Tag Archives: Buddhism

A Little Happier: One of My Favorite Images for Letting Go of Grief

I’ve been haunted — and comforted — by this passage from Ruth Ozeki’s wonderful novel, A Tale for the Time Being.

In the novel, Nao, who’s a teenage girl in Japan, is very worried about several serious problems, and she’s reflecting on a conversation she’d had with her great-grandmother, who is a Buddhist nun:

It’s the cold fish dying in your stomach feeling. You try to forget about it, but as soon as you do, the fish starts flopping around under your heart and reminds you that something truly horrible is happening.

 

[Great-grandmother] Jiko felt like that when she learned that her only son was going to be killed in the war. I know, because I told her about the fish in my stomach, and she said she knew exactly what I was talking about, and that she had a fish, too, for many years. In fact, she said she had lots of fishes, some that were small like sardines, some that were medium-sized like carp, and other ones that were as big as a bluefin tuna, but the biggest fish of all belonged to Haruki #1, and it was more like the size of a whale. She also said that after she became a [Buddhist] nun and renounced the world, she learned how to open up her heart so that the whale could swim away.

I love this line…she learned how to open up her heart so that the whale could swim away.

Not to overcome grief, or forget grief, or leave grief behind, but to release it into the great depths.

Listen to this mini-podcast episode by clicking PLAY below.

Check out Yogi Tea. When it comes to enjoying life, little moments — like drinking a delicious cup of tea — can make a big difference.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

 

Happier listening!

Revealed! Book Club Choices for November. Excellent Reading.

First, a moment of self-book-promotion — feel free to skip.

I’m excited, because the Better Than Before Day-by-Day Journal just hit the shelves. Part resource, part tool, part keepsake — it will help you change your habits. To watch a short video where I show the book and describe its design, go here.

Now, for the recommendations! Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

· one outstanding book about happiness or habits

· one outstanding work of children’s or young-adult literature–I have a crazy passion for kidlit

· one eccentric pick–a widely admired and excellent book that I love, yes, but one that may not appeal to everyone

Shop at IndieBound, BN.com, or Amazon (I’m an affiliate), or your favorite local bookstore. Or my favorite, visit the library! Drumroll…

 

A book about happiness, good habits, or human nature

Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton (a journal)

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An outstanding children’s book:

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (I was astonished to realize that I haven’t yet recommended this book, one of my all-time favorites. Also the inspiration for some of the best writing I’ve ever done in my life, on the last page of Happier at Home.)

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An eccentric pick:

Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind : The Life and Letters of an Irish Zen Saint by Maura O’Halloran

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

Some readers have said that they wished that I’d describe and make the case for my book choices, instead of just providing links. I’ve noticed that many times, when someone describes a book to me, I want to read it less. And often, weirdly, the better a book is, the worse it sounds.

Nevertheless, because so many readers have requested it, I’ve decided to give a bit more context for these choices in the book-club newsletter. So if you’d like to know more about why I made these selections, check there. To get that free monthly book-club newsletter, and to make sure you don’ t miss any recommendations, sign up here.

In any event, I assure you that, for all the books I choose, I love them; I’ve read them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely admired.

If you read last month’s recommendations…what did you think?

And please, send me your recommendations! Recently a reader told me about a a Noel Streatfield book that I’d somehow missed, and another reader gave me many science-fiction entries for my library list. I love getting suggestions.

Podcast 19: Enjoy the Fun of Failure, an Interview with TV Anchor Dan Harris, and Plane-Ticket Pain.

It’s Wednesday — time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

First, a quick digression: do you try to say “Rabbit, rabbit,” on the first day of the month? I do, and today I remembered. Yay.

Thanks again to everyone who contacted us with a comment for our next episode, the Very Special Episode where we’ll feature our listeners. It has been so fun to pull this episode together. Stay tuned for next week.

This week…

Update: I report on my encounter with the Dalai Lama.

Try This at Home: Enjoy the fun of failure. That’s right, the fun. Send us your stories!

Interview: Dan Harris. Dan is an ABC News correspondent, an anchor for Nightline, and co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America — and the author of 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story. (I love that title.) In this interview, we discuss how did he tame the voice in his head.

To see the on-air panic attack that Dan describes, view it here. To see the scene from the movie Broadcast News that Elizabeth mentions, view it here (the sweating part starts at 4:10).

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth procrastinates about buying plane tickets for the family trip to Kansas City. (Maybe it’s a family thing; I also hate to buy plane tickets.)

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I love the strange, brilliant book, A  Pattern Language: Towns, Building, Construction. Child caves! Half-hidden garden! Cascade of roofs! And, my favorite, Secret place.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors. Visit Framebridge.com — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 20% off your first Framebridge order.

Also check out Little Passports, www.littlepassports.com/happier. Keep your kids busy this summer with this award-winning subscription for kids — they get a monthly package in the mail that highlights a new global destination. To save 40% on your first month’s subscription, enter the promo code HAPPY.

We’d love to hear from you: have you ever enjoyed the fun of failure, — and if so, how?

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click here to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really. Instructions here.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

If you want to listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Again, be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

HAPPIER listening!

Buddhism has 8 “Auspicious Symbols.” What Are Your Symbols?

I love numbered lists. My 12 Personal Commandments. My 8 Splendid Truths. The 10 Myths about happiness. The Essential 7 of Habits.

Buddhism has many numbered lists—the Triple Refuge, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths—which is surprising to me, given Buddhism’s emphasis on gateless gates and transcending the bounds of rational thinking.

There’s a koan to be written about that paradox, for sure. (Along with numbered lists, I love koans.) Let’s see…how about, “Use numbers to throw away enumeration.” 

I particularly love Buddhism’s eight auspicious symbols:

1. Parasol
2. Golden fish
3. Treasure vase
4. Lotus
5. Conch shell
6. Endless knot
7. Victory banner
8. Wheel of Dharma

I made up a list of my seven auspicious symbols:

1. Bluebird (of course)
2. Ruby slippers (what I want is already within my grasp)
3. Dice (chance and fortune)
4. Blood (hard to explain: diabetes, hepatitis C, St. Therese of Lisieux)
5. Gold star (my right actions are their own reward)
6. Holstein cow (my family, Kansas City)
7. Peacock feather (symbols beyond words)

This is so satisfying, I could keep going with more symbols. How about you?

What would you choose for your auspicious symbols, and why?

The Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness.

In my study of happiness, I’ve labored to identify its fundamental principles. Because I get a tremendous kick out of the numbered lists that pop up throughout Buddhism (the Triple Refuge, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the eight auspicious symbols), I decided to dub these fundamental principles as my Eight Splendid Truths.

Each one of these truths sounds fairly obvious and straightforward, but each was the product of tremendous thought. Take the Second Splendid Truth—it’s hard to exaggerate the clarity I gained when I finally managed to put it into words. Here they are:

First Splendid Truth

To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

Second Splendid Truth

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

Third Splendid Truth

The days are long, but the years are short. (Click here to see my one-minute movie; of everything I’ve written about happiness, I think this video resonates most with people.)

Fourth Splendid Truth

You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.
[Many argue the opposite case. John Stuart Mill, for example, wrote, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” I disagree.]

Fifth Splendid Truth

I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.

Sixth Splendid Truth

The only person I can change is myself.

Seventh Splendid Truth

Happy people make people happy, but
I can’t make someone be happy, and
No one else can make me happy.

Eighth Splendid Truth

Now is now.

Now I’m trying to come up with my personal eight auspicious symbols for happiness. Let’s see—bluebird, ruby slippers, dice, blood, bird house, treasure box, roses…hmmm. I will have to keep thinking about that.

What did I miss? What Splendid Truth is missing from that list?