buddhism as an escape from reality, and maybe I’m not alone in that. We get all fired up about this new thing, working toward being awakened, or enlightened, or finding nirvana, yadda yadda yadda, that we lose sight of what is the real deal and think we can meditate our problems away.

Time still passes one second at a time. Life is still happening as soon as we drag our ass off the cushion and the incense dies out, so we don’t have a choice but to deal with the challenges that arise. Realizing that everything is impermanent and applying the Eightfold Path are keys to just being happy. Basic shit, amirite?

Yeah, the bills still show up, people can be dickweeds and everyone on the road is a horrible driver but you. Keep in mind that eventually you will be able to pay that bill, you can’t control how people act, and there is nothing you can do about shitty drivers but keep calm and continue to your destination (oh man, this is the hardest one for me).

This is what I’ve tried to put into action lately: To be happy, practice BEING happy.

Now, enjoy some Deadly Light, video below. And don’t forget, life is short, meditate naked. Peace out! \m/

Cruisin’

Posted: 04/21/2012 in Happiness, Karma, Love

I have sure lost track of time these last few months and I don’t even remember the last time I posted on this here weblog. I’ve been grinding away at work, makin’ that paper and spending any time I can with my girl and hanging with my son on the weekends. The good thing is, even though there is sort of a routine day-to-day, it really doesn’t feel like it. I don’t feel bored and stagnant any longer, like I have in the past.

I will admit I haven’t spent much time on the cushion lately. OK, OK, you got me, I’ve meditated maybe twice since last year. I sometimes read (right now it’s Rebel Buddha by that rockstar Ponlop), but meditation has taken a backseat. When I first started this journey, I think I used mediation as an escape from the stress of the bullshit that was happening in my life. Now things are just going so well since I met this woman, the cruise control is just engaged and I’m enjoying life. I will sit when my head feels cloudy. Am I “doing it wrong?” Dunno…

Good things are happening: the divorce is almost complete, waiting for the judge to sign off on it. I just paid off my truck this morning. Work is going really well and I’m on the right track for advancement. The best part of all is that I met someone who I truly believe is my soul mate. Yeah, it sounds cliche’, but whatever. No woman I’ve been with has ever made me feel as good about myself as she does. Yes, I’ve been in love before, but not like this. I’m just bummed it took 35 years, but at least I will get to spend the next 35+ years with her and her rad daughter.

I guess this is an update entry, stream of consciousness, really. I’m alive, just enjoying waking up every morning and actually looking forward to what the day brings. I missed that feeling.

Later!

A couple months ago (ok, longer than that) I wrote a post about just saying “fuck it all” and not worrying so much about the bullshit in life regarding work, women, and wheels. Now, I will write about the irony of putting this into practice.

In that post, I pissed and moaned about work being slow and not sure if I wanted that as a career. I decided to value the fact that I even have a job and said “fuck it” to worrying about not enough work and it will get better. Well, it did. Though not an official promotion, there were some changes in my company as far as I am concerned and in a sense I got a raise and a promotion. I will just say it’s a great feeling when the owner of the company recognizes you as a valuable asset to the company.

I also whined in that post about my vehicle being broken down. It turned out to be a major fix (catalytic converter had to be replaced),  and I was able to get it fixed. So now I got my wheels back. *hella stoked*

Lastly, I bitched about feeling alone for the holidays. Well, about 2 weeks after writing that post, I met someone on a dating website. I finally found someone to spend the holidays with, and I tell you, it’s the most amazing feeling. She had already made plans to be out of town for NYE with her family, so I wasn’t able to kiss her at midnight, but it’s a great feeling when someone tells you “we will have next NYE.”  We’ve been seeing each other for almost 2 months and it’s great. She has the most amazing smile I’ve ever seen.

So yeah, I guess when it got to the point where I just said “fuck it all,” things just started falling into place.

The Zen of Moving

Posted: 01/13/2011 in Happiness, Spiritual

As of the first of this year, I have relocated from living with my family into a house with my best friend since childhood/coworker. This is the reason I haven’t had much of an online presence as of late. Between packing, moving and unpacking/organizing all while trying to work and spend time with my son, it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything.

It was a big change for me, and it was definitely time to make the move to mark a turning point in my life recovering from the craziness that has surrounded me for the last year and a half. The divorce is almost final and I have a good job…although the time off sucks.

I needed this.

It gave me a chance to start fresh. Change is inevitable, and I’ve always tried to welcome it in my life, even though sometimes it’s hard to handle. It’s a true test of my mettle (metal? haha) how I respond to changes, forced and unforced. My intent is to accept whatever comes my way with open arms and just be. Life happens, and accepting the good and bad is part of it whether we like it or not. Yes, it will be rough financially, but I have accepted the fact that I can only do what I can do, no sense in worrying about it. I will just shrug my shoulders and find the best solution rather than laying awake at night stressing about it. Well, at least I will try.

I don’t know if moving is really Zen, but hey, the title caught your eye, right?

With Heavy Metta,

\m/Metal Buddha\m/

Photo Credit

LONELY TREE

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend, and the subject of me no longer being in a relationship came up. I told her that I was happy being alone and unattached to anyone at this present time. She could not believe it and actually laughed. I told her I’m honestly happy right now because I have more time to focus on myself and some growing I need to do as a person, and left it at that. That conversation got me thinking about the difference between loneliness and being alone.

When feeling lonely, we crave interaction with other human beings, and we all know what craving leads to: suffering. Are people so uncomfortable in their own skin that they must have interaction with other people constantly? I guess some people are that way, not able to face their own demons or skeletons in the closet if they are alone with their own minds for too long. They desire the distraction of other people and the drama that comes with it. There is an emptiness inside that some strive to fill with human contact, delaying or outright denying any emotional or mental growth. Of course interpersonal relationships are very much needed for personal growth, however, I believe that there needs to be a good balance of social and self, and some cannot handle the self part.

At this present time, I prefer to be alone, which I feel is much different that feeling lonely. Yes, there are times that I desire to have companionship again, someone to share my deepest thoughts, goals, dreams, etc. I’m sure in the future that will come in due time. But for now, I am living in the present moment, and this moment calls for being alone, focusing on me and the changes I need to make in myself. I view this as a positive thing, not a negative because there is no constant feeling of emptiness. At times it’s no picnic; being alone can be a scary thing, but it takes a strong will to work through that in a healthy way, and learn from the experience. But in general, I am happy being alone on this new journey of  meditation practice and am up to the challenge of the experience.

In meditation, we have no choice but to open the closet and drag the skeletons out, to face the demons. It takes strength mentally and emotionally to be able to do that. I feel compassion for those that crave interaction so much that they don’t have the ability to embrace “being alone.”

May all those who feel that craving overcome it, to embrace that “aloneness” and not feel “loneliness.”

Photo credit

Simplifying your Life

Posted: 12/21/2009 in Happiness, Positivity

A couple of months ago, I found an awesome website called Becoming Minimalist and read the posts from various people about simplifying their lives. I knew I had to move at the end of the year, which I very much despise. I decided to apply the tips and tricks I learned from the site to simplify, thus making the move much easier. Now I’m proud (sort of) to say that I will be able to fit my life into a 10 x 10 storage unit, including my motorcycle. I’m proud of that because I proved to myself that I can be happy without owning so many material possessions. However, I am NOT proud about it because I look at the amount of debt on my credit cards I have accumulated and wonder how the hell I have so much debt and almost nothing to show for it.

This process has also been an emotional experience for me. Simplifying meant going through everything I own to determine what to keep, donate, give to friends, or to throw away. As I performed this process, I found pictures and other items that held so many memories my wife and I shared together. This move has been quite a challenge, not only physically, but emotionally. The simplifying process can remind you of good memories you had buried in the back of your mind, and it can also bring back bad ones, so I would call it a growing process as well. You can reminisce about the good times, and you can also deal with negative issues that you may have suppressed.

I have taken the first steps to simplifying my life by getting rid of a lot of “things” I don’t need. The next step is going to be simplifying my finances by paying off my debt. I know I’m not telling anyone something new when I say that debt is definitely a monkey on my back, and makes my life complicated. I don’t need complicated right now, I need to start over fresh by making my life simple.

I would encourage my readers (if there are any out there) to check out Becoming Minimalist for tons of ideas to perform this process if simplifying your life is something that interests you. I know it does me because this move is going to be MUCH easier, and isn’t that what simplifying is all about?

With the holidays coming up, I have been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving. We all know the history behind it, of course, but do we really know what “Thanksgiving” means? Over the years, holidays have become so convoluted, polluted, and commercialized. The stores start selling decorations and themed food for the following holiday before the present holiday is even over just to get a jump on the sales, and it has turned into a means to industrialize what is supposed to be a time to spend with friends, family, and significant others. To business, then end justifies the means.

But when it comes right down to it, what is the true definition of “holiday spirit?” Rarely does a family just get together to celebrate thankfulness, really appreciating what we have, which is the true reason we should be celebrating “Thanksgiving.” Instead we think about what we don’t have. It has turned into a stressful occasion: Getting up at 3am to put the turkey in the oven and worrying that it won’t come out right, fighting with the family over stupid, petty disagreements, getting to the stores by 4am for Black Friday to be the first to get the newest hot toy of the season that your kid just has to have, etc.

On a personal note, the holidays this year are especially hard for me to endure. For the last seven years, I have been fortunate to enjoy spending the holidays with not only my family, but also my wife’s family. There are certain traditions devoid of the commercialization of the holidays and it’s just the family spending time together, being happy, no stress. With the separation of my wife and I, that will not be happening, and honestly, I’m trying my damnedest to stay positive and really examine thankfulness and what it means. But it’s tough. It hurts that I won’t be able to be with a significant other, sharing love together for the rest of the family, like I’ve been able to do for the last seven years. There is a huge void in my heart, and I have felt very alone, and the holidays make that loneliness so much more apparent. I feel at times I don’t have anything to be thankful for, due to losing my wife and my job at almost the same time.

I have to keep in mind that I do have a lot to be thankful for:

1. I have my family. They aren’t going anywhere, and I have their support 100% in these trying times in my life. Without them, I would be homeless at the end of this year, and no, I’m not being dramatic. That is a cold, hard FACT.

2. I have my son. He loves me unconditionally, and brings so much joy into my life. He has been following in my footsteps by playing guitar non-stop and is wanting me to teach him new things every day. There is a sense of pride there, that makes me feel wanted.

3. I’m alive. I woke up this morning. My health isn’t the greatest, and have a lot of medical problems, but I am thankful for today because I woke up once again.

4. My wife. Even though we are separated, on our way to a divorce, we are still great friends. We talk every day, and rarely fight. I am thankful for that, because I see so many nasty divorces, and I don’t want to go through that. So yes, I am still thankful for my wife, even though this is a very sad time in my life to endure.

On this journey, I have learned that there are changes I needed to make to attain the happiness I deserve. Being thankful, even in the midst of hardships, suffering and potential emotional breakdowns, is one key to attaining that happiness that has eluded me for so long. So this Thanksgiving, even though I am going to miss my mother-in-law’s legendary stuffing, and will be unable to spend the holiday with someone I’m in love with, I will still appreciate being with my son, my mom and step-dad and my sister and brother-in-law and his family, because now they’re all I’ve got, and I’m thankful for all of them.

We need to take the focus off of what we DON’T have, and keep our thoughts focused on being thankful for what we DO have. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Happiness Part 2

Posted: 11/08/2009 in Happiness

In my first post on Happiness, I addressed a few key concepts that relate to being happy that I have learned from reading The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. It is continued here:

5. By practicing warmth and compassion toward others, we can overcome loneliness and separation, which are also sources of unhappiness. We can transform suffering to happiness by realizing that we are not going through something that someone else hasn’t already gone through. Suffering is a natural fact of human existence and by courageously facing our problems head on, we can achieve freedom from this suffering.

6. The process of change: Education (learning that negative emotions are harmful and positive emotions are helpful) ->Conviction/Commitment to change ->Determination ->Action ->Effort, which is most critical in implementing change. You must have the desire and willingness to make the change, and a sense of urgency is a key factor.

7. Develop patience and tolerance. Forgiveness is the product of patience and tolerance, and by practicing these, you can learn to let go of anger and resentment. Realize that the past is the past. Being angry about a situation does not change it, or resolve it, it only causes more suffering and unhappiness. Forgiving and forgetting are two different things. There is nothing wrong with remembering negative events, but learn to let go of the negative feelings associated with the event.

8. Love is the utter, absolute, and unqualified wish for the happiness of another individual. True love is unselfish.

In summary:

The Art of Happiness is understanding the source of our happiness and setting priorities in life based on the cultivation of those sources, using inner discipline to replace negative mental states (anger, greed) with positive mental states (kindness, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness). The Dharma, or virtuous states of mind, cannot coexist with negative states of mind. Training the mind to bring inner discipline is the essence of a spiritual life, cultivating positive mental thoughts into daily actions, which is the fundamental method of achieving happiness.

I would suggest to anyone who is going through challenging experiences in their life to check out this book. The insights contained within it are priceless, and if we can apply the concepts in our daily lives, we can make changes for the better, starting small and the potential for global change. In this day and age, there is a lot of negativity. To see it, all you have to do is jump in your car and drive for five minutes, and it will be proven by the amount of road rage on our highways. If we could all practice a little kindness and compassion towards others, it will be returned to us, because in my opinion, kindness is infectious. Want proof? Try opening a door and letting someone go in before you. It may not happen every time, but more often than not, when I do it, in general I get a smile and a “thank you.” Even if I am having a bad day, that immediately makes me feel better, and it makes me happy that I showed kindness to another human being.

Wishing you all happiness!

 

 

Happiness Part 1

Posted: 11/08/2009 in Happiness

Considering all that I have been through over the last few months, one factor of my life that has constantly been on my mind is happiness. For many years, I have not truly been happy, due to many tragedies that I have experienced. I won’t get into any details, but since the year 2000, I have gone through a divorce, my father passed away, I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and had open heart surgery, lost one of my twin boys to Cerebral Palsy, and am now going through a second divorce.

For many years, I have not made the conscious decision that I deserve to be happy, and to be quite honest, I don’t really know how to be happy. After going through all of these experiences, my way of dealing with them has been to close myself off, internalize my pain, and unfortunately drive away those closest to me, which was unintentional. Of course, I have done many things with my loved ones that make me happy, but as with all things, there is the factor of impermanence. The fun times only last so long, and then it’s back to reality; such as the vacation is over and you have to go back to work, and feeling completely free from the confines of everyday life, bills, and responsibilities comes to an end. It is at that point where life started to wear on me. Anxiety, worry, and stress were all my normal emotions, which were manifested as irritability, and even anger, and making my loved ones feel completely unloved by me.

I have realized that the real problem lies within myself and how I react to the stresses of life. Coming to that conclusion, I decided to educate myself and make personal changes to my philosophy of life and how I view the world and my place in it.

At this time, I am reading The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. A few things I have learned are as follows:

1. Our purpose in life is to seek happiness: The source of happiness in our lives is how we perceive our situation and how satisfied we are with what we have and finding contentment. We can achieve contentment by not having what we want, but to want and appreciate what we have.

2. Happiness vs. Pleasure: True happiness relates to the mind and heart. Happiness that depends on physical pleasure is unstable and impermanent, such as the vacation mentioned earlier.

3. We must have mental discipline: we need to identify and cultivate positive mental states and identify and eliminate negative mental states. An undisciplined mind brings about suffering, which is also impermanent, but it’s how we react to the suffering and deal with it is how we can achieve happiness in any situation.

4. The practice of Dharma is a constant battle within, replacing previous negative conditioning and habits with new positive conditioning.

I will address more insights I have learned so far from this book in Happiness Part 2. As always, comments are welcome!