What the ancients have to teach us … and those not yet ancient … and what I have learnt
Five steps to Happiness
The five things we cannot change – David Richo
Wisdom of the ancients and modern
If by Rudyard Kipling
The Felicity of Virtue
Divinity with or without God – Jonathon Haidt
Viktor Frankel on meaning
Five steps to happiness
- Connect – Developing relationships with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours will enrich you.
- Be active – Sports, hobbies such as gardening or dancing or just a daily stroll will make you feel good.
- Be curious – Noting the beauty of everyday moments as well as the unusual and reflecting on them helps you to appreciate what matters to you.
- Learn – Fixing a bike, learning an instrument, cooking – the challenge and satisfaction brings fun and confidence.
- Give – Helping friends and strangers links your happiness to a wider community and is very rewarding.
Do these things for two months and see the difference they make!
- Get physical – Exercise for half an hour at least three times a week.
- Count your blessings – At the end of each day reflect on at least five things you are grateful for.
- Talk time – Have an hour long uninterrupted conversation with your partner or closest friend each week.
- Plant something – Even if it’s a window box or pot plant, keep it alive.
- Cut your TV viewing by half
- Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger – At least once each day.
- Phone a friend – Make contact with at least one friend or relation you have not been in contact with for a while and arrange to meet up.
- Have a good laugh at least once a day.
- Every day make sure you give yourself a treat (and do something different). Take time to really enjoy this.
- Daily kindness – Do an extra good turn for someone each day.
If by Rudyard Kipling
The five things we cannot change by David Richo
- Everything changes and ends
- Things do not always go according to plan
- Life is not always fair
- Pain is part of life
- People are not loyal and loving all of the time
The wisdom of the Ancients and Modern
This is not the place to teach all there is to know of Meditation, Mindfulness or Awareness – but just to urge you to begin to do something.
The point is to begin to do something now – if only 10 minutes a day or even to begin to just be aware. Read Elkhart Tolle below.
The main point is that your expectations are right – and it is to have no expectations. To just do it. To begin to find that you can observe your emotions and that this is quite calming enough.
- Non-Judging. Nothing is good or bad just interesting.
- Patience. There is no rush and whatever you find and however much time you spend or how formal you are – well that is how it is.
- Have a Beginner’s Mind – this can only come if you have the detachment to see and feel what is there with no obvious pre-conceptions.
- And not to Strive
The Felicity of Virtue
These are the Signature Strengths. They were formulated by Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania. There is a mass of excellent material on their website.
Discover which of these virtues most clearly resonate with you.
Wisdom – curiosity, love of learning, judgement. ingenuity, emotional intelligence and perspective
Courage – Valour, Perseverance, Integrity
Humanity – Kindness, Loving
Justice – Citizenship, Fairness, Leadership
Temperance – Self control. Prudence, Humility
Transcendence – Gratitude, Hope, Spirituality, Forgiveness, Humour, Zest
Divinity With or Without God – Jonathan Haidt
There is a third dimension for all human beings beyond ourselves and our relationships with others. That is our divine or moral part – activated by ritual and work to purify ourselves and is evident in the emotion of Elevation – which lightens hearts.
It is worth striving for the right relationships between yourself and others, between yourself and your work and between yourself and something larger than yourself. If you get these relationships right then a sense of purpose and meaning will emerge.
Victor Frankel on Meaning
It really does not matter what we expect of life – rather what does life expect from us – moment by moment, day by day. Life’s meaning is concrete just as are life’s tasks. The meaning of life is discovered in the world rather than from within.
We create meaning by
- Work and action
- By experiencing something or encountering someone notably through the experience of love and the transcendent
- By our attitude to unavoidable suffering – then we are challenged to change ourselves.
Words from The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
There is never a time when your life is not “this moment”. Is that not a fact?
So break the pattern of present moment denial and present moment resistance.The moment you realise you are not present, you are present.
Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. And then act. This will miraculously change your life.
You will not be free of pain until you cease to derive your sense of self from identification with the mind which is the ego. One of the main tasks of the mind is to fight or remove emotional pain, which is one of the reasons for its incessant activity. But all it can ever achieve is to cover emotional pain up temporarily. In fact the harder the mind struggles to get rid of the pain, the greater the pain.
The mind can never find the solution nor can it afford to allow you to find the solution because it is itself an intrinsic part of the “problem”.
Your life situation exists in time – it is just mind stuff. These are your problems of job, relationships and health etc. Your life on the other hand is Now and is Real. And you cannot be both unhappy and fully present in the Now.
To be free of time means to be free of the psychological need of the past for your identity and the future for your fulfilment.
If you are unhappy in your current situation, you have three choices – to move, to change the situation or accept it. Choose one of these three and then accept the consequences with no excuses and keep your inner space clear. Any action is often better than no action. But if no action is possible then surrender and lose all resistance.
Shut your eyes and ask yourself when you think you might have your next thought.
Presence is about alertness and watchfulness – like a cat or a bodyguard. Beyond the mind there is an awesome recognition of nature and interconnectedness. Could it be that this nameless essence and your presence are the same thing? Would it be there without your presence? Go deeply into it.
Find out for yourself.
True consciousness is to discard form and realise that everything (including a stone) is part of being or God essence.
If a fish was born in your tank and you gave him a name (John) and a birth certificate and then he was eaten by a bigger fish – then that would be tragic.
But it is not tragic if you see that the fish was not separate in the first place.
In present day humans, consciousness is completely identified with its form (disguise).
So close your eyes and begin to feel the subtle life force energy in your body – in your limbs, your organs and your every cell. As you focus you will find your body becomes more and more alive. You may get a sense of its luminous quality. But always focus on the feeling – of limitlessness, formlessness and being unfathomable.
And try this:
Last thing at night and first thing in the morning, flood your body with consciousness. Choose different parts of your body.
Feel the life force as intensely as you can. Stay with each part for 15 secs. Then let your attention run through your body like a wave. Then feel the inner body in its totality as a single field of energy. be intensely present in every cell in your body.
In relationships, listen with your whole body – i.e. go out of your mind to awareness.
Go deeply into the body – in meditation you become away and feel a sense of beingness which is not the body. This is the inner body without boundaries. Merge with this and lose duality
As you recognise that all is change and that your happiness does not depend on fixity, then your life will develop a flow and ease. You may not be happy but be at peace.