If you had to pick just one thing?

Dr.-Christine-Carter_940-529-72-ppi

People ask me all the time what the secret to happiness is. “If you had to pick just one thing,” they wonder, “what would be the most important thing for leading a happy life?”

Ten years ago, I would have told you a regular gratitude practice was the most important thing—and while that is still my favorite instant happiness booster, my answer has changed. I believe the most important thing for happiness is living truthfully. Here’s the specific advice I recently gave my kids:

Live with total integrity. Be transparent, honest, and authentic. Do not ever waiver from this; white lies and false smiles quickly snowball into a life lived out of alignment. It is better to be yourself and risk having people not like you than to suffer the stress and tension that comes from pretending to be someone you’re not, or professing to like something that you don’t. I promise you: Pretending will rob you of joy.

I’ve spent the better part of my life as a people-pleaser, trying to meet other people’s expectations, trying to keep everyone happy and liking me. But when we are trying to please others, we are usually out of sync with our own wants and needs. It’s not that it’s bad to be thinking of others. It’s that pleasing others is not the same as helping others.

~ Christine Carter, Ph.D.  

Don’t miss the rest of her great post here: Why It Doesn’t Pay to be a People Pleaser


Notes:

He went and said goodbye to the trees in the yard, one by one, embracing them and crying

jose-saramago

It was only many years after, when my grandfather had departed from this world and I was a grown man, I finally came to realise that my grandmother, after all, also believed in dreams. There could have been no other reason why, sitting one evening at the door of her cottage where she now lived alone, staring at the biggest and smallest stars overhead, she said these words: “The world is so beautiful and it is such a pity that I have to die”. She didn’t say she was afraid of dying, but that it was a pity to die, as if her hard life of unrelenting work was, in that almost final moment, receiving the grace of a supreme and last farewell, the consolation of beauty revealed. She was sitting at the door of a house like none other I can imagine in all the world, because in it lived people who could sleep with piglets as if they were their own children, people who were sorry to leave life just because the world was beautiful; and this Jerónimo, my grandfather, swineherd and story-teller, feeling death about to arrive and take him, went and said goodbye to the trees in the yard, one by one, embracing them and crying because he knew he wouldn’t see them again.

~ Jose Saramago, (1922-2010), excerpt from his Nobel Lecture, December 7, 1998


Notes:

Running. And, slow sailing to a quiet dance.

drum-drumline
It’s a coincidence. (Again?)
It’s synchronicity. (Do you believe that?)
You made it up, you’re delusional. (Not yet, don’t think so, not just yet.)
It’s a sign, a message. It’s G – – . (Oh, boy.)

5:45 am. I round the corner to Cove Island – low tide.  The sulfur released from the exposed mud fills the lungs – gas, pungent smelling salts.

I inhale.

Geese float silently in the shadows.

I run.

I’m around the loop and back, 1/4 mile from the entrance.  GPS flashes 4.1 miles in. I don’t glance at the time, that’s been a year now, I’ve conceded. “Matured.”  Over 25 years of daily tracking of body weight and notating work-outs, first in a log book, then Excel spreadsheets and now Google Sheets.  And also, now, on a parallel path on a digital step tracker which automatically feeds volumes of data into machines and is charted and graphed and spliced into pieces – all of which I never look at.  The logging, the tracking, the effort, I mean Really! WHO CARES?

Yet, the tension pulls at both ends, a medieval body rack tearing the limbs from the torso. Wired to Do, whipped by a Mind that makes you Do and strapped to a Body that can no longer Do. And, the Head swims in rip currents.

[Read more…]

Miracle. All of it.

face-paint-powder-red

Picture yourself in an airliner, at high altitude. One of the plane engines has just caught fire, the other doesn’t look very well either, and the pilot has to make an emergency landing. Finding yourself in such a situation can be a shattering, yet also a revealing experience. First, there are of course the cries, the tears, the whispered prayers, the loud hysterics. Amid all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, you cannot think of anything in any detached, rational fashion. For you have to admit it, you are scared to death, just like everyone else. Yet the plane lands safely and everybody gets off unharmed. After you’ve had a chance to pull yourself together, you start thinking a bit more clearly about what just happened.

That’s when we might realise, for example, how close we can be sometimes to not being at all. And also that there is something oppressively materialistic, to an almost obscene degree, in any ‘brush with death’. Some faulty piece of equipment – a worn-out part, a loose screw, a leaking pipe, anything – could be enough to do us in. That’s all it takes. We thus realise that, when we experience failure, we start seeing the cracks in the fabric of existence, and the nothingness that stares at us from the other side. Yet even as failure pushes us towards the margins of existence it gives us the chance to look at everything – at the world, at ourselves, at what we value most – with fresh eyes. The failure of things, coming as it does with a certain measure of existential threat, exposes us for what we are. And what a sight!

From that unique location – the site of devastation that we’ve become – we understand that we are no grander than the rest of the world. Indeed, we are less than most things. The smallest stone we pick up randomly from a riverbed has long preceded us, and will outlive us. Humans are barely existing entities: how can we claim privileges? Fundamentally, we are vulnerable, fragile creatures. And if, unlike the rest of existence, people are endowed with reason, it is this gift of reason that should lead us to understand how modest our place in the cosmos actually is.

~ Costica BradatanEveryone fails, but only the wise find humility


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

bird-flock-see-feel

A light so continuous and so intense was so far beyond my comprehension that sometimes I doubted it. Suppose it was not real, that I had only imagined it. Perhaps it would be enough to imagine the opposite, or just something different, to make it go away. So I thought of testing it out and even of resisting it. At night in bed, when I was all by myself, I shut my eyes.

I lowered my eyelids as I might have done when they covered my physical eyes. I told myself that behind these curtains I would no longer see light. But light was still there, and more serene than ever, looking like a lake at evening when the wind has dropped. Then I gathered up all my energy and willpower and tried to stop the flow of light, as I might have tried to stop breathing. What happened was a disturbance, something like a whirlpool. But the whirlpool was still flooded with light. At all events I couldn’t keep this up very long, perhaps only for two or three seconds. When this was going on I felt a sort of anguish, as though I were doing something forbidden, something against life. It was exactly as if I needed light to live —needed it as much as air. There was no way out of it. I was the prisoner of light. I was condemned to see.

― Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light: Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, Blind Hero of the French Revolution


Notes:

  • Photo: Татьяна Кошутина (via Hidden Sanctuary)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Related posts for Jacques Lusseyran
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

photograph-butterfly-butterflies-hand,

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There’s an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You’re beautiful for as long as you live.

~ Stephen Dunn, from Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry (1966)

 


Notes:

  • Post inspired by: “Butterflies are not insects,’ Captain John Sterling said soberly. ‘They are self-propelled flowers.” from Robert A. Heinlein, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Thank you Beth at Alive on All Channels.
  • And inspired by ZME Science: “The caterpillar’s  metamorphosis from a tree clinging, 12-legged pest into the majestic flying butterfly is one of the most used metaphors to describe a 180 transformation. It’s truly a fantastic mechanism developed by nature, yet while all my seem fantastic on the outside, this transformation looks pretty gruesome deep inside the chrysalis. In short, for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly it digests itself using enzymes triggered by hormones, before sleeping cells similar to stem cells grow into the body parts of the future butterfly.”
  • Stephen Dunn Poem excerpt from The Vale of Soul-Making
  • Photo from We Heart It

 

 

Lightly child, lightly.

jerome-garcin-jacques-lusseyran-le-voyant

Inside me there was everything I had believed was outside. There was, in particular, the sun, light, and all colors. There were even the shapes of objects and the distance between objects. Everything was there and movement as well… Light is an element that we carry inside us and which can grow there with as much abundance, variety, and intensity as it can outside of us…I could light myself…that is, I could create a light inside of me so alive, so large, and so near that my eyes, my physical eyes, or what remained of them, vibrated, almost to the point of hurting.

― Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light: Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, Blind Hero of the French Revolution


Notes:

  • Photo Credit.
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Related posts for Jacques Lusseyran
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

I said, I like my life.

jump-to-touch-the-sky

I said, I like my life. If I
have to give it back, if they
take it from me, let me
not feel I wasted any, let me
not feel…that I forgot
to give what I held in my hands,
that I forgot to do some little
piece of the work that wanted
to come through…

~ Marge Piercy,  excerpt from “If They Come in the Night”, Circles on the Water: Selected Poems


Notes: Poem – Thank you Beth at Alive on all Channels, Photo: Adeline Spengler, The Jump Touch the Sky, 2013 (via newthom)

 

secret, disciplined, generous and unfathomable

owl-dream

Not the bald image, but always –
undulant, elusive, beyond reach
of any dull staring eye

– lodged
among the words, beneath
the skin of images: nerves,
muscles, rivers of urgent blood,

a mind
secret, disciplined, generous and
unfathomable.

– Denise Levertov, excerpt from Williams: An Essay from Selected Poems


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

small-bird

I would like to paint the way a bird sings.

~ Claude Monet

 


Notes:

  • Photo: Iva with enjoying the winter sun (via Your Eyes Blaze Out). Quote: Thank you Rob @ Hammock Papers
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

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