Shut Up and Be Happy

A happy baby, minduflness, learn to be happy, happiness, create happiness, happy fitness, mindful fitness, mindfitmoveCircumstantial
It’s easy to think happiness is circumstantial. If I only had the right partner, the right job, lived in the right city, or had the right diet and fitness plan, then I would be happy.

But as we live our lives, we find it’s hard to get things just right.

Maybe we get one part of our lives how we want it, but we can’t keep it that way. Or something else in our life gets out of wack instead. Or it’s doesn’t feel as good as we thought it would.

This is what the Buddha called the truth of suffering. But today we might better understood as the truth of dissatisfaction. Let me explain what I mean.

Choose Your Own Adventure
A few years ago, I was living in Nashville, Tennessee and I wasn’t happy. I felt like my life wasn’t going the way that I wanted. I needed to make a change.

I wanted to go on an adventure. I wanted to mix things up. So, I took out a map and plotted a long road trip to Portland, OR.

I had been to Portland only once before, and I loved it. It had a great music scene. There were mountains for skiing. And it was filled with cute hippie girls.

The Plan
I’d drive across the country and get to Portland just in time for winter. I’d get a job as a ski instructor. And while I worked as a ski bum, I’d look for a job in the music business.

Before I knew it I was on the road, camping, hiking, and loving it. I got to Portland and bagged a ski instructor job. Everything was going just as planned.

Only there was one problem. I wasn’t happy.

Mountains and Molehills
I planned to live on the mountain, but I soon realized I couldn’t do it. All the ski bums I met were obsessed with skiing. (Big surprise right?)

They would wake up, work on the slopes, and go skiing or boarding all day.
Then at night, they would come home, drink to excess and talk about skiing. They would watch skiing videos. They told stories about skiing.

Now I love skiing but seriously, there’s more to life. I remember thinking to myself, “Don’t you want to talk about politics, or literature, or even TV? “

My plan was going awry, but instead of realizing my error, I pushed ahead. I worked double time to find a gig in the music business.

I contacted everyone I knew. I met with dozens of people. And it worked. I got a small gig at a music venue.

I worked hard and when the house manager quit, I applied. I nailed the interview and got the job. I thought, ”It’s all working out after all. “

Except again, it wasn’t how I thought it would be.

The Working Life
The job was brutal. I worked over 70 hours a week. I had two bosses who gave me conflicting instructions and then criticized the results either way.

I was doing the job of three people. I was being paid half what I should. And I was constantly told I wasn’t meeting expectations.

Then I caught one of my bosses doing something super unethical. I didn’t know what to do. I confronted my boss and lost the job.

Again, my plan had unraveled before me.

A Come to Buddha Moment
But this time was different. I realized that the way I had been living was crazy.

I had made plan after plan. And it didn’t seem to matter whether the plan worked or not. At the end, I’d found myself right where I started.

For the first time I saw the problem in a new light. I kept looking for the right circumstances, but I couldn’t find them. I wondered, “What if I could never get them right?”

What if I was looking for happiness in the wrong place? What if what I needed wasn’t ‘out there’ at all?

This may seem obvious, but for me it was a revolution. I had heard things like this before, but I have never felt the truth of it. And wisdom doesn’t mean much unless you experience it directly.

Bone Warming Truth
When I really felt the truth in my bones, I knew I had to find something different. I had to find a happiness that wasn’t based on my circumstances.

Soon after, I discovered meditation and mindfulness practice and I haven’t looked back.

Do circumstances matter? Yes, of course, they do, but you can’t rely on them to make you happy. It’s up to you to find the path to living a deep and satisfying life.

MindFitMove Practice
Make a list of everything you think you need to be happy.
Then write down what you would need to feel and who you would need to be to find happiness where you are right now.
There’s nothing wrong with working on list one, but it’s the second list that creates lasting happiness

Let’s Talk: What truths have changed the way you look at the world?
I’d love to hear about it, comment below!


The Truth About Loneliness

Interdependence and Loneliness
As a Buddhist I have often been told we are all one inter-being.

We might imagine this as being different cells in the body of Dharma. Or perhaps even a subtle part woven into the machine of Karma.

Sometimes this idea seems perfectly inline with my human experience. Sometimes it seems in conflict with it.

The young attractive woman who is lonely The Truth About Loneliness Mindful Fitness Mind Fit Move

The Monastery
I lived at Great Vow Zen Monastery for 2 years.  I had many experiences of being part of a seamless system. It was an organic heart that shared it’s beat with so many people.

I also had experiences of deep and unyielding loneliness. It’s funny for some people to imagine feeling alone at the monastery. There is hardly any time where someone is not close at hand.

I slept in a room where other practitioners were a mere cubicle wall away. I could feel and most definitely hear their presence. Yet I often felt very, very alone.

The Experience of Loneliness
The experience of loneliness always comes as a sickness. A distinct longing to be seen and heard. A desire to be known in a deep and fundamental way. A hope and desire for intimacy.

Sometimes this longing manifests as a desire for a romantic partner. Sometimes as a distinct and dull depression.

It comes as a sense that something just isn’t quite right. I often wondered, ‘how does loneliness happen if we are all one being?’

Leaving the Monastery
Since leaving the monastery I have struggled with loneliness from time to time. Entering lay life is a challenge after the strict discipline and strong container of the monastery.

I have done many things to help contain my mind. Still, loneliness comes up.

Deep Connection
When I feel lonely I wonder if my heart is expressing its deep connection to the other human beings around me.

I feel a deep compassion and love. Yet my day-to-day experience doesn’t match the felt truth of inter-being.I live in a world with suffering beings one of which is me.

We are often caught up in our own agendas, our own ego games, and our own complex defenses to realize how deeply connected we all are.

This dissonance can amplify our suffering and lead to a feeling of disconnect and misalignment we call loneliness.

Nothing Is Amiss
Even though it is hard to bear.  I think part of me knows that this deep feeling of longing, the well in the pit of my stomach, is not a sign of something wrong with me.

Rather it is an indication of inter-being in my life. Even my casting about for new friends and new romance, demonstrates a true desire to be connected

No Cure
I will not any particular cure or remedy for  loneliness but rather a question.

How can I use the longing of loneliness to serve the dharma and strengthen my own heart?
How can we use the depth of this feeling to deepen our own connection to others and out understanding of suffering?

Accept It
Feeling lonely is hard no matter how you look at it. It is my own hope and deep wish that by acknowledging it as part of my reality and practice that it may offer relief to others who experience it’s effects.

Deep in my heart I truly believe that we love each other more than we are willing to admit. And sometimes it is only through this subtle pain called loneliness that we can realize the truth and power of this deep and abiding inter-heart.

This post was originally published in Ink On The Cat
ans subsequently published on The Under35 Project