Is This Happiness?

Is This Happiness?Before asking the question, maybe we should ask … what do we mean by happiness?

There may be as many answers to that as there are stars in the sky, everyone has their own idea of what makes them happy, and what doesn’t.

Maybe it is the love of a partner, being part of a family, the pay cheque at the end of the month or that new car you had always promised yourself. Whatever your idea of happiness, we all crave more of it.

We can probably agree that it is all too often a transitory state, punctuated by periods where we are unhappy, or at least a bit glum. So what would you give to have more of this illusive life-state, and how can you go about achieving a happier life?

Well speaking personally, I can almost guarantee happiness from my Buddhist practice. That might sound a little trite or even rather far-fetched, but for me it is true. My practice helps me see life from all angles, the ups and downs, from my view-point and from that of others, and it ‘smoothes’ out the emotional bumps we encounter each and every day.

The idea at the very core of Buddhism is the removal of suffering, and that in itself helps us to be happier. Seeing the beauty in nature, the best facets of another’s personality, the joy in helping others, happiness is there for us all, all of the time and all around us. Living a life that is more concerned with others than ourselves, giving more than we take, and so on, will also bring feelings of happiness. All we have to do is look out for it.

Living in a society that is more concerned about what we own, than who we really are, we all struggle to put those ideas into action. We hear about people earning ridiculous sums, whilst providing little by way of return, and wonder how they can live with the guilt. If society valued the good in people more than the goods of people, the world would be a much fairer, happier place.

Whatever flavour your own happiness comes in, I wish you more of it, now and in the future. And when it arrives, please make sure that you share it around. That way you will find it grows and grows, and that it lasts just that little bit longer.

Tragic Tuesday

Memories and pipe dreams - maybe?The holiday is well and truly over and the crew are suffering. A week of not having to be anywhere at any time is a true luxury, but one to which one can quickly become accustomed.

Like a fool, I made the huge mistake, last night, of looking  at narrowboats for sale online, knowing full well that now was not the time. Sadly I found several that fitted the bill, beautiful, well equipped and (relatively) cheap.

So today I am busy getting my mind back into ‘sensible mode’ and dealing with the problems that every day life brings. Though I have to admit that I keep drifting back to last week, and an afternoon spent in the Cotton Arms in Wrenbury with Richard, a retired IT professional, now living full time on narrowboat Sarah Pay with his Welsh Collie Megan.

We all set ourselves goals and we are all guilty of looking over the fence to the greener fields, but we must use Wisdom when we navigate through these mental flights of fancy.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, at least for now, I have to concentrate on performing the role for which I am paid. The holiday is gone, albeit that the memories are still fresh in the mind. To make changes we must make causes, and to make causes we need to use our wisdom and courage. We will see, time will tell … again.

So Chilled

Bridge 43 on the Llangollen CanalThe holiday is over, the boat returned to its rightful owner intact and in good order and the crew are both back at work.

A week afloat, in beautiful countryside and always at walking pace or below is enough to slow even the most frantic heart rate. Of course there were a couple of issues, the most memorable being the deluge we encountered whilst trying to moor Kingfisher at Hurleston junction.

The rain was coming down by the bucketful and mooring spaces were at a premium, so the stress levels were raised just a little. To say it was wet would be an understatement. Everything, and I mean everything, was soaked through.

But these tiny bumps in the road we call life, are just opportunities to learn and improve, and although it was reported by First Officer Fogg, that I did use a few expletives at times, the task was accomplished and everything was dry, or drying, by the following morning.

So now I’m back in the office. Apart from the odd sensation of land sickness, where perfectly solid buildings appear to sway like a narrowboat, giving everyone the impression that one is a little intoxicated, it’s life as usual.

Whether life as usual is a good thing or not, is open to conjecture. Whether life as usual will remain life as usual was discussed on several occasions during the week afloat, so maybe watch this space for further developments.

Embrace The Change

Embrace The ChangeThere are several changes afoot in the office, and a few people are finding that a way of life they have known for many, many years is coming to a rather abrupt end.

Now change can be a painful process, it can cause those who have allowed themselves to settle into a rut, and let’s be honest, it’s easy to do, to suddenly find that life has turned upside down and inside out.

Change is good. Change is the norm. Nothing lasts forever, no matter how much you wish it would. So embrace the change, look for the positives, rather than focussing on the negatives, and make your causes to promote a positive future.

Some of us are clearly doing just that. Steve is off to New Zealand with his family at the end of the month. Gordo is planning to do a bit of travelling, and I am busy getting my teaching qualifications so I can go to the Far East and teach English to the students with a Brummie accent.

At the end of the day, it’s about seeing things in a different way. Making the most of the situation rather than being consumed by the loss of a comfortable and convenient way of doing things.

All you need to do, is to see the glass half full rather than half empty. List all the things you could now be doing, rather than those you won’t be doing any more. Take responsibility for your own future and make the causes that will point you on an upward course. You know you can do it.

L For Learning

L for LearningMy first CELTA evening class went very well last night. An enthusiastic, if slightly overwhelmed group of ten students, we were expertly corralled by our tutors, Emma and Stef, through the course introduction, grand tour and Receptive Skills overview. Roughly five hours of paperwork, listening, learning and above all, fun.

Being immersed into a classroom environment, learning new skills, preparing for a completely new career, is really rather exciting. New terms, new ideas, new jargon an mnemonics, it’s like learning a new language. Ironic in a way, as teaching a new language is what we are being taught to do.

I just love learning now. Why did I never feel this way back in school? Was it me, was it the teachers, was it simply because I had to sit there and suffer in silence? I imagine it was a bit of all three put together. There were certainly teachers I liked, some I hated, and a very few I absolutely loved, Mrs Winfield being maybe the most memorable.

I am really enjoying the part-time teaching I am doing. I think the students enjoy the classes. I really try to mix it up each lesson, so they are engaged and not bored by the same style each time. CELTA is a tough course, but if I get half way to being as good a teacher as Mrs Winfield, I’ll be chuffed to bits.

Mixed Emotions

More Happiness Anyone?

On the day I learned that I was being made redundant again, and coincidentally also reached the ripe old age of 59, it’s been one of mixed emotions, to say the least …

What do we mean by happiness? There may be as many answers to that as there are stars in the sky, everyone has their own idea of what makes them happy, and what doesn’t.

Maybe it is the love of a partner, being part of a family, the pay cheque at the end of the month or that new car you had always promised yourself. Whatever your idea of happiness, we all crave more of it.

We can probably agree that it is all too often a transitory state, punctuated by periods where we are unhappy, or at least a bit glum. So what would you give to have more of this illusive life-state, and how can you go about achieving a happier life?

Well speaking personally, I can almost guarantee happiness from my Buddhist practice. That might sound a little trite or even rather far-fetched, but for me it is true. My practice helps me see life from all angles, the ups and downs, from my view-point and from that of others, and it ‘smoothes’ out the emotional bumps we encounter each and every day.

The idea at the very core of Buddhism is the removal of suffering, and that in itself helps us to be happier. Seeing the beauty in nature, the best facets of another’s personality, the joy in helping others, happiness is there for us all, all of the time and all around us. Living a life that is more concerned with others than ourselves, giving more than we take, and so on, will also bring feelings of happiness. All we have to do is look out for it.

Living in a society that is more concerned about what we own, than who we really are, we all struggle to put those ideas into action. We hear about people earning ridiculous sums, whilst providing little by way of return, and wonder how they can live with the guilt. If society valued the good in people more than the goods of people, the world would be a much fairer, happier place.

Whatever flavour your own happiness comes in, I wish you more of it, now and in the future. And when it arrives, please make sure that you share it around. That way you will find it grows and grows, and that it lasts just that little bit longer.

And Finally …

TGIFWell it’s taken a whole week to get here, but finally Friday has arrived again. I know what you are saying, you were going to fill every minute, of every day, with sixty seconds of gainful employment, and I have. But doing that doesn’t stop me being pleased that, arguably, the best day of the week has put in a much appreciated appearance at last.

The weather looks like it’s going to be a bit pants over the weekend, but that can’t stop us having fun if we are determined to make the most of our weekend. Hopefully a little cycling will supplement an eclectic mix of housework and socialising. I can feel the lure of Old Harry, Corfe Castle, Creech Hill and Studland calling already. There’s a fair chance that my bike and I will get a bit wet and muddy, but that’s half the fun isn’t it.

It has been a funny old week, with a few things going pop around the place, but having finally realised that I was wishing the days away, put me in a good place to boost my life-energies through chanting a bit more and that raised my life-state. Being in one of the higher worlds really does put a sunny outlook on everything and everyone, so I hope you managed to join me, and that you too are going to have a really great weekend.

And Relax

And RelaxYou all know the saga about the round of redundancies at my place of work. It’s been a very trying time for all concerned. It’s not the easiest economic climate to find work at the moment, particularly when you are a gentleman of a certain age, as I am.

So you can imagine my relief when the phone rang at lunchtime and it was the boss calling to tell me that I had been successful in my application for the role of the Internal IT Helpdesk Technician.

Alright, it’s not the most influential role in the world, it ‘s not even the most influential role in the department, but it’s a role, a paid role, and it gives me back a little control over my destiny.

Interestingly, it is all down to cause and effect. During the redundancy discussions, I asked for the job spec and whether I might apply. Once my application had been accepted, I had to go through the interview stage, a little nerve wracking, but I made it.

So the fact that I am not now leaving on March 26th, that my continuous service will be maintained, as will my pension and share options, is down to me. Down to me making the causes in order to see the effects I am now seeing.

Having taken all the credit, the chanting clearly helped, as did all the very welcome support from my family and friends, who never stopped believing in me, or at least never let on if they did.

Thank you all, we did it !!!

Uncomfortably Numb

Uncomfortably NumbHaving assimilated the situation that arose yesterday, I have spent the day in a rather quiet office, ploughing on regardless and trying to piece together my thoughts on the past, the present and the future.

Having been offered the chance to apply for a new, but not dissimilar role, still in Ringwood, I put in my application yesterday afternoon. Now I have to deal with the conflicting emotions of hope, fear and bewilderment, whilst trying to plan for all eventualities.

People in the office have been very nice. They were aware of the upheaval caused by yesterday’s departures. I’ve been through this type of situation a couple of times, and it is as unsettling for those who remain, as those who leave.

Folks seemed genuinely pleased to see me this morning, though few have been brave enough to ask after the details of the underlying changes, maybe for fear that they might be affected too. After the initial greetings, things settle back into the usual routine.

But I am now in a quandary, trying to soldier on despite having a possible leaving date, trying not to get too optimistic about securing a role for which I am only one candidate in a very competitive job market. To paraphrase Pink Floyd, I have become uncomfortably numb.

Chop, Chop

Getting The ChopBefore I became a Nichiren Buddhist I found disappointments very difficult to handle, so today, being told that my services are no longer required at work, I was inwardly pleased with the manner in which I handled the fall of the axe.

I have always been prone to setting my expectations too high, and that leads to disappointment when the expectation isn’t met. My Dad, on the other hand, always seemed to be a little pessimistic, he never appeared to have very high expectations, never got overexcited about anything, so didn’t allow himself to feel disappointment, or that was the way it looked to me.

Since I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism I have an inner strength that helps me through difficult times. It is a great comfort and I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with issues or problems.

The strange thing is that Buddhism doesn’t always make the problems go away, although that does sometimes happen, but it gives me a different way of looking at the situation and a focus that makes the problems more easy to understand and to bear.

In general, my life has been very easy. I have a very loving family, great parents and had a very stable home life in my formative years. I’ve been through a few troughs, the usual things like losing my grandparents, my father and failed relationships, the same as every one else. I’m not looking to test my practice, but I truly believe that my inner strength is helping me cope with such times much better now.

If I were to try to pinpoint the single most important reason for this, I would say it was a new found mental calm. I’ve never been a fighter. At school I used to use humour to get out of the usual scrapes all kids get into. But I was prone to letting my feeling show, particularly when disappointment was involved.

Now, because I can see the situation from all angles, just like those reviews on the web, where you can spin the item around and look at it every which way, I can rationalise more easily. Being able to see a situation from other peoples perspective allows me to make sense of how things appear to them, and understand why they are reacting in the way they are.

It has changed my life, or at least the way I look at it, and it can help anyone. Maybe it could help you.

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