Happiness Resources: The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness Resources: The Pursuit of Happiness

happiness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight friends a look at resources and articles related to one of the most fundamental core values of the United States, the Pursuit of Happiness.  Of course this is also the fundamental core of the Ministry of Happiness, so take a look at enjoy ~ Rev Kane

A long piece from Time magazine on America’s Pursuit of Happiness.

The meaning of the Pursuit of Happiness

From PBS, a nice article, The Pursuit of Happiness, Your Inalienable Right

A TED Radio hour piece with three separate pieces on happiness, The Pursuit of Happiness

The Scientific Pursuit of Happiness.

 

Other Pieces You Might Enjoy!

Happiness is a Choice

Happiness is Feeling Safe

Worry the Enemy of Happiness

Remember the Sweet Things

Looking Back

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Holiday Happiness: Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Holiday Happiness: Elf on the Shelf Ideas

06The holidays are a very stressful time for everyone and an exceptionally hard time for some.  So, until the New Year I’ll be posting a Holiday Happiness post each day to try help folks out who are struggling.  As always you can reach out to me at Happinesskane@aol.com for a kind word or someone to listen. ~ Rev Kane

04One of the things I do actually enjoy about Christmas is watching children experience the wonder and amazement of it all, their expressions while opening presents.  If we could bottle that kind of joy we’d really have something.  One of the things I’ve really thought was cool has been the Elf on the Shelf bit that has popped up over the last few years.  So tonight, if you’re doing the Elf on the Shelf, I thought I’d consolidate a whole bunch of ideas for you in one spot.  Enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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This first set is incredibly awesome, 31 great ideas

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50 Elf on the Shelf Ideas

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66 placements for your Elf on the Shelf

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A site dedicated to just this, Elfontheshelfideas.com

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7 Non-Messy Elf on the Shelf Ideas

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Ideas from Pinterest

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A lot of ideas on this one but you have to link out to the pics

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

The Art of Smiling and Being Positive

Happiness is Staying Positive

Twelve Days of Christmas – For People Who Don’t Like Christmas

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

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A Really Wonderful Day – Mexico

A Really Wonderful Day – Mexico

mezcal, mescal, mexico

Sunset at the Mezcal Distillery

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit. ~ Frank Borman

The Institute I’m studying Spanish at has two tours they support, a Saturday tour that I did last weekend.  That tour goes to Monte Alban and several other places and I’ll get a post up about Monte Alban at some point soon, it was a really amazing place.

monte alban, travel, mexicoThe Sunday tour goes to several places as well, we started our day by stopping at Santa Maria de Tule, the home of a really giant tree.  This tree is a Montezuma Cypress, at least 1600 but likely over 2000 years-old, almost 60 feet in circumference and 31 feet in diameter.  It is truly an amazing tree.

tule, tree, mexico

Next we went to a family run business, this is a Zapotec traditional weaving family who use wool, clean and dye it using things like flowers, seeds and insects.  The tapestries they make are absolutely beautiful.

tapestry, weaving, mexicoWe then visited Hierve El Agua, the boiling waters.  The site is someplace that has natural boiling water that comes up through the rocks.  The water is mineral laden that deposits along the rock faces as it drips down over the rocks.  This creates the effect of a frozen rock waterfall.  On top there are also some really beautiful pools that fill with water and people swim in.

hierve el agua, travel, mexicohierve el agua, mexico, infinity poolFinally, on the way back to Oaxaca we stopped at a traditional Mezcal distillery that was beautiful and I tasted a five year-old Mezcal that made me considering picking up drinking again.

mezcal, travel, mexicoIt was a full-on nine-hour day, with a nice buffet lunch that included chicken with grasshoppers, the food was really good and the buffet was loaded with vegetables and I ate a ton.  I was the only native English speaker on the trip although there were four Chinese tourists who also spoke some English and after our guides left the tour, the driver asked me to interpret between him and the Chinese tourists which made me feel pretty good about my Spanish skills.  So a really great day.  I hope you had one as well my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Yes you can, be happy!

Yes you can, be happy!

pct-3Each fresh peak ascended teaches something. ~ Sir Martin Convay

As I wrote about last week I’ve been struggling a bit lately.  I’m someone, like a lot of you, whose mood sometimes just tanks.  When I was younger this would lead to some pretty serious depression.  It was part of the impetus for the start of the Ministry of Happiness, once I’d done some research on how to be happier, I needed a way to share it with others and the blog was born.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot of techniques to help myself when this happens.  You start with the basics, you eat right, exercise, get the right amount of sleep.  For me writing also helps, unfortunately over the last couple of weeks I have been wholly uninspired on that front.  You look for any stressors and if they can be dealt with you do that.  If they can’t be dealt with, than you don’t have control over them and you have to let them go as best you can.  So over the last couple of the weeks I’ve been working on all of this and my mood still hadn’t elevated at all.

At least until yesterday.

Over the last few years writing this blog I’ve really come to believe that happiness only comes through action.  Sure, most of the time the basics will keep you level and bring you up if your mood dips.  But to get happier or to recover from the bigger dips you have to take action.  Sometimes that action relates to a specific problem in your life, but often, there isn’t a clear problem that’s effecting your mood.  Many times it’s a bunch of the small things, what I like to call death by paper cuts.  Lots of small wounds that bleed your mood, this has been what the last few weeks has felt like.

fix polar bear faceWhen I do talks about my book Appalachian Trail Happiness and my time on the Appalachian Trail I relate a very specific message from the wrap up section of the book.  That message is Yes you can!  Specifically what that message means is yes you can take action.  Yes you can go on adventures.  The expectation isn’t that you do some of the things I do, although you can!  You don’t have to go to Nepal and hike in the Himalayas, or travel to Canada and photograph Polar Bears or hike the Appalachian Trial.  What you can do, is do something.  You can go for a walk on a local park trail, want to ramp it up, go at night!  I assure you there are lots of hikes, art galleries and a whole list of adventures within an hour of your house, all you have to do is look for them.

unaka-enhancedAs a hiker, and someone gearing up to backpack Havasu Falls in four weeks, I decided this weekend to go for a hike.  The Pacific Crest Trail crosses Walker Pass about 20 miles from my house and so this Saturday I decided to go out and do a few hours on the trail.  Heading north out of the pass is a good walk, it’s basically an uphill run with a solid elevation gain of about a thousand feet over 3-4 miles.  So a nice three-hour out and back hike gives you an eight mile hike up over 5000 feet.  Nice training for the 10 miles I’ll do into and out of Havasu Falls.

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

One of the things that I’ve been experiencing lately is feeling completely scattered, like I’m moving in a million directions at once.  Hiking is a beautiful cure for that situation, at least while you’re on the trail.  Hiking brings focus and mindfulness when you’re on the trail.  You have to be in the moment or you find yourself face down on the ground.  And although you’re focused on your steps, it allows just enough to space for your brain to go deep on one thing at a time.  Hiking let’s me take some deep dives, get some perspective and see things in ways I don’t in everyday life.   It helps me declutter my brain, throw away some of the things I shouldn’t be worrying about and put my focus in the right place.  That’s what Saturday did for me, it was a beautiful sunny day, windy and a little chilly but once I was climbing it felt good.  I ran into a family hiking, I always love seeing munchkin hikers on the trail.  One little girl was particularly adorable with her Dora the Explorer backpack and tiny trekking poles.

I took a little break to eat up on one of the saddles I crossed and ate looking over a couple of valleys with snow in the upper elevations.  On the trail, even for a day the world gets calm and simpler and I can’t help but feel good.  The beauty of this feeling is that it extends past the time on the trail.  I head into a new workweek in a better place than I’ve been over the last couple of weeks and my training plan includes being back in the mountains this weekend and each of the weekends leading up to my trip in April.

walker-pass-valley

Shots from Walker Pass this weekend on the PCT

pct-cool-cloud pct-lichen-rock pct-snow-trail So if you’re in the same place my friends, yes, you can do the same thing I did.  Maybe not in the same way, but a little adventure, a little nature and hopefully you’ll have a happier day. ~ Rev Kane

Other 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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Simple Lessons in Happiness

Simple Lessons in Happiness

positivity

Smile every chance you get. Not because life has been easy, perfect, or exactly as you had anticipated, but because you choose to be happy and grateful for all the good things you do have and all the problems you know you don’t have. ~ www.marcandangel.com

So I’ve been traveling and was rolling through Kentucky recently, my granny grew up on the Kentucky border and being in this area always takes me back to my families Appalachian roots. What this typically means for me is returning to really simple ideas and actions in life. So as I was driving today I starting thinking about the simple things we can all do to be happier in our lives. So here’s a little list, nowhere near exhaustive but a few thoughts for you to chew, give a try and hopefully help you have a happy day my friends    ~ Rev Kane

 

Be nice to people – Don’t become a door mat, but whenever give people the benefit of the doubt, if you do you’ll be pleasantly surprised more than you might imagine.

Make time – Make time for those things that are truly important. We are all too busy in our lives but so much of what we do has no meaning, don’t wait for a “life event” some tragedy to make you reconsider what you do with your time.

Don’t be so reactive – This has become ever harder to do with technology, it is all too easy to encounter ideas and attitudes that make you want to explode, take a breath and let it go. Even as I write this people are ignorantly commenting on the city I live in. I could jump in, point out their ignorance but all that will do is start an online argument, add some stress to my night and nothing would be accomplished.

Spend time with good people – This one is particular hard for me, I’m a gypsy and my friends are scattered all over the world. It takes effort, sometimes a great deal to get together but the only person in charge of whether or not it happens is you and your friends.

Finally, smile – it’s amazing what a smile can do.

You may also enjoy…

Appalachian Trail or Bust!

Happiness, the Minimalist Mind and Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Happiness and Saying Goodbye

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Happiness is Continuous Improvement

Happiness is Continuous Improvement

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Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. ~ Benjamin Franklin

So recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase continuous quality improvement.  It has a lot of relevance in my job and it has become a bit of a motto in my life.  Where happiness is concerned, we really know all of the answers.  After years of researching and writing about happiness, as the Taoists say, the masters have already given us all of the answers we just fail to see them.

We have talked on this site about a lot of things that can bring you happiness: expressing gratitude; showing kindness; being positive; seeking adventure; damping down our fear; being mindful and many other strategies.  But you have to be realistic about things, no change occurs overnight, if you are a worrier, you can’t just stop worrying because you know it’s a bad idea.  But maybe, bit by bit you can learn to worry less and less over time.

This is what continuous improvement is all about, really it’s simple.  So how do you do it?  Well, the goal is to simply be better than you were last year.  How do you do that? Well, this month you try to be better than last month, this week better than last week, today better than yesterday.  The trick is of course that it doesn’t matter how fast you are moving forward, just that you keep moving forward.  Consistency is the key, whether or not were talking about weight loss, or fitness or happiness.

So my friends, pick whatever method of being  happier that you want to work on, just work on it and have a happy day ~ 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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Moving Forward, Progress and Happiness in Oaxaca

Moving Forward, Progress and Happiness in Oaxaca

enchiladas, mexico, travelProgress lies not in improving what is, but in advancing toward what will be. ~ Khalil Gibran

So I’ve been in Oaxaca almost six weeks.  The first two weeks were all about being a tourist and I walked the town, took in the sites and got my bearings.  In week three I started language school at the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca.  I have four weeks of classes in which I’m working to improve my Spanish language skills.

I have some skills but they are far from complete, they allow me to navigate around in Spanish-speaking countries, I spent a month in Spain earlier this year.  I call it survival Spanish, I can order food, get my laundry done, figure out what train I’m supposed to be on etc…  Generally, I have the ability to make people understand what I’m saying, what I need.  However, understanding the answer is the trick, especially if I say something particularly well, because then people assume I have skills and speak normally – which you can read as fast and not clearly.  So my time in Oaxaca has been especially focused on improving my ear, in other words having as many conversations, with as many Spanish speakers as possible.

This is a really good point for a little tangent, call it a public service announcement.  No matter what country you live in, you see tourists from time to time trying to speak your native language, their second or even sometimes third of fourth language.  On behalf of all travelers around the world struggling with a new language let me ask a favor of you friends.  When you encounter these people please do a couple of things, first speak slowly, not like you have brain damage but slowly, simply and clearly enunciate words.  You don’t have to go overboard but just slow and clear.  Also, after you’ve said something to someone, wait, be patient, you see the person you are talking to has to do a few things.  First, they have to figure out how many of the words you just said they knew.  Second, they then have to translate those words, then, because word structure is different in each language they have to reorder what you said into their native language.  So sometimes you say something and they look confused and you start to re-explain which just mucks up the process.  Give them a few extra beats and after if they still look confused, ask if they understand.

Let me give you a simple example.  I meet someone in Oaxaca and in Spanish I ask where the laundromat is located?  They reply La lavendaria is dos cuadras norte allado de la casa rojo.  So first, I have to think what does cuadras and allado de mean.  Ok, that’s right, city block and next to, great.  So two blocks north next to house red.  So the final step is to reorder in English, two blocks north next to the red house.  Those extra little steps take a few extra heart beats to get organized and recognized in your brain.  So slow, clear, simple words, patience and no slang or idioms, please. You have no idea how much this will be appreciated.

So I’ve spent five weeks in Oaxaca including three weeks in school and it sort of feels like I’m making progress.  However, you can be fooled in the protected environment of the classroom or in this case even the larger social sphere of the institute.  So today I was in the mood for enchiladas and I headed for Del Jardin in the Zocalo, a place I’d had enchiladas my second day in Oaxaca.

I sat down at the table and the waitress arrived and asked me what I wanted to drink.  She returned a couple of minutes later with my drink, took my order and left.  On the Zocalo, especially someone who doesn’t look the least bit Mexican will find themselves quickly and frequently being visited by a number of street vendors.  My lunch arrived, the enchiladas rojos pictured above, and it was fabulous.  You can’t beat five enchiladas, a drink, a basket of bread and butter, peanuts and a twenty percent tip, all for six dollars.  Not to mention the food quality here is amazing.

What hit me during my meal was how easy and relaxed it all was.  I had accidentally done a wonderful experiment.  My first time at Del Jardin, I’d struggled a tiny bit with the menu.  I was nervous and forgot to ask for a drink without ice,  I forgot to order the dish without onions.  The waitress had asked some of the same small questions just as she did today.  However, the first time, I had to go through that thought process I described above, had to ask her to repeat things and although everything went fine, it was a choppy and uncomfortable conversation.  When the vendors approached I just shook my head no and looked down, if they said anything I just ignored them.  Today, it was a quick no thank you and with a stubborn older woman, I understood she was trying to guilt me into buying something for my mother by telling me how sad she would be if her son didn’t buy her something.  We had a nice little back and forth where I explained I would be in Oaxaca for a time and would buy something for my mother later.  I even cracked a little joke that made her laugh before she moved on.

What my lunch experience taught me today was that I am in fact making progress.  My ear is definitely better, my vocabulary has expanded and most of all, I’m far more comfortable in these interactions than I was five weeks ago.  This really made today a happy day and I hope you’re having one as well my friend. – Rev Kane

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You matter! You deserve to be happy!

You matter! You deserve to be happy!

monks

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

You matter!  I’m not sure there is any more significant set of two words related to your personal happiness, with the possible exception of thank you.  We’ve talked about how important it is to be grateful here before, but today I want to talk about understanding that you matter.

The inspiration for today’s post came from a conversation I just had with a former student.  She’s kind of stuck, not sure what to do next and like a lot of us has let the pressure build up to the point where she’s stressed out, not sure what to do next  and starting to doubt herself.    She reached out to me because I’d given her some useful advice before, she reached out in hopes that I might make her feel a little better about what she needs to do.  In a lot of ways, I think all she really needed to hear was that in fact, she was smart and strong, and that she can do what she wants and needs to do to achieve her goals, that she matters.

And of course she does matter and she’s done impressive things in her life.  She’s an immigrant, she’s become educated, runs a small business is raising four children, big things.  However she’s in her early 30’s and our society and her culture tell women enough, you’re in your 30’s, you have children it’s time to raise them and stop thinking of yourself.  This of course is wrong, your children feed off your energy and learn from what you do!  If you work hard and strive for a better life, sacrifice to become more educated then they realize that is important as well.  If you work to be a happier person, they will realize that happiness is important as well.

You matter and your happiness matters and whether you attain it by striving for some goal or whether you gain it as Lao Tzu suggests by becoming content with where you are or what you already have, it matters and you matter.  It’s funny sometimes a simple idea or phrase can have so much power.  Simply telling someone as David Best does at Burning Man, that it’s not your fault, or telling someone that they matter can have a profound impact.  Take it to heart my friends, you matter and you deserve to be happy.

The funny thing about helping others, is that it is almost never a one-way process.  My former student called today to get help from me, to have me help her feel better about her life.  I believe I was able to do that to a degree, but in the process, she did at least as much for me.  She was able to show me that the advice I gave her in the past had been good, had helped her and most of all that advice had a lasting impact, the advice mattered and she provided a nice reminder that I do as well.

So remember, you matter, you deserve to be happy and you can start by having 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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TED talk on Happiness

TED talk on Happiness

happiness, wisdom, TED, TEDx

TED Talk on Happiness

Today one of the fabulous TED talks this one is by Biochemist turned Buddhist Monk, Matthieu Ricard, a really wonderful talk, enjoy

http://www.ted.com/talks/matthieu_ricard_on_the_habits_of_happiness.html

Other Happiness Posts You Will Enjoy!

Happy Anniversary – Ministry of Happiness: Our Best Posts

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Remember the Sweet Things

Happiness is Taking Risks

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Acceptance is the Way

 

 

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Eating in Oaxaca

Eating in Oaxaca

My desert at Casa Oaxa guava tart with rose petal infused vanilla ice cream

One of the absolute joys of Oaxaca is the food and it’s amazing on a lot of fronts.  There is of course the excitement of the strange, they use insects here, as in many parts of the world as food.  So it’s not at all unusual to see grasshoppers, ants or agave worms as ingredients.  I had a really nice ground fish and ant pate as an appetizer one night.

There is the beauty of specialty in Oaxaca.  Oaxaca is known for it’s chocolate, it’s cheese, it’s vast array of Mezcals and moles.  In fact it seems to be the mole capital of Mexico.  I’ve heard so many numbers thrown around about the number of different moles that exist here that I have no idea what number is correct.  However, what I can say with confidence is that it is easily dozens as I’ve seen that many different types of moles here on menus and in the grocery stores.  They also make a lot of use of flowers in the food including the most common, flores de calabazas which are squash blossoms.  We’ve all been to a fancy restaurant and had an edible decorative flower on a plate.  So we’ve all eaten a few flowers with our meals, since being in Oaxaca I’ve far exceeded the amount of flowers I had eaten in my previous 54 years.

There are all of the standard types of food you would expect in a Mexican City, there are tacos, tostadas, tamales, taquitos, empanadas, enchiladas, lots of salsas, shrimp cocktails and lots of different seafood available.  There are also Oaxacan takes on some of the standards, Tlayudas are particular to Oaxaca, HUGE tortillas that are filled with beans, meat vegetables, the local quesillo cheese and cooked over the grill.  Tlayudas are somewhere between an enchilada, a tostada and a burrito.

There are also massive amounts of amazing deserts, from a very standard churro dipped in melted chocolate, to specialty ice creams and all manner of fruit based tarts.  The thing is that in southern Mexico there is a dizzying array of fruits available, some fruits I’ve never even heard of before.  So this allows chefs to create all manner of interesting ice creams, tarts, crumbles etc…

Since I’ve been in Oaxaca I’ve eaten very well and put on a few pounds to prove it even though I walk 3-5 miles every day.  I’m not complaining.  The other aspect of food in Oaxaca is how inexpensive it is.  If you ate out every day it wouldn’t be super expensive, probably the best meat I’ve had at a restaurant in town was at Casa Oaxaca.  My entree, suckling pig in an almond mole sauce, a drink, all the normal fancy meat accompaniments, desert and a twenty percent tip was US$30.  The thing is, this was a five-star meal, this meal was on par with meals I’ve eating in NY, Los Angeles, Vegas and San Francisco, the only difference being that the same meal, at the same quality in those cities would have easily cost me US$150 – $200.  Since I’m renting an apartment here I’m able to prepare most of my own meals which I really enjoy.  This also means trips to the markets which are fabulous.  Massive amounts of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are insanely expensive.  I typically buy a standard full-sized grocery bag full of tomatoes, cilantro, cucumber, green onions, chilies, peppers, potatoes, avocados, bananas, limes and apples for about US$5.  The avocados would cost that alone in the US.

Sweet tamales in Oaxaca are traditionally wrapped in banana leaves, not corn husks

I expected the food to be good here and fairly inexpensive, but honestly it’s far better and far cheaper than I imagined, it’s made for many happy days here in Oaxaca. ~ Rev Kane

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