The purpose of this blog is to pursue happiness together. My aim is to share my thoughts, thoughts which i have accumulated through the experience of highs and lows in my own life, and thoughts from famous philosophers, thinkers, and humanity at large. My hope is that we can begin a dialogue, and that through discussion of what happiness is, and how we find it, that we can learn to be happy together and to help make the world a better place.

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Hello all! Thanks for visiting my blog. I believe that creating and achieving a state of happiness and joy is the primary purpose in life. My mission for this page is to provide uplifting content, inspirational material, and thought provoking ideas; all of which I hope will help you come to a better understanding and experiencing of happiness and joy.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Happiness Thought for the Day: Be Free


 


"Man's life begins when he wakens to his freedom." - Alan Watts

I recently finished reading "The Meaning of Happiness" by Alan Watts. In the spirit of full transparency, his level of intellect, wisdom, and knowledge drastically surpasses my own and as such I am cautious in my attempts to communicate his thoughts. I will be regularly reviewing my notes on this book, which I intend to re-read at some point, along with moving into more of Watts's work which I thoroughly look forward to. 

In light of the above warning here is my attempt to expand upon the opening quote. When Watts says that the life of Man, in this case meaning huManity or all humans, begins with freedom, what he is referring to is our freedom to be exactly who we are. 

So much of our anger and unhappiness comes from a rebellion against the realization of our truest self or shame for who we are. Watts teaches us that happiness lies in acceptance and acceptance leads to freedom, and that freedom leads to happiness. The highest freedom is to know thyself and to accept who we are. When we come to accept ourselves as well as our union with the ALL of the universe, we become free and happy. 


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Happiness Thought for the Day: Control thyself



 "He who controls others may be powerful, but be who has mastered himself is mightier still.“ - Lao Tzu

The greatest form of strength and power is to control and master oneself. If you are truly in firm control of your mind, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors, then you are truly indomitable. 

Work on mastering yourself by reading, meditating, studying, being amongst nature and your fellow man alike. Realize that you and you alone can truly be master over the self. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Perspective, the first pillar of Happiness



This post is about one of the fundamental principles of happiness. As I have done my research and reading I have come across several recurring themes that appear to play a major role in happiness and have been identified by numerous philosophies, religions, and individuals as paramount to a joyous existence. I will call these the Pillars of Happiness and over the coming weeks and months will elaborate on each of the pillars, beginning with the first one here. 

The first pillar of happiness that I want to discuss is perspective. Perspective is about how we see ourselves, our emotions, the world around us, and our thoughts toward that world. It can be used synonymously with attitude or viewpoint. With the wrong sort of perspective it may be impossible to experience and know happiness. With the right perspective, happiness becomes something that can be enjoyed almost immediately. Let us unpack this idea further. 

The reason why perspective matters so much is that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to feel sadness or unhappiness in life. Suffering is an immutable characteristic of existence. Suffering is the first part of the noble eightfold path of Buddhism, each of the Abrahamic religions acknowledge suffering as part of existence and describe at great lengths the suffering of their followers as well as their religious figures. I am not as familiar with Hinduism, Taoism, or other major religions as with the aforementioned, but I do know that they have a healthy respect for and admission of the presence of suffering in our lives. We don’t need religious texts or philosophers to tell us about suffering, any of us who are old enough to be reading this post have experienced some measure of suffering in our existence, and as such we can agree that suffering is part of life. 

The only way that we can experience happiness in light of an existence fraught with suffering is through our perspective. First, we must come to recognize the truth of the following statement by Alan Watts, who said that “all men suffer but not all are unhappy, for unhappiness is a reaction to suffering not suffering itself.” It is easy to understand how one might mistake suffering for the literal embodiment of suffering which is not the case. It isn’t suffering that causes us to be unhappy, but rather our reaction to suffering. 

Through the perspective of realizing that it is our reaction to suffering that causes us to be unhappy, we realize that we have the power to choose our reaction and our thoughts around any given situation. This is precisely what Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

Those of us familiar with the life of Dr. Frankl will know that he endured suffering on an unimaginable scale through his experience as a Jewish prisoner in Nazi Concentration Camps. Through his willpower and perspective towards his suffering, he was able to endure what so many sadly were not. If he can survive his time in the death camps, so too can we choose our outlook or perspective in the face of whatever suffering will come our way. 

We can further change our perspective on life in general, not merely with regards to suffering, by remembering the teachings of the stoics, who remind us to focus only on that which we cannot control. Most of what happens in life is the work of forces greater than any of us are able to understand and thus we are helpless to exert any sort of control. We cannot control circumstances but we can control our outlook through perspective. Tony Robbins is fond of saying “life happens for you, not to you.” This is an excellent way to shift perspective around things that might initially cause us unhappiness, as we choose to perceive them as opportunities for growth and development rather than as harmful or hindering. 

We can go a step beyond this by adopting the perspective of the stoics once again and reminding ourselves that events are objective, rather than subjective. Things that happen are not good nor bad, they simply are. Only our reaction to them gives them any label such as good or bad, and only our reaction can allow things to make us happy or sad. Marcus Aurelius once wrote: “Do away with the opinion I am harmed, and the harm is cast away too. Do away with being harmed, and harm disappears.” Pain, unhappiness, suffering, they are all constructs of the mind, if we can adopt the perspective on our existence to be immune to such thoughts or feelings then we can remain happy regardless of what may happen in our lives. 

Maintain a positive perspective on life, make yourself impervious to suffering our harm, and choose to see the beauty in all things that are our existence. If we allow our mind to become reactive towards the world around us it may be very easy to adopt a negative and unhappy perspective towards existence. The person who has a happy, joyous, and optimistic outlook creates that very type of life for themselves and for others. Positive people with happy perspectives light up the world around them and are a beacon of hope for those who would emulate them and feel the same way. The Dalai Lama said in the Book of Joy: “Changing the way we see the world in turn changes the way we feel and the way we act, which changes the world itself,” before adding "a healthy perspective really is the foundation of joy and happiness, because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world."

If our own mind is committed to the decision of being happy, rather than looking to the outside world to behave in such a way that causes us to react happily, then we are able to create a happy existence for ourselves through our perspective. Remember this thought every day, that happiness is a choice, not a reaction. If you perceive the world as cruel, dark, inhospitable, and unhappy, then that is exactly what it shall become. If you are able to permanently adopt the perspective that no amount of suffering can shake you from the possibility of happiness, recognize that the struggles in life make us better, and remember that life happens for you not to you, then you will be able to experience endless happiness. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Happiness Thought for the Day: Suffering does not mean unhappiness



 "All men suffer but not all are unhappy, for unhappiness is a reaction to suffering not suffering itself." Allan Watts. 

What this quote by Watts emphasizes is that happiness is a matter of attitude and perspective. 

Perspective is exactly what I will be talking about in my next video post, as I believe that perspective is one of the key tenements of happiness. 

Suffering is part of life, most religions and philosophies agree with this and anybody who has experienced life can point to some parts of it where they experienced suffering. It is inevitable and inescapable. Because it is inescapable, we must adopt the perspective that we are able to remain happy, even in light of suffering. For ultimately our happiness depends on our reaction to suffering. 

We can maintain a happy perspective in suffering by realizing that the challenges and difficulties of life ultimately make us stronger. Watts himself would tell us that without suffering there could be no happiness, as every emotion or feeling must have an antithesis without which it cannot exist. Without good, there is no bad, without light there is no dark. 

Remember that happiness is a reaction, not a choice, and that by choosing to be happy in light of suffering, you can and will live a joyous existence. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Happiness thought for the Day: Choose your own Way


 

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any set of given circumstances, to choose one's own way." - Viktor Frankl

If Viktor Frankl can speak and live in this way then so can we. Reader's of my blog are no stranger to Frankl as I reference his ideas often. 

For those unfamiliar, Viktor Frankl was an accomplished Psychiatrist who was imprisoned for several years in Nazi concentration camps during the 1940's where he endured the very worst of humanity and unimaginable suffering. 

Despite the suffering he endured, Frankl was able to retain a remarkably positive mindset, a mindset that he credited with being his salvation as well as that of his fellow survivors. 

Frankl found this salvation by not allowing the overwhelming and terrible circumstances of his life to affect his outlook. He remained positive by turning his suffering into meaning and finding a purpose in his life, in his particular case the need to survive so that he could publish his research and speak about his experience. 

We would do well to ensure greater happiness in our lives by following Frankl's example and heeding his advice. If he can remain steadfast through the immensity of the suffering he endured, we can do the same. 

Remain positive and firm in your resolve, and you will know happiness even in the face of the mightiest struggles. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Happiness Thought for the Day - October 11, 2021: Love what you do


 


Love what you do. 

Read that again. 

It doesn't say to do what you love. It says do what you love. 

In the perfect world, we could earn a living doing exactly what we love, or better yet, we could live in a world where we didn't have to earn a living at all and every ounce of our labor would purely for our own amusement and the betterment of humanity. 

This is not reality. Most of us must find work, often times doing something we hate or at best are apathetic towards. I wouldn't say that I love simplifying and unifying the revenue cycle of health care companies, but this is exactly the mission of my company. 

Loving what you do differs from doing what you love in that loving what you do means adopting a positive mindset towards whatever it is that you must do. Recognize that whatever you do for work, whatever you pour your efforts into, whether it be for money or not, are an offering of your time, your service, your ability, and your soul. 

You may not be doing what you love but if you learn to love what you do, then the normal everyday activities that typically feel mundane suddenly become meaningful as an expression and offering of yourself towards what in some way, shape or form, equates to the betterment of humanity and the soul of the world. 

Put forth your enthusiasm into whatever you do. take pride in your actions and your thoughts, and love what you do. 

Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day 2021


 


Today, October 11, 2021, we observe and celebrate Indigenous Peoples' day in the United States, honoring the valuable historical and contemporary contributions of the various indigenous people who have called this land home for thousands of years. 

This year President Joe Biden became the first US President to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples' day. The second Monday of October has traditionally been recognized as a date of remembrance in honor of and named after an Italian imperialist. At long last, the name of that name has been dropped in favor of Indigenous Peoples' day. 

The intent is to recognize not only the meaningful role of indigenous peoples on both our history and our present state, but also to bring attention to the plight that many indigenous people face today. Among the issues, indigenous people are disproportionately affected by climate change, violence, and health concerns. 

As recognition of this day grows, I hope that more Americans will take the time to educate themselves about the beautiful traditions and history of our indigenous people and consider them as valuable members of society rather than as a nuisance that got in the way of America's Manifest Destiny. 

Recognition of this day will not cure centuries of persecution and discrimination but it is a small step in the right direction. 


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Happiness Thought for the Day - October 10, 2021: Remember to share empathy for others



"But for the grace of god there go I." 

This quote is largely attributed to John Bradford, an English reformer who lived in the 1500s. 

Not being able to fully accredit the quote to him, I shall leave it blank. 

No matter who spoke it, or whether we happen to believe in God, a god, gods, or not, the quote bears consideration as we consider the interconnectedness of all life. 

We are all responsible for the outcome of our own lives, this is true, but there is no denying that certain lucky or unlucky hands are dealt to us through no fault nor merit of our own, and that these seemingly random consequences have tremendous control over the arc of our lives. 

Nobody chooses to be born who they are. Some of us are born into lives of comfort and security while others are dealt into poverty and constant existential struggle, while others still die all to young through some tragic illness or event outside of our control. 

Remember this when you see somebody suffering, that but for the grace of god that person could be you. You see a homeless person wearing tattered rags and begging for change. Don't jump to conclusions about that person, they may very well be there through largely no fault of their own and perhaps even their continued existence is miraculous and a testament to their strength and resolve. Or maybe they are there because they made a string of bad choices that resulted in their current state. Who cares. The bottom line is that that person could easily be any one of us, and that we would do well to be mindful of this and to help those in need. 

Think about this and spare a bit of compassion and empathy for others. The happiness of the world will prosper thusly.  

World Happiness Day: October 10, 2021


 As you  can see in the picture, today is mental health day. 


Check on your people and make sure they all know that you are a source of help, safety, comfort, and love in any situation. 

We all fight battles but sadly mental health is one that many of us are afraid to admit we fight because of shame. 
There is no shame. The shame is when our friends and family struggle in solitude because they are afraid of judgement from us and from society. 

I’ve lost a few people to suicide over the years and for a long time it was a strongly considered option in my own life, one I am immensely glad I did not choose. It breaks my heart over those we have lost but I’m hoping that with open dialogue we can help prevent suicide and other instances of mental illness. 

I would also highly recommend therapy. It has helped me change my own life for the better and a few friends who have taken my advice and gotten help have been glad they did. 

For my part, please consider me an ever open option to come I for help, whether I know you in person or are merely following one another here on The internet.

Be well everyone. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Happiness Thought for the Day - October 9, 2021: Gratitude leads to happiness


 


“It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy. Every moment is a gift." - David Steindl-Rast

Does happiness make us grateful, or does gratitude make us happy? Its an emotional and spiritual question of similar nature to the chicken or the egg. There are those who may say that when we are first happy, then we learn to become grateful as a result of happiness. 

I would lean in the opposite direction, as would David Steindl-Rast - a Christian Monk who has spent much time studying Buddhism and other Eastern religions, who is the author of this passage quoted in the book of Joy. We are not grateful because we are happy, rather instead we are happy because we are grateful. 

I would list gratitude as one of my most important traits to embrace on ones search for happiness, along with compassion and perspective. One of the easiest ways to realize near instant states of elevated happiness and more lasting joy is to be continuously grateful. 

Here are a few tips that I have found useful in practicing gratitude: 

1. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down 3-5 things every evening that you were grateful for that day. They can be as simple as a compliment received, a good meal, a sunset. Think hard and I am sure you can come up with a few. 

2. Meditate: I like to do my gratitude meditations early in the morning, shortly after waking, to help me carry that grateful and happy feeling around throughout my day. I like to sit quietly for 10-15 minutes and think about my life, reminding myself how lucky I am for this life and for all in it. If you need help being grateful for something, imagine your life without it. Don't like your job? Imagine yourself without it, how would you pay your bills or provide food and shelter for yourself and those who count on you. Angry and resentful at your spouse? Imagine how empty and lonely you would feel if that person were gone. 

However you choose to experience it, make sure to cultivate gratitude in your life. The results will lead to greater happiness. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Happiness Thought for the Day - October 8, 2021: Quality over quantity



"As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters." - Seneca

Insecure men around the world will rejoice that this post is about the idea that is quality, not length that matters. 

Alas, I am merely speaking about life, nothing more. 

Whether you live to be 75 years or 100 years old, our time on earth is indescribably brief. The Earth has existed for over 4 billion years and should remain for another 4-6 billion before our sun explodes and life in our solar system as we know it is eradicated. 

None of us will be around in our current states for that anyway so lets focus on the quote at hand. 

The fear of death is both natural and common. I will admit to occasionally having near-panic attacks at the idea that one day, in the very near future with regards to the cosmic scale, that I will be dead. I try to put this thought out of my mind by realizing that it is, despite my best efforts to exercise and eat right, inevitable. Therefore, I should focus not on the duration of my life, something out of my control, but instead on the quality of my life, such as the Stoics - including Seneca here - would ascribe. 

Seneca is also famous for the quote: "it isn't that life is short, but that we waste a great deal of it." This again reinforces the idea that it is the quality of a life that matters, rather than the quantity. 

What good is a life of 100 years if you never find love, if you lack friendship, if you lie in bed infirmed with illness, if you shun relationships for the sake of pursuing an ever-lasting life. 

Would you rather sit on your death bed at the old age of 100, with nothing to show for it other than the wrinkles on your forehead, or would you rather pass much earlier but with your heart and mind full of joy, happy memories, and a life of laughter? 

A long life of quality would be ideal. But if one must choose, I would suggest choosing quality. The quality of our life is what makes it worth living, not the duration. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Importance of Deloading From Normal Life for Happiness



As those of you who follow my blog closely have noticed, (not assuming there is any such person of course but according at least to my analytics tool there are a FEW of you who do tune in that aren’t part of my immediate family or circle), this is my first post for about a week now. I just returned from an admittedly too-brief vacation that involved some family time, catching up with old friends, and a much-needed getaway with my girlfriend. During that time, I promised myself I wouldn’t check into work, I would leave my phone off except for using it to tell time and direct me to the nearest restaurants (does anybody wear a watch anymore anyway) and take some time away from technology overall. This included a break from the blog, which despite being my life’s number one passion project, I felt was necessary to break from.

This post is about the importance of taking such breaks. Too often in our lives we allow our focus to be shifted from what really matters towards what society tells us matters. Since returning to work this morning I have somehow managed to spend 6 hours responding to emails, updating reports, joining calls, and catching up on all that I missed. That is just work. I have also probably checked my social media no less than 10x, likely more as I so often to this compulsively with no real need, and as such I have spent a quarter of my precious day feeling totally out of control in my own thoughts and actions, welcome back to the world we live in today.

Luckily, I was able to regain some perspective thanks to my time off. While that vacation already feels like a distant memory, I was able to walk away with some valuable feedback for myself. This was the first time in over a year where I had taken more than 2 consecutive days off from work, as well as the first time that I had been able to go more than 48 hours without spending a considerable amount of time scrolling through my phone. Even though I now find myself back in the chaos that is our normal world, I feel better for having had the time off and am able to recall my thoughts, feelings, and emotions during those few blissful days and carry them as a reminder on how I should conduct myself moving forward, now that I am back to reality as it were.

The first observation I have from my brief time off was perspective on the importance of quality time with special people. I was able to spend the first few days and nights enjoying my parents’ company, and catching up with old friends, two of whom I was lucky enough to watch get married and share in their happiness. The remaining nights were spent exclusively with my girlfriend enjoying some time at the beach together. While I wasn’t able to see EVERY person who mattered, I was able to spend time with a few of the people on this earth who truly do mean the world to me. Though they teased me on my visit for referring to them in this blog as “aged” I will reiterate again, despite their objections, that the reality is that my parents are old and that we may have precious few moments left to truly enjoy our time together. It isn’t only them, just this morning my girlfriend spoke to me about some discontents with her current work-life balance, or lack thereof and her desire to be more present around home, as despite our relative youth, even we truly have no idea how much quality time the two of us will enjoy. Taking a break from work, and from technology reinforced the importance of quality time to me, and allowed me to truly enjoy some of said quality time with memories that I will honestly cherish for as long as I am able to hold thoughts. If I had not taken time off from work, or made a commitment to put down the cellphone, this memory would be tainted, or at least obscured and devalued because of the distractive nature of work and social media stealing my attention and preventing me from fully appreciating where I was at that moment.

The second observation was how pleasant it was to be able to fully control my own thoughts. A normal day for me, like most of you I am sure, involves checking sales bookings reports several times a day, immediately responding to every email, checking on my blog views, making sure my fantasy-football lineup is set and more. The beauty of this time away was twofold: that I got to focus instead on the person I love next to me, to relax on the beach listening to the sound of waves, to enjoy watching nature in motion seeing the seagulls, the crabs, dolphins, and turtles about their daily lives and more; plus – none of the aforementioned daily distractions suffered in my absence. My sales bookings trended upwards despite me not refreshing 3x a day, my emails didn’t get answered immediately but no harm was done, the blog stayed up in my absence, and most importantly, my fantasy football team did win (and even if they hadn’t, would it really have mattered)?

The point is that so much of those concepts I just referenced often feel like they are of pivotal importance to our existence when in reality they couldn’t matter less. The beauty of taking some time off is that it enhances your opportunity to bond and connect with the people who matter, and it allows you the time to appreciate the beauty of your existence, your harmony with nature, and to not feel your mind torn in dozens of directions.

It isn’t just the news, social media, or work that can be a distraction or add pressure to our lives. I will admit, I even enjoyed a break from this blog. This blog is a great source of joy in my life but at times I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to deliver content. As such, it can occasionally add stress to my life. While I love doing this and I sincerely hope that it benefits others, my first priority is and always will be to myself, and if I can benefit myself with a miniature break, then that is what I must do, and that is exactly what I did.

I do realize that not everyone has the luxury, and luxury it is, but if you are able, I highly encourage you to put your “normal” life on hold, taking some time to connect with your loved ones and taking a moment to care for yourself without  the noise. I don’t believe you will regret it, and your happiness and overall wellness should be dramatically recharged.