Happiness is Poetry: Warsan Shire

Happiness is Poetry: Warsan Shire

happiness, poetry

Today a relatively recent discovery for me on the poetry front, Warsan Shire is amazing.  Her poetry is at times very dark, but always passionate and powerful.  We had a brief interaction on Twitter once, I told her that her writing was so good, it almost made me want to stop writing just to find the time to take care of her so she could write more.  Here’s a sample, enjoy, read more poetry and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Excuses for why we fail at love

I’m lonely so I do lonely things
Loving you was like going to war; I never came back the same.
You hate women, just like your father and his father, so it runs in your blood.
I was wandering the derelict car park of your heart looking for a ride home.
You’re a ghost town I’m too patriotic to leave.
I stay because you’re the beginning of the dream I want to remember.
I didn’t call him back because he likes his girls voiceless.
It’s not that he wants to be a liar; it’s just that he doesn’t know the truth.
I couldn’t love you, you were a small war.
We covered the smell of loss with jokes.
I didn’t want to fail at love like our parents.
You made the nomad in me build a house and stay.
I’m not a dog.
We were trying to prove our blood wrong.
I was still lonely so I did even lonelier things.
Yes, I’m insecure, but so was my mother and her mother.
No, he loves me he just makes me cry a lot.
He knows all of my secrets and still wants to kiss me.
You were too cruel to love for a long time.
It just didn’t work out.
My dad walked out one afternoon and never came back.
I can’t sleep because I can still taste him in my mouth.
I cut him out at the root, he was my favorite tree, rotting, threatening the foundations of my home.
The women in my family die waiting.
Because I didn’t want to die waiting for you.
I had to leave, I felt lonely when he held me.
You’re the song I rewind until I know all the words and I feel sick.
He sent me a text that said “I love you so bad.”
His heart wasn’t as beautiful as his smile
We emotionally manipulated one another until we thought it was love.
Forgive me, I was lonely so I chose you.
I’m a lover without a lover.

UGLY

Your daughter is ugly.
She knows loss intimately,
carries whole cities in her belly.

As a child, relatives wouldn’t hold her.
She was splintered wood and sea water.
They said she reminded them of the war.

On her fifteenth birthday you taught her
how to tie her hair like rope
and smoke it over burning frankincense.

You made her gargle rosewater
and while she coughed, said
macaanto girls like you shouldnt smell
of lonely or empty.

You are her mother.
Why did you not warn her,
hold her like a rotting boat
and tell her that men will not love her
if she is covered in continents,
if her teeth are small colonies,
if her stomach is an island
if her thighs are borders?

What man wants to lay down
and watch the world burn
in his bedroom?

Your daughter’s face is a small riot,
her hands are a civil war,
a refugee camp behind each ear,
a body littered with ugly things

but God,
doesn’t she wear
the world well.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness is Poetry: Ashe Vernon

Happiness is Poetry: Doug Draime

Happiness is Poetry: Sapphire

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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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What makes a person truly happy

What makes a person truly happy

elf on the shelf, christmas, elf

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.  ~ Tom Bodett

Originally posted 2018

The picture I’ve posted at the top of the post might seem at odds with the title of the post.  You see that picture was taken as part of the Elf on the Shelf madness that one of my sister’s does for her kids.  A couple of years ago the elves took a trip and left New York to come out to Uncle Mike’s house in California.  So this picture was one of the series of photos I sent back as part of that little holiday event.

I love kids, and although I don’t have any of my own, I do have seven, soon to be eight nieces and nephews ranging in ages from minus 6 months to 16.  This year for the first time in several years I was able to visit all of them during the holidays.  This involved staying with one of my sibling’s family, and alternately enjoying and teasing her three kids into near insanity.

I also had the pleasure of playing Santa on Christmas Eve at my other sister’s house for her two kids who she really deeply wants to believe they still believe in Santa.  My niece made eye contact with me and immediately knew it was me.  Didn’t take my nephew long to figure it out either but they were good kids and played along so that their younger cousin got to see Santa on Christmas Eve.

santa selfieFinally yesterday, I got to spend part of the day with my littlest nephews, about to be three and about to be five.  I love really little kids, they haven’t started to develop the filters and concerns most of us carry around, their imaginations are still fully in tact. So when you hang with them you get unexpected truth and honesty, pure and true reaction and emotion and I get to be my true age, four.  So everything this is possible, like tree knocking brachyasaurus tails, Christmas tree camouflaged velociraptors, and  games like dinosaurs versus Lego trucks.  There is also a profusion of monkey feet attacks, tickle assaults and discussions of excavators and cranes. Honestly, I don’t think there is more stress free, enjoyable and happy time for me than hanging out with toddlers.

These are the things that makes us truly happy, not the things we buy or possess, but the experiences we have.  I pretty regularly advocate for you to have positive experiences and get out of your comfort zones.  I talk a lot about big adventures and trips but I wanted to take a few minutes tonight to remind you that I also advocate pretty heavily for the simple positive experiences as well, playing dinosaurs with toddlers, taking some time to read or listen to music or a nice long walk in nature.

Family, happiness, nieces, nephews

Picture purposely blurry to protect our identities, 🙂

My time with these tiny folks is about up, I’ll be back on the road in a couple of days.  But it’s a really wonderful way to wrap up the year, I hope you are doing the same and having happy days as we end 2018 my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness and Regrets

Happiness and Regrets

Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so.   ~David Grayson

Originally posted March, 2015

I been thinking a lot lately about regrets, we all have them.  It is my sincere hope that I have fewer of them than most people.  I have tried hard to live my life in such a way as to address my desires, my fears and my ambitions.  A lot of what has driven that is the fear of regret.  We have all heard the old cliché, at the moment of their death people don’t regret the things they have done, they regret the things they haven’t.  They regret never having visited the places they always wanted to go, the things they always wanted to do, we all regret that person we didn’t ask on a date or let know we were interested in them.

Years go by in the blink of an eye and suddenly we find ourselves down the road in life, typically to a point of higher responsibility and lower freedom.  We allow these constraints to restrict the time and the amount of our dreams, this is a mistake.  Yes, the restrictions and responsibilities in our lives are walls that seemingly bind us, but in fact a door can be built into any wall and once it is there it can be opened.  Building doors can be hard work, things that matter, that are important or different are never easy to accomplish, but are often worth the effort.

So my friends, find some time to dream, metaphorically find, buy or steal some lumber and start planning a door.  Let’s make a pact tonight together that we will support each other in building those doors, marvel together at their completion, cheer for each other as we walk through them and use that as inspiration to walk through our own.  When that day finally comes, and I hope it is many, many years from today, my hope for all of us is that we face that final moment in a room full of open doors.  As always, have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment. ~ Jim Rohn

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Our Best Happiness Posts for 2015

Revisiting Some of Our Best Posts & Pictures

There are Angels Among Us: A True Story of Giving & Kindness

Remember the Sweet Things

Happiness is Not Safety

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Happiness and Possessions

Happiness and Possessions

happiness, minimalism

Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.            ~ Nathan W. Morris

Originally published June, 2018

So as I get ready to embark on my upcoming adventure I first have to disconnect from my current life. This means quitting my job, selling my house and packing up all of my possessions. I’ve done this before and it always hits me how much we identify with what we own. A great quote from Fight Club is that, “the things you own, end up owning you.” It seems like a natural thing that as we grow up, get older and start to own more things that these things start to get a piece of us.

You see our possessions have needs, they need space, they need companions, what’s a table without chairs? They demand our attention, you see that roaster you never use and it bugs you until you pull it out of the closet and use it. After all, you spent a lot of money on it, you really should use it right?

I have been thinking about this a lot over this weekend as I have been lifting and toting all that I own to a storage space. Basically all of my possessions will fit into a 10 x 15 foot storage space so I’m a bit of minimalist to start with. However as I’ve been stacking I’ve been taking careful note of where things are, in case I need to get to them. This is ridiculous, I’ll be thousands of miles away with no access. I’ve also agonized briefly over silly things like which t-shirts to take or leave behind, ridiculous right? A t-shirt is a t-shirt.
Part of what I’m excited about is leaving my things and this attitude behind, I won’t have my things, so I’ll adapt and get used to living without them. Even more so as I start my Appalachian Trail hike at the end of February I’ll have about 20 to 25 pounds of gear plus food and water. This will force a new level of minimalism and lack of materialism into my life and I really think I will be happier for it.

I have some reason for this belief as there is some good information out there on how reducing your possessions and a minimalist attitude in general can make you happier, here are few pieces, give them a read and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

A simple parable about minimalism and happiness.

Why minimalism brings happiness

Less is more brings happiness

Minimalism and happiness a scientific view

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Happiness Moments: Petra

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.

Happiness Moments: Petra                                                                                                         10/5/2020

Standing in front of the Treasury Building in Petra

Media often gets a bad name, movies to a degree and television to a much larger degree.  They are often considered low-brow entertainment compared to reading, theater or opera.  However the thing that people forget is that all entertainment is also information.  And information can be beneficial, I’ve certainly benefited from this information.  Back in the 90s, Red Barron frozen pizza ran an ad campaign where they sent a guy dressed as the Red Barron out to grocery stores with a dozen roses.  If you saw him and said, Red Barron take me away, he would give, to whom they expected to be a housewife, the dozen roses and you’d win $250 in grocery gift certificates.  So while I was shopping one afternoon, I saw a guy with a bomber jacket, big red scarf and roses.  I started to walk passed him when it hit me.  I quickly turned, caught up and said excuse me.  He turned and I said, Red Barron take me away.  He chuckled and a few minutes later I was being photographed with him and the store manager getting my dozen roses and my grocery gift cards.

Similarly, I found about Petra, a 2300 year-old city hidden in a valley in the Jordanian Desert.  You see the treasury building from Petra was featured in a wholly terrible Indiana Jones movie.  But once I saw it, I was obsessed with it.  I researched it, found out that of course Hollywood, had done its normal thing and the inside of the building was nothing like what was seen in the movie.  But the city and the site found a place in my psyche.  It took me decades to finally get there.

I had several incredible experiences in Petra.  The first time I went in was early in the morning.  There is a mile long slot canyon that you walk through to get into the valley that holds the city.  I walked along in the morning, in the silence, the occasional bird chirping.  The canyon, with the sun low in the sky, stayed in shade throughout my approach, at times becoming quite dark.  Walking along, you could see the remnants of the water system that existed in this city over 2000 years ago, that’s right, running water in the desert, 2300 years ago.  The anticipation built throughout the walk, and then you take a turn and there is light, as your eyes adjust, perfectly framed in the opening was the façade of the treasury building.  It was truly just like it had been in the movie and chills ran down my spine.

I would spend an amazing day with a good friend touring the city and the valley, riding a donkey up insanely steep rocks, drinking mint tea with Bedouins on the cliffs.  On the way out of the city that day there was a very old Bedouin man.  He approached, most of the Bedouin were hustling tourists.  I initially brushed him off when I realized he was trying to communicate something about the walls.  What I suddenly realized was that the entire length of wall, over a mile, of the slot canyon had once been carved.  He outlined the shape of what had been a full caravan, men, camels, horses all carved into the wall.   He showed me several others opening my eyes to an amazing detail I would have missed.  As we parted he gave me an old coin and did not accept a tip, it seems he had just wanted some company, to show his pride in his home and ancestors.  The coin is almost certainly a modern copy, I’ve never had it looked at, but it was a kind and wonderful moment and regardless of its value I treasure that coin.

Petra would provide one more amazing moment.  We had booked something called Petra at night.  Once again, this time was after sunset, we walked through the darkness of the slot canyon.  Arriving to the opening, this time there was a glowing image of the treasury building.  Emerging into the space before the treasury was amazing.  The entire area and the façade were illuminated with hundreds of candles.  Musicians played ancient music on ancient instruments, the light from the candles bounced across the façade causing shadows to dance and fade.  It was a truly magical moment and one I’ll never forget.

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10 things you can do to be happier today!

10 things you can do to be happier today!

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present ~ Jim Rohn

happiness

So I’ve been gleaming through books and online resources and thought for tonight I’d do a quick post on 10 things you can do today to be happier.  None of these are life changing events by themselves and by doing one or the other you’re not going to instantly find yourself dancing circles on the lawn, but achieving happiness is absolutely a marathon not a sprint.  However, try a couple and have a happier day my friends.

1.  Declutter your life  – This is one of those ideas that I really like because it is really scalable.  You see this as easy as organizing your kitchen drawers or straightening out those boxes in the spare room and giving or throwing away things you don’t need.  On a much larger scale this includes looking at the relationships in your lives and removing those relationships/people who bring negative energy into your life.

2.  Breathe, and slow down – Another scalable possibility, for all of us we need to take some time to wind down, we live fast-moving and stressful lives.  We are all way too scheduled for our own good and so we need to breathe and slow down.   In the moment, when things get stressful, it is really important to literally take a deep breath, beyond giving us a moment to relax and calm our thoughts deep breathing has lots of positive impacts on our body.

3.  Be more mindful – Being more mindful is a great way to focus on the immediate and be really present in your life.  Particularly in dealing with other people it benefits your interactions and makes you realize what you truly have in your life.

4.  Express some gratitude – Expressing gratitude is one of those things that on the surface doesn’t make sense, how does giving thanks to others make you happier.  However, by being thankful what you are in fact doing is giving yourself constant reminders of the good things in your life.

5.  Laugh – At some level this really needs no description, we all need to laugh, find a way to do this every day, whether it’s a morning comic, a person who makes you laugh at work or your kids or a clip of the Three Stooges, but laugh everyday my friends.

6.  Reconnect – Reconnect to what’s most important in your life, if that’s family spend more time with them, repair any damage that has been done to relationships, call your mom.  If what is important is giving, then volunteer more, if it’s being out in nature take the day and go.  The most important thing is to do something to reconnect with what’s important in your life.

7.  Exercise – Another really obvious one, exercise is just plain good for you.  Here is a link to a piece I did some time ago that lays out the benefits of exercise.

8.  Get enough sleep, eat better, but reward yourself – Sleep is so important, it impacts your mood, your health and hell if you aren’t fully awake you’re even at greater risk of getting in a car accident!  So get enough sleep, most Americans aren’t.  And eat well my friends, less sugar, less processed food, less sodium the more whole food and the more local food you eat the healthier you will be and health and happiness are absolutely linked.

9.  Limit your news consumption – I’ve recently started doing this and I have to say after a couple of months I think it really has made a difference.  Not only in my levels of happiness but also my blood pressure.  News focuses on tragedy, political divisiveness, and celebrity nonsense all of which will spike your blood pressure and make you question whether humans should exist as a species.  You can still keep up with current events by using the net, although it is getting harder and harder to find pure news sources, I recommend you take a look at the Christian Science Monitor, probably the best newspaper in America.

10.  Create some time – Time is our most valuable commodity and we bleed a lot of it away.  One of the things technology can do is allow us to do things more efficiently.  Of course that is when we are not wasting our time updating our Facebook status or tweeting what we had for dinner.  One thing I absolutely love is my DVR, it allows me to space through commercials and watch shows when I want to.  There’s a great book the Four-hour work week, which gives you tons of tips on how to streamline and in some cases outsource your life.

Then of course take the time you’ve found and use if for one of the ideas above and have a happy day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

OTHER ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE…

Happiness and Simplicity

Happiness and the words of Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness, the minimalist mind, and hiking the Appalachian Trail

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Right now, happiness is hard

Right now, happiness is hard

challenge, quote

I don’t think I have anything profound to say tonight. Our world is never easy, life is never easy, but right now things are harder than normal. The pandemic has changed all of our lives in so many ways. Change is always hard and most of us are experiencing huge levels of change right now. We’re seeing changes in the way we work, for many of us that means working from home. That brings it’s own set of challenges. For many, whose children are also at home, it means multi-tasking at levels you’ve never seen before. Even if you just live with one other person, you’re in each others faces far more than ever before. There are challenges with technology, shared bandwidth, shared attention. All of our relationships, whether partners, roommates or children are being stressed.

There’s also stress on relationships in the opposite direction, we’re not to be able to be face to face like we used to be able to be. So for some of our relationships this is a new stress, no chance to be close or to hug. For many of us with elderly parents, we’re unable to see them. And we may not be able to see them for some time, if your parents are elderly or not in great health, you begin to wonder if you’ll ever see them again. Even worse, for people whose parents have dementia and are in managed care, video conferencing and phone calls just don’t cut it.

Our resiliency is certainly being tested. One of the things that is missing right now, is the ability for us to do the things we need to do to recharge our batteries. For a lot of folks there just isn’t time to be alone, or to get a break. For me, what gets me back to even is the ability to travel and get new experiences. So at this time, that emotional reserve that most of us normally have is missing. That means when we face obstacles or challenges were not as able to handle them with our normal grace. We’re shorter, we explode more, we’re basically just more reactive than usual. Even writing this post tonight I had to face this. It seems that October 1st is the tech industry’s preferred change date. This week I’ve found very different looks on some websites I visit regularly. And tonight, WordPress has finally forced me into using their new editor. I don’t like it, it doesn’t allow me to do some formatting things that have become standard on my page. Navigating it tonight, I lost content, got incredibly frustrated and at one point burst out with a string of profanities. It was a brief thing but emblematic of reality right now.

Right now a lot of us are feeling less effective. We’re feeling like we’re bad parents, bad children, bad friends and it adds to how we feel right now. For me, I seem to be out of motivation. I’m doing what I have to do, but I’m finding it far to easy at the end of the workday to eat, and drop in a chair to be entertained by my computer or television. I’ve been quite upset with myself over this, I even skipped my weekly post for this blog last week, I’m sure some of you feel the same way about yourselves right now.

So my message tonight is a simple one, give yourself a break. We all need to give everyone some extra space and grace right now. We also need to extend that to ourselves. These are, as much as I’m getting to really dislike the term, unprecedented times. So it’s ok, if right now, you’re not your best self. Take a breath, relax, things will become more normal, they will get better eventually. I’m sure you’re all doing far better than you realize. It’s ok, what’s happening isn’t your fault and you’re doing the best you can, that’s enough. Be well my friends and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness in the Simple Pleasures

Happiness in the Simple Pleasures

leaves, fall, photographyLife is truly lived in the moments of simplicity! ~ Avijeet Das

 

For the last couple of years there has been a bit of a push back on the idea of seeking happiness.  You see a lot of posts like this one, Stop Chasing Happiness.  The piece is actually pretty good and there are some great tips in it about how to live a happier life.  Yes, I get the irony in that sentence.  Part of the issue is the ambiguous nature of the word happiness.  Other than a 70’s mood ring, there isn’t a way to know now I’m happy, now I’m not.  Also, people often put unrealistic expectations on the term or continually defer to, I’ll be happy when…. instead of enjoying the happiness they are experience at the moment.  This is one of the reasons I often say the suggestions I make will help you live a happier life.  No one is happy all of the time, nor should anyone expect to be.  It’s important to take pleasure, contentment and find happiness in your everyday ordinary life.

backscratcher, simple pleasure

So tonight I want to talk about some of the simple pleasures in my life, in order to get you to think of some of the same in your life.  I’m going to start with having my back scratched, man, there isn’t much that’s better than a good back scratching.  My oldest niece is a world class back scratcher but she lives about 3000 miles away.  Luckily, backscratchers exist.  I spent about three months living in my aunt’s cabin in Utah one year and next to the bed was a simple wooden backscratcher.  I became thoroughly addicted to how good it felt at night to scratch my own back.  So much, that when I stopped traveling that year and settled down to work, the first thing I did once my apartment was set up was to order a backscratcher.  I still have it 15 years later and still use it almost every single day.

head massager, simple pleasure

Several years ago my wonderful friend KC gave me a gift.  As you can see from the image it looked like some artistic rendering of an alien jellyfish.  I’m always thankful anyone would give me a gift but was more than a little skeptical about this crazy looking thing.  Then when I got home I started to try and use it and there was a moment as the little tentacles rolled along my scalp that I had one of those full body spinal shivers.  The kind where that wave of pleasure rolls through your body and you have that moment of physical and mental bliss.  I’m even more addicted to this thing now that I’ve shaved my head, head massages are a pretty normal part of my life these days and still incredibly wonderful.

We all have these simple pleasures.  For some it’s a quiet cup of coffee or tea early in the morning before anyone else is awake.  For others a nice piece of chocolate and I think for all of us, a really good hug qualifies.  I could list a ton of others, sitting quietly listening to an album in the dark, laying out flat and having my spine crack back into place, a really great piece of pizza and a coke.  Whatever those small things are in your life isn’t important, what’s important is that we take time to stop, appreciate and be mindful of those moments.  These small moments come so much more frequently than the big moments, that if you add them up over time, they’re likely more important.  So don’t let them slip by my friends.  I’m now going to go sit in my favorite reclining camping chair and massage my head while I listen to some music.  Hope you can find some time today to indulge in one of yours and have a happy moment my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness and Balance

Happiness and Balance

happiness, balance, be happy

Happiness and Balance

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.  ~ Thomas Merton

Balance is a concept we will come back to time and time again on this blog.   Even in attaining happiness, everything has to be done in it’s measure, all aspects of your life must be balanced.  This is something we all understand intellectually but often fail to achieve in our life.  Of course I’m being a little hypocritical as I’m writing this after coming home from working an eleven hour day.  So I return to my reading for the day, and share my daily meditation with you courtesy of Deng Ming-Dao.  Have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Balance

Summer withered grass to flaxen yellow,
Scorched leaves to brittle paper,
Dried lakes to cracked clay.

Chill autumn brought little relief-
But with the early gentle rains,
The earth’s fissure softened
And desiccated plans began to dissolve.
Slowly, balance comes once again.

Many cultures describe old people as having seen many winters.  These elders have seen many cycles come and go, and their wisdom comes from long observation of life’s rising and falling.  If we have a long-range view, then we realize that equilibrium comes in the course of nature’s progression.  Nature does not achieve balance by keeping to one level.  Rather, elements and seasons alternate with one another in succession.  Balance, as defined by Tao, is not stasis but a dynamic process of many overlapping alternations; even if some phases seem wildly excessive, they are balanced by others.

Everything has its place.  Everything has its season.  As events turn, balance is to know what is here, what is coming and how to be in perfect harmony with it.  Then one attains a state of sublimity that cannot be challenged.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

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