Happiness in Three Weeks

Happiness in Three Weeks

sunset, beachIf you do not change direction, you may end up where  you are heading. ~ Lao Tzu

So it’s the third week of January and for most of us our New Year Resolutions have already failed.  For those of us who are regulars at the gym you can really see the pattern.  Around Christmas to New Years Day the gym begins to get really crowded, the workers are frequently giving tours and you inevitably can’t get on your favorite machine because someone is sitting there trying to figure out how it works.  About this time of year, the crowd that had been thinning day by day since the first, has now pretty much disappeared.

I wrote my New Year post this year on looking at things a little differently for your resolution and hopefully that worked for you.  If not, if you went the old usual way and got the old usual results, let me give you a little forgiveness and another chance.  Yeah, I know, I’ve got no real authority but it’s a way for you to give yourself a break.

So, let tomorrow be a do over Monday, start with a new set of resolutions.  I’ll go back to my post’s recommendation, do something you’re passionate about and want to do, instead of what you “should” do.  Either way here is some advice.

  1. Pick easy and measurable goals, something you can do quickly and easily each day.
  2. Reward yourself for success, put a dollar aside for each time you do what you’re supposed to, do buy some ice cream with the cash.
  3. Tell someone about the goal, keep them updated.
  4. Forgive yourself if you miss a day and go right back at it the next day.

Hopefully these tips will keep you going and help you achieve whatever change you were hoping to make by doing this and as always, have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Life is Hard, But We Keep Moving

Life is Hard, But We Keep Moving

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We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. ~ Barbara de Angelis

A warm winter in some ways seems like a blessing, an escape and/or temporary reprieve from the ice and snow.  But this winter has seen it’s share of hard times for my family and friends.  The butcher’s bill has included the death of my Granny and my Great Aunt Catherine.  This has made the holidays tough for the family, both women were feisty women, one a hillbilly, the other the prototypical Irish mother and both lived into their 90’s.  I wrote a couple of pieces about my granny when she died as well as a resource piece on overcoming loss:

Life Lessons from Granny

Happiness is my Granny

Happiness Resources: Overcoming Loss

02I have another friend who is struggling through a divorce and I’ve watched this dance before.  No matter how amicable people try to be in the process, the inevitable pain and hurt involved spills out.  I’m far too familiar with divorce, it has been an ever-present companion in my life, one I would have happily done without.

01My friends and their friends have not been spared either.  An old friend and fellow blogger has also just written a really amazing piece about moving forward with cancer.  She’s a two-time survivor of cancer and a really wonderful person and as the title of the piece says, In A Blink of an Eye, Everything Changes check it out, it’s a great piece and definitely worth the short-time to read it.

I’ve had my own emotional struggles in the last month and I’m happy to say I’m doing much better with my own issues.  Things really can turn on a dime just from getting the right information or word at the right time.

03But tonight’s piece is not a downer, tonight’s piece is about hope.  The fact is things can get better, not by ignoring what’s happening, but by facing, accepting and working through the adversity you are facing.

05We get stronger through overcoming adversity, I wish it wasn’t true but it is, but there is good news within that reality.  The good news is that you can overcome the bad things that happen in your life and you’ll be more ready for what comes next.  My biggest advice is that you never try to take on these things alone, I operated that way for a good part of my life, it was a mistake.  There are people who will listen to you, help you, give you a shoulder to cry on, and ear to listen to your troubles.  Often, you find out in these times who the best people in your life really are.  At one point in my life, at one of these times, I would come to realize that my friend Kara, was a saint and one of the best people I know.  The more clouds that exist, the more opportunities there are for silver linings.

Here’s a short and excellent piece from essentiallifeskills.net, Tips for Overcoming Adversity.  The advice in the piece is really solid and I think reinforces some of what I’ve said above.  One of my favorite quotes is that it’s always better in the end, if it’s not better, it’s not the end.  Keep fighting through my friends, and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness is Poetry: Doug Draime

Happiness is Poetry: Doug Draime

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I love Doug Draime’s work, the writing is good but the attitude is better, and even more than that is the honesty that comes through. I’ve always been drawn to poets who don’t sugarcoat what they see in the world but come at it full and hard. I first encountered Doug’s work in The Outlaw Poetry site.  When I first started writing poetry I figured it had to be terrible because it didn’t rhyme or talk about the beauty of nature or God. It was discovering poets like Bukowski, Draime, Sapphire and more recently, Warsan Shire that made me realize my perception of poetry had been severely limited by my education.

Here are several pieces by Doug Draime, have a read, if he catches your fancy you find his work for sale on Amazon or more directly for his chapbook Dusk with Carol
and other chapbooks through KSE as well as a selected collection from 2012 that I’ve just ordered.

One Day’s Settlement of Chaos

The dream still lives in the
center of chaos, despite
the continual bombardment
in the world around me,
of people
with Hannibal and Hitler-
like ethics, plundering and
devouring the earth.
Yet, the flowers
reach up, purple and yellow
approaching the
fence top, in glorious
pure beauty.
I relax on the porch, drinking a
beer, thinking of the amazing
contradiction.

 

Illuminating Information

They talked about “art” as
…..if it was some
…..perfect glistening
…..thing like a diamond
…..after the mining
…..and cleaning

I swept the floor
…..as they talked
…..I took out the trash
…..washed the dirty glasses

“Art” without the blood
…..and torment
…..Mickey Mouse
…..without the mouse
…..turds.

After they left I
…..cleaned the ashtrays
…..scrubbed the toilet
…..waxed the floor
…..did what I had to do.

“Art” had nothing
…..to do with their lives
…..“art” was a good movie
…..a concert in the park
…..created and performed
…..by people with masters degrees
…..and winter homes
…..in Arizona.

I clocked out
…..bought a couple beers
…..and went home
…..tomorrow was another day
…..of illuminating information

 

Literary Expert

The guy was an “expert”
……….on poetry.
He was a famous poet &
………the magazine quotes
him saying that a poem “can’t be
……….totally honest, or it’s
………………..not a poem.”
He said good poetry is partly
……….honest and party bullshit
…..(I’m paraphrasing). He has taught
at a college somewhere in Iowa for
…..30 years & has
……….20 or so books out,
& he doesn’t have a brain in his fucking head. But he
…..doesn’t offend
anyone & I’m certain
people nod knowingly when he reads
………those little gems.
Chances are he has never written anything close to
honest poetry & therefore, never had to risk anything,
…..except maybe in the “literary” sense
…..(whatever the hell that is).
Everyone has a right to their own opinion about
………what poetry is suppose to be,
even if they’re lying to themselves, because
of course, that’s what good poetry
………is all about

 

Pretending the Apple Pie is Fresh

Pretending what can only be pretended
in the hollow cave of
a diseased mind, and laughing
like a crater on the moon: dead and
deep and treacherous.
War mongers and whore mongers
dine with presidents and kings
on lavish tables.
Meteors and broken stars are buried
beneath the junkyards of the world.
Dignity is something sold on back streets
and in dark crevices.
No matter how often flowers wither and
die in the presence of politicians,
no matter what the earth is destined to
spew out of its bowels, no matter what price
the death of innocence,
the horror continues unchecked by the
appointed and elected guardians of society.
Legions march heads-up past the viewing stand
where the decked-out
dignitaries are seated with chests full of medals,
wearing thousand dollar suits, their wives
smiling beside them
like vampy Vegas whores.

 

The Suits Won’t Go Away

I’ve seen these Suits
with dead faces,
since I was a
kid. I remember
closing my eyes tight,
after looking
at an insurance salesman
or a preacher ( how do
you tell the difference? ),
and praying he would not
be there
when I opened
my eyes.
I still do it at times with
CEO’s in their
designer suits, and generals
in battle dress: death arrayed
in ribbons across
their breast.
I shut my eyes tight still,
at morticians and talk show hosts,
and lying politicians,
with a hint of color in their
Porky Pig neckties.
Not to say, though, that all
men who have worn or who wear
suits are on my shit list.
Camus looked fantastic in a suit.
Presley wore suits with an unmistakable cool.
Miles and Coltrane and Kenneth Patchen
wore suits.
And Einstein wore a black rumpled suit
with impeccable class.
I admire men like that who happened to
have worn suits!
Men who have something to sell
other than
war, mind control and
spiritual stagnation.
I know the Suits will not go away,
no matter how long
I close my eyes and pray.
It’s been the same since
the white race rose to power.
The Huns were Suits, and down
the line, Hitler.
Many of our leaders imitate him,
wearing his Suit of death:
perfect fit, no tailoring
needed.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness is Poetry: Ashe Vernon

Happiness is Poetry: Warsan Shire

Happiness is Poetry: Sapphire

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Happiness is Candy

Happiness is Candy

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So I’m back in Harpers Ferry as I get ready to walk back to New York on the Appalachian Trail.  My absolute favorite thing in this town is the True Treats candy shop created and run by Susan Benjamin.

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The reason I love this place so much is that it is the perfect fusion of sugar, nostalgia and education. In the shop you can find candy of all types, including the candy of your childhood.

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Or your parent’s

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The candy is separated by decade and even by century. But what I find neatest about the shop is the education, either by Susan, her lovely staff:

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The history of candy is ever on display and utterly fascinating.  There are even historical candy packs that allow you to taste how say licorice has changed through the ages. Of course including a little scroll with the candy’s history.

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Here are a couple of other images from the shop, and Susan is coming out with a new book and expanding her web presence this fall so stay tuned.  Having a really happy day – Rev Kane

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How to be Happy Everyday

How to be Happy Everyday

27Every Sunday morning I start out the day wondering what I will do for my Sunday night post.  I try to make these more reflective, a little more focused on my everyday life.  I try to eat fairly low-carb, a result of having inherited some blood sugar issues and having a small addiction to Coca-Cola.  So I watch what I eat and usually don’t eat cereal but occasionally I get a craving for fruit and cereal and buy a box.  I am particularly fond of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but there’s a trick to this, like many cereals.  You see, you have to soak it in milk long enough to slough off enough cinnamon to form the cinnamilk at the end, but not so long as to lose the crunchiness of the cereal.  As I was admiring the fact that I had pulled off that delicate balance this morning, it hit me that I had my post for tonight.  Appreciating the small things.

26You see we can talk all we want about the big changes in life that will make us happier.  Those things are legitimate and what you should strive for in the end.  But what can you do to be happier along the way.  Recently a study identified gratitude as the single most important factor in happiness.  Whether or not that is true, it certainly is one of the key things that makes people happier.  Long-term happiness is typically most closely associated with strong ties to family (biological or selected) and friends.

For tonight I want to talk about gratitude.  We need to be grateful for the things we have in our life that make us happy, the small as well as the big.  Sure we are grateful for family, friends, good health, the money, food and shelter that has been provided for us.  But if you want to be consistently happy you have to do two things.  First, you have to remember that your attitude, how you choose to react to things, determines most of your happiness.  The second is to appreciate all of the little things around us that bring us happiness.  A beautiful blue sky, a partridge running across the yard, a magnificent sunset or maybe the roses in your garden.

25I often see in November people post 30 days of being grateful to their Facebook pages, that’s great, but if you only have that level of gratitude in November, well then it’s sort of like a fad diet.  You make yourself happier for a time but then lose those gains when you stop.  What I’d rather see people do is a gratitude Monday once a week, that way at least gratitude would stay on your mind year-round.  Maybe I’ll start doing a post on gratitude once a week.

So tonight my friends, be grateful for what you have, remember the little things that make you smile and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

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A little pause on the coast

A little pause on the coast

My mission in life is to not just merely survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style. ~ Maya Angelou

So, as someone who writes a blog on happiness you might think that of course I’m just yippy-skippy happy all the time.  That of course is not the case, and if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that’s not how I roll.  Maybe it should be what I do, I’m sure if everything was about being fantastically happy all of the time and how to be that way, I’d have a lot more readers and page views.  Which also would then to translate me monetizing the site and making money off of it.  As you can tell, this thought has in fact crossed my mind.  However, that has never really been what the Ministry of Happiness has been about and I have more respect for all of you than to do that.  My goal has always been to portray an honest appraisal of my life and the things I’ve researched, tried and experienced in trying to live a happier life.

So of course, because I’m human and like most humans, not living in a constant state of happiness and bliss, at times I write about being less than happy.  As I’ve discussed a number of times on the site, I used to suffer from depression fairly regularly, I’m happy to say that I’ve beaten that back and rarely find myself in the type of well I used to regularly have to crawl out of just to function.  But right now I find myself in an interesting and not all that comfortable of a place.

beach, sunsetFirst, let me be clear, I have a great life.  I’m fortunate to have a few friends I can truly count on, I have people who love me, and people who think positively about me.  I’ve worked hard to put myself into a place where I get to do a lot of things people wish they could.  I have the opportunity to travel to amazing places, I mean just this year I spent time in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Mexico.

But I find myself in a weird place right now.  I’m staying at the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I’ve got a great place across the street from the beach and my days are pretty good.  I get to walk the beach every day, I have a gym nearby so I’m working out daily and I’m actually eating more healthily than I have for a while.  My goal was to come here to do a few things, get my job search rolling which is coming along, albeit slowly.  But also to do some writing and I find myself, oddly, with the time but no motivation.  None of the projects I have to work on are inspiring the passion I need to dive into them.  Maybe, it’s just a glitch and my recent illness, I actually lost my voice for the first time in my life, has just not run its full course yet.  Maybe I was just tired and needed a break.

beach, sunsetHowever I feel there is something deeper involved, something that’s been gnawing at me for a while, a lack of anything to be passionate about.  Again, great life, but there is nothing driving me right now, I’m not in love, what I do for work is good, but not rewarding on a significant level, and there is no cause or idea I’m incredibly passionate about right now.  What I really need, I think, is just several days of really long conversation with someone I trust, but that is just not an option.  And that simple fact has me feeling a bit lonely.

sunset, beach, photographyLook, we all want to be happier, but at times things just aren’t going to be what we want them to be.  That’s ok, we have to take value from the positive things in our life, push ahead on the things we have to do, and look for opportunities to make a change.  The really good news, is that I’m sure what’s missing right now is something that is completely my fault.  The reason that is good news, is that if it’s my faulty, it’s under my control and I can make the changes necessary.  To be honest my friends, that’s usually the case, so stay positive, look for those change opportunities and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness and Cycles

Happiness and Cycles

Taoism, happiness, cycles

Taoism, happiness and cycles

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.  ~ Lao Tzu

Taoist philosophy says that the wise never get too excited when things go really well, they understand that nothing is forever and so even at the zenith of happiness, they prepare for sadness.  These cycles even exist for happiness.  This may seem unfortunate, that at the happiest point that you should prepare for sadness.  However the perspective has a better look when you consider the flipside.  The wise also understand that bad times likewise are not permanent, so even at your saddest, at your worst; you should begin preparing to be your best and happiest self.

Philosophy is a wonderful thing, an intellectual exercise that is fun to play with, however the only philosophy worth anything is that philosophy which can truly improve our lives or expand our minds.  I’m writing tonight because it has been this very philosophy I’ve been dealing with lately.  Things haven’t been so good for the last couple of weeks, a good friend of mine seems to have disappeared from my life, another friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, work has seemed a bit more pointless than usual and the plans I have to improve things have seemed further away then they usually do.

But in reading my daily meditations I came across the idea I discussed above and I was patient.  Not passive, I did what I always do when things go south and my mood starts to dip.  First, the essentials, good food, exercise and get enough sleep.  Then of course preparing for things to get better.  For the last three weeks things have seemed pretty dismal, but in the span of a few days things have turned.  My friends illness may not be as bad as previously thought, she’s recovering well from her surgery.  Some opportunities have presented themselves and my plans again don’t feel so far away or as unachievable as they once did.  Even at their worst, things will get better these are the cycles of happiness.  Remember this and remember to have a happy day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts on Happiness!

TED Talks on Happiness

Acceptance, Patience and Persistence

Happiness can be a Rollercoaster

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Happiness Resources: Mindfulness

Happiness Resources: Mindfulness

happiness mindfulnessThe best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Tonight a look at an idea that is gaining a lot of attention these days, mindfulness.  Mindfulness and specifically mindfulness meditation has some excellent benefits in life.  A great book on the subject is Thich Nhat Hanh’s, Miracle of Mindfulness a book I very much enjoyed.

First from the Greater Good, The Basics of Mindfulness

A piece on everyday mindfulness, exercises to relieve stress

Want a Happier Brain, Try Mindfulness

Finally a nice little four-minute video with Thich Nhat Hanh answering the question, What is Mindfulness

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Fun and Funny Posts

Fun and Funny Posts

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Kids explain Santa & Christmas

Fun Internet Memes

The Onion & The Oatmeal

Funny Kid Pictures

Happiness is Laughter: Funny Signs

Happiness is Star Wars

Amazing Festivals for your Bucket List

Funny Baby Images

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Happiness Resources: DIY Happiness

Happiness Resources: DIY Happiness

Maybe the truth is, there’s a little bit of loser in all of us. Being happy isn’t having everything in your life be perfect. Maybe it’s about stringing together all the little things. ~ Ann Brashares

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A quick tour around the web and a bit of a focus DIY happiness, sites with specific tips on what to do to have happier days my friends ~ Rev Kane

How to be happy, tips for cultivating happiness from the Mayo Clinic

How to be happy, 11 steps you can take to be happier from WikiHow

The habits of supremely happy people from the Huffington Post, a really detailed and interesting piece

Six unconvential scientific ways to be happier from LifeHacker

Also from LifeHacker, Want to be happier, stop doing these things now!

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