Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

The Economics of Happiness

May 11, 2014

In search of happiness

September 15, 2012
Happiness is like a butterfly

Happiness is like a butterfly

The fact is I am a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher to boot. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American writer, poet, philosopher and one of the leading figures of the transcendentalism movement. Besides writing Civil Disobedience, which inspired such revolutionaries as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr, Thoreau is most well-known for his book Walden, in which he recounts the two years he lived in a small cabin in the woods near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau used the time to immerse himself in his writing and to live a more simple and self-sufficient life.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

Together with friend, fellow poet, essayist and near-neighbour Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau founded the Transcendental Club.

Image from Zen pencils.

In the end, it is between you and God

January 19, 2012

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

— Mother Teresa

The circle of joy

December 5, 2011
Circle of Joy - Ken Crane

Circle of Joy - Ken Crane

An old story tells that one day, a countryman knocked hard on a monastery door. When the monk tending the gates opened up, he was given a magnificent bunch of grapes.

– Brother, these are the finest my vineyard has produced. I’ve come to bear them as a gift.

– Thank you! I will take them to the Abbot immediately, he’ll be delighted with this offering.

– No! I brought them for you. For whenever I knock on the door, it is you opens it. When I needed help because the crop was destroyed by drought, you gave me a piece of bread and a cup of wine every day.

The monk held the grapes and spent the entire morning admiring it. And decided to deliver the gift to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom.

The Abbot was very pleased with the grapes, but he recalled that there was a sick brother in the monastery, and thought:

“I’ll give him the grapes. Who knows, they may bring some joy to his life.”

And that is what he did. But the grapes didn’t stay in the sick monk’s room for long, for he reflected:

“The cook has looked after me for so long, feeding me only the best meals. I’m sure he will enjoy these.”

The cook was amazed at the beauty of the grapes. So perfect that no one would appreciate them more than the sexton; many at the monastery considered him a holy man, he would be best qualified to value this marvel of nature.

The sexton, in turn, gave the grapes as a gift to the youngest novice, that he might understand that the work of God is in the smallest details of Creation. When the novice received them, he remembered the first time he came to the monastery, and of the person who had opened the gates for him; it was that gesture which allowed him to be among this community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life.

And so, just before nightfall, he took the grapes to the monk at the gates.

– Eat and enjoy them – he said. – For you spend most of your time alone here, and these grapes will make you very happy.

The monk understood that the gift had been truly destined for him, and relished each of the grapes, before falling into a pleasant sleep.

Thus the circle was closed; the circle of happiness and joy, which always shines brightly around generous people.

Told by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Many thanks to my good friend Ken Crane for the artwork.

A man who radiates joy is Canon Andrew White who although he spends much of his life living the tragedy of what is Iraq somehow manages to radiate joy and in doing so infects those around him with joy. It was a pleasure and a joy to spend yesterday evening with him at the Boiler Room in Guildford.

Canon Andrew White at the Boiler Room

The two drops of oil

February 9, 2010

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, the Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

Extracted from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Also reproduced on his blog.

Why is it that people go around with their eyes closed, not seeing the wonders of the world around them? Maybe it is not their eyes, but their minds that are closed? They lack the wonder of a child.

Maybe that is why they are not happy? Or is it more fundamental, that unlike Santiago they failed to follow their dreams?

Or as my lovely friend Sian suggested: Enjoy the wonders of the world, take pleasure in the wonders of the world, but appreciate what you already have.


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