The Way To Happiness Is Simple (Not Easy)

happy rubbish The Way To Happiness Is Simple (Not Easy)

Happiness is our natural condition. All you have to do is look at a healthy infant to notice that their default state is one of unfiltered joy. As we grow older, we learn to add to our list of needs. Our wants and needs become confused. Eventually, as Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out, “Things are in the saddle and ride mankind.”

Our attention has become fractured. We are losing our ability to intuit. We seek increasing stimulation from external sources. When the stimulation is no longer present, when we feel we are not able to meet our “needs,” we pick up the pace or become despondent.

We have to create opportunities for silence – periods of meditation where God speaks to us. This will aid us in understanding our points of individuality and our points of connection. Before we can value our differences, we must accept the things that we have in common. This begins when we seek the answer to the question: “Who am I and why I am here?” I believe that an honest effort to answer that question will prevent the moral nihilism that too many people organize their lives around.

We have the tools for happiness. They can only be accessed when we strip away the extra. They are only effective when we are honest about all the parts that make us who we are. Only then can we discover and work with our real strengths. The world has need of our gifts. They can only be given when we engage in addition by subtraction.

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The Power of Belief

friendly universe The Power of Belief
“Cogito ergo sum” – I think, therefore I am. I have been hoping that there is a related principle that applies to the art of writing. Something like, “I write, therefore I am a writer.” Even if it is not true, I will continue to act as if it is. I combine this with Emerson’s advice on writing that “when you run out of arrows, throw your body at it.”

Today I’m throwing my body at a short post on the Universe.

Albert Einstein felt that the fundamental question facing all of us is: “Is the Universe a friendly place?” We each get the chance to answer this for ourselves. What if you decided just for today that it was? Would you be a rebel in this Universe? Would your belief about your capabilities or responsibilities change?

What kind of Universe do you currently live in? If we take better control of our beliefs and imagination, we can make sure the trance we’re in is one of our own making.

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Independence Is Not About Hot Dogs

independence 295x300 Independence Is Not About Hot Dogs
There is no official post today because of the holiday. I’ll be doing one tomorrow on nonprofit leadership (I think!).

Because this weekend is a ceIebration of our independence, I did want to say “thank you” to all the people who defend our freedom. In particular, THANKS to my two former students, Michael Rivera and Anthony Howell, both serving in the USMC. These two young men joined the Corps as teenagers so that they could grow and serve. Thank you also to Lt. Col. Ridenhour, currently deployed to Afghanistan. I am also proud of the fact that they allow me to call them “friend.”

I have worked with too many “men without chests” (C.S. Lewis) so it’s good to know that there are those capable and willing to do the work that liberty requires.

“We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”
— Winston S. Churchill

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Great Schools or Just Retooled Factories?

It’s also worth checking out his 2006 TED talk.

Albert Einstein said: “We can’t solve problems at the same level of consciousness at which we created them.” Yet this is exactly what we do in our efforts at educational reform. There continue to be dueling reports about whether charter schools work any better for underprivileged kids than the regular school system. From what I can tell, this is only a discussion about the best form of palliative care.

I go back and forth on why we do what we do with our children and their education. Is it a desire for social and economic control by our oligarchs? Is it greed? Is it a lack of imagination? A combination, or something else entirely?

This affects us all and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Is Suffering Optional?

suffering bastards Is Suffering Optional?

Desire and Suffering
So I’m sitting here trying to evolve and flitting across my consciousness was the phrase: “Desire is the root of all suffering.” I’m not sure why it came up, but it’s something I had always believed was one of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and probably a generally good prescription for the things that ail us as Americans and as humans. This time, as I thought about it, something didn’t seem to feel right.

Too many of us seek reward and recognition from sources outside ourselves and we all eventually find out, as Arjuna did, that we are not entitled to the fruits of our labors-only to our labors. As we undertake our labors and fight the “Long Defeat,” it doesn’t mean that we should no longer continue to seek our bliss or to undertake Joyce’s (and Joseph Campbell’s) “Hero’s Journey.” In fact, I believe that never embarking on this journey or leaving the path is the source of most suffering in the people I run across. We need to do what we are called to do with no thought of reward. Our desire for self-importance becomes a trap.

Desire vs. Craving
I’m not comfortable (or perhaps not evolved enough) to believe that if I was able to eliminate all my desires that I would be in a better place. Our desires not only direct our basic survival but they help us to create as well. I choose to believe that the world is a better place because some people had the desire to create freedom, justice, and artistic beauty.

I think Buddha and the Bible are referring to craving. Excessive aversion or excessive attachment can screw up a lot of things. So can the substitution of hope for action. Our desires create a spiral that requires a constant attention to our material and emotional happiness – to the exclusion of our mission. This keeps us from getting the real work done. We will never have all the facts so we just need to focus on our daily acts on the way. If you want to know what’s required, Micah 6:8 says we are to: “Act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

If that’s too much, then if you’re somewhere between “I’m on top of the world!” and “I guess things could always be worse”, you’re probably okay.

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