Happiness Moments: Floating on the Dead Sea

Happiness Moments: Floating on the Dead Sea

 If you don’t love the sea, the sun, all the simple pleasures, what sort of life are you going to have? ~ Marty Rubin

I have never been able to float on my back, it was something that used to irk me quite a bit when I was a child.  My sister took to it quite easily but I could never do it.  Then, when I was eight or nine years old, I saw an episode of 60 Minutes on the Dead Sea.  The story was focused on the healing effects of the mud or something, all I really remembered from the story was that they said ANYONE, can float in the Dead Sea.

Now I’m a trained scientist, I get the science, I fully comprehend the concept of buoyancy and that given the conditions in the Dead Sea floating there should be quite easy.  It’s one thing to know something theoretically, it’s another thing to actually experience it.  So on a little bit of a chilly morning I set out down the steps of the resort to the shore of the Dead Sea.  It was in the low 50’s, so a bit chilly but the water was in the high 60’s and quite comfortable.  I stepped into the water walking on the rocks with a pair of reef shoes the bottom is not very pleasant.  I hit the point where the bottom dropped off and as I stepped forward I lost my balance a bit and BAM, my feet kicked up and there I was laying on my back, ON TOP of the water!  I started laughing like a child it was absolutely amazing.

 In the Dead Sea you float like a cork, you can literally float upright in a standing position without treading water.  I sat in the water with my legs crossed, floating like I was sitting on a pool noodle.  You’re actually so buoyant that if you tip a little to one side that side pops to the surface.  It was so much fun, had it been just a bit warmer I would have stayed in the water all day.  However, it was a little chilly and I had a head cold, so after a short float I came out of the water.

The Dead Sea is both beautiful and wild and I highly recommend it as an experience you’ll never forget, I know I never will.

  The salt formations along the shore and really beautiful.  So my friends, get out, travel and have happy days.  ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness is Catching Leaves

Happiness is Catching Leaves

leavesIt’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them ~ Paulo Coelho

It’s finally Fall, my favorite season of the year, the weather turns sunny but cooler, there is that smell on the air, fallen leaves, wood smoke, Halloween and Thanksgiving on the horizon.  It’s a great time of the year to be outside in nature and I’ve always spent more time in the forest this time of year than any other.  Driving today in the country I passed lots of signs for apple picking and pumpkin patches, the roadside stands in addition to selling fruits are now well stocked with pies as well.

Of all of the Fall memories that I have the most cherished one of them all is being on the playground at lunchtime as a little kid.  Our school had a really large tree right in the middle of the playground, it always saddens me to go by there and see that the tree is now long gone.  But in the Fall, when the weather would start to turn cold and windy, a lot of the other kids would stay inside during lunch.  For me though, it was the best time, you see on those cold Winnie the Pooh type blustery days I would go outside to catch leaves.

winnie the pooh happiness

There was nothing more fun that running round and round in dizzying circles trying to catch those spinning flashes of gold.  The joy of catching one of those simple leaves was immeasurable, a feat not easily done.  I would spend all of my lunchtimes for weeks catching those leaves until that sad morning when walking into school I would look up and see only bare branches.  But that is the essential nature of the Fall, beautiful sunny wonderful days that fade into the cold grey fingers of winter.  So while those sunny days are here, go outside and catch some falling leaves 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

Writing Away the Darkness

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2021 will be what we make of it

2021 will be what we make of it

good vibes only

Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny. ~ Lao Tzu

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a heck of a year.  We saw a global pandemic take over the world,  We had more police shootings and protests, massive political upheaval in a very divided country culminating in claims of a fraudulent election and even to an insurrection at the US Capitol Building in the first week of 2021.  I think we all have great hope that 2021 would be different.  Of course I think we were all a bit hesitant as well, one meme I saw really made me chuckle.

2021 memeI think that we were all ready for 2021 to be a better year than 2020.  But it’s important to hang on to some reality.  You see, a lot of the bad things that happened in 2020 had parallel bad things in previous years.  The real difference for 2020 was that the pressure of the pandemic overlaid everything that happened.  This is important because what the pandemic has done, with all of it’s associated fears and stress, is to make everything harder.  People are more on edge, they have fewer emotional reserves with which to deal with any additional stress.  It also doesn’t surprise me that we are seeing more strength to conspiracy theories.  People are stressed, scared and have less to do.  So they are spending more time on social media, on YouTube and this makes it more likely they will be exposed to more radical ideas, and have the time to explore them.

Knowing and understanding this can help us make 2021 a better year.  First off, we need to keep in mind that we know, living under a pandemic we are under stress, that may even feel normal at this point, but our stress levels are at a much higher level than normal.  So it’s important to employ as many stress reduction techniques as possible.  Whether for you that is a morning meditation, a workout, a walk, a run, playing video games, reading, whatever it is, it’s a year to do more of it.  It’s also important to remind those around you to do the same.  The less stress in your overall environment, the better you’re going to feel.  And the better you feel, the better the world looks, the happier you’ll be.

Once you understand your stressed and deal with it, it’s possible to push forward and make sure that your mental outlook is as positive as possible.  Part of what can happen, especially after such a long period of difficulty, is that we can develop a bit of a defeatist attitude and we start to expect things to be bad.  So we have to adjust our attitude to make sure that we keep our outlook positive.  How do we do this?

positivityWhat we have to do is to adjust our expectations.  One way to do this, and it may sound a little silly, is to tell ourselves in the mirror every morning, that it’s going to be a great day.  What this does, if you do it every day, and try like heck to believe it, is that you start to adjust your internal dialogue.  You start to expect things to be better, not worse and given that often the way we view a situation defines the way we feel about it, this can really help us be more positive and feel better about our lives.

A second technique you can imply is something I developed to use when I hiked the Appalachian Trail, I call it simply the three questions.  The way that this works is very easy, at the end of each day I ask myself three questions.  First, what was the most beautiful thing I experienced today?  Second, what made me happy today? Third, what did I learn today?

If you do this daily something interesting starts to happen, you find that during the day you start think a lot more about the beauty around you and the things that make you happy.  By changing yourself to focus on this things you become more aware of them and this also works to change your internal dialogue to a more positive experience.  I can tell you, on the Appalachian Trail, on some really tough days, this technique really helped me out a lot and reminded me that no day is so bad that it is devoid of beauty, happiness or hope.  No year is either, and 2021 will be a year full of beauty and happiness and you can choose to focus on that, instead of the bad things.  Do that, and you’ll have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

 

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Happiness & Beauty, does being pretty make you happier?

Happiness & Beauty, does being pretty make you happier?

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Beauty is power, a smile it’s sword ~ John Ray

Well my friends according to a study done by the University of Texas and printed in USA Today apparently it does.  However, let’s understand the mechanism, it’s been long-established that people considered traditionally good-looking, more symmetrical facial features, earn more than those who are not considered good-looking.  So all of those years you’ve been claiming your sister, brother, friend was getting a benefit from being physically attractive, guess what, you were right!

The benefit is limited to economics and things like first dates, but being more successful on those fronts promotes a better self-image, increases confidence and being financially better off reduces stress and that is why pretty people on average are happier.  However, this is an average, I know some really unhappy pretty people and some down right happy people who wouldn’t be considered physically attractive.  So all in all, there may be some merit to being classically beautiful, but there is so much more to happiness.  So even if you’re only as pretty as me:

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You can still have happy days my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Pieces You May Enjoy!

Happiness is reducing stress

Happiness & Selected Families

Happiness, Simplicity & Letting Go

 

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Are you living or existing?

Are you living or existing?

life, living, quote

My motto in life

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. ~ Lao Tzu

We focus here at the Ministry of Happiness on how to live a happier life.  Recently, while talking with a friend we started talking about a person we know who lives a less than wonderful life.   The crux of it seems to be that this person is no longer living, they are just existing.  As far as I understand life it is a one-way, one-time trip and from my perspective that means we should get everything we can out of this experience.

I get why this doesn’t happen for so many people, thinking about the nature of life and death can be terrifying.  We get distracted with the day-to-day necessities of life, work, family, bills, and groceries.  It’s easy to focus on this day-to-day until years have passed by.  We constantly realize again and again that we haven’t talked to old friends for years, that our dreams haven’t been realized and that our bucket lists aren’t getting any shorter.

living, existing, life, happiness

Live a full life

THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN!  It is our choice my friends, our task and responsibility, our duty to ourselves to sit down and right this wrong.  It is one of the most important ways in which we can make ourselves happy, a responsibility we owe to ourselves.  This is one of the best ways to make ourselves happy, and if we are happy then those around us are happy as well.  So give it a shot my friends, give someone a call, check off a bucket list item or make plans to do so.  Go full on cliché and actually stop and go smell some roses, live my friends and make it a happy day ~ Rev Kane

Other Happiness Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

Appalachian Trail Happiness, Where to buy the Book

My Polar Bear Adventure

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Friday Smiles & Happiness

Friday Smiles & Happiness

smile, smiles, friday, images

Smile, you’re stronger than you know

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

 

A light post for a Friday with some images to make you smile and feel good about the world ~ Rev Kane

smile, smiles, friday, fun, fun friday

Appropriate for a hot Friday

First a post about CANDY!

happiness, smiles, friday, candy, images

Candy makes smiles

A quick story about a mother dog saving her puppies from a fire  http://celestially.blogspot.com/2012/08/mother-dog-saved-puppies-from-fire-in.html

Friday, smiles, fun friday, dog, puppies

Happy puppy story for your Friday

love, burning man, fun friday, smiles

Burning Man – Love installation

quote, quotes, wisdom

Amen

butterfly, happiness

be happy, fun friday, smiles

Wishing you a happy Friday full of smiles

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fun Friday: Drunk History

Great Quotes and Good Laughs

Funny Internet Memes

Uplifting Friday

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Secrets to Happiness

Secrets to Happiness

18Found this on a quick web search, a quick bit of wisdom to help you have a happier day leading to a happier life ~ Rev Kane

Secrets to Happiness

  • Live beneath your means and within your seams
  • Return everything you borrow
  • Donate Blood
  • Stop blaming other people
  • Admit it when you make a mistake
  • Give all the clothes you haven’t worn in the last three years to charity
  • Every day do something nice and try not to get caught
  • Listen more; talk less
  • Every day take a 30-minute walk in your neighborhood
  • Skip two meals a week and give the money to the homeless
  • Strive for excellence, not perfection
  • Be on time
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Don’t argue
  • Get organized
  • Be kind to kind people
  • Be even kinder to unkind people
  • Let someone cut ahead of you in line
  • Take time to be alone
  • Reread a favorite book
  • Cultivate good manners
  • Be humble
  • Understand and accept that life isn’t always fair
  • Know when to say something
  • Know when to keep your mouth shut
  • Don’t criticize anyone for 24 hours
  • Learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff

Some more pieces you might enjoy!

Happiness is Adventure

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

Happiness is Micropoetry

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Happiness Moments: Havasu Falls

Happiness Moments: Havasu Falls

happiness adventure travel

Havasu Falls

So a new little writing experiment for the blog. I’ve been wanting to find a way to do some free writing as practice. And I’ve been wanting to capture the moments in my life that have brought me true happiness. I need that little pick me up right now with everything going on in the world and no real chance to travel. So, some writing about happy moments in my life, hope they bring you a little happiness too.

The picture above is a completely unenhanced photo of Havasu Falls in Arizona.  From the first moment I saw an image of the falls I knew I had to go there.  The falls exist on tribal land just outside of the Grand Canyon National Park.  To camp in the valley at the falls you have to get a permit and the permits open February 1st and often over 75% of the dates for the entire year sell out within the first few days that reservations are open.  The year I went, I was planning to go early April, it still can be pretty cold at night in April so it’s not the most popular time.  I dialed into the reservation line like I was trying to win a radio contest for three days before I got lucky and got through.  Happily I was able to get my dates.

sunrise havasu

I spent the night in a hotel in the most middle of nowhere Arizona that I have ever been.  It was a surprisingly nice small hotel that primarily serves as a weigh station for Havasu and Grand Canyon tourists.  I got up pre-dawn and drove up to the parking area for Havasu.  At dawn the little “ranger” station opened and I showed my pass and hit the trail.  The hike into Havasu is a nice hike, about seven miles and downhill all of the way.  You start on a super steep decline down into the valley with spectacular views.  You then snake down into the valley and wind down a trail that you can tell would be a nightmare during a flash flood and as soon as the sun gets up in the sky it starts to heat up.

Happily starting early meant the heat didn’t build too much as I hiked in and at the point where it might get warm, you hit a forested stream area that is really beautiful.  After passing through that area you hit the edges of the Havasupai Village and a nice little store/restaurant.  One of the things I love is something I’ve always called momentary food.  Food that, under ordinary conditions, probably isn’t magnificent, but because of the situation is down right fantastic.  Often, it’s when you’ve been hiking on a trail for hours, or at Burning Man in the hot desert and something shows up in an unexpected way.  An ice cold beverage, a hot pizza on the playa at Burning Man, a dehydrated camping meal, etc… The best example for me has always been Monopole Pizza when I was a student at SUNY Plattsburgh.  Monopole served big slices of Sicilian style pizza for a dollar.  Late at night, usually after a lot of drinks, that pizza was absolutely heavenly.  So one night for dinner, several of us decided to go down to Monopole and get a pizza for dinner.  It was dreadful, bland except for a lot of salt and just not a good pizza.  So it wasn’t that the pizza was ever good, but drunk, hungry and the general happy environment made it seem fantastic.

Well on the outside of the Havasupai Village I had an incredible momentary food breakfast experience.  I had, what at the time seemed like, one of the best breakfast burritos of my life and ice cream for desert.  I sat there eating both with a couple of other soon to be Havasu Falls campers on a picnic table in the sun on a truly glorious morning with sterling blue skies and mountains rising in every direction.  I would leave to find my way to the check-in office and get my official passes and then hike toward the campground.  It’s not great trail from the village, in fact the landscape is a bit stark.  Then you make a turn and see the river and some minor up river falls that themselves were absolutely beautiful. But shortly after you make a turn and down to your right you see an incredible sight.

havasu falls

Havasu Falls

My three days at Havasu falls was amazing, I met incredibly cool people.  Got tossed around in my hammock during a pretty gnarly storm and honestly spent the entire time beyond belief at the beauty around me, many happiness moments every day.

havasu falls

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My COVID Times Diary: The triple-triple

My COVID Times Diary: The triple-triple

COVID 300,000No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible. ~ Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

This will be a short post tonight, it’s a horribly sad post.  Almost ten months into the pandemic, even with vaccines being distributed, my fellow Americans will not take the responsible actions to protect their fellow citizens.  As such, we didn’t socially distance for Halloween, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas or for New Years Eve.  I know, you did, it’s always somebody else who didn’t.  But the numbers are undeniable, a significant number of Americans are not appropriately social distancing.  So the pandemic is raging in America, closing in on all of us, in the last month I’ve had several colleagues who have not only tested positive but have also been ill.

The triple-triple that I refer to is a day with over 300,000 new infections and over 3,000 deaths in one day.  Basically the equivalent of the 9/11 massacre and the number above is a 14 day average.  So a 9/11 every day for 14 days.  But we’re not treating it with that level of severity, somehow, the majority of Americans are ok with this, it is incredibly sad.  This is just the front end of the anticipated holiday spike, it will get worse.  Hospitals in Southern California are basically out of ICU space, many hospitals in the bay area are not far behind.  I fear within the next month I’ll be doing a post called the quadruple-quadruple, 400,000 new infections and 4,000 new deaths daily.  What a sad day that will be, wear a damn mask, social distance, wash your hands, it’s just that simple to keep from killing someone’s grandmother.

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Responsibility and Obligation

Responsibility and Obligation

obligation and responsibilityTo be a human being is to be in a state of tension between your appetites and your dreams, and the social realities around you and your obligations to your fellow man.       ~ John Updike

I have these moments when I just get so incredibly fed up with all of the obligations and responsibilities that I have.  When I’m just tired of being beholden to others.  Then after a minute I remember, in fact, I have no responsibility or obligation to anyone.  Any obligation or responsibility I have, I have because I’ve chosen it.

I know, you don’t believe me yet, so let’s get into it.  Of course you have an obligation to your parents right?  No you don’t, they chose to have a child, and if you have children, so did you.  So you chose to create an obligation to raise, feed, clothe and educate that child.  Why would your decision to do that obligate that child to do anything for you.  Now, for most of us, we choose to feel obligated to our parents.  My mother, a single mother who raised three children, carried a burden that she had not planned on taking on, being a single parent.  Given the sacrifices she made in that role, I’ve decided to take on an obligation related to her.  If I had decided not to be obligated to her I wouldn’t have one.  I don’t have the same obligation to my father.  No one and nothing has come down from the sky and forced me to have one to him, it’s simply our choice.

We choose these obligations in our life, the decisions and actions of obligation are solely within our control.  Now, as we’ve discussed many times, every action, and inaction has a consequence.  As much as we are happier when we ignore them, we often feel pressured by social norms and expectations.  So yes, if you decide you have no obligation to your parents, your siblings and society may feel negatively toward you for that choice, but you do have that choice.  Very often we feel hemmed in because we’re not willing to pay the price for choosing not to be obligated when society feels we should have one.

So if you’re feeling over obligated, if you are sick and tired of being responsible to others, remember you have a choice.  There will be costs and consequences, but you can choose to pay those, instead of being obligated.  And like with many things in life, what should drive your choice is a cost-benefit analysis to determine which choice is best.

One place we may have the least amount of control in terms of obligation is at work.  This is one place where there is something that controls our obligations and provides consequences.  Your job description and evaluations.  At work you’re obligated to do certain things and your evaluations are there to enforce that you meet those obligations.  So I understand why many of us feel very overwhelmed in that environment.  However, ultimately, even at work, you’ve chosen that obligation.  Although it often seems daunting, you can quit your job and get another.  I know, given the choices I’ve made in my life, I typically quit my job every three years and take time off to travel.  It’s always a little bit frightening, you worry about how hard it will be to get another job.  But in the end, I always have, it’s always worked out.  So you too have that choice, it just takes thoughtful planning and you could choose to leave your job as well.

So when I have those moments of feeling overwhelmed by all of my responsibilities and obligations I stop, realize it’s all a choice and that helps.  But I’ll let you in on a secret, because it really all is a choice, I have a little fantasy.  I think about the fact that there really is nothing stopping me.  I can load up my car, empty my back accounts and just drive away.  Sure, that’s when that cost-benefit analysis thing usually keeps me from doing just that, but I could if I wanted to, and that’s enough to make me feel a little better about my life.  Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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