5 Ways to Water the Seeds of Happiness
“Happiness is impermanent, like everything else. In order for happiness to be extended and renewed, you have to learn how to feed your happiness. Nothing can survive without food, including happiness; your happiness can die if you don’t know how to nourish it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
Always looking for ways to reduce suffering in a conscious way, I was very inspired by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s list of 5 ways to Nourish your Happiness. These practices will work whether you are feeling happiness or not. I have summarized and added my own thoughts with his words in quotation marks below and hope that you find inspiration and joy:
1. LET GO
Let go. Clean the ‘house’ of your being: especially notice what you are clinging to and resisting releasing. Try letting go of your opinions, for they are really obstacles of joy and happiness. “You have the capacity to let it go, and letting go can take a lot of courage. But once you let go, happiness comes very quickly. You won’t have to go around searching for it.”
2. INVITE POSITIVE SEEDS
Water the positive ‘seeds’ within you like compassion, understanding, kindness and joy by focusing on cultivating them in your mind and in your daily life. That is good food for the mind. Paying too much attention to the negative seeds, especially the suffering of past hurts, will sink us into our sorrows, and will not give the positive nourishment we are yearning for.
A powerful way to take care of our suffering is to invite a seed of the opposite nature to come up. For example if you feel lonely, water the seed of connection within you by remembering being in a circle with others, looking into a friend’s face, being with your pet or something else and float in that feeling for a while.
“You need only concentrate on it and it will come up as a powerful zone of energy. Naturally, when feeling connected comes up, loneliness goes down. You don’t have to fight it or push it down. We can selectively water the good seeds and refrain from watering the negative seeds. This doesn’t mean we ignore our suffering; it just means that we allow the positive seeds that are naturally there to get attention and nourishment.”
3. MINDFULNESS-BASED JOY
“Mindfulness helps us not only to get in touch with suffering, so that we can embrace and transform it, but also to touch the wonders of life.”
Mindfulness is simply being present in the moment, letting thoughts of past and future drop away, establishing yourself in the here and now. A way to come home to your body, your breath and each sweet moment of life. The sweetness is already here, often we’re just too filled to notice it. We can attain mindfulness doing everything we already do: walk, make dinner, talk on the phone, sit in a chair, eat a meal… Mindfulness reveals the joy that is already here.
“Concentration is born from mindfulness. Concentration has the power to break through, to burn away the afflictions that make you suffer and to allow joy and happiness to come in.”
Allow yourself to concentrate on each task – moment at hand. This takes effort and is a practice which builds your skills and inner strength. However it is not hard labor. We concentrate with compassion and understanding.
Insight is seeing what is here – the clarity that can liberate us from disturbances such as distrust or anger, and allow true happiness to be present. Everyone has insight, although we don’t always make use of it to increase our happiness – it is a choice to recognize it and honor it, instead of getting caught in the hamster wheel of a storyline or situation. You have the strength to come back home to yourself, to make peace with our suffering and treating it tenderly. “It requires that we let go of useless, unnecessary sufferings and take a closer look at our idea of happiness.”
Inspired from No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering, by Thich Nhat Hanh.
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