Tag Archives: symbol

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?

What Image Suggests Happiness to You?

One of the things that’s making me very happy right now is the astonishing progress of the happiness-project groups. A while back, I promised to create a starter-kit for people who wanted to launch a group for people doing happiness projects (click here if you’d like one), and more than 2,500 people have asked for one.

Now there are groups all over the country (Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, Memphis, DC, etc.) and all over the world (Singapore, Midlands, Johannesburg).

If you’re doing a happiness project (by yourself or with a group), it’s fun and also thought-provoking to choose a personal symbol for your happiness project. For instance, I chose a blue bird, because blue birds are symbols of happiness. On the Happiness Project Toolbox, the Inspiration Board Tool is a place where you can collect images that inspire you. People have posted some amazing images.

I’m always interested to see what image a happiness-project group leader chooses to illustrate the Facebook Page for the group. I like all these choices:

Wendi in Gainesville picked:

Waterville, Maine picked:

Nicole in Enid, Oklahoma picked:


Sadia in Chapel Hill (but also for 20-somethings everywhere) picked:


Liz in Johannesburg picked:


Connie in New York (my hometown, yipeee):


Sara in Chicago:

Linnea in Columbus picked:


What would you pick to be the image or personal symbol for your happiness project? or for your group?

Whether or not you want to join a group for people doing happiness projects together, one of my big discoveries from my own happiness project is the tremendous happiness I’ve gained every time I’ve joined or started a group. At last count, I’ve joined or started nine groups since I began my project! And all of them are highlights of my life, for various reasons. So do consider making “Join or start a group” one of your resolutions.

A note to groups: I know that some group leaders haven’t added their group to the list. I know it’s a bit of a pain, but please do add yourself. It only takes a moment, and I’d really appreciate knowing about your group. Here’s the complete list.

* Speaking of happiness-project group in Singapore, if any of you Singaporeans would like to join — or you have a friend in Singapore who might be interested — more information is here.

* Check out this amazing interactive graph from the New York Times about how different groups of Americans use their time. Addictive. If you’re a fan of Edward Tufte, you shouldn’t miss this — whether to admire or criticize.