Happiness, Attitude and Simple Pleasures

Happiness, Attitude and Simple Pleasures

happiness, attitude, simple pleasure

Sitting in the sun and sipping tea and working on my attitude in the Himalayas, another simple pleasure

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.  ~Thornton Wilder

It has been a hectic time for me lately and I’ve been really stressed out.  The impact of this has been that I have felt fairly joyless over the last couple of months.  The things that normally made me happy haven’t really been raising a smile.  Even some significant events that have a occurred have left others confused that I’m not more excited.

Whenever I feel like this there are some things I do.  First, I do as instructed by Taoist philosophy and go back to the basics, eating, sleeping, and making sure I’m safe in my world.  I also write, not the blog writing I’m doing right now, but more emotive and evocative writing, primarily poetry.  I try to use that as a mechanism to release what emotions may be brewing under the service to get that energy out of me.

It didn’t seem that my usual plan was working this time and certainly if it was, it was taking its sweet time to elevate my mood in any way.  The surest way I know things are wrong is when I’m not eating or sleeping and I’ve been there for a while.

Sometimes nothing works however but reaching down and grabbing yourself up by your bootstraps and willing yourself forward.  More than likely what I had been doing was helping, albeit slowly and the added boost of self-determination has gotten be back over the top.  How do I know I’ve gotten there, well even though today was a very hectic day.  I found myself excitedly and happily watching sports, cheering on my favorite team.  Then it hit me, wow, I haven’t been this happy, over something this simple in quite some time, it feels good to be back.  I hope you are also having a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Happiness Posts You Might Enjoy!

Remember the Sweet Things

Happy Anniversary – Ministry of Happiness

Appalachian Trail Happiness: My Best Posts

 

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness is Accepting Impermanence

Happiness is Accepting Impermanence

Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality. – Pema Chodron

impermanence

I was sitting in my office the other day reflecting on changes that I have seen in my job over the last couple of years.  A really strong and effective manager left our institution a couple of years ago.  During her tenure she made a series of effective changes to our culture and institution, changes that in my opinion made our organization more professional and forward thinking.  Unfortunately, the culture of our institution is such that we seem to pray at the altar of the status quo, as such, any change is perceived as negative.  In the last two years I’ve watched our institution effectively erase all of the changes that had been made.  Thinking about this made me think about impermanence.  You see I have personally labored under the impression that if you do good work, make positive change, that you can in fact make permanent change.  To a degree this is true, but the fact of the matter is that eventually even the best accomplishments will someday be outdone, or even gotten rid of by someone else.

This lack of permanence doesn’t mean we should not try to do anything positive, it just means we should realize the ephemeral nature of all that is life.  Now this can be a depressing and terrifying idea at some level, but can also be used to make us happier.  We can use this thought to understand the importance of mindfulness.  Here are a couple of articles on how specifically you can use the idea of impermanence to be happier.  Give them a read and have a happier day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Six Lessons on Embracing Change and Impermanence from Tiny Buddha

Accepting Impermanence from the Institute of Mindfulness Studies

impermanence

You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happiness in the Dull Moments

Happiness in the Dull Moments

Life is 10% of what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it                    ~ Charles Swindoll

happiness

I have been thinking a lot lately as I’m closing in on turning 50 about my purpose and passion in life.  I think it’s important to reflect on what you have already accomplished in life.  Usually we are too hard on ourselves and if we take the time to truly and honestly reflect on our accomplishments it isn’t that hard to see the good we’ve done.  It’s easiest to see I think in the people we’ve impacted, the changes we’ve helped them make in their own lives.  The other thing is that we often don’t realize the impacts we make on people, how we inspire others.  I think we need to take more time in our lives to go back and tell those people who inspired and help change us, especially our friends and those close to us, so they get to know the good they have done and in turn hopefully more people will do the same for us.

What hit me today though while pulling into the parking lot of the supermarket was just how much time we spend on the mundane tasks of living, things like going to the grocery store, cleaning, doing yard work, commuting and working.  It would be great if we all had massively rewarding jobs but the unfortunate truth is that most of us are working towards earning a necessary pay check each week.  For this reason, it’s equally important to find happiness in the spaces in our lives, in the dull and mundane moments.  One of the techniques I use for this is music, I almost always have music with me, when I’m driving, at the gym, in the office.  Another technique I like but don’t do nearly enough myself, is to take small happiness breaks throughout the day.  Have a picture you like, someone close to you or even an image of a piece of art and take a few 5 minute breaks throughout the day just to stop and look at the picture and allow yourself to escape the dull moment and slide into the happiness of the image.

Whatever you do, however you find time to do it, find a little happiness in the spaces and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rituals for Happiness

Rituals for Happiness

italian cemetery, colma

Rituals are important. Nowadays it’s hip not to be married. I’m not interested in being hip. ~ John Lennon

As we are all quite aware nothing is typical or normal in our world right now.  For that reason, many of us are craving small doses of normality wherever we can find them.  Last week was a tough week, we’re all having them from time to time right now.  This past week, on top of work being absolutely nuts, I learned of the the death of two people I cared about.  One of them was one of my first and best bosses, a man who taught me a lot about work and even more about life.  He was a damn good man and incredibly good to me.

We have many rituals in our lives, the way we celebrate our holidays, the way we even go about our day to day lives can be very ritualistic.  Our largest rituals in life are put in place around our biggest events such as marriages and deaths.  The rituals around death include the way we memorialize the people we lose in our lives.  This shows up in cemeteries partially in the art that is erected around these memorials. I have always been fascinated by this art.  It is the reason I have made a hobby out of photographing cemeteries.  The combination of the poignancy of the setting, the beautiful grounds and the art in the memorials makes for great subject matter.

When I was a child there was a Sunday morning ritual in our house.  It involved going to the corner store, buying the Sunday New York Times and the NY Daily news.  It also included picking up donuts and coffee cake.  Easy, lazy Sunday mornings reading the newspapers and eating a big breakfast with sweets are very good memories for me.

In these uncertain times it’s importance to find normalcy wherever we can.  To utilize or even establish rituals that we can find comfort in, that’s what today was all about for me.  Without a doubt, today felt more normal than any day since the shelter in place orders came down two months ago.  It definitely felt like those childhood Sunday mornings.  I slept in a bit late this morning, had a big breakfast, minus the sweets.  I got my camera gear together and headed to the Italian Cemetery in Colma.  I call Colma the city of the dead, it’s often called the City of Souls, there are something like a dozen cemeteries there, the history of the Colma cemeteries is quite interesting, check out this link.  So today, finally, after living near Colma for 11 months, I made my first foray today to the Italian Cemetery.  It was a beautiful day, blue skies and broken clouds, with a small breeze.  Given I was never going to be near anyone, I didn’t wear a mask.  So I spent the whole afternoon walking under blue skies, no mask and taking photographs.  It was a really wonderful afternoon.

italian cemetery, colma

We need these normal days right now, so find them where you can my friends.  Manufacture them if you have to, find or create rituals that bring a little routine and normalcy into your life.  If feels funny to write that sentence, when as you know, if you have read this blog for any time, I spend most of my time talking about how to get out of your routine life to find more happiness.  Just goes to show you, you never know what tomorrow will bring.  I hope tomorrow brings you a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

Some other Cemeteries I’ve Photographed

St. Boniface Cemetery

Montjuic Cemetery

Posted in Life in Covid Times, personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Notice the Small Things

Notice the Small Things

happiness, small things, burningman

A couple of small things at Burningman

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. ~ Mother Teresa

So today I want to talk about noticing the small things.  As we grudgingly roll out of bed and blast into our daily routine, commute, and start our work day, it is all too easy to do this in a haze; after all it’s just another day.  But tomorrow is another day you’re alive, another day that this magic thing that is life is occurring and we should be thankful and enjoy it.  We need to find the joy in the standard and the routine for that is the majority of our time.  One way to do that is notice the small things.  Take a second to return the smile of someone you encounter, notice the sunrise during your drive, or take a moment to see the new hairstyle someone is wearing in your office.

Noticing these things may not do anything in themselves to increase your happiness, but may increase the happiness of others, which in the end will increase yours.  So have a great day, take your time, remember to breathe, stay positive, notice the small things and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Do not consider any act of kindness insignificant, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face. ~ Mohammed

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Great Hikes & Treks

Happiness is Taking Risks

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Older Ain’t for Cowards

Getting Older Ain’t for Cowards

beauty, age, happiness

Beauty in age

Enjoy yourself it’s later than you think ~ Chinese Proverb

I had an interesting day on Monday.  Of course there is a quote, that most people consider a curse, may you live in interesting times. A little nerdy side note, I read an article recently about the origins of this quote, apparently it’s not an ancient Chinese proverb.  But Monday felt a bit like a curse in the way it went down.  I went in for elective surgery but it never happened, my blood pressure spiked and so they canceled me out.  Then of course I was sent to a specialist to see what was causing the spike.  The cardiologist then heard a murmur and so now we have blood tests, new medications, an echocardiogram and a stress test.  Hopefully everything is ok, the new medication lowers my blood pressure and I get my surgery rescheduled.

Knowing you are mortal

But the whole affair, particularly opting out of risking a stroke for an elective procedure, got the wheels turning.  A conversation with a friend who is also having some health issues really gave the wheels some juice and at that point John Mellencamp came into my mind.  That’s right, the same guy who put out songs like Jack and Diane, and Little Pink Houses did an album in 2008 about getting older and dying.  It’s a really spectacular album entitled Life, Death, Love and Freedom. There’s a track entitled, Don’t Need This Body, that is really amazing and not at all what you are used to from John Mellencamp. The first line is the title of this post, this getting older ain’t for cowards. It certainly isn’t, and it really isn’t when you finally come to truly understand that you’re mortal.  I told my friend while talking to him at the end of my long Monday, that the reason we feel the way we feel is that at our age we finally KNOW that we are mortal.

aging, happiness, life

Beautiful

This is not a trial run

As far as I know, hell as far as anyone knows for sure, life is a one-time event with no encore.  You can take that in a morbid direction but that’s not how it is intended nor how I mean to take it.  You see there is  positive inspiration in this idea, it gives life a poignancy and makes time an extremely precious commodity.  I’m a little weird in the fact that I’ve understood this from a young age.  Partially it comes from the fact that the first significant death in my life happened when I was five.  My maternal grandfather, someone I spent a lot of time with as a baby and toddler, passed away at the age of 49.  Throughout my life that number, 49, weighed on me, I understood that maybe that’s all you get.  I also understand that our medicine is better, but that I suffered from the same ailment that killed him so long ago.

Then, as a teenager I had friends die, drowning, hit by a train and three suicides.  All of them died before their 20th birthday, one as young as 12, so I knew that maybe that’s all I would get.  That’s the depressing side, the hopeful side is my paternal grandfather who not only lived to 90 but got in a street fight at 87.  These have always been my brackets, today to 90.  I have always feared not getting enough time, so I’ve always tried to make sure if I wouldn’t have the time, I would work hard to get as much life as possible in the time given.

advice, plan, happiness

Great advice

Live for the moment, plan for forever

There is a dichotomy that I try to hold in my mind, you can find it in a lot of quotes.  Live for today, celebrated and enjoy every moment, but never fail to plan for the future.  Holding those two thoughts at once is not always easy, but for me, incredibly necessary.  Hence, I prepare for retirement, but I take my chances at adventure whenever I see them.  I am trying my friends, to squeeze out as much life as possible out of however many years I get and my hope for you is the same.  I write a lot about my adventures, some of the best, photographing polar bears, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and hiking in the high passes of the Himalayas.  Hopefully I’m just getting started and hopefully you are too my friends and having many happy days. ~ Rev Kane

aging, life, happiness

Have a happy day

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Get a little Joy in Your Life

Get a little Joy in Your Life

Pure joy floating on the Dead Sea

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. ~ Buddha

One of the most joyous days of my life was the birth of my little brother.  Growing up, I’d always wanted a little brother and now at age 15 I was finally getting my wish.  He was born in a terrible ice storm which meant we got the day off from school the day he was born, double joy.  The irony is, that while I’m writing this I’m awaiting the birth of his daughter, soon to be my littlest niece.

Joy in Life

Lately I’ve been thinking that there isn’t enough joy in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, life is good and I’m very happy.  I’m living in a new place I like, I have a new job that is going well, I have a better social life already here than I’ve had in years.  But  what I’m talking about, is that giddy child-like feeling of joy, that moment where you feel amazement, spiking happiness, tingling joy.  For me it’s been a couple of years, the last time I absolutely felt like that was in the picture above, floating in the Dead Sea.  I’d wanted to experience the amazing buoyancy of floating in the Dead Sea since I’d seen a story about it on 60 Minutes when I was a child.

Walking into the cold water you don’t get how different things really are, then you get deep enough and you lunge forward and you bob like a cork.  It’s amazing, it’s like having on floaties, you can literally float vertically in the water column.  I could float on my back with incredible ease, which I’ve never been able to do anywhere before.  I was giggling like a toddler, I couldn’t stop smiling, I loved it, it was amazing.  I need, we need, more of that type of feeling in our lives.

Soon I hope to do something else I’ve wanted to do since seeing the movie Altered States in the early 1980’s.  I want to float in a sensory deprivation tank, and now, living a few miles from San Francisco I have several places I can do this, and I’m so excited to try it out.

I know how to help you be happier, I know the little things you can do daily, I know how to help you design the big things that can make you happier and change your life.  But joy, joy is a trickier thing, it’s a fleeting, hard to grasp and often only comes spontaneously.  I knew I would enjoy the Dead Sea, I had no idea it would bring the kind of joy that it did.  So, this is about to become my new quest, I’d love your help, your suggestions and most especially your stories of joy, so please share and have a happy day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Lie to Yourself

Don’t Lie to Yourself

lie to yourself quote

I fell into a conversation the other day, a very interesting conversation.  It was about the internal dialogue we all have with ourselves.  You know, the conversation inside our heads that we are constantly having with ourselves.  When I end up talking with someone about this, the focus is usually on how we can use this voice to make us happier.  An exercise I often ask people to do, is to work on changing their internal dialogue, particularly in creating a more positive self-image.  I ask people, three times a day, to look in the mirror and tell themself how awesome they are.  I ask them to do this to counteract the negative messaging we all get both from external sources and from our inner dialogue.  As you all know, internally we are often our harshest critics.

But this conversation the other day was a bit different.  We were discussing the level of honesty we possess in our own inner dialogue.  I have often said that human beings possess two superpowers, rationalization and denial.  We seem to be able to rationalize anything we do to protect our own well-being.  In the process we are also seemingly able to deny almost anything, even reality.  We all know people who have issues, who no matter how plainly they are confronted, are able to first deny that they have an issue.  Then seemingly incredulously, if you can get them past the initial realization, can fully rationalize how their behavior really is ok.  Addicts are the true masters of this ability.

But that’s not the type of internal lying I’m talking about tonight.  I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves to avoid telling ourselves the whole truth.  For example, we end a relationship because the other person is not right for us.  However, the real truth is that it really is you, not them.  The real reason the relationship had to end was that there is some issue you need to resolve within yourself, not something they needed to do different.  That deeper realization is what we really need to understand in order to help ourselves become happier.  That’s the real work that you have to do in order to improve your life.

Getting to that truth is not easy, it often takes accepting things about yourself that you’re not proud of, or make you highly uncomfortable.  It’s important to take time to face and address these issues for they are at the core of the things that can destroy your happiness.  It may seem a daunting task to discover what they are, but it really isn’t that difficult.  These are things we already know about ourselves, it just takes some quiet time, and some honest reflection about who we are and why we do the things we do.  Give it a try, take some time, focus on the why of your decision making and tell yourself the truth, I think the effort will be illuminating and bring you happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My COVID Times Diary – Living our values

My COVID Times Diary –  Living our values

values, covid times

I’m frustrated and angry.  My anger and frustration comes from seeing how few people in our society understand basic graphs and data.  How simple scientific concepts just seem to elude people.  Even worse, and the most frustrating thing for me, is watching how easily people are willing to utterly devalue human life.  Over the last week something has become very clear to me.  In America, we are willing to sacrifice people’s lives for the sake of the economy, but are not willing to sacrifice any part of the economy for people’s lives.  Let that sink in, we are clearly saying in America, businesses making money is more important than your life.  I’m not some bug eyed optimist, I know there is a point where a crashing economy can cause the death and destruction of people’s lives beyond what the virus is doing.  But really, is that only six weeks?  Is our economy so fragile that in six weeks it totally falls apart?  If so, we have bigger problems than the virus.

We did social distancing to flatten the curve.  That means we have been staying inside and avoiding social contact in order to make sure the hospitals weren’t overwhelmed and even more people died.  We’ve done a pretty good job with this.  But there was a second reason we did social distancing and that was to buy time for us to prepare for re-opening the economy.  That means time to develop and produce enough testing, to hire and train enough contact tracers and to set up quarantine rules for people who are exposed.  When they are properly deployed we can safely open up.  Unfortunately we’re not ready and so that likely means opening leads to bigger outbreaks.  We need these things to live with the disease in our new normal.  Instead, the decision we’re making is not to protect the economy, but to accept more needless deaths.

In America, our values are being clearly demonstrated by our actions.  We value capitalism over the health and welfare of the majority of the people in our society.  We have seen this in the hesitancy for America to create significant and dependable social safety nets like universal healthcare or any other affordable health care plan.  What we value is coolness, we love to brag that we have the best MRI machine or the newest but massively expensive new treatment for disease X.  Yet, the richest, most powerful and supposedly best country in history has the 55th lowest infant mortality rate in the world, worse than Bosnia and almost every country with universal health care on Earth.  Given this reality, it is not even surprising we’re prioritizing the economy over people’s lives.

People in America are selfish and value comfort and convenience over the lives of their fellow Americans.  Whenever the public is interviewed about businesses opening you almost immediately hear about people needing their hair and nails done.  People have threatened violence over mask rules and have actually shot people in America for being told to wear a mask, or that they had to have take out instead of sit in dining, AT A McDONALDS!  I’ve personally seen two near fistfights break out over people not wearing masks and being too close to others.

On my walk today, I counted the number of people I saw wearing masks.  I walk through a business district where there are lots of markets and restaurants doing takeout.  So people waiting to enter those businesses have to wear masks.  So with them included, I counted and 48% (53/133) were wearing a mask.  On the return trip I didn’t count the people who were in those lines but only people walking on the streets, and only 11% (8/72) were wearing a mask.  Why would people not wear one, simple, it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, it gets hot or they don’t like the smell of their own breaths.  People are not willing to be inconvenienced to protect their fellow citizen from a deadly disease.

People are highly adept at using the two superpowers all humans possess, rationalization and denial.  We absolutely value the Disneyized version of our lives over reality and will act accordingly.  People who I know are intelligent enough to understand what’s going on, who I know don’t want to get ill, continue to act contrary to their own best interests.  They will rationalize that it’s ok to visit someone because they don’t go out much, or that they haven’t seen their family in so long, they are of course always being careful.  But when I hear people tell me about having sustained personal contact, the thing we absolutely know is the worst thing you can do with coronavirus, I’m absolutely baffled.  But they deny they are putting anyone at risk, or rationalize that they are being safe.  We’ve see this behavior across the entire country and as such, we will extend the length of this outbreak, and we will increase the number people who will die, who didn’t have to.  Hopefully that won’t include you.

Perhaps we just don’t care because most of the people who get ill and die will likely be elderly, large numbers of nursing home residents, obese people, and people with high blood pressure or diabetes.  To say it plainly this will mean old people, fat people, poor people and people of color for the most part.  The types people who we value least in America.

I’ve been angry for a week over all of this, I don’t know what to do.  I worry that people I know and love will die because of people’s lack of understanding or caring.  A colleague told me the other day that they’ve lost two family members to coronavirus already.  I just found out someone I used to work with died yesterday but I don’t yet know if it was COVID but it seems likely.  It angers me that people seem to need to have someone very close to them die, before they can care for others.  I woke up angry about this today and honestly it seems very few people seem to truly care.

We have to change people, America has to change, but I’m angry because everything I see and hear in this country right now seems to indicate that we are nothing but a country of selfish, convenience obsessed narcissists who could care less about the health and welfare of their fellow man.  I hear so often that this is a Christian country, well, these seem like very unchristian values.  We have choices to make, I hope we make the right ones, I don’t want you dear reader, to die needlessly because someone couldn’t be inconvenienced.

 

Posted in Life in Covid Times | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We all have to stop being afraid

We all have to stop being afraid

fear, happinessCuriosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will. ~ James Stephen

Everyone is afraid

There is a lot of desolation out in cyberspace, a lot of destructive language.  I mean the idea that Trolls exist is really amazing and horrifying to me.  Think about it, there are large numbers of people in this world whose sole form of connection to the rest of us is to write horrible things on the internet for the sole purpose of getting reactions and hurting people’s feelings.

We are constantly subjected to language and information whose sole purpose is to divide us from our fellow humans.  For political gain political parties, political candidates and apparently even foreign governments put out divisive material.  Under this onslaught of negativity people fall prey to faulty thinking, silly ideas and their own prejudices.  We all know this, we all see it in the comment sections to news articles.  At the center of a lot of this is just fear.

love more fear less

Love more Fear less

I get it, life is hard and there are so many things that you can worry about out.  Disease, war, crime, terrorism, losing your job so many things can go wrong in life.  People can be absolutely awful and often you don’t get treated the way you should be.  So we’re afraid, afraid to die, afraid to fail, hell we are even afraid to succeed.  But fear is a liar.

fear happiness

Fear is killing your happiness

Overcoming your fears

It is important in life to overcome our fears.  Our fears are solely dependent on us for their very existence.  Past our fears is where our dreams live and so to get to your dreams you first have to beat back your fears.  It’s not an easy thing, I know that, but it’s a necessary thing if you want to find happiness.

fear, happinessIf you read this blog regularly you know about the things I’ve done, traveling to the Middle East for vacation, doing a 1000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, and photographing Polar Bears.  I was afraid in some way to do all of those things.  There were legitimate terrorism fears on my trip to Jordan and an ISIS attack occurred when I was there that killed over 30 people.  Polar bears, well hell, they will eat you.  And before I started my hike on the Appalachian Trail I’d never done an unsupported hike of over two days.  So there was fear before every one of those adventures and that’s ok.  But overcoming those fears led to some absolutely amazing life experiences, that’s what overcoming your fear can do for you and why it’s so important. Life is a one-way, one-time trip and you have to make the most of it and find happiness wherever you can.

There is no mystical, magical formula to overcoming your fears, I wish there was.  At the end of the day you just have to have courage.  A quote I’ve seen recently that I really like,is that being fearless when your most afraid is the greatest life hack.  Sometimes you just have to jump, I know it’s hard but it’s worth it in the end.

So my friends, attack your fears, have courage, jump and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments