How do we do that? Some suggestions:
- Take a break from serving an imaginary person, your future self, and do something nice for a concrete real other person in the present.
- As mentioned: notice when you like something.
- Laugh, especially with family and close friends. It builds the bonds of connectedness that are so crucial to happiness.
- Take up a meditation practice. With a posture that is erect – alert yet relaxed – simply bring attention to the sensations of breathing in and breathing out. Reclaim 15 minutes a day from the tyranny of the frontal lobes' incessant planning.
We don't want stop the frontal lobe from doing its job, but we do want to be able to put that job in context. We need not be wholly consumed by our imagined future. It’s possible to have our plans without being so wrapped up in them that we have no identity apart from them. That is: we can have our plans without our plans having us. Plans, after all, even the best-laid plans of mice and men, do go oft astray.
Find the stillness within which the busy-ness of our mind takes place -- the context of silence surrounding the mind's chatter. The only way to find that stillness is take some time to be still: attention on nothing but the breath: for the breath is right now. It's not re-living old memories; it's not all wrapped up in planning. It's now. For a second thing, the breath is the place where you and not-you are constantly changing places. It's the place where interconnection is direct, immediate, and vivid – if we're paying attention to it.
By taking a break each day from being dominated by, consumed by, and identified with the frontal lobe's fabrications, when you come back, and the planning function resumes, you are better able to hold your own planning activity within a mindful awareness.
“Happiness isn't just the limited positive states we strive for, but rather there is a larger openness that includes sorrow and joy. That's true happiness.” (Gaylon Ferguson, Buddhadharma 2008 Spring, 36)Through the development of present-moment-mindfulness, suffering doesn't disappear from our life. Rather, it disappears into our life.
“When we live our life as a whole, there is no longer an aspect that gets singled out as 'suffering.'” (Barry Magid, Buddhadharma, 2008 Spring, 37)Life does have loveliness to sell. Are you buying?
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This is part 6 of 6 of "Happy."
Previous: Part 5: "Curse of the Frontal Lobe"
Beginning: Part 1: "Having Everything You Want"