I was listening to a lecture by Pema Chödrön from her CD titled Don’t Bite the Hook where she talks about the Tibetan Buddhist teachings which ask us to “always maintain a joyful mind.” Right. Chödrön suggests that we practice happiness.
I so often forget that what my mind thinks is up to me. If I focus on the annoying things about the day – and some days it’s hard not to – I can whip those little annoyances into righteous wrath until I feel strangled by them. It’s amazing how badly I can feel treated when I dwell on it. Even the sunshine seems to be coming in the wrong window.
Good grief, what was I thinking? If I stop a moment, stop the incessant chatter of my mind, stand in the present moment another side starts to surface. There are so many really good things in my life. So many things little things that make me happy. If I can focus on them instead of brushing them aside I can “maintain a joyful mind.”
Yesterday, I walked in the nature preserve near our house at lunch time. It was the closest thing to spring we can get in January. The air was fresh and the sun was warm and everywhere there were little sights to delight the eye: a paw print in the snow, a red berry against dried leaves, a bird’s nest almost hidden in the thicket with its top hat of snow. What could be better than that? It’s easy to practice happiness there.
This batch of Clementine’s are exceptionally sweet, if I am practicing happiness when I eat one--the fresh citrus scent curls around my nose the minute I start to peel it. I can appreciate the perfect little sections, as I bite down I can feel the sweet juice dancing on my tongue. It’s perfect but if I am not present in the moment I will miss it.
Hot tea, dark chocolate, a friend’s voice on the phone, cats napping in sunny windows, “brown paper packages tied up with string…” we can all make our own list. These little joys surround us all the time. I just need to practice being aware of them.
So my resolution for 2008 – to practice happiness. What could be better?!