Thursday, March 10, 2011

Random Thoughts Volume XXII

I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.
-Mark Twain

Mark Twain hits the nail on the head with this famous quote. Let's be honest. Most of us live with a variety of fears and many of them are irrational. Most of what we worry about doesn't happen. We live in a society in which we are constantly on edge because the world is full of prophets of doom and the media strives to keep us in a constant state of fear. Earlier this week I found a notice on my front porch telling me there have been robberies in my neighborhood. I read the newspaper everyday and I never see any official notices about crime in my neighborhood. I have never been robbed in my life. Should I live in fear now? The odds would say no but my life experience tells me to be cautious and pay attention to what's around me. Fear is debilitating, whether it's fear of being robbed or mugged or fear of losing your job. I am a cautious person and I try not to be stupid. I also know that most of my fears will never come true. Still, I try to be alert and vigilant so that I am prepared for whatever life throws at me.

A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.
-John Barrymore

This quote is for women too. Most people have at least a few regrets. It's a rare person who doesn't look back on their life and thinks there was a time or two when they turned left and maybe they should have turned right. Sometimes, too, the challenges of the present cloud out the dreams of the future. Our dreams, however, should always outnumber our regrets. I don't feel like a have a lot of regrets although I know I have made some mistakes in my life. As far as dreams go I don't know that I have a definite dream that I hope comes true. In general I am happy with my life even though everything in my life doesn't make me happy. I have always thought of myself as a positive and optimistic person. I always believe life will get better even when it doesn't appear to do so. We will never have lives where everything is perfect. My dream is that the best is yet to come, whatever it is, even if it isn't perfect.

While I was in my office break room a few days ago eating my Kroger brand chicken noodle soup and my sugar free Jello pudding I noticed on the lid of my pudding the words "Happy is still legal in 50 states". Well, it may be legal but that doesn't make it easy. Being rich is legal too but I'm not quite there. I must admit that being happy does not come easily for me and I have many reasons to be happy. I have to work at it. Apparently this is true for a lot of people. In fact, I recently read a book called "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. She is a successful lawyer and writer who thought she had a great marriage, career, family and life but who seldom felt happy. She decided that she would study what makes people happy and how she could find greater happiness in her own life. It's a fascinating book and I recommend it to anyone who may find themselves struggling with a lack of happiness even when they think they have a good life. Of course, what is a good life to one is not necessarily a good life to someone else. Think about this today, "What really makes you happy"?

Here's a thought from the Tao that I really like...

The mind that turns ever outward will have no end to craving. Only the mind turned inward will find a still point of peace.

Most, if not all, that drives us, whether is ambition, greed, desire for food or other comforts, materialism, or whatever, is nothing more than a desire and need to fill some type of emptiness within ourselves. We all suffer from this to some extent. Most of us are not alcoholics or drug addicts but we still have addictions. I think I have an addiction to buying CD's. I have approximately 2,500 CD's and you would think that would last me for the rest of my life. However, at this moment I am waiting for a few more to be delivered to my mailbox. Enjoying music is a legitimate pleasure but I know I am also obsessed with collecting CD's and it is a veiled attempt to fill some type of emptiness in my life. I have also read that our different personalities are also created by a deep need that aches to be fulfilled. It may be the need to be perfect, the need to be successful, or the need to be seen as "special". The Tao is telling us that everything we need is within us. Minds that are always turned outward, away from our center, will be on a ceaseless journey that will not satisfy our cravings or needs and we will never find the inner peace that most of us want. The famous psychologist, Carl Jung, said "He who looks outside, dreams. He who looks inside, awakens". Until you look inside and awaken to the greatness of who you are, you will never find an end to craving and you will never have inner peace.

Here's a few things that some of my co-workers say makes them happy....

What makes me happy is knowing that somebody loves me!

Laughing, beautiful fall days, snuggling with my six year old, a good cup of coffee.

Seeing my children laughing and playing together. The sun shining on a hot steamy day. Plenty of money to spend after all obligations have been met. A quiet walk in my neighborhood on a autumn day.

I'll throw in a few of my own in no particular order....

Being with my granddaughter, a really good outdoor concert on a cool summer night, a weekend at the monastery, lunch with my best friends, any unexpected "Zen Moments", falling snow, a great book, solitude...sorry, I'm a hermit type, and family celebrations.

My son will be home tonight from the seminary and he wants me to take him to the monastery tomorrow. Anytime one of your children wants to spent the day with you, you should jump on it. Tomorrow I am seizing the day so my son can hang out with the "old man".

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