Zen and Five Ways to be Happy

The Tibetan wish for humanity is ‘May All Beings Be Happy’! This wish of goodness not only seeds loving kindness….it is a teaching about how each of us can be happy. The more we involve ourselves in caring for the world, the greater our ability to move off our self centered dime. So much of our own angst is caused by our self pre-occupation. Suzuki Roshi used to say that our finger is always pointing at ourselves.

I have a note above my desk about five simple ways to be happy. They work well for me and perhaps they may give you some insight about getting unstuck on your path to happiness.

  1. Free your heart from hatred
  2. Free your mind from worries
  3. Live simply
  4. Give more
  5. Expect less

These simple ideas can actually be a tall order. The smallest attempt to put them into action can make you bump quite hard into your problems, like those little resentments you carry around, or the incessant worry about your kid’s safety, or the how to juggle work, family, health, money, sex, love and everything else you think matters. And who’s got anything left to give at dinner time, when everybody needs the most?!

I find that forgiveness is the first step toward freeing my heart from hatred. I do this every day. I let everyone off the hooks I have put them on, and then I feel the warmth of my own heart and the gratitude I have for being alive. That’s all it seems to take. Sometimes I send out wishes of loving kindness to the people I love or those in need.

I was trained to be a worry wart by two master worry warts. I can worry about anything at anytime. I can even pretend I’m not worrying when things really bother me. Worry is an art form. My secret antidote is to take a breath, relax on the exhale, and get very connected to the present moment. Worry has a hard time living in the now. It thrives on the past and the future, so every time I am alert to now my worries disappear and I learn to trust the universe.

I am committed to living simply in the midst of my complex life and it brings me great joy. I throw out or recycle as much as I can. I fight consumerism when I buy things of quality, recycle, or simply go without. ‘You are rich in the things you can do without’ works for me. I dress simply, eat simply, shop simply. I also try to keep my dresser, closet, and desk in some semblance of order. I am always amazed at how much I don’t need and what few things really matter. Regardless of your life style or the size of your bank account, living simply keeps you close to yourself and gives you the precious time you need to enjoy living. And remembering that you could die at any moment is a great zen reminder to live essentially, gratefully, and humbly.

How do you give more? You make that all that you do! Every act of your life can be thought of as a form of beneficial activity. Just connect to the benefit and you will ride the wave of your loving kindness and generosity. I am convinced that what comes around goes around, and selfless giving seems to be the path toward making us all happy. Getting realistic about what you really need versus your fantasies, attachments, habits, and ‘can’t live without it’ entitlements can also help.

Which leads to expecting less. I think peace is sitting in the middle of not wanting anything, just happily hanging out in the moment watching the grass grow and the dust settle. Yesterday I was in our hammock watching the leaves fall and listening to the birds. When life is full and complete in the moment, there is nothing we can add to it that will improve it or make it better. So when we stop expecting we begin to understand that happiness is a way of being, not just something you feel. Happiness is always there when you get out of your own way and let the world be itself.

Also read Zen and Stress Free Living.

May you enjoy a simple happy life.

Good wishes to you and take care of yourself!

Tai Sheridan

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Image Credit: Jack A Hunter