Tag Archives: Happiness

Robert Biswas-Diener explains the nickname Chris Peterson gave him “The Indiana Jones of Positive Psychology.” Robert’s approach to psychological research is active, he has lived among overlooked populations including the Amish, homeless in CA, sex workers in Calcutta, Masai in Kenya, and Greenlandic hunters. Robert talks about the surprising difference between homeless people living US vs. other nations and the importance of a single protective psychological factor. He talks about his nontraditional education and now teaching style that stem from his appreciation for experience-based learning, fueled by an autonomous genuine drive to learn.

Learn more about Robert Biswas-Diener on http://www.intentionalhappiness.com/ These videos were reviewed in his useful and interesting newsletter.

Dr Robert Holden, author of Happiness NOW!, Shift Happens, Success Intelligence, and Be Happy, kindle agreed to this MicroInterview with us:

1) What’s your definition of personal development/well-being?
Happiness is a spiritual path. The more you learn about true happiness, the more you discover the truth of who you are, what is important, and what your life is for.

2) What’s the role of empathy in well-being?
Your happiness does not benefit you alone. Your happiness is a gift to your family, to your friends, to your colleagues, to your children, and to the people you meet today. True happiness is always shared.

3) What’s your advice for well-being, in a nutshell?
If you want to be REALLY happy you can learn 1000 techniques and practice some of them every day; or, you can decide to be the most loving person you can be. Love is the heart of happiness. The more loving you are, the happier you will be.

THANKS to Dr Robert Holden for this, and thank you for reading!

CBC IDEAS producer Frank Faulk examines happiness and meaning on http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2011/06/20/say-no-to-happiness/ together with:

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.

Daniel Polish, author of Talking About God: Exploring the Meaning of Religious Life with Kierkegaard, Buber, Tillich and Heschel.

Todd Kashdan, author of Designing Positive Psychology.

Jordan B. Peterson, author of Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief.

According to tradition, in the New Year, people wish each other happiness, wealth and longevity. These three Chinese characters are seen on horizontal lacquered boards, the New Year calendar and the signboard of jewelry shops and restaurants.

As reported on http://english.vovnews.vn/Home/New-Year-wishes-for-Happiness-Wealth-and-Longevity/20112/123630.vov

These New Year greetings are formed with images of the Three Abundances, or Fu Lu Shou. The God of Happiness (Fu) holds a baby. The God of Wealth (Lu) wears a mandarine costume and bonnet. The God of Longevity (Shou) is a short and bald-headed old man. One of his hands holds a stick and the other, a peach. They all have a long, white beard, and a ruddy and smiling expression.

Where were these Gods from?

According to Chinese legends, these gods had been leaders of three different dynasties.

The God of Blessing is Guo Ziyi, who had been ruler of the Tang dynasty. He was known as a clean-fingered mandarin and his family lived in harmony. For five generations they lived together under the same roof. He and his wife lived long to 83. After their deaths they were buried side by side.

During his lifetime, he always worked for charity to bring blessings to people. He left the world with mercy, family happiness and respect. People worshipped him with their respect and wishes to be blessed as he had been.

The God of Prosperity is Zhao Gongming who had been a leader in the Chin dynasty in China. He was said to be a corrupt official and enriched himself with bribery. He lived a wealthy and glorious life. However, when he reached 80, he still had no grandchildren to maintain the continuity of his family line. He was so sad that he fell ill and died in loneliness. Before dying, he always complained about his issueless situation and felt sorry for his great wealth.

The God of Longevity is Dongfang Shuo who had been a scholar and leader during the Han dynasty. He was said to be a flatterer and therefore received many loaves and fishes from the king. He used the money to buy young and beautiful concubines in order to use the Yin to nourish the Yang. He lived till 125 years old.

The Chinese people put these three men into the three abundances as a warning. Meanwhile, their good side became people’s wishes, namely blessing, prosperity and longevity.

The concept of Happiness, Wealth and Longevity at present

Every person wants to be happy, wealthy and long-lived. However, the concept changes with the passage of time.

In the past, people held that happiness came from having many children, particularly boys. At present, both boys and girls bring happiness to their parents as long as they are good, dutiful, healthy and successful in life. What is the use of being rich if one dies in loneliness as Zhao Gongming. A long-lived person should be healthy, joyful and helpful.

In short, happiness, wealth and longevity are people’s long-term wishes. That’s why they send to each other new years greetings with these three wishes.

“Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

The present moment will never have all the conditions that are most conducive to peace and happiness. There will never be a day when there’s absolutely no struggle, conflict, or confusion.

We can decide this makes it impossible to ever be fully peaceful, or we can consider that peace isn’t about eliminating all challenges but rather accepting that life involves them. When you think about it, this is actually a gift. Through struggle we learn, evolve, innovate, and create. Without it, we’d grow stagnant.

Today if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable with the events in your professional or personal life, remind yourself there is no alternative to external conflict; but there is the possibility of finding a peace that both transcends it and turns it into something useful.

What could you do today to leverage your circumstances for your benefit, and what tension do you need to release to do that?

Lori Deschene is the Founder of Tiny Buddha. Read more about her on lorideschene.com or on Twitter @lori_deschene. Original article posted on http://tinybuddha.com/quotes/tiny-wisdom-on-peace-and-acceptance

Happiness is an interstate of well being. A state of well being enables us to profit from our highest thoughts, wisdom, intelligence, common sense, emotion, health and spiritual values in our life. Happiness is when we think, what we say and what we do in harmony. A happy person is not a person in certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitude. Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole and end of human existence. Happiness is mostly a by-product of doing what makes us fulfilled, it never decreases by being shared. It is not merely a life lived by accumulating moments of pleasure on the contrary it is a long lasting, enduring total well being of life. It is being love with living.

Metta means loving kindness. When we do metta practice we begin by directing metta towards ourselves. This is the essential foundation for being able to offer genuine love to others. When we truly love ourselves we want to take care of others, because that is what is most enriching or nourishing for us. When we have a genuine inner life, we are intimate with ourselves and intimate with others too. The insight into our inner world allows us to connect to everyone around us so that we can see quite clearly the oneness of all that lives. We see that all beings want to be happy and that this impulse unites us. We can recognize the rightness and beauty of our common urge towards happiness and realize intimacy in this shared urge. If we are practicing metta and we can see the goodness in ourselves or in someone else, then we reflect on that fundamental action. ‘Just as I want to be happy, all beings want to be happy’. This reflection gives rise to openness, awareness and love. As we commit to these values, we become embodiments of lineage that stretches back through beginningless time. All good people of all times have wanted to express openness, awareness and love. With every phrase of metta, we are declaring our alignment with these values. Metta is the priceless treasure that enlightens us and brings us onto much intimacy with ourselves and others. It is the force of love that leads us to embrace happiness in life.

Lokapriya Barua
Bangladesh Buddhist Welfare and Peace Society

Dear friend,

we would like to thank each reader, blogger, etc. who makes AmAre so rewarding! Thanks for all the comments, help, contributed articles, etc. Many things changed on AmAre since we started, we welcome everyone who decided to walk together on this project which bridges Dharma, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, psychology.

We would also like to summarize some of the points which emerged so far. AmAre stands for “being” Aware and Accepting; Meaningful and Motivated; Active and Attentive; Resilient and Respectful; Eating properly and Exercising. Amare is an Italian verb which means “to love”, and in English it stands for interconnectedness: (I)Am (we) are.

AmAre is an approach to Happiness, Meaning, Purpose in Life; and also an outreach channel to share research and experiences about living happily. AmAre comes with no secret shortcuts to success, and is not here to tell us what makes us happy; it is here to facilitare our awareness about living joyfully. In addition to free eBooks what you find on the right side of the page, and many articles that you can read in our Archives, there is a newsletter you can subscribe.

These are some highlights which emerged so far, about well-being and joy:

- being happy is a choice we make right here and now, by living joyfully. It is not a place to reach in the future.

- there are ways we facilitate happiness, they can be summarized with the acronym AmAre.

- there are several “fringe” benefits to living joyfully, for example happier people are more sociable and energetic, more caring and cooperative, better liked by others, more likely to get married and stay married, to have wider social networks and receive support from friends, show more flexibility and creativity in their thinking, are more productive and work, are recognized as better leaders and negotiators, and so earn accordingly. They are more tenacious when times are not pleasant, have stronger immune systems, are healthier both physically and mentally, and live longer.

– being aware of awareness: consciousness matters. Scientific research made giants steps toward a deeper understanding of consciousness. While we do not all need to be experts in neuroscience, an understanding of its discoveries can facilitate our happiness, making us more aware of how our awareness works.

- starting the paradigm shift: degrees of appropriateness. The paradigm shift which starts all the other shifts is the one about how we perceive the context of which we are part. In an analogical world, it was efficient to think digitally. That is, in a world without our current technological know-how, people preferred to reduce accuracy in favour of thinking in terms of right and wrong, discrete values, 0 or 1. In a digital world, it is effective to think analogically. That is, in a world where specialization is wide-spread and processing power easily available, people can improve accuracy and think in terms of degrees of appropriateness, with continuous values. Many debates are floating in the air, including the ones about SWB, where different schools of thought aim to prove they are totally right, and everyone else totally wrong. The paradigm shift is to think inclusively: given one opportunity to analyze, its values may tend towards one direction in a specific context, and towards another direction in another context. By pooling together our experiences and expertise, we can discuss which course of actions are more appropriate, or which outcomes more likely to occur, instead of thinking in terms of right or wrong, 0 or 1.

- We can change: Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis. Science discovered that our brain can be rewired (neuroplasticity). And not only that, new neurons can be generated (neurogenesis). At any age, and in almost every condition. Of course, there are some stages of our lives, and certain conditions, where neuroplasticity and neurogenesis are facilitated more; still, how we think and what we do rewires our brain, and the way our brains are wired influence how we see the world and what we do. We can make this a virtual circle, supporting our growth as individuals and member of society.

- about opportunities, challenges, and problems: everything is as it should be, given the current components of the present context. If we want to change the outcome of the situation, then we need to take action. In the case of opportunities, the upside for us is the most evident. When we see challenges, we are focused on the question marks raised by a situation; still, by taking action, we can overcome them. When we see problems, then the focus is all on the threats; problems cannot be solved with the same mind-set which created them, they demand a brand new approach, otherwise they would not even be problems in the first place

- Dharma meets psychology: Dharma and Western psychology, after a long phase (especially in the case of Dharma psychology) where they were growing indepently from each others, are now already working together for the clients’ benefit. Abhidhamma has been partially integrated into phenomenological psychology. Some Zen practices have been studied and implemented for psycho-therapeutic purposes. Mindfulness has proven its clinical utility. This is not (yet) the case for Madhyamaka, a Buddhist Mahāyāna tradition systematized by Nāgārjuna, which states that all phenomena are empty of “substance” or final “essence”, meaning that they depend ont the causes and conditions from which they arose. Mādhyamaka, with its middle-way approach which stays equally away from materialism and nihilism was too innovative, and maybe not so easy to implement in the West; until positive psychology arrived. A world-view, developed in a particular context, cannot be “localized” with a 100% accuracy for another context, by using an independently developed lexicon etc. At this stage, positive psychology is already helpful, by proving us that “craving for perfection” is not healthy, and that often “good enough” (meaning a working model, thanks to the experience developed in one context, can be leveraged in space and time). Taking it to the next level, positive psychology researchers already proven the need for social support, shared meaningful actions, compassion, etc. Happiness does not happen in a vacuum and, while as individuals we can only change ourselves and then inspire change in the World by example, every positive result in society can last only as a shared meaningful action, and not as the accomplishment of a solitary hero.

These are some just highlights of recurrent themes in our research. As usual, we look forward for readers who want to share their experience of happy and meaninful life. Peace and metta,


The Teachings of Epicurus

August 25, 2010

The Study of Science
– There are two kinds of enquiry, the one concerned with things, the other with nothing but words.
– In a joint philosophical debate, he who is defeated gains in so far as he has learned something new.

– It is not drinking bouts and continuous partying and sexual indulgence, or consuming fish and the other dainties of an extravagant table, which produce the pleasant life, but sober calculation which searches out the reasons for everything to be chosen or avoided and banishes those beliefs which are the cause of the greatest agony of the mind.
– We must laugh and philosophise and manage our households and look after our other affairs all at the same time, and never stop proclaiming the words of the true philosophy.

– Of all the things that wisdom advises to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the greatest is the acquisition of friends.
– We do not need the help of our friends so much as the confidence that our friends will help us.
– Friendship dances round the world, summoning every one of us to awake to the message of the happy life.

– The beginning and the greatest of all these good things is prudence. That is why prudence is more valuable even than philosophy itself: it is the source of all the other virtues.
– Let nothing be done in your life which will cause you to fear if it becomes known to your neighbour.

– The greatest fruit of self-sufficiency is freedom
– If one does achieve great wealth, one could easily share this out in order to obtain the good will of one’s neighbours.
– We should not spoil what we have by desiring what we have not

– Everyone leaves life as though he had just been born.
– Sweet is the memory of a dead friend.
– Let us share our friends’ suffering not with laments but with thoughtful concern.
– “I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind” – written on the gravestones of followers.

Foretelling the Future
– No means of predicting the future really exists, and if it did, we must regard what happens according to it as nothing to us.
– Dreams possess neither a divine nature nor prophetic power. They arise from the impact of images.

More information on http://www.pinktriangle.org.uk

We like to write about our experiences and opinions in this blog. We also hope other people can read them, add their own take and benefit from them. This means the blog need to be found, and search-engines are the way information is found nowadays.

Being found by search-engines means using appropriate keywords in titles, descriptions etc. This bring one challenging question: are these keywords really an appropriate way to describe what we write about? For example, self-development and self-help are popular search terms. They are also contradictions in terms :-) Most of us do not really need to strengthen the self, most of us benefit from focusing on real awareness.

To make another example: the word happiness is inflated. It is used a lot, often to identify pleasure and other feelings which aren’t really happiness. Still, people perform happiness-related searches on Google et al, and a fair amount of friends visit us thanks to such searches.

So, how did we decide to balance these different opportunities, for now? We keep happiness in our posts and tags. We also mention self-development from time to time. And we also add what we believe is appropriate to describe the formula to a happy life: living joyfully. And also living joy fully. Because, based on our personal experiences, happiness is a way of living: acting in appropriate manners (because we really are all on the same boat, and we all deserve respect; and not because we know only because that makes us happy) creates joy, here and now, for all.