29. If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. He will not be striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of the day. W. Beran Wolfe
This seemed to me to be the best quote I could find to end my little dissertation on happiness. I have focused on it for 12 or 13 days now, and although likely I will return to it if I keep providing nearly daily quotes, I want to move on now to other topics or random topics daily. To me this quotes relate to the early quotes for this month on Zen Mind. This quote indicates it is in the doing that happiness exists, not in the searching.
I am as happy today as I have ever been, and I recall saying that in the past, lol. My happiness comes from the philosophies I have adopted about life and happiness more-so than any event or possession. I cannot deny that I have much in my life that makes me happy: I am doing what I enjoy (psychology, and both practicing therapy and teaching); I have four wonderful children that bring me joy; I have a partner who I love and who nurtures me; I have hobbies that are creative and which I enjoy; and my necessities are met.
I remember a long time ago I witnessed someone speaking to the director of a program regarding sobriety. They had been sober a while at that point, and said their wife and kids helped their sobriety. The director rebutted that they could also get him high. I tell this story now because many people have children, and find reasons to be unhappy (financial strain, stress about some the things their children do, worries about the future, worries about the present); and many have jobs they wanted and this still is not a source of happiness (long hours, stress of meeting demands) and partners they love and who love them but who they may not feel make them happy enough (expectations not met). My point in all of this is that I am not happy simply because of the things that are right in my life, but because of my attitude about the things in my life. I believe everyone can be happy, and I want everyone to be happy.
28. Let us live happily then, though we call nothing our own! We shall be like the bright gods, feeding on happiness. Buddha, The Dhammapada
27. To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness. Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness
I am not sure what the author meant by this exactly, but to me it relates to the need to overcome desire or wanting to find happiness. The Buddhists believe desire / wanting / craving is the root of all suffering, and I largely agree. To me this quote means you have to overcome wanting.
26. Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling. Margaret Lee Runbeck
25. Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it. Don Herold
I think many who read my quotes know that at times people believe something will bring them happiness, then work to get it, and then after a short period find that was not the key to happiness. Many times clients tell me a job, or a partner, or more money, or a house, will make them happy, only to find these bring only temporary happiness. This quote seems to highlight this phenomena, although I might have put it, “Happiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it.”
24. Happiness is… usually attributed by adults to children, and by children to adults. Thomas Szasz
This is another quote that demonstrates people’s belief is that happiness is in some other place or time, and not with them right now. To me it relates to the quote from a few days ago, about having a wonderful life and not realizing it until later.
23. The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mode of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up. Charles L. Morgan
I like this quote, as it captures the nature of impermanence in everything, including happiness, while pointing out happiness can still be found even when you thought it disappeared.
22. What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner. Colette
I didn’t know who Colette was, so I added the link. Who she was really isn’t significant to me regarding the quote, I decided on the quote as soon as I read it. I think many people are happier than they think they are. A technique from “The Mindful Way Through Depression” asks the reader to mark down every time they find something enjoyable during the day: a cup of coffee, a conversation, so on. And many people are astounded at the amount of enjoyable things they do in a day, yet hadn’t been mindful of. This leads me to the bonus quote of the day: Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. ~Fyodor Dostoevsky
21. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. Carl Jung
I like this quote because it returns to the idea of impermanence, that all things come and go, and that we need to have times of unhappiness to recognize happiness. The quote also encourages the mindset of acceptance, accepting things as they come. Its the Yin and Yang of it all.
20. Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. The Dalai Lama
There are quite a few quotes referencing happiness from the Dalai Lama. This is likely because he has purported that happiness is a goal, if not the goal, of life. I like this quote because it identifies that you are in charge of your happiness. It is your actions that will determine your happiness, it does not just come. Too many people expect others or life itself just to bring happiness. Although this sometimes happens, much of happiness is derived from you and the way in which you live your life. I have found this to be very true in my life.
19. Be sincere enough to be yourself. That is the direction of our effort. Shunryu Suzuki
I felt this quote went with the last, in regard to being happy by matching your thoughts, words, and behavior. It provides a little more inspiration in the direction of genuineness.
18. Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Mohandas K. Gandhi
I am a big advocate of being genuine, of being true to yourself, of not playing games, of being authentic. This verse says it better than I.
17. The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy. The Dalai Lama
16. Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Abraham Lincoln
I first saw this quote on a card up north which was called “The AA Green Card.” It had little bits of wisdom printed in it, along with a verse about taking things day by day. I can’t seem to find it down here. Anyhow, I think its a viable quote. Happiness exists everywhere, it is your focus that determines how happy you are. As a bonus quote for the day,this relates to what Shakespeare said in Hamlet: There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
15. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a person speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows them. If a person speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows them, like a shadow that never leaves them. – Buddha
I believe one of the keys to happiness is to be genuine. If you are true to yourself happiness follows. In the slide show I posted where the Dalai Lama discussed religion, there is a saying I have heard many times: Watch you thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. I believe when people get to know themselves, discover an explanation for their harmful behaviors, they gain power to change themselves and to become a more authentic self. (This assumes many harmful behaviors come from a less than authentic place, one that has been learned as a defense). This is one of the necessities on the path to happiness.
12. So the most difficult thing is always to keep your beginner’s mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature, you must read each sentence with a fresh mind. You should not say, “I know what Zen is,” or “I have attained enlightenment.” This is also the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner. Be very very careful about this point. If you start to practice zazen, you will begin to appreciate your beginner’s mind. It is the secret of Zen practice. Shunryu Suzuki-roshi
Lately I’ve been discussing beginners mind, the importance of approaching things without preconceived knowledge, and how knowledge can actually stand in the way of enlightenment. This quote explains that. The secret of Zen is to experience everything anew.
Enjoy your practice.
11.Knowledge of others is intelligence; knowledge of self is wisdom. Mastery of others is strength; mastery of self is power. Lao Tzu
Okay, so this quote was just used in my review of “The God Part of the Brain.” But the quote is relevant to what I’ve been speaking of lately, mastering your mind. To master your mind you must first get to know your mind, and to do that you must approach things without preconceived notions. In Zen this is called beginners mind. A peer recently described her perception of how Buddha approached this:
“Borrowed knowledge creates great deception because you start feeling as if you know — and that “as if” is a big “as if.” Truth liberates, belief binds. Truth liberates because it has to be yours; it has to be an inner experience, an encounter with that which is. Buddha is a nonbeliever. He is not an atheist like Karl Marx or Friedrich Nietzsche; neither is he a theist like all the priests of all the religions. He is an agnostic. He neither believes nor disbelieves; he is open. That is his great gift to the world: to be open to truth.” Radhikadilip Kumar.
She had posted this only today. It seems very relative to my review of The God Part of the Brain as well as to the topic I have been focusing on in this blog lately; get to know your mind and seek the truth through your experience.
10. It is good to tame the mind, which is difficult to hold in and flighty, rushing wherever it listeth; a tamed mind brings happiness- Buddha- The Dhammapada
I like this quote because it discusses how difficult it is to quiet the mind, but how working at it brings reward. Meditation can seem so mystical and it really does not have to be. The benefit of taking some time for yourself and simply working at recognizing the meandering of your mind has rewards that can be tenfold the effort. Sure its difficult to structure time to meditate. Sure its weird in our culture to sit doing nothing for 10 minutes or more, when it seems we have so much to do. But the act and the practice of meditation provide so much in the way of reward. Reduced stress, more calm, the ability to separate you from your thoughts, a recently discovered lower sensitivity to pain, and if you do Metta a more forgiving stance toward yourself and others are some of the rewards paid off through the practice of meditation. Be good to yourself, begin a meditation practice.
9. Imagine there’s no Heaven, It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, Above us only sky. Imagine all the people Living for today.
Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for.
And no religion too. Imagine all the people Living life in peace. -John Lennon
I just thought this was an excellent follow up to the slide show about the Dalai Lama and religion not b3eing important.
8. The human condition: lost in thought. Eckhart Tolle
I seem to be on a kick about transcending thought to moment by moment experience. This quote is from Tolle’s “Stillness Speaks” (a book which I expect to be quoting often in the life of this blog). The basic notion: it is part of being human to be caught in the unending flow of thought; but this is an illusion. If you want peace it is important to work at transcending this. This is done by letting go of the ego and, according to Tolle, realizing your true nature; the connection to the rest of life and all that is that lies beneath the ego’s thinking. Simple. ; )
7. Do not just memorize sayings, recite words, and discuss Zen and the way based on books. The Zen way is not in books. Even if you can recite the teachings of the whole canon and all the masters and philosophers, they are just useless words of no avail when you are facing death. Chien-ju
I chose this quote for today because I feel it is a good follow up to the last. Zen, enlightenment, following the Way, these are not things that are mastered by reading how to do it in books. These things are mastered after you put what you have learned into practice, and somehow move past the teaching and into personal experience, into the moment, into the now. As I said in the last post, this can be daunting. But it is the journey, not the destination that is important.
6. It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden
John Wooden is considered one of, if not the best coach, of all time. Admittedly I know little other than that. He died the other day. He has said a few memorable quotes, and I like this one. In Zen it is often suggested to have beginners mind. This quote seems to capture that idea. In what I have always viewed as a Zen Koan (an insolvable puzzle meant to bring about enlightenment, like “what is the sound of one hand clapping”) it seems the more you read about how to become enlightened, the further you may be from it. I know, this seems strange. I once read an Alan Watts book about Zen, it was one of my first encounters, and it seemed he said at the end, “Okay, now your further from enlightenment than when you started the book.” I was more than a little discouraged.
The lesson in all of this is that the knowledge gives you a basis from where to start, but you have to get past the knowledge, past the formula, and into natural true experience. I wish you the best in your practice.
5. If all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe. Thomas Aquinas
This quote relates to my writing yesterday about accepting unpleasantness and feeling it. What this quote is saying is the basis of Taoism: High does not exist without low, there are no mountains without valleys, for their to be good their must be evil. This is the Yin and Yang of life. We must embrace all of it, and understand it is part of the duality of our existence. People today say “It is what it is” and I’m unsure if they understand the meaning. This statement is a statement of acceptance, a statement demonstrating the understanding that I do not have the power to change this circumstance, so I will be happiest if I move to accept it. May you have acceptance of all that arises in your life today.
4. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. Dr. Seuss
I attended my oldest son’s graduation last night, and one of the speakers used this quote. Much of the discussion was on endings and new beginnings. This is the way of life. Nothing is permanent. Everything is impermanent. Change is inevitable. One thing those on the path of enlightenment must address is this impermanence. Often we want to cling to pleasant feelings, and avoid unpleasant ones. We don’t want the fun to end. Following the Way means understanding impermanent nature of everything, and being in the moment. Following the way means letting go of our attachment and flowing with what comes.
In therapy I often work with clients to help them feel the unpleasant feelings they experience, rather than avoiding them. We are naturally inclined to try to hold onto things we find enjoyable, and to avert ourselves from those we find unpleasant. But life has both pleasant and unpleasantness in it. To cut yourself off from one results in an unhealthy state. When confronting unpleasantness work on experiencing the feelings and letting them go, or going with them until they run their course. Remember, everything passes. In Alcoholics Anonymous there is the saying “This too, Shall Pass.” Everything does. Let it; do not grasp, do not avert.
3. The things you desire give no more satisfaction than drinking sea water, therefore practice contentment. Atisha
I thought I would stick with the topic of desire and attachment today. In addiction recovery, as well as some religious doctrine, it is said to have gratitude for what you have, and therefore to desire less. When one feels true gratitude for what they have, they are happy. When one desires things they do not have, they are less than happy. This simple formula demonstrates the power of combating your desire, being grateful for what you have, and accepting things as they are. There is a powerful quote from the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book that addresses this which I put on this blog some time ago. I believe this quote is an excellent practice to attain happiness and enlightenment. I have watched so many fall into the trap of seeking more, believing it will provide happiness. Once they obtain what they had desired, happiness is fleeting, and a new desire manifests that feels as if it must be quenched to bring happiness. For some this illusion continues forever. Those on the path to enlightenment realize the trap, and practice letting go of desire, realizing that what they desire will bring no more satisfaction than drinking seawater.
2. Poor men want to be rich, Rich men want to be king, and a king ain’t satisfied till he rules over everything. Bruce Springsteen
When I first came up with the idea to have a site for quotes and my thoughts (originally it was another site, but circumstances and I decided to just do it here) this quote was one of the first to come to mind. This quote embodies the philosophy of desire. Nothing is enough. When you think you have gotten what you want, a new desire comes along to drive you further. In Buddhism, desire (attachment, wanting, craving, thirst for more) is the root of all suffering. We are an insatiable race, we humans. But everything I have read of late, including an article on making relationships work in a psychology magazine, points to the need to get away from this craving and desire for something else. There is no way to satiate your desire, except to move away from it.
1. Direct experience will come when you are completely one with your activity; when you have no idea of self. This could be when you are sitting, but it could also be whenever your way seeking mind is strong enough to forget your selfish desires. Shunryu Suzuki
I love the idea of mindfulness and being completely present. Last semester I taught a class for which the text was called “The Psychology of Personal Growth”. There were several reading excerpts about mindfulness, about being completely present in the moment, and its benefit to the enjoyment of life. Here in Florida I use the sky as a Zen bell, reminding me to be mindful. A popular theory about self-actualization discusses a similar phenomenon, “flow”, which is when you lose yourself in an activity. This quote draws the two together.
Basically, do your best today to be completely absorbed in something: whether it is your sitting meditation, some challenging work, or a hobby you thoroughly enjoy.