Happiness is Poetry: Pablo Neruda

Happiness is Poetry: Pablo Neruda

neruda happiness poetryTo do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life ~ T S Eliot

Tonight my favorite romantic poet, I’ve never read anyone who can talk about love as beautifully as Pablo Neruda.  So have a read and think about the one you love and have a very happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane


If you forget me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.


I do not love except because I love you

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it’s you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.


Don’t go far off

Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because —
because — I don’t know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don’t leave me for a second, my dearest,

because in that moment you’ll have gone so far
I’ll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

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Happiness is Doing the Best You Can

Happiness is Doing the Best You Can

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. ~ Mother Teresa

happinessHello my friends, tonight I’ve been sitting around thinking about life, not having a particularly good day but something raised a smile for me a little bit ago. You know that got me to thinking about life in general and about how much our attitudes really mean almost everything. You see I did not grow up well-off and in a place where I witnessed a lot of people who were even worse off than I was. I’ve also had the advantage of traveling around the world, not only to the nice touristy places on the planet, but also to developing countries were people often have nothing or next to nothing.

You would think that automatically that would mean that in these places people would be unhappy, or selfish given the things they are lacking. However, I have often found exactly the opposite, there is plenty of happiness, gratitude and generosity in these communities. This isn’t to say things are rosy, hell these are people with little food, money or many of the things we would consider necessary for a decent life much less luxury. However, I’ve spent wonderful happy nights in their company, I have spent many hours laughing with people who had little and didn’t even speak the same language.

The lesson I have learned from them is that in order to be happy you have to make the best of what you have. It doesn’t matter if you have money, or the job you want or the person you want to be with because you have your life. Whatever life you have, whatever situation you are in there is something to be happy about even if it just the sound of the wind through the trees, puffy white clouds plunging across a powder blue sky, or the sound of rain on the roof. It’s all a matter of what you decide to be in any given moment.

So today my friends, wherever you are, whatever is happening make the choice to be happy, just for a moment, then for the next and the next. Soon, once you’ve strung together moments they become minutes, hours and eventually a happy day my friends      ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

How Travel Makes You Happier

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Our Best Happiness Posts of 2015

My favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

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Remembering the Appalachian Trail

Remembering the Appalachian Trail

appalachian trail, hiking

Awesome, Backtrack, Rev Kan, and the Kingfisher

If you face the rest of your life with the spirit you show on the trail, it will have no choice but to yield the same kind of memories and dreams.
Adrienne Hall, A Journey North: One Woman’s Story of Hiking the Appalachian Trail

So it’s that time of year, when all former Appalachian Trail hikers start to get homesick for the trail.  Most of us started in March and it was mid January when it started to feel real.  Leading into that final frantic rush of getting all of the last things done, when all of the butterflies started flapping around in my stomach.  Where each night as you went to sleep you were counting down the days and running through checklists in your head.  Even with all of that obsessing it was only two weeks before I left that I realized I had sleeping bags equal to the weather for the whole trip, except the first month and frantically ordered one.  Only, to send it home two weeks in and swap it out for a more appropriate bag.

Appalachian Trail, hiking, happiness

A magical spot on the Appalachian Trail

I not only know in my gut when this time of year hits, I can see it in my blog traffic.  Suddenly my AT resource page and AT posts start to pick up hits.  You see in addition to everything else as you embark on a thru-hike you start reading everything you can get your hands on.  God I miss that manic planning, the nerves, the edge of excitement right before starting.  For my thru-hike attempt in 2014 I was excited and absolutely terrified.  I was excited for the attempt, terrified it would go horribly wrong, fearful that my lack of long-distance hiking experience would show me out to be a fraud.  There were moments that justified all of those feelings.  There was an amazing and wonderful day that I was referred to as a troll sitting on a bridge, there was the day it did go horribly wrong when I blew out my knee and there was a night early on when after setting up my hammock and sat down then immediately did a full backflip and landed on my ass in front of four other hikers.

Appalachian Trail, hiking, happiness

White Blazes make me happy

The thing I really didn’t expect about hiking the Appalachian Trail was the amazing people.  The trail community was absolutely magnificent.  Not just the hikers, they were fantastic and I added more lifelong friends from that hike in three months than from any other single activity or time in my life.  But the community around the trail, the volunteers, the people who fed us and took us in, trail angels they are called for good reason.  These people were utterly amazing in every way.  They restored some of my hope in humanity through their giving and kindness.

hiking, happiness, appalachian trail

Overmountain Shelter on the Appalachian Trail

I miss the trail, those people, the process and the challenge, it was one of the best times of my life and it led to me writing my book Appalachian Trail Happiness and so many blog posts, click here to find a list of some of the best ones.

be happy, hiking, appalachian trail, tennessee

Rev Kane on the Appalachian Trail at the Tennessee border.

So what should this post tonight mean for you.  It’s a simple thing really, everything I’ve written about tonight was the culmination of dreams and desires put into action.  So whatever it is my friends, however improbable, however old you are, do it.  Take your dreams, decide to pursue them, plan like hell and then put them into action.  Trust me, it’s worth the risk and the fear and will produce some of your happiest days my friends.           ~ Rev Kane

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We Hear You, We See You, We Love You

We Hear You, We See You, We Love You

happiness, burning man

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others ~ Jonathan Swift

The image above was taken in the courtyard of the Temple of Grace this year at Burning Man. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll being doing some posts inspired by things I saw and read at the temple. I love these signs, utter simplicity and massive impact. These signs remind me of one of the things I really liked in the movie Avatar, the Na’vis in the movie didn’t see hello, they greeted each other by saying I see you. This is a powerful difference in that hello is an acknowledgment of your presence, however I see you is an acknowledgment of your person. That’s how these signs impact me, a simple way to tell people we acknowledge your person, that you’re valuable, not alone and most of all, you’re accepted. It’s not surprising that here at the Church of Abnormal Acceptance’s Ministry of Happiness, we’re on board with this.


People’s Climate March in NYC, Sept. – 2014

To take a little bit of a left turn with this idea, I heard some criticism recently of the climate march in New York City recently. The criticism went something like this, if this is such a serious issue, why does that march look like a festival or a big party. The answer is pretty simple really, people feel alone a lot of the time. Not just physically alone but mentally and spiritually alone, even alone with their ideas. So here was an opportunity to not feel alone, to feel that your thoughts, ideas and even values were accepted and shared. As such, you as a person could feel accepted and shared and that absolutely creates a sense of happiness, joy and festivity. So I get why the demonstrators seemed happy and festive.

My friends this piece is a reminder, this blog comes from the Ministry of Happiness, a ministry of the Church of Abnormal Acceptance. As such, we hear you, we see you, we love you and maybe even more importantly, we accept you and hopefully that will help you have a happy day ~ Rev Kane


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Remember, We All Want to be Happy

Remember, We All Want to be Happy

01Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding.       ~ Albert Einstein

I don’t normally do politically oriented posts on this blog and this will likely be a one time thing, there is more than enough political turmoil on social media to occupy all of our time and give us plenty of anxiety.  When I think of politics and political discussions I start thinking of happiness.  However, there is a lot of political strife and division in my country right now.  It unfortunately seems to be bringing out both the best and the worst in my fellow Americans.


I know the language is harsh but I have to agree with the sentiment

I had an interaction on Facebook  the other day.  I saw a post from someone who referred to all Iranians as Neanderthals, I objected to this comment. Someone else then piled on explaining it applied to all Muslims, not just Iranians. Likely, neither of these individuals had ever been to Iran or any Muslim country.  I wonder how many, or if, they have Muslim friends or even know any Muslims.  It is unfortunate our President and others with a large media reach, Bill Maher for example, keep spreading propaganda related to Muslims and Islam. It’s sad really, and utterly divisive, it gives tacit permission to bigots to spew their hate.

Hevs with Saudi Arabia in the background

My friend Hevs with Saudi Arabia in the background

One of the things I advocate for a lot on this site is travel.  Generally, it is for the purpose of making you happier by broadening your experience, stretching you and getting you out of your normal life in the default world.  There is a secondary benefit, one that I don’t talk about as much, a detail really to the idea of broadening your experience.


With my new Bedouin friend Noel in Petra, Jordan

When you travel, particularly to other  countries/cultures you get to see the world from a different perspective.  You get to see your home country through other people’s eyes.  You see that people in other places have the same day-to-day concerns that you and I do.  You see that parents love their children everywhere, that the sounds of kids playing and laughing is universal.  You learn that a smile is a smile in every language.

smiling baby

Sherpa Mother and Child I met in Nepal

My hope is that Muslims in the United States and overseas see the outpouring of support Americans are showing at airport protests around the country. Our governments may be bad actors, but people are people. We all love our families, we all work to keep food on the table, we all wish we had more say and control over what our government does. Most Americans understand that Islam is not our enemy, that every religion and every country has bad actors who make their countries and religions look violent and unloving.

happiness nepal

Rev Kane making friends in Nepal

My hope for the people in my country is that no matter how anxious we get, no matter how divisive our politics, we remember that deep down we are all brothers and sisters.  All human beings with the same wants, needs and desires.  Please remember my friends no matter your politics, religion or nationality, we all want to be happy, so let’s treat each other with kindness, compassion and express gratitude for the good in this world. Then we can all have happier days. ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

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My COVID Times Diary – the highs and lows

My COVID Times Diarythe highs and lows


covid times, apocalypse

Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity. ~ Paulo Coehlo

Well I think we’re at week 10 of our shelter in place, work from home reality.  Things are certainly starting to change.  Here in California yesterday, there were 53 deaths, 46 of those deaths occurred in Southern California in LA or Orange County. The infection is certainly on the downslope here in Northern California.  People are tired of the limitations, of working from home, of being in their homes a lot.  They in general don’t like the idea of wearing a mask and taking precautions.  Where required, people are being compliant enough.

But we find ourselves at an interesting crossroads here in the United States of America.  The fact is our economy has not show itself to be particularly resilient and our government has been unable or unwilling to provide support at a level that would allow the shelter in place to continue without significantly hurting the economy.  The pain of the economic crash is growing and so we move forward with “opening” our economy.  What this really means is that we will remove the restrictions that we have in place for safety, in order to increase spending to support the economy.

This of course has significant risks.  As we have seen in China and other places that the reduction in this health and safety protections inevitably leads to additional infections.  it just makes sense, if more people interact with each other, a disease that spreads best by face to face contact is going to be more successful if there’s more face to face contact.  Now this does not have to be a catastrophe.  If people follow the proper protocols, including maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, limiting group sizes and avoiding unprotected sustained face to face contact, and washing their hands then sure there will be some minor outbreaks, but those should be able to be handled.  Pair this with increased testing ability, quarantine policies and effective contact tracing and we’ve likely arrived at a safe new normal.  Assuming all of those pieces are in place.

The High

So let’s be optimistic first, let’s take the position of the, this is no big deal crowd.  Let’s say that the infection has burned itself out enough in places like New York and San Francisco and we can effectively ease restrictions without significant outbreaks.  That sounds really amazing, it leads to thoughts of dinners out with friends.  Of rebooking the trip I cancelled in March to Las Vegas and returning to throw some dice at the craps table.  We can dream that places like LA and Houston are just a few weeks behind other cities and similarly they’ll be fine in a few weeks as well.

This sounds so inviting, reopening schools with some sense of normalcy in August.  Full plane flights as people move around the country to vacation.  Hotels re-opening, attractions re-opening, life, as we knew it, almost the way it was with few inconveniences.  Those of you dreaming this are not alone, Las Vegas and Reno are re-opening June 4th, Notre Dame University is opening for face to face classes on campus in August.  In Florida, Walt Disney will open in July, but if you can’t wait, Seaworld in Orlando will be open in June.  Heck I bet we can even reschedule high school graduations and proms for some time in the summer.

It’s a lovely vision that I would love if it held up.  It would mean that I could consider booking my trip to Australia to hike the Overland Track in Tasmania.  But is it realistic?

The Low

So, maybe our fantasy above doesn’t pan out.  And I’ll put in a little trigger warning right now.  If you’re someone who is totally freaked out by the whole COVID reality don’t read the rest of this, it will not help your anxiety.

I’m going to start with an image.

covid times, social distancingThis was a place called Lake of the Ozarks on Memorial Day weekend, as soon as the place was open.  The same thing happened in bars in Wisconsin within hours of restrictions being lifted.  In the picture there are no masks, no six foot distancing going on at all.  People in this country feel entitled to do what they want and don’t care about the rules in place.  So much so, that they actually get violent at times when asked to do what’s best for society.  Here are two examples.  A woman in Michigan was told that her and her child needed to wear a mask in order to enter a store.  A little while later her husband and son returned to shoot the security guard who was enforcing the rule.  In Oklahoma, two women angry that their McDonalds wasn’t offering dine-in service like other restaurants shot teenagers working there.  I watch people even here in liberal California, mostly only wearing masks when they know they won’t get what they want without wearing one.  Meaning at work, grocery stores and while getting take out.  But even then, I see some people wearing the mask over their mouth but not their nose.  I see people handling and putting products back on the shelf, and walking right up next to others with no consideration for the potential risk.  Americans are acting like Americans and refuse to let anyone tell them what to do, even if it’s for their own good.

covid times, AmericaSo what does this American attitude and re-opening of our economy mean in light of this?  Well it means more infections and more death.  When we add into all of this the recent protests, first by people opposing shelter in place restrictions and secondly the social justice protests after the killing of George Floyd and you just have more and more opportunities for the virus to spread.  Include the increased contact from people being together in restaurants, gyms and salons and it all screams second wave.  Ok, we all expected a second wave, so what’s the big deal?  Well, lets compare COVID 19 to the last time we had a novel virus creating a global pandemic, the 1918 Spanish flu.  Which in fact, killed far more people in 1919 during its second wave, than it did in it’s first wave.

spanish flu, covid timesAnd keep in mind, as the graph above shows, there was also a third wave of the virus.  All of this took place over a roughly two-year period.  Now, there are differences between the two pandemics.  The 1918 flue was far more deadly, our medical systems were not as good, and we know far more about viruses now than we did then.  Which is one reason why not as many people are dying during this pandemic.  But it’s not the numbers I want you to look at in this graph, it’s the pattern.  Sure, the 1918 virus mutated to become more virulent during its second wave, so the spike from COVID might not be so extreme, but it is almost certainly coming.  Given what I’ve discussed above I would say the chances are very, very good it comes again in the next few months, further exacerbated by the normal factors around flu season and flu season itself.

So what we are looking at on the low side of this discussion is a second wave of COVID, along with a long-term recession/depression.  We are already at nearly 15% unemployment rate as of the end of April, with continuing increased numbers through May.  Airlines and other industry have been discussing additional layoffs as a result of the pandemic, so things are likely to get worse before they get better.  Even with the opening of the economy, it will not spring back like a rubber band without extreme consumer confidence that they are safe, and I know few people right now who feel safe.

So right now in America, we have an pandemic that has killed over 100,000 people in effectively three months, the worst unemployment rate since the great depression and the specter of a second and possibly worse wave of COVID looming in our immediate future.  The big question is, what is America’s breaking point?  With food distributions serving hundreds and thousands of families running out of food in a couple of hours, with unemployment climbing and riots in the street, at what point is any of this too much.  I would say we’re resilient enough to handle what we’re facing right now.  But were there to be one more major stressor, it might be too much.  So let’s hope and pray that fire season isn’t too terrible, that the big one doesn’t hit the New Madris or San Andreas faults, that the Yellowstone Super Volcano doesn’t blow or a meteor doesn’t slam into the planet.  Not very uplifting I realize and the fact is that reality will likely be somewhere between the fantasy high or the most depressing low.  But this is where my head is tonight and as I’ve stated in each of these pieces.  I’m writing this mostly for posterity, a diary of where my thoughts were at during the pandemic.  ~ Michael ‘Rev’ Kane

Other COVID Times posts you might like

Living our values

Back to normal

Is this the end?


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How can we have happiness now?

How can we have happiness now?

2020 riots, racism

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m going to take a left turn tonight, I’ve resisted the inclination for the ten years that I’ve been writing this blog to write about anything political or controversial.  Only recently have I, under an extraordinary reality, begun to write about anything other than the base concept of having a happier life.  Those have been my COVID Times Diary posts.  Tonight I’m going to take some latitude with that core happiness mission and expand it to a grand concept.  That concept is for our entire society in America, to be happier.  As I’m writing this blog tonight, America is not only in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic but also undergoing some of the largest scale racial justice protests since the 1960’s.

Let me start with a simple statement.  For America as a whole to be a happier place, there has to be less racism, more equality and equity in our society, including in the very structure of all of its institutions.

Why are people protesting and rioting?   Is it for justice for George Floyd who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer?  For some people yes.  Have there been peaceful protests about this, absolutely.  There have also been a lot of violent riots and looting going on around the protests.  These types of protests have been occurring my entire life around the same issues.  From the Watts riots in the 60’s through the Rodney King beating inspired riots in the early 90’s, until today.  One of the things you can always count on during these times of protest and turmoil, is that there will be instigators of violence.  Within these protests there are without a doubt, ANTIFA and other leftist trouble makers and anarchists.  Almost certainly there are white supremacist instigators trying to push the country into the race war that they feel is an inevitability and will lead to the race separation, white America fantasy that they dream of at night.

Like the inevitable thoughts and prayers proclamations that come out after a mass shooting.  The response to times of protest and violence have their own standard rhythm.  First there will be calls for calm from political leaders.  This will be paired with statements of understanding and how all of society must work together to get better.  In police violence cases, there may be an initial charge or investigation, but far too often, like in the Freddie Gray case, the officers are either acquitted or have their charges dropped.  The family of the victim at some point will ask for calm and peaceful protest, religious leaders will do the same.  The political right will of course scream about ANTIFA and the violent left, the political left will blame the president and the political right for their inflammatory rhetoric and actions. At some point, the political right will blame George Soros, which quite honestly is just code for the old racist idea that the Jews are at fault.  In the end, heavy levels of law enforcement, the National Guard and eventually protest fatigue will calm things down.  Then, much like we do with gun violence, we will do very little and talk very much, and then simply move on until frustration rises and it happens all over again in the future.

So what are the protestors in the street actually asking for?  If it were simply justice for George Floyd then the fact that the office has been indicted should put everything on hold and calm the streets.  But as we can see, that was not the case.  And the reason that was not the case is that, justice for George Floyd is not the issue.  Police violence against people of color and their unfair treatment by law enforcement is only a symptom.  There absolutely are good cops out there, and they have a terribly difficult and dangerous job.  Unfortunately in every department, there are also racist cops and the law enforcement culture far too often reinforces the negative attitudes and stereotypes that the worst of them believe.  But again, the police aren’t the root of the problem, they are a symptom of the real issue.

So what is the real issue, it’s racism.  Racism reinforces and exacerbates income disparity, inequity and inequality in our country.  It leads to lower levels of education, wealth and success.  It fuels these and other issues that also lead to higher levels of negative health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.  With lower levels of home ownership and wealth, higher unemployment and poorer health, hope is harder to come by.  Under these conditions, anger and frustration build and so it’s not surprising that in a time when we are facing a global pandemic all you need is a trigger.  That trigger has come in the form of the deaths of two unarmed black men in the last couple of weeks.  One, hunted down by racists vigilantes while jogging in Georgia, a second killed by a police officer in public.  Both events horrifically displayed on the internet for all to see.  This racism is generally directed primarily at non-white people in this country.  But how we, as a society, even define white is often racist in itself.

Racism pervades every aspect of our society.  It is wholly and simply a learned behavior.  Children have to be taught that people that don’t look like them are bad or less.  Racism is both as simple and complex as that.  Simple in that we absolutely know how it happens, but complicated because it does happen and now pervades our entire society.  It can be changed, things can, and have gotten better.  We see racism in the most subtle ways in our society.  You have a discussion with a relative, they are upset about a delivery.  They talk first about the UPS driver and the delivery they made.  Then, they talk about the FedEx driver, he’s black, and the delivery he made.  Without a doubt, you know that the UPS driver was white, because they didn’t feel the need to describe their color.  That tiny thing is unconscious and ubiquitous and mostly unnoticed and not called out in society.  But when you’re on the pointed end of that comment, again and again and again, you know you’re thought of as different, as less than.

Things have gotten better in America over time for everyone.  Everyone, save some convicted felons, have the right to vote.  Yes, gerrymandering and voter suppression is an issue, but no longer do armed white men sit at polling places denying the ability of minorities to vote.  Women are no longer considered the property of their fathers and husbands, there are still equity gaps to be addressed but they’re smaller.  Although not enough representation exists, we see women and minorities as CEO’s , head coaches, team owners, speakers of the house, college presidents, presidential and vice-presidential candidates and even as the President of the United States.

I point these examples out for a simple reason, if progress has been made, I have to believe that more progress can occur.  But progress is slow, progress is change, so it’s resisted.  But if we ever truly want to address the issue of these type of social justice demonstrations that can turn violent, these issues have to be addressed in a fundamental way.  This means not only each of us making changes in our own life.  But it means fundamental structural changes need to be made to all of the systems in our country.  There is no magic bullet or policy that does this.  It will not happen over night, but if we make obvious steps forward in addressing these issues, if we show the progress being made and that it’s real, we diffuse the anger and frustration that leads to these tragic events.

I know this is hard, just look at the NFL’s recent efforts to make changes to the Rooney Rule to try and increase the number of minority head coaches and executives in the NFL.  But either we do the hard thing and make the world better, and happier, or we don’t and we will again and again watch violence erupt, homes, cars and business burn and people die in the streets at the hands of cops and protestors.  The choice is completely ours.

2020 riots, racismLet me finish this piece the way I started it.

For America as a whole to be a happier place, there has to be less racism, more equality and equity in our society, including in the very structure of all of its institutions.

Let’s hope for a happier day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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TED Talks on Happiness

 TED Talks on Happiness


Matthieu Ricard

For a few moments, be aware of your potential for change. Whatever your present situation is, evolution and transformation are always possible. At the least, you can change your way of seeing things and then, gradually, your way of being as well. ~ Matthieu Ricard

The holidays are a very stressful time for everyone and an exceptionally hard time for some.  So, until the New Year I’ll be posting a Holiday Happiness post each day to try help folks out who are struggling.  As always you can reach out to me at Happinesskane@aol.com for a kind word or someone to listen. ~ Rev Kane

There have been a number of fabulous TED talks about happiness.  My favorite is by Biochemist turned Buddhist Monk, Matthieu Ricard. So tonight, his talk and some other for you to enjoy and help  you have a happier day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Matthieu Ricard on the habits of happiness (20:54)

Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness (21:16)

Shawn Anchor: The Happy Secret to Better Work (12:20)

Matt Killinsworth: Want to be happy, stay in the moment (10:20)

Stefan Sagmeister: 7 Ways for making more happy (9:33)




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Three Questions and some thoughts from Anza-Borrego State Park

Three Questions and some thoughts from Anza-Borrego State Park

happinessWhat is the purpose of the giant sequoia tree? The purpose of the giant sequoia tree is to provide shade for the tiny titmouse. ~ Edward Abbey

As many of you know I’ve quit my job, sold my house and am traveling across the United States towards my appointed start date of February 26th to do a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT) from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME (2189 miles). ~ Rev Kane

So I camped for several days in Anza-Borrego and it was good practice for my three questions exercise I’ll be doing on the Appalachian Trail, so here we go:


The most beautiful thing I saw today was my first ever desert oasis

happiness, desert

What made me happy today was just the pure joy of being outside on an 80 degree winter day, really should have been hiking in shorts today!

What I learned today was to be more careful on descents with tricky footing, the trail was covered in cantaloupe sized rocks, easy to land wrong and tweek an ankle or a knee, both of which I did today.


The most beautiful thing I saw today was the smile I got from a beautiful woman when we passed each other on the trail today.

What made me happy today was talking to my mom and hearing her sound clear and strong after being in the hospital for a couple of days

What I learned today was that when my batteries are dying on my boombox losing FM is the first sign.


The most beautiful thing I saw today was the view over the valley from the top of the hike I did today.

happiness, desert

What made me happy today was a lot, a great hike, talking to family, seeing two bighorn sheep on a ridgeline, all in all a really happy day.

I’m sure I learned something today but it escapes me.

My thoughts after the hike on the 25th from my journal:

Today I felt a bit like Edward Abbey as I spent five hours on the trail in the desert alone with nothing but the aloe plants, the ocotillo, little lizards scrambling away and big horn sheep fleeing over the ridge line. Out there like that I feel more alive than at any other time. You cease to be out in nature, an observer, and you start to integrate and feel part of the landscape around you. Most likely it’s coincidence but whenever this mode kicks in I always seem to see more wildlife. Perhaps the lack of otherness makes them a little more comfortable with you in their environment. There was an absolute sense of joy dancing down the slope, rock hopping with 40 pounds on my back beginning, just beginning to feel like a thru-hiker. Bliss!

On the road again, several days of driving, have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Tips for Better Life/Work Balance

Tips for Better Life/Work Balance

work, life, balance, happiness

happiness is balance

You actually don’t have to do it all ~ Danielle LaPorte

So last weekend I had the opportunity to do one of the keynote talks at the California Business Educators Association conference in Anaheim.  The topic for the conference was the Walt Disney quote, “if you can dream it, you can do it.”  So for the conference I thought it would be good to talk about life work balance and how doing a better job of balance can help you live a happier life.

I started by talking about the importance of happiness and balance and related my own journey, also known as the hard way.  I related when I was working at Hartnell College how I’d taken on way more than any sane person should have.  I was working the equivalent of three full-time jobs at the time and putting in over 80 hours a week.  It was this period of time that got me thinking about how to create better balance in my life.

Appalachian Trail, hiking, happiness

White Blazes make me happy

Along with doing some standard things to improve my life/work balance it was also this period of time that started me thinking about the current plan of action I employ of taking major time off every five years.

Starting at Hartnell I set up a series of events to celebrate my 40th birthday in 2004.  Then in 2009 to celebrate turning 45 I cycled in Ireland, hiked in Scotland, spent time in Bryce Canyon National Park and the grand finale a 22 hike in the high passes of the Himalayas.  As regular readers of this blog know, for my 50th birthday I decided to go bigger!  So I hiked a 1000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, swam with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks and finally spent a week photographing Polar Bears in the Arctic.  I also briefly talked about positivity and the three questions that I developed for my  Appalachian Trail hike that helped me focus on positivity.

hike, hiking, armstrong woods

Rev Kane in Armstrong Woods

I realize most people haven’t gotten to a point where they can do these type of things in their life, at least not yet!  So one of the things I do when I do a talk like this is to make sure I give the audience something they can implement immediately after going home.  So the following list are the things I recommended they implement to get more life/work balance.

Tips for increasing life/work balance

Find something your passionate about – It’s important to identify those things we truly enjoy.  How do you do that? Focus on things that make you lose track of time, one of those for me is photography.

No working 7 days in a row – Always make sure that one day a week you don’t work.  The reason is that there is no 7 days in a row, if you work 7 you automatically add the next week and end up doing 12.  This is the quickest way to stress and burn out.

Claim your space – Personally, I do not work at home.  This means I might have to stay in the office til 10 at night but it keeps my home separate from the stresses of work and truly makes my home a sanctuary.  I get that this doesn’t work for most people and if you have a family you will have to work at home.  However, claim your space at home, only work in your office or one space in one room.  Don’t let your work bleed into family time or to the family dinner table.  I understand that 3 year-olds obey no rules or barriers so if you’re dealing with toddlers, do the best you can.

Take mental health days –  We all have sick days, note they are not called physically sick days.  Don’t be afraid from time to time to just call in for a day and take a break.  It’s just as important to rest and keep your mental health in good condition as it is for your body.

Take your vacation days – This drives me nuts, how is it that people can max out their vacation time and HAVE to take a day off to keep form losing time.  It’s so important to give yourself a break, do something you love or just do nothing at all for a day or a week.  Take your vacation days my friends.

Take real vacations – Finally, take REAL vacations.  What do I mean by that?  Don’t take that vacation that leaves you saying you need a vacation from your vacation when you get back home.  A real vacation is one where you can completely get out of your life for at least a couple of days.  This means a vacation where you cut the electronic leash that is your cell phone and where you do some that so engrosses you that you can leave your everyday life behind, it’s the only true rest you’ll ever really get.  Also, if you leave town, don’t come back on Sunday and go to work on Monday.  Give yourself a buffer day or two between vacation and returning to work.

Now I realize some of you out there have the perfect job.  One that does not feel like work, a job where you wake up in the morning and can’t wait to go to do what other people feel like is a chore.  If that’s you, fantastic my friend but for the rest of us these tips can help us gain a bit of balance and have happier days my friends.  ~ Rev Kane






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