Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘happiness’

32 Recipes for Joy

51jMFwLXU2LFinding Joy Around the World by Kari Joys MS.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Join the author, and people from around the world, as they describe what joy means to them, and how they came to find it. Kari Joys, “While happiness is often defined as the experience of well-being, satisfaction or pleasure in your life, joy includes those characteristics, but it also brings with it the qualities of spirituality, higher consciousness and true delight.”

Most all of those in Finding Joy Around the World have dealt with some kind of loss, trauma, or difficult situation in their lives (death, poverty, abuse, loss, etc.), and all of them share their story. Whatever they have lived through, or had happen, did not prevent them from still finding joy in their lives. In fact, many felt that their hardships are what helped them search for joy, and try to find some kind of meaning in life. Here is what some of the thirty-two people interviewed had to say:

Santosh Sagara (Nepal) – “Joy means mindfulness and peace within.”
Gede Prama (Indonesia) – Read and meditated to find joy.
Deb Scott (USA) – Experiences joy through prayer and volunteering.
Barasa Mayari (Kenya) – “Trust in God has been the anchor.”
Sylvester Anderson (USA) – “Never give up on yourself.”
Jayne Spenceley (England) – “Feeling expansive from the inside out.”
Hanneke van den Berg (Netherlands) – “Connections with myself and others.”
Sakatar Singh (India) – “Read good books and make friends.”
Ashleigh Burnet (Canada) – Believes meditation is instrumental.
Gimba A. (Nigeria) – Gets joy when he can “care for my children.”
Eugenie Areve (France) – “Love ourselves unconditionally.”
Bill Zhang (China) – “A state of feeling ‘good enough'”.
Marcia Conduru (Brazil) – “We are more than our ego.”

Ms. Joys noticed some common threads which ran through the responses from all those she contacted (or who contacted her). They are provided in a list of ten traits at the end. Some of the conclusions are that joy is experienced in the present moment; gratitude is a big component; it grows out of compassion for others; when noticing beauty of nature; and there is often a connection to the “divine”, or something greater than ourselves.

Many of the responses in this work remind me of my book Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call, which is a compilation of interviews I did with fifteen people who had someone die, and then decided to help others in some way as a result. Some are well known, and others not so. This was written before the internet, so I did all the interviews in person across the USA and Israel.

Finding Joy Around the World is an inspiring mix of tales and observations, from a variety of people around the globe. Ms. Joys asks all the right questions, and lets the kind people who responded answer in their own words. Each person’s story begins with a quote from a famous writer, or person, which corresponds perfectly. Thus, Joseph Campbell is quoted before one of the participants shares their understanding and experience of joy. “Find a place inside where there’s joy and the joy will burn out the pain.”

Your Mind’s Skillet

Taking Stalk of Your Life as told to Sister Jean. Written in 769 A.D. From Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

If you want to find grace, then be grace. If your name is already Grace, then you have no need to seek.

If you want harmony, then be harmony. No, not you Harmony, I’m referring to everyone else.

If you desire peace, love, and happiness, then become that which you seek.

“How?” you may ask.

It’s as easy as making a pie. First, you must have the right ingredients. In this case, the ingredients are peace, love, and happiness (in no particular order).

“How do we find these ingredients?”

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They are everywhere. Look all around you. People are trying to sell it to you every day. Find the best market and pick some up, but make sure it’s fresh.

After you have the ingredients, wash them with insight, chop them up with intention, place them in your mind’s skillet, and marinate them with clarity.

“How do you know when it’s done?”

It’s done when you feel the vapors of peace, love, and happiness clinging to your bones and seeping from your pores. It’s done when all those you meet can smell your goodness and know that you are the embodiment of what everyone desires.

Of course, one can over or under cook, and find that they are too mushy or too raw. In this case, you must go shopping once again and seek what it is you wish to be within without.

There is no other way. It can take minutes, hours, days, or years to be an example of peace, love, and happiness. Don’t ever stop searching, otherwise you’ll have no ingredients and there will be nothing to eat.

More life recipes at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Laughing At Death

A famous comedian once said that, “Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease.” And as far as I know, it still happens to ten out of ten of us. So, is it OK to laugh about this solemn reality? Is it OK to poke a little fun at the Grim Reaper and not offend or upset anybody? I think so. In fact, I believe it is our ability to step back and take a lighter look at death, dying and grief that can, on occasion, help us get through some of the most painful moments in our lives.

I recall an incident many years ago when a family and I were all keeping a bedside vigil with a woman in her seventies, who we’ll call Martha. Martha was going in and out of consciousness and talking out loud to and about people we couldn’t see. One evening she kept looking up by the ceiling in one corner of the room and saying, “The light. The light.”

Her daughter replied, “Yes, Mama. Go towards the light.”

Martha became more agitated and repeated, “The light. The light.”

We all smiled, believing she was speaking about the light at the end of the tunnel that some people describe in near-death experiences. I said, “Yes, Martha. It’s OK. Go towards the light.”

Finally, out of total exasperation, Martha forced herself to sit up. She opened her eyes, pointed at the corner of the room and said, “The light bulb. It needs a new light bulb.” Then she lay back down and continued her dialogue with family members who had already died.

Embarrassingly, we all realized that she had been talking about the lamp in the corner all along. I went to check it and discovered that it did indeed need a new light bulb.

A woman whose husband of thirty years had died just six months previous to our meeting had been talking for quite some time about the deep pain and sadness that had enveloped her since his death, when she suddenly burst out laughing. She laughed uncontrollably for a few minutes and after blowing her noise and wiping her face said, “He could be the biggest pain in the butt when it came to doing the dishes. If he ever did them at all, I had to do them again. His idea of clean wouldn’t have passed mustard at the city dump,” she grinned. “He’d die laughing if he saw the sink now. I haven’t done the plates or silverware in a week. The food’s so caked on it will probably take a chisel to get it off.” She paused, then said, “I never thought I’d miss his dirty dishes.”

Then there was Cliff, a retired schoolteacher. Cliff told me this story about his deceased friend Barney with a very somber, straight face.

“You know,” he said. “Barney and I were best friends for over thirty years. I remember a couple of times before he died when we talked about reincarnation and all that stuff. Neither of us have ever been very religious and didn’t think much about it, but
we agreed that if it was real, that whoever died first would come back and let the other know what it was like.”

Cliff paused, to make sure he had my attention.

“Well,” he continued. “After Barney passed on I went to the same little bench on West Cliff Drive where he and I used to sit and shoot the breeze for hours. You know, that one by the lighthouse?” I nodded. “I went there every day and waited, just in case, by some fluke, this reincarnation thing was legit. Well, wouldn’t you know it, last Saturday I was sitting on our bench when I hear someone whisper, ‘Cliff. Cliff.’”

I sat back a little and raised my eyebrows at Cliff, with some suspicion, but he continued with so much sincerity that I couldn’t dismiss it altogether.

“I’m not making this up,” he said adamantly. “So, I look around and don’t see anybody. Then I here it again.”

‘Cliff. It’s me, Barney.’

“Barney?” I say. “Is that really you?”

‘Yep.’

“Well I’ll be,” I exclaimed. “Where are you? I can’t see you.”

‘Naw,’ Barney replied. ‘They let me come like this for a little bit to let you know what’s up with this reincarnation thing.’

“What do you mean?” I said.

‘Well, it’s the funniest thing,’ Barney explained. ‘All I do nowadays is sleep, make love and eat.’

“What?” I said.

‘Yeah. That’s all we do,’ Barney reiterated. ‘Sleep, eat, make love, go back to sleep, then wake up and do it all over again.’

“Well, I finally had enough of this nonsense,” Cliff explained, “so I asked him straight out, “So, old friend. Who are you now and where are you?”

“And you know what he says?” I shook my head no. “He says, ‘I’m a rabbit on a breeding ranch in Idaho.’”

I’d been had by one of the best. Cliff and I both chuckled over his story. He said it felt good to be able to laugh. “Barney and I used to say, if you can’t laugh at yourself now and then, then you’re taking life much to seriously.”

Cliff was on to something. It shows no disrespect towards those who have died to have a good laugh, even if it relates to them. In fact, most deceased friends and family would want nothing more than our happiness if they were still here to tell us so. As the centurion George Burns used to say, “If I look in the morning paper at the obits and see that my name isn’t there, I know it’s a good day.”

My Mother’s Son

After spending a week together, I discovered that my Mama-San, as I used to call her when I was a teen, is getting older! I know that shouldn’t be a surprise, but alas, it made me acutely aware that I too am a little hard of hearing, don’t walk as far as I used to and can’t read small print, even with my glasses on.

Being alone with my mother, for the first time in about a decade, without other siblings or grandchildren around, also reminded me of other ways we’re alike. We both “plan” and worry about the future, whether it’s days or hours away. We both love reading, movies and music; often the same books, films and artists. We are both interested in other people and like to hear about their lives, thoughts and feelings. We both have big noses, big feet and love cats.

She has a habit of starting to talk about something that she has been thinking of in her head, but when she speaks you have no idea why she’s suddenly talking about a friend’s son in Washington who builds houses. It usually takes a minute or two and some investigative skills, to discover how she got to where she is and why you didn’t understand the connection.

Alas, some people, including my wife, tell me I do the same thing! For instance, she’ll be talking about the garden, which “naturally” makes me think of carrots, which in turn leads me to thoughts of Bugs Bunny, which lapses into “What’s up Doc.” At that point I began to think of doctors, health care and insurance, which inevitably causes me to blurt out, “Did we pay that last bill from the doctor visit?”

After a week with my mother I understand more clearly then ever why people often have such a perplexed look on their faces when I make such statements and why, upon explanation of my “logical” train of thought, they laugh or ignore me altogether.

Neither my Mom nor I can read our own handwriting, which can cause countless confusion and misunderstanding. We would make excellent physicians, as nobody could read our prescriptions.

On the other hand, we do have our differences, thank goodness. My mother has always loved to wear bright colored clothing with animal shaped earrings. In contrast, I tend to wear the same tired old blue, green and black that I’ve worn since childhood and I never wear earrings. She was raised as a Methodist and I have practiced Buddhism, converted to Catholicism for a few years and attended Quaker Meeting for a few more. And she posed nude for an art class, in her younger years, which I wouldn’t be caught dead doing at any age!

Remember that book that said, “Everything You Needed to Know You Learned in Kindergarten”? Well, everything important that I’ve learned has come from my Mom. She has always been an example of strength and independence, even when women were not “supposed” to be that way. She taught me to be honest, caring, involved and to respect others. And most importantly, she showed me that personal happiness and love could live simultaneously with responsibility. Maybe it’s not so bad to be like my mother after all!

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