The Art of Happiness

A book I’ve intended to read for decades. Obviously a good read (if you’re the type of person who doubts this would be a good read, you may need some type of therapy). In my ongoing never-ending and required quest to presence and mindfullness it was time to read this.

Recommended? Yes

Favorite quotes (too many to chose from):

“If you want others to be happy practice compassion; and if you want yourself to be happy practice compassion.”

“In fact, survey after survey has shown that it is unhappy people who tend to be most self-focused and are often socially withdrawn, brooding, and even antagonistic…Happy people, in contrast, are generally found to be more sociable, flexible, and creative and are able to tolerate life’s daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people. And, most important, they are found to be more loving and forgiving than unhappy people.”

“In another experiment at the State University of New York at Buffalo, subjects were asked to complete the sentence “I’m glad I’m not a …” After five repetitions of this exercise, the subjects experienced a distinct elevation in their feelings of life satisfaction. Another group of subjects was asked by the experimenters to complete the sentence “I wish I were a …” This time, the experiment left the subjects feeling more dissatisfied with their lives.”

“Now sometimes people confuse happiness with pleasure. Happiness that depends mainly on physical pleasure is unstable; one day it’s there, the next day it may not be.” the “right choice” is often the difficult one—the one that involves some sacrifice of our pleasure.”

“Now for instance, hatred, jealousy, anger, and so on are harmful. We consider them negative states of mind because they destroy our mental happiness; once you harbor feelings of hatred or ill feeling towards someone, once you yourself are filled by hatred or negative emotions, then other people appear to you as also hostile.”

“It is felt that a disciplined mind leads to happiness and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering, and in fact it is said that bringing about discipline within one’s mind is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching.”

“When life becomes too complicated and we feel overwhelmed, it’s often useful just to stand back and remind ourselves of our overall purpose, our overall goal. When faced with a feeling of stagnation and confusion, it may be helpful to take an hour, an afternoon, or even several days to simply reflect on what it is that will truly bring us happiness, and then reset our priorities on the basis of that. This can put our life back in proper context, allow a fresh perspective, and enable us to see which direction to take.”

“I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy.”

“And once you encourage the thought of compassion in your mind, once that thought becomes active, then your attitude towards others changes automatically”

“It is clear that intimacy promotes both physical and psychological well-being. In looking at the health benefits of intimate relationships, medical researchers have found that people who have close friendships, people whom they can turn to for affirmation, empathy, and affection, are more likely to survive health challenges such as heart attacks and major surgery and are less likely to develop diseases such as cancer and respiratory infections.”

“If what we seek in life is happiness, and intimacy is an important ingredient of a happier life, then it clearly makes sense to conduct our lives on the basis of a model of intimacy that includes as many forms of connection with others as possible.”

“Compassion can be roughly defined in terms of a state of mind that is nonviolent, nonharming, and nonaggressive. It is a mental attitude based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and is associated with a sense of commitment, responsibility, and respect towards the other.”

“In recent years there have been many studies that support the idea that developing compassion and altruism has a positive impact on our physical and emotional health.”

“The only factor that can give you refuge or protection from the destructive effects of anger and hatred is your practice of tolerance and patience.”

“there is a solution to the problem, there is no need to worry. If there is no solution, there is no sense in worrying either.”

“the closer one gets to being motivated by altruism, the more fearless one becomes in the face of even extremely anxiety-provoking circumstances”

 

Take Me With You

TakeScreen Shot 2017-04-02 at 6.46.38 PM Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Recommended to me by my wife – read in her book club – this is a book about carrying for others and its tremendous benefits. The general premise is a recovering alcoholic high-school teacher serendipitously happens upon 2 adolescent boys who need care-taking for the summer and their adventure through US national parks. The book inspired me to book a camping reservation in Yosemite – which I did – and take an RV trip with my family – pending. Also, inspired me to attend AA meetings – also pending.

Favorite quotes: 

“People learned by what they experienced. It mattered little what anyone said to anyone.”

“It’s one thing to know the right path and another thing to take.”

“My pace was different. It’s just a whole different mindset. It’s more about being than doing. When you find a place you like, you just be there.”

Recommended?

I’m not sure I’d recommend it, but for me personally, it was a nice detour to a genre and subject matter I wouldn’t have likely chosen on my own. So thumbs up.