Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happiness tips

A friend sent me a link to an article about Harvard’s Positive Psychology class, which basically teaches happiness. Nice concept, and very popular at the school apparently. (You can read the article if you have access to The Boston Globe's Website.)

I think happiness is extremely important. Once we’ve got food, air, shelter and clothing, happiness is the next essential. Without it, we’re constantly fixating on unhappiness, and this can stall us out spiritually, emotionally, professionally.

One of my favorite things about the chapter Marriage in Science and Health is its emphasis on happiness. Many of us familiar with that chapter have noticed that the word or one related to it is on every page, in many cases multiple times. Happiness, enjoyment, joy, etc. Mary Baker Eddy really makes it one of the keys to a successful marriage, indeed any relationship.

So I don’t think it’s just a shallow “I feel good” kind of thing. Happiness to me is an ongoing confidence, a radiant cheer that extends out from ourselves to everyone we meet. Sometimes I’ve heard it called “positive energy,” as in, “that person has such positive energy.” When your own happiness is a done deal, it’s so much easier to share it.

The end of the article about Harvard’s class has some “happiness tips” from instructor Tal D. Ben-Shahar that I’m putting here in full because I thought it would be interesting to include some of Eddy’s words in comparison. (The tips are the bullets; passages cited are from Science and Health.)

  • Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions -- such as fear, sadness, or anxiety -- as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

Emerge gently from matter into Spirit. Think not to thwart the spiritual ultimate of all things, but come naturally into Spirit through better health and morals and as the result of spiritual growth.


Who that has felt the loss of human peace has not gained stronger desires for spiritual joy? The aspiration after heavenly good comes even before we discover what belongs to wisdom and Love. The loss of earthly hopes and pleasures brightens the ascending path of many a heart. The pains of sense quickly inform us that the pleasures of sense are mortal and that joy is spiritual.


Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, — this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.


  • Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

Job said: "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee." Mortals will echo Job's thought, when the supposed pain and pleasure of matter cease to predominate. They will then drop the false estimate of life and happiness, of joy and sorrow, and attain the bliss of loving unselfishly, working patiently, and conquering all that is unlike God.


The sinless joy, — the perfect harmony and immortality of Life, possessing unlimited divine beauty and goodness without a single bodily pleasure or pain, — constitutes the only veritable, indestructible man, whose being is spiritual.


The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good.


  • Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.


Upon this stage of existence goes on the dance of mortal mind. Mortal thoughts chase one another like snowflakes, and drift to the ground. Science reveals Life as not being at the mercy of death, nor will Science admit that happiness is ever the sport of circumstance.


Harmony is produced by its Principle, is controlled by it and abides with it. Divine Principle is the Life of man. Man's happiness is not, therefore, at the disposal of physical sense.


Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul.


  • Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

Unselfish ambition, noble life-motives, and purity, — these constituents of thought, mingling, constitute individually and collectively true happiness, strength, and permanence.


Spiritual development germinates not from seed sown in the soil of material hopes, but when these decay, Love propagates anew the higher joys of Spirit, which have no taint of earth.


Truth will at length compel us all to exchange the pleasures and pains of sense for the joys of Soul.


  • Remember the mind-body connection. What we do -- or don't do -- with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

If we look to the body for pleasure, we find pain; for Life, we find death; for Truth, we find error; for Spirit, we find its opposite, matter. Now reverse this action. Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality. Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.


Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spiritual Life, Truth, and Love.


  • Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.


Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.


These happiness tips are effective, especially if taken to a more spiritual level. I’ve enjoyed exploring this issue this morning -- today’s definitely a day to be happy.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 3/16/2006 01:39:00 AM, Blogger Kiran Paranjape said...

Many thanks for a good post. As you have rightly said, happiness is a state of mind. It is the ability of human mind to go beyond the chores of pysical mundane world & establish a connection with the creative power of the universe aptly called Chaitanya in vedantic literature. The happiness that comes with this realisation is eternal & everlasting.

Keep up the good work.


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