Monday, March 29, 2010


J and I were talking over supper one night (and yes, by Family Guy standards, I’m old as I say supper and davenport) but we were talking about the choices people make in life and how easy is boring (in my opinion) and hard is just like easy, only before removing all the hard parts. J argued that then hard isn’t hard but in fact easy. Hmm. Not sure I agree. Is it that easy to remove the hard parts?

I’m a firm believer that the wrong decisions, the things that don’t flow easy, the trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, are the hard decisions because the right ones, no matter how hard, will feel right in a way that nothing else does.

I started reading The Art of Happiness and the Dalai Lama calls happiness a discipline, a constant process of “identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors that lead to suffering. […] one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness.”

Easy huh? I’m not Buddhist, but that doesn’t mean I ignore a good point when I see one.

Happiness is as easy once the hard stuff is removed, once the hard work is done and carefully attended to. But having left the garden to go to seed, so to speak, I imagine the process harder, even painful, a required pruning that aches but heals cleanly, leaving the plant, or person, stronger than before. I suppose the first step is to identify these things which make us happy or suffer, and use firm discipline to focus on one and eliminate the other. FYI: happiness does not equal pleasure. Rather, it’s an innate peace and satisfaction, something perhaps vague and indefinable in all of us. It’s reaching out, connecting with people and the world around us, being creative and outgoing, not materialistic and selfish.

I leave you with those questions: What makes you suffer? What makes you happy? Make a list. I made mine.