Gretchen Rubin

Video: Meditate on Koans.

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge -- this month’s focus is Mindfulness. Last week’s resolution was a quiz, How mindful are you? Did you take that quiz? How did you do?

This week’s resolution is to Meditate on koans. A “koan” is a question, story, or statement that can’t be understood logically. Zen Buddhist monks meditate on koans as a way to abandon dependence on reason in their pursuit of enlightenment. Even if you’re not seeking satori (or, I should probably say, you’re not seeking it), I’ve found that thinking about a koan stimulates mindfulness. Because koans force me to challenge the usual, straightforward boxes of meaning, they push me to think about thinking.

I love this koan: The best way out is always through.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Find your own koan.
Life’s cruel truth: you get more of what you already have.
The extraordinary happiness of completing a project: Four to Llewelyn's Edge.

A propos of Buddhism, I make the following observation: it’s continually surprising to me that Buddhism, with its emphasis on gateless gates and transcending the bounds of rational thinking, has so many numbered lists! I love them, but still, it seems incongruous. There’s a koan to be written about it, that’s for sure. Let's see...how about, “Use numbers to throw away enumeration.”

If you're new, here’s information on the 2010 Happiness Challenge (or watch the intro video). It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For more ideas, check out the Happiness Project site on Woman’s Day.

* Speaking of koans, Wikipedia has an entry on hacker koans, which are hilarious, and truly thought-provoking.

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