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News[letter] From The Happy Side

Greeting

As this coronavirus and its effects linger on, I (Alan) have been thinking about happiness in its most basic terms. As discussed in a previous newsletter, happiness is truly grounded in one’s point of view. With this, even in our new, challenged world one can still see happiness all around, all the time. This newsletter is dedicated to the affirmation of happiness in the little, seemingly insignificant things that constantly surround us. The things that typically go unnoticed, however, when examined, are pure joy!

Enjoy and be happy!

Alan B. Havis and Alice B. McGinty

If this isn’t happiness, what is? Alan took this photo in his backyard.

Quotes From the Happy Side

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”  – Margaret Lee Runbeck

“We can’t control the world. We can only (barely) control our own reactions to it. Happiness is largely a choice, not a right or entitlement.”   – David C. Hill

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”   – Buddha

Activities From the Happy Side
 
“Happiness grows at our own firesides, and is not to be picked in strangers’ gardens.”  Think about this quote by British writer, Douglas Jerrold. What does it mean to you? Try using it as the inspiration to write a short story, invent a character, or to compose a picture.

News From the Happy Side

We are only five days away from the release of The Sea Knows, our first co-authored book. That’s our good news. And we’d like to share our happiness with you by showing this video of the two of us reading the book together. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed creating it (in the bathtub with our SCUBA gear!). 

Thoughts From the Happy Side

Happiness is . . . the little things:

Waking up without an alarm.

Feeling cozy.

A cup of good coffee. 

Little sprigs of grass sprouting from the seeds I’ve been watering.

My lawn equipment starting up after a long winter.

Long walks.

The cool air giving way to the warm sun.

Enjoying a good meal that we cooked together.

Music.

A glass of wine.

Spending the day and evening with the one I love.

Going to sleep to the sounds of the crickets and frogs in my backyard at night. 

Dreaming.

Even in this crazy pandemic world with everyone self-isolating, social distancing, masking, and not working, many things in our days can bring us joy and happiness. These are the things that actually matter the most. They are all in the present. In the now! No worries or guilt about what’s been and what will be. It’s the pure happiness that comes from being alive and mindful of what’s around you. Find pleasure in the day’s little things. (Alan)
 

Song From the Happy Side

Speaking of taking pleasure in the little things, here’s Good Day Sunshine.

Books From the Happy Side

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living (His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.)(10th Anniversary Edition)

In this conversation between the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler, a psychiatrist, the Dalai Lama discusses how to cultivate happiness, with Cutler bringing in connections and insights from the Western world. The guiding truth behind the book is the Dalai Lama’s belief that “The purpose of our life is happiness.”  From there, we can understand what leads to true happiness and what doesn’t. 

The book discusses sources of happiness, connection, compassion, coping with suffering, and dealing with anger, hatred, and anxiety. It also includes several meditations on developing compassion and understanding the nature of our minds. I (Alice) believe the best way to convey the wisdom on its pages is to give you quotes directly from the Dalai Lama about some of these topics. Here are some that are particularly meaningful to me.

“If you maintain a feeling of compassion, loving kindness, then something automatically opens your inner door. Through that, you can communicate much more easily with other people. And that feeling of warmth creates a kind of openness. You’ll find that all human beings are just like you, so you’ll be able to relate to them more easily.”

“Our attitude toward suffering becomes very important because it can affect how we cope with suffering when it arises. Now, our usual attitude consists of an intense aversion and intolerance of our pain and suffering. However, if we can transform our attitude towards suffering, adopt an attitude that allows us greater tolerance of it, then this can do much to help counteract feelings of mental unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and discontent…This reduces that feeling of rejection—that feeling that somehow you don’t deserve to suffer, that you are a victim…then you experience suffering as something that is quite natural.”

The book goes on to explore the idea that suffering can also soften us and make us more sensitive and gentle. Cutler says, “The vulnerability we experience in the midst of our suffering can open us and deepen our connection with others.”

About worry and anxiety, the Dalai Lama states, “If the situation or problem is such that it can be remedied, then there is no need to worry about it…It is more sensible to spend the energy focusing on the solution rather than worrying about the problem. Alternatively, if there is no way out, no solution, no possibility of resolution, then there is also no point in being worried about it, because you can’t do anything about it anyway.  In that case, the sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be on you.” 
“So if our definition of love is based on a genuine wish for someone’s happiness, then each of us does in fact love himself or herself – every one of us sincerely wishes for his or her own happiness.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s News[letter] from the Happy Side. Wishing all of you health, safety, and happiness. We’d love to hear from you if you have any happy news you’d like to share! 

Warmly,

Alice & Alan

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