Love

“If love means anything, it means holding out our hand to the unlovable.”Quentin Crisp

As I sit here in a cafe watching the Christmas hustle and bustle, I can’t help thinking that Christmas has become partly a grand Consumer Festival dedicated to the great God of GDP and part a parody of its original spirit. Everyone hides away at home with ‘their’ loved ones and the original Christian message of love to ‘all’ men has become somewhat diluted. This and a message from a student has prompted me to write this post.

Just for a moment, put aside your preconceptions about love and have a little think about the quote above from Quentin Crisp. ‘Love’ has become misunderstood in our society to the point where it is only really spoken of in terms of romantic love. Love has almost become a taboo subject as romantic love and sexual attraction are difficult to disentangle which makes discussion of love a bit tricky for most people. Consequently, we have far too narrow a definition of love.

The ancient Greeks had several types of love as you can see here on Wikipedia.

one of these is Agape. Agape is the all pervasive love that was translated in the bible to the word ‘charity’  to distinguish it from romantic or familial love. Agape is love where there is no need for reciprocation. It is not the sort of love that we expect to be thanked for and so it has the  attributes of charity where ‘the left hand knows not what the right hand is doing’.

I understand that some biblical quotations are difficult to understand and interpret but this piece from Corinthians explains it better than I ever could:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
 
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.
 
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
 
Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
 
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
 
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
 
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 
Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
 
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
 
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
 
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
 
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
 
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

~ Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1:13)

Have a wonderful holiday and a great new year!

Two unforgettable and inexpensive mindfulness and happiness Christmas presents for children

By giving these gifts this Christmas you can make some young children happy throughout the year and help them learn mindfulness too!

A Mind Jar

Ingredients:

  • One large jar with a screw-on watertight lid.
  • A small amount of coloured dye. Blue works best.
  • Some silver and gold plastic confetti.

Instructions:
Fill the jar with water, add the blue dye until you get the shade and colour of a light sky.

Add the confetti. Screw on the lid until the jar is sealed tight. Turn it on its top and leave it overnight to test it is watertight.
Get a piece of paper. On one side, write “Happy Christmas, this is your mind jar. See the other side of this paper for instructions”. On the other side write these instructions: “Turn the jar over, watch the twinkling, star-like confetti spin and turn as it slowly drifts to the bottom. Notice how quiet your mind becomes. Turn the jar over again and repeat for as long as you want.
Happy Christmas from (add your name here)”.
Wrap it up and give for Christmas to a child.
Their mum will love you forever because it keeps them quiet for ages!

A Happy Jar

Ingredients:

  • One small notebook.
  • One large jar with a lid that the notebook will fit in.
  • A small pair of plastic scissors. (the type you give to children for craft projects)

Instructions:
Cut a hole in the top of the jar. The hole needs to be large enough to easily post a small piece of paper through it. About big enough to get a 50p coin in. Be careful when you cut the hole and make sure there are no sharp edges left.
Write these instructions in the front page of the notebook.
: “EVERY day, write down three NEW things (don’t write down the same thing twice) that either make you happy, that you appreciate, or that you feel grateful for. (If you’re not sure about what any of this means, ask mummy)
You can’t write down the same happy things twice, so you may need to find very small things that have happened in the last day”.
Cut each new thing you have written out into a paper strip using the plastic scissors and post it into the jar.
Notice how the happy jar soon fills up.
When you’re feeling sad or confused, go to the happy jar and take out as many paper strips as you need to help you to feel happy again. Read them, add another three and put them all back in the jar.
Happy Christmas from (add your name here)”.

This will make some young children very happy and you can have fun making it too.

Have a Great Christmas!

my gift to you – the calm gift of happiness

What is happiness?

This question is not a simple as it first seems. There is no definition of happiness and it is entirely subjective. To try to pin it down, we first have to be clear what happiness is not:

Happiness is not comfort and pleasure. Comfort and pleasure are temporary antidotes to being unhappy. If you dedicate your life to the pursuit of comfort and pleasure you may be able to experience comfort and pleasure regularly but you can still be really unhappy.

Happiness is not inner peace, though one needs inner peace to be happy. Inner peace is a lack of internal (and subsequently external) conflict.

Love and compassion is not happiness, though I believe they are essential ingredients of happiness.

Happiness is not a thing. It’s the absence of a thing

The thing that happiness is the absence of, is suffering. I’m talking here about self-imposed suffering such as: resentment, anger, fear, anxiety, impatience and the resulting stress. These are self-imposed because they are the result of how we think and feel about our life experiences, and are not the experiences themselves. It is the reaction to our life experiences that causes us to suffer, not the experiences themselves.

Rather than try to define happiness, I listed those things that were the prerequisites to happiness. Those things that if one did not have them then one could not be happy. Once I had written them down, I discovered that I could rearrange the words into a mnemonic which is ‘CALM GIFT’. This couldn’t have been more appropriate so now we have it:

The CALM GIFT of happiness

 

Compassion
When you finally realise, deeply and intuitively, that everyone you meet is a reflection of yourself and part of the one life that we all share. When you realise that everyone is is a child of their conditioning and experience in the same way that you are. When you realise that you have all the defects that they do but only differing in degree, then, and only then, you can be compassionate both to them, and to yourself.

Acceptance
Acceptance is emotional connection. It is allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel in the present moment, good or bad. The present moment is overwhelmingly good but the catch is that to feel the good, you’ll also have to feel the bad.

Love
This isn’t the sloshy, sentimental and fickle romantic love which has elements of attraction and lust liberally mixed in.
This love is the all-encompassing and unconditional love that the bible sometimes refers to as charity and which is an open handed acceptance and giving to all living things.

Mindfulness
Mindfulness is being in the present moment. If you are in the past you will regret, if you are in the future you will worry. While you can’t return to the present moment, you can’t be happy.

Gratitude
Gratitude is the supreme balancer of negative emotions. As you are a bundle of conditioning, some of it will be negative so you need to balance it out to teach your brain that life isn’t all bad. Learning to be grateful will give you that balance.

Inner Peace
You can only develop inner peace by being aware of inner conflict. When it arises, there is no need to do anything, acknowledge the conflict and it will dissolve in time.

Forgiveness
If you can’t forgive you’ll resent. How can you be happy if you’re feeling resentful?

Truth
The measure of truth, honesty and integrity is when: what you say, what you do, what you think, how you feel and what you experience are entirely consistent. When that happens and when there is no cognitive dissonance, you have found truth.

This, is my recipe for happiness.

Namaste

Happiness…

  • It isn’t about what you have it’s about what you give up
  • It isn’t about what you do it’s about how you experience it
  • It isn’t about where you are it’s about how aware you are when you’re there
  • It isn’t about how you feel it’s about how open you are to feeling
  • It isn’t about who you are with it’s about how you relate to them

Happiness is what is left once we have discarded all of the conditioning that we have learned that stops us from being happy

 

Definition of the Day: Impact Bias

How we view the future (wrongly)

Impact Bias is a description of how we view future events. We feel that we will be happier or more distressed than we actually feel and, just like many other human behaviours, we don’t learn from this.

In this link, Harvard Psychologist Dan Gilbert presents his findings on how our expectations of future events tend to the extreme.

We all know that the feel-good factor of new gadgets and holidays wears off pretty quickly. We can also see, with the benefit of hindsight, that things were maybe not as bad as we thought they would be looking forward. We realise that our predictions of how we will feel about good or bad events is skewed, but we can see that the extent to which we are wrong is far greater than we think thanks to Daniel’s research.