Random Acts of Kindness & Happiness

Random Acts of Kindness & Happiness

kindness happiness

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us. ~ Ashley Montague

So I came home tonight after the gym and of course it was dark and so I went to the mailbox, opened it up and stuck my hand in to get the mail when I encountered something limp and wet in the dark.  I immediately felt like I was holding a used wet wipe which immediately made me wonder what monster would prank someone in that way.  I daintily carried the item across to the back door so I could see the object in the light and it was a magnolia blossom.  Immediately I went from about to be very angry to wondering who made me smile with this mysterious and random act of kindness and happiness.

There are tons of ways to make someone’s day, a good list is found in a blog, 101 Random Acts of Kindness.  So my request for you today is to go out and do something to make someone happy, something positive but uninvited and help someone have a happier day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Remember the Sweet Things

Happiness is Not Safety

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Happiness is Taking Risks

Happiness is Taking Risks

The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open         ~ Chuck Palahniuk

taking-risks

So tonight I sat down to write a post on how important taking risks is to being happy.  As I always do I scanned the web for anything that might help or inform my writing and tonight I stumbled upon a piece entitled, 10 Risks Happy People Take Every Day by Marc Chernoff.

This is a really amazing piece and I hope you will click through and read the whole thing, but I’ve included the introduction and the 10 points that he makes.  Risk taking is essential to happiness because taking risks involves making change and if you’re not happy, and you don’t do anything to change, then you will not become a happier person.  So give it a read and have a happier day my friends ~ Rev Kane

10 Risks Happy People Take Every Day

Almost two decades ago, somewhat as a joke since she tutored me throughout grade school, I asked my grandmother to sign my yearbook.  This was her closing paragraph:

“The best thing you can do from this day forward is to follow your intuition.  Take risks.  Don’t just make the safe and easy choices because you’re afraid of what could happen.  If you do, very little worth remembering will ever happen.”

Years later, as I grew interested in the psychology of happiness, I realized how pertinent my grandmother’s words were.  Risk is an inherent part of living a good life.  Without taking risks, you cannot truly live… you merely exist.  Which is why the happiest among us take small risks every day.  Let’s take a look at ten examples, and examine some ideas on how to implement them in your own life.

1.  They risk the possibility of being hurt.

2.  They risk being real in front of others.

3.  They risk missing out on something new, so they can appreciate what they have.

4.  They risk helping others without expectations.

5.  They risk taking full responsibility for their own happiness.

6.  They risk the consequences of taking action.

7.  They risk bearing the discomfort of growth.

8.  They risk the possibility of failing.

9.  They risk being disappointed by accepting the truth.

10.  They risk letting go and starting anew.

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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The Importance of Community

The Importance of Community

hike, hiking, armstrong woods

Rev Kane in Armstrong Woods

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. ~ Coretta Scott King

There are times when we all feel alone, times when we feel like no one cares about us.  We all have these moments, sometimes they are reality but most often they are not, because we all have communities we belong to in our life.    Our families are a form of community, our friends form a community around us but there are others.  One of the things I talk about extensively in my book is the hiking community that exists around the Appalachian Trail.

hiking, happiness, appalachian trail

Overmountain Shelter on the Appalachian Trail

On the Appalachian Trail you encounter an amazing array of people related to the trail.  There are the hikers of course and all of the various forms they come in.  There are thru-hikers, people hoping to complete the whole trail in one continuous hike.  There are also section-hikers (the toughest of the breed) people doing the whole trail over a number of years.  There are also day hikers, which I’d bet we’ve all been at one time or another.  But there’s a broader community, there are the family members of hikers, friends, the people who run business around the trail, hostel and hotel owners, gear shop owners and others.  There are also trail angels, people who help and support hikers out of the goodness of their hearts.

Appalachian Trail, hiking, happiness

A magical spot on the Appalachian Trail

The thing you come to realize when you attempt a thru-hike is just how many people belong to that community, that family of support if you will.  You find it in so many different ways, boxes from friends and family, a ride into town, finding a cache of water and snacks when you turn a bend on the trail.   The kindnesses are amazing on the trail, from folks providing trail magic at road crossings to people who will actually take you into their home, feed you and give you a place to stay.  The community around the Appalachian Trail is truly amazing and there are similar communities around most major hiking trails.  It was encountering this community that was one of the most positive experiences I had on the trail.

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Me and my friend Jim on my first day on the Appalachian Trail

I have been reminded of how amazing this community is once again today, albeit for a not so great reason.  I found out last night a friend, a fellow 2015  AT Hiker, a really great guy who is hiking the PCT is the subject of an active rescue in the mountains of Washington.  He had come through town and visited me this summer and has walked over 2500 miles on the trail in one of the toughest seasons on the PCT in a very long time.  He’s a great kid, an experienced hiker, he’s got the right gear, everything is in place for this story to be one with a happy ending.  But those of us who do these sorts of adventures know how tenuous things can truly be on a trail, so we’re all hopeful, and a little bit afraid.  But watching this community mobilize, communicate, prop each other up and try and support his family has made me happy tonight in spite of the situation.

happiness, hiking, appalachian trail

My Polar Bear Selfie

We know that happiness depends mostly on ourselves but part of what we need to do is to work ourselves into communities that will support and help us be happy.  I’m proud and happy to be part of the hiking community, I hope you have found one that helps you be happy as well, I hope that if nothing else being tied into the Ministry of Happiness community can help in some small way and help you have a happy day my friends.

~ Rev Kane

 

Other Happiness Posts!

Ministry of Happiness’ Best Posts

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is NOT Safety

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Acceptance is the Way

 

 

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Happiness & Being Understood

Happiness & Being Understood

 

understanding

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will ~ Martin Luther King

So tonight friends I want to talk about understanding, but I want to start with misunderstanding.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve had two situations in which people have made assumptions about me that were completely unfounded and then acted on their assumptions in a way which was detrimental to me.  I really find these situations to be frustrating, I don’t think there is anything as exasperating as being misunderstood.  It is one of the reasons that I myself am so blunt, open and honest with people, it is the hope that I’ll be understood and not put other people into the situation I recently found myself in.  Tonight I would ask you friends to slow your roll a bit, take time to listen to others and really try to understand what other people are saying, take the time to compare their actions to your conclusions so that you don’t find yourself acting on predetermined assumptions.  This is a skill called empathetic listening.

So tonight to help with that hope, a piece I found on-line about empathetic listening, I hope it helps and helps you have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Random Happiness: Happiness Quotes

Random Happiness: Happiness Quotes

Tonight a few of my favorite quotes on happiness, have a read and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

happinessIf you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~Dalai Lama

Even if you don’t follow a formal meditation program, it is good to sit quietly for a little while every day.~ Deng Ming Dao

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~ Lao Tzu

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.                                            ~ Martin Luther King Jr

Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.                    ~ Mohammed

Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own. ~ Mother Teresa

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. ~ Buddha

I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.    ~ Saint Francis of Assisi

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Are you Afraid?

Are you Afraid?

fear, adventure, travel

This will give you vertigo

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.                       ~ Mark Twain

So my time at work is winding down, I actually have about 24 work days remaining before my next big adventure begins.  As such a couple of things have been consistently happening, the first has really annoyed the hell out of me.  I’ve had a number of instances where people have started talking to me about something work related and then they stop and say, “oh wait, you don’t care.”

You don’t care

The reason this makes me angry is because obviously these people have no idea who I am as a person.  I’ve been busting my ass not only to wrap up everything I can at work, but to actually leave the position in a much better place than I inherited it.  I’m leaving behind fully reconciled budgets, transition plans, a dean’s training manual and am actually completing work in advance that doesn’t even need to be done until late August.  This has meant a lot of extra weekend hours to get this done.

So when someone says, “oh you don’t care,” I think they are telling me a lot about who they would be in my situation, not commenting on who I am.  So, it shouldn’t bother me but honestly it really gets under my skin.  I guess it’s part of being a blue-collar kid, I am someone who takes pride in their work and works really hard.  I remember at my first professional job, I worked for a consulting firm and about a month into the job while I was working late one night the Vice President came into my office and sat down.  He looked at me and said, “you broke me.”  I laughed and looked confused and he told me that he believed that he should always be the last person to leave the office, that he should outwork any of his employees but that I’d broke him, he couldn’t outwork me and he was going home.

I used to be incredibly proud of that moment, and to a degree I still am.  Since that day over 25 years ago I’ve learned a lot about life and work balance.  I don’t work like a dog anymore but I still work hard, just much more efficiently and intelligently.  So that pride I have gets a little wounded when people question it.  The second question I’ve been getting a lot lately is are you afraid?

fear happiness

Fear is killing your happiness

Are you afraid?

This question comes in a number of different forms, are you afraid or nervous about: not having a job; moving to Mexico; not having insurance; not having anyplace to live, etc…. All of these questions again, tell me more about the person asking than they do about who I am.  Am I afraid, no.  Nervous? Only in an excited way.  Going through my recent health issue, it looks like things are all good, put a small delay on me doing some of the planning.  But this weekend I’ve mapped out the dates, places, found an apartment in Oaxaca, looked at airline flights.  At my apartment I’m back to organizing and packing my stuff creating plans.  I still have to finalize where I’m going leave my car so that I know what airport I’m flying out of so I can book flights.  So am I afraid? No, but finally now that it’s getting closer I’m getting really excited.  I’ve been working on my Spanish skills for over a month now and feel ok about being able to get around once I’m in Mexico.

be happy, comfort zone

Do something that scares you and be happy

My big adventure is coming, it’s not a time for fear but excitement. I will be pushing a bit out of my comfort zone in the sense that I’m purposely not doing some planning.  I’m not the adrenaline junky people might think I would be given the things I do.  I’m someone who does a lot of research and planning, I’m most comfortable when I have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen.  I’m perfectly good with spontaneity within the plan as long as the overall structure has been set.  On my next adventure I’m planning for a lot more spontaneity than I normally do.  Which ironically means doing less planning, but being who I am, it still means a ton of research.

As my next adventure moves forward it will get less and less planned.  Mexico at least on the first pass is well planned.  Peru, for the three weeks or so I will be there is planned for about 10 days, I’ll be winging the rest. Mexico on the next pass will be set as far as when I arrive and where I’m going to stay.  Back stateside in the US in December and January will start a full on period of wandering.  Leading up to February and when I plan to head to Spain and Morocco and where I’m planning to not plan anything past an airline flight into Spain and my first two nights hotel.  Moving around Spain for a couple of weeks, where I’m going before wandering to Gibraltar, taking the ferry to Tangiers, where I’m staying in Morocco, what I’m doing there will all be done on the fly.  A totally new type of travel gig for me and I can’t wait.  Will there be fear, sure but I’ll let Frank Herbert address how I’ve come to think about fear:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. ~ Frank Herbert, Dune

We all experience fear, that’s perfectly natural, but what is important is how we respond to the fear.  Just like life in general, it’s not what happens but how we respond that makes all of the difference.  When I first read Frank Herbert’s novel Dune and got to that passage on fear I thought it was the wisest thing I’d ever read, in many ways I still do.  It as colored my own response to fear since then and yes, I have literally repeated that passage in my head in times of fear.  So my friends, don’t let fear kill your happiness, fear is a liar, what matters is what is beyond the fear.  I think one of the saddest things I can imagine is someone missing out on something really amazing just because they were afraid. Don’t do that and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

 

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Happiness Resources: Happiness Sites

Happiness Resources: Happiness Sites

So tonight a little tour around the web for some other sites to help you have a happier day my friend ~ Rev Kane

moh butrfly
Sure it’s just a marketing gimmick for a major corporation, but Coca-Cola’s happiness site is pretty interesting

Action for Happiness is a site that focuses on happiness as social change, interesting site.

The United Nation’s Day of Happiness, it was March 20th, can’t believe I missed it but here’s a site to check it out.

One of my all-time favorite sites Zen Habits.

A relatively new resource, Live Happy Magazine.

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Random Happiness: Unique and Bizarre Vacations

Random Happiness: Unique and Bizarre Vacations

Tonight a way to feel happy by breaking out and going out on a really wild vacation and hopefully you’ll have a happy day ~ Rev Kane

 

Feel like a giant

little people

Disney World, SeaWorld, Six Flags… All great family getaways. There’s no doubt that, despite the chaotic atmosphere and the overpriced snack stands, a theme park vacation is a must-have experience for every child and thus, every parent. These days, there seems to be a park to suit every interest, from chocolate to construction, Jesus Christ to Dolly Parton. But just when we thought that every void had been filled, the Chinese pulled a fast one with the 2009 opening of Dwarf Empire, an amusement park catering to — and almost entirely staffed by — little people.

Perched on a hilltop in Kunming (about 1,758 miles southwest of Beijing), this small troupe (whose members all measure four feet or shorter) functions as a true kingdom, complete with an emperor and a parliamentary government. According to Travel and Leisure, “The park … gained worldwide media coverage for employing many of the country’s height-challenged, who traditionally have had a hard time finding work. Thanks to the park, many of China’s dwarves are now gainfully employed as everything from janitors to crown-wearing empresses.” The employees all live and dine together on-site in exchange for performing costumed expositions like break-dancing performances and gourd-instrument concerts for hundreds of curious tourists.

 

From Flavorwire

Island of the Dolls

Not far from Mexico City is an island that has become one of the southwestern country’s biggest and weirdest tourist attractions. Island of the Dolls (Isla de las Munecas) wasn’t originally intended for curious crowds, but the story of a drowned child and the man who found her and felt haunted by her death has drawn visitors in droves. The story goes that after a child died in a canal, Don Julian Santana saw a doll floating by and hung it from a tree as a way to honor her spirit. He also wanted to protect the island from further tragedy. Eventually it became an obsession, and he adorned the island with broken, creepy dolls. There are many urban legends surrounding his bizarre behavior, but one thing remains truly terrifying. In 2001, Santana apparently drowned in the same canal as the little girl. His family now runs the island as a tourist hot spot, but many are fearful of its haunted past.

island dolls 2 island dolls

From Winowseatblog

Go Zorbing at Pigeon Forge, TN

zorb

 

Visit a cargo cult on Tanna, Vanuatu

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6363843.stm

 

tanna

 

Go to Europe’s largest fire festival  Up Helly Aa

up helly aa up helly

Other Great Vacation Posts!

My Polar Bear Adventure

My Mt. Everest Adventure

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Swimming with Whale Sharks

 

 

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Happiness is Creating

Happiness is Creating

Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.  ~Pablo Picasso

art happiness

When the idea for this piece first hit me I had planned on calling it Happiness is Making Art, however I realized that many times when you talk about making art people have a funny reaction.  You see most people’s idea of making art is limited to a subset of what creating art is all about.  We have a tendency to only think of painting or sculpture as art and that’s a really limited view.  I get this; it has taken me some time to come to the broader realization that art includes writing, singing, painting, drawing, photography, knitting and on and on.  If you create you do art, if you do art, you’re an artist.  The realization for me happened when some of my colleagues on a couple of occasions called me an artist after seeing some of my photography work.  However it’s taken some time for me to become comfortable with the idea.

Creating is a wonderful thing, you don’t have to be particularly talented, it’s not about the quality of your creations  but about the act of creating.  Creating is a particularly good release, it’s an excellent way to relax and lose track of time.  There has been a lot written about the benefits of creating:

Make More Art: The Benefits of Creating

The Brain Benefits of Making Art

The Benefit of Making Art for Kids

It’s common to be afraid of starting out on the road to practicing art, here’s a piece on the 5 Fears That Can Destroy An Artist, although pointed more at people trying to make art a profession it has a lot of relevance to those of us just creating for fun.  Finally here’s a couple of pieces to help you get started on the creative process:

How To Get Your Creative Itch Back

How To Start Making Art Again

And a video,  Art: How to Start Creating Now 

So my friends, carve out a little time, do a little creating and have a happy day ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness, Woodstock, Burning Man & a Common Compassion Movement

Happiness, Woodstock, Burning Man & a Common Compassion Movement

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Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. ~ The Dalai Lama

A few days ago I noticed on one of the movie channels that Woodstock was being broadcast.  It hit me that although I’ve seen a number of clips and generally actually know the film a bit, I had never actually watched the whole thing through.  So over the last few days I’ve been doing just that in bits of 30 minutes to an hour.  The film has really had a surprising impact on me, you see the world was very different in 1969 and although I get that culture, business and technology change I felt that unfortunately people seemed to have changed as well.  It feels like we’ve lost a level of civility that existed in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

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At several points throughout the concert there are quiet songs played by folks like Richie Havens and Joan Baez, including a very quiet protest song by Joan Baez.  She’s playing in front of 300,000 people and you can hear a pin drop, no screaming people, no woohooers, no one just yelling to hear the sound of their own voice.  An actual reverence for the performs and more than that a respect, consideration and compassion for the performer.  I can’t imagine this happening at a concert today; people are far too interested in hearing their own voices, attending to their own needs.

Watching the film if really feels like we’ve lost something in America, which is extra-ordinarily sad when you consider that the Woodstock Generation is now the generation in power in America.  That we’ve lost something feels certain, the question nagging me for several days is what have lost.  The answer I have come to is that we’ve lost common compassion.  Sure when extraordinary events occur, earthquakes, typhoons, etc…we have compassion, we donate money we provide assistance.  But what we seem to have lost is the common everyday compassion for those around us and the impacts our own actions have upon them.  We seem to go through the world ignoring anyone but ourselves.  I think this attitude is most visible in movie theaters, on the road driving, and in grocery stores where people often act amazingly selfishly and get angry if anyone points it out.

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I was a five-year old kid living about 30 miles from Woodstock when the festival occurred.  I have one distinct memory of that time and that was seeing the footage of the cars blocking the New York State Thruway, the big highway in this kids life.  I guess that’s why Arlo Guthrie’s infamous, “the New York State Thruway is closed man,” has always resonated with me.  So when they announced Woodstock 94 I had to go and I did.  A friend and I without tickets of course,  hitchhiked and walked into the festival actually hiking down the railroad tracks to evade the roadblocks that were stopping anyone without tickets.  We ended up hitching a ride after the roadblocks with a van full of highly interesting folks down to the festival.  Once there we ended up jumping the fence and camping for the night next to the grandson of Max Yasgur’s grandson and girlfriend.  We shared a breakfast of Kit Kats with a couple from Japan who spoke no English and we wandered on into the throng of people.

It was my first experience with anything that could be called a sea of humanity and it was amazing.  Too be honest, the music was the least of the attraction.  The people, the energy, Joe Walsh just sitting on the ground playing guitar with a little sign that said, “hi, I’m Joe Walsh,” it was amazing.  It was also peaceful, there were a lot of drugs no doubt and very little alcohol by comparison.  However eventually, as happened in 69 eventually the gates were opened to all and the beer runs began, and as the place turned from peace and amazement to stumbling drunks and rain storms my friend and I slipped out and hitched and hiked back upstate in the rain.  It seemed in one day in 94 I really saw the whole evolution of culture from 69 to 94 and quite frankly it was a little bit sad.

fix man s6

I attended my first Burning Man Festival in 2004 and the parallel I draw between the two is in the attitudes of the people.  On the Playa at Burning Man there is a lot of the common compassion that is missing in our everyday society, people are genuinely kind and welcoming.  In six trips to Burning Man, I’ve never seen a fist fight.  However much as I saw at Woodstock in 94, once people leave the environment they fall back into their rude, self-absorbed everyday selves.

So what do I draw from both Woodstocks, from Burning Man, well it’s simple people can show common compassion for each other.  Without a doubt the environment helps, people fall more easily into compassion on vacation or at a festival, but the environments we create at these festivals are created by us.  So my friends we are capable of creating a personal environment where common compassion is the norm.  Then all we need to create a similar local, regional or global environment is for our friends and loved ones to follow our example.  So today my friends I’m calling for a common compassion movement, one person at a time, starting with myself and now with you.   So show a little common compassion and we can all have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Happiness Posts!

Happiness, Mindfulness & Decisions

Happiness, Attitudes & Simple Pleasures

Appalachian Trail Happiness: My Best Posts

 

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