The TAO in Everyday Life
The TAO is in every aspect of life: growing up; receiving education; seeking careers; getting married; raising children; connecting with others; staying healthy; growing old; and facing life challenges.
All About . . . .
Many Americans report that they are not very happy in their day-to-day life and living; evidently something is missing for most Americans. One of the objectives of this book is to address this issue of unhappiness that may have an impact on their overall health.
Another objective of this book is to help people develop their own happiness recipes through looking at ancient wisdom from the East and the West, conventional wisdom, and spiritual wisdom.
A happiness wisdom recipe is like a GPS that guides us in the direction of the destination we are heading. Some of us may choose the highways; others may prefer local or toll-free routes. Likewise, a happiness wisdom recipe is a matter of personal choice and preference, based on each individual’s own past experiences and core values.
Core values are not life goals, which have to be pursued and achieved to give an individual happiness; core values, on the other hand, are beliefs of an individual in humanity that have to be lived, rather than just being acknowledged, in order to fully experience the innate happiness in humanity. Your core values are your beliefs that are meaningful to you, giving you happiness now and then. They may be something held in common by many people, or they may not be. Your core values are meaningful only to you, regardless of whether they are meaningful to anyone you know. Likewise, you do not have to remodel your life to live the core values of others. Of course, you may want to adapt your life to transform yourself if you appreciate some of the core values of others. That explains why you need creativity to try a new recipe, or change some of the ingredients in your current recipe.
Remember, you are living a life in which you spend a lot of your time engaged in actions that are an expression of your true values, as well as a reflection of the person you are meant to be. These actions, or rather your perceptions by your thinking mind of these actions, give you happiness or unhappiness—that is why you need wisdom to take these right actions.
The bottom line: it is humanly possible to be happier more of the time and to experience higher quality happiness than you have ever felt before. Just learn to be wiser, and be happier!
The Outline of the Book . . . .
ONE: HUMAN UNHAPPINESS
Unhappiness and Happiness
The Universal Quest
Happiness and Pleasure
A State of Mind
TWO: THE HUMAN MIND
Perceptions and Realities
The Conscious Mind and the Subconscious Mind
Empowering the Thinking Mind
True Human Wisdom
THREE: ANCIENT WISDOM
Ancient Wisdom from the West
Ancient Wisdom from the East
FOUR: CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
The Science of Happiness
FIVE: SPIRITUAL WISDOM
The Human Spirit
Becoming and Transforming
The Beginning of Spirituality
Believing and Understanding
The Role of Human Wisdom
SIX: YOUR HAPPINESS RECIPE
The Happiness Ingredients
Emotions and Feelings
Doing and Ego
Love and Relationships
Money and Happiness
Adversity and Pain
Injustice and Vengeance
Death and Beyond
The Happiness Wisdom
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An Excerpt from the Book . . . .
Unhappiness and Happiness
“Just try to be happy. Unhappiness starts with wanting to be happier.” Sam Levenson
“We create our own unhappiness. The purpose of suffering is to help us understand we are the ones who cause it.” Willie Nelson
We are living in a world of unhappiness, which is not a contemporary human condition; in fact, it is a mind disorder as ancient as man.
In ancient times, according to the Bible, King David of Israel was often mentally troubled, and he forever battled against his deep despair. In many of the Psalms, he expresses his anguish, loneliness, fear of the enemy; his heart often cries over sin, and the guilt because of it.
Another Biblical example is Elijah, the great prophet, who was often discouraged, weary, and afraid. Even after his great spiritual victories over the prophets of Baal, this mighty man of God feared and ran for his life into the desert, where he prayed. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19: 4)
In modern age, Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, underwent serious bouts of depression during his country’s national crisis in World War II. The fact of the matter is that depression is no respecter of persons-even for those with high I.Q., such as the Nobel-Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway, who committed suicide, just as his father did, with the comment “I’ll probably go the same way.”
Indeed, many of us are vulnerable to this genetic mental disorder of unhappiness. To many, the word “depression” may be synonymous with the word “unhappiness”; but the reality is that happiness is not the absence of depression. So, even if you are not depressed at all, you may still be unhappy.
Unhappiness is no respecter of persons, whether you are rich or poor, young or old, wise or unwise.
The Universal Quest
“The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness.” Norman Cousins
“Consciously or not, we are all on a quest for answers, trying to learn the lessons of life.” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Generally speaking, the purpose of human life and living is two-fold: to enjoy life, and to expand happiness.
But how can you expand happiness if you don’t even know what happiness is in the first place? To many, happiness always involves some sort of search, just as the Bible says: “seek and you will find.” (Matthew 7: 7)
Accordingly, many thus begin this universal lifelong quest for happiness, which, ironically and paradoxically, may lead only to more unhappiness, because they may not know what to seek, or how and where to find what they are seeking. This universal quest for happiness is just like a carrot-and-stick in front of a mule; the more pain inflicted on the mule by the stick, the more desirous the mule is in reaching out for that forever unattainable carrot in front of it. Human unhappiness is no more than a mental manifestation of the forever unattainable happiness that an individual strives to seek and reach out for. So, not getting whatever one seeks only intensifies and magnifies the unhappiness.
The continuous quest for happiness is elusive and evasive, just like chasing the wind.
“The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.” Fyodor Dostoevsky
“There is nothing in the world so much admired as a man who knows how to bear unhappiness with courage.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Man is inherently desirous of happiness. We all want to become happy; without happiness, human existence may become worthless and meaningless. Therefore, we all want to avoid unhappiness, and this self-defense mechanism may then develop into addictive habit patterns that have ultimately become some of the characteristics of our own individual personality, affecting how we think. In other words, to avoid unhappiness, we may subconsciously begin to “lose contact with our realities”, and thus become the persons we are not meant to be. The human quest for happiness often becomes a mental struggle against the unhappiness that an individual desperately wishes to avoid.
To illustrate, a baby or toddler-even well-fed, dry, and comfortable-may cry because he or she simply wants “happiness”, which is not being separated from the parents; crying or even screaming is the only natural self-defense mechanism against being separated and feeling unhappy. As that baby or toddler continues to grow up, that normal child will ultimately learn the reality that to be separated from the parents is just a normal and necessary part and parcel of life and growing up.
However, the mental and emotional growth, and the maturity of that same child may not be consistent with his or her own physical growth and mental maturity; this inconsistency or disparity may subsequently lead to many mental and emotional problems later in life, such as recklessly driving a car, engaging promiscuously in sex, taking drugs or addicting to alcohol. If the mental and emotional problems are not properly and fully addressed and resolved, that same adolescent turning into a young adult may continue to develop more problems, such as compulsive gambling or shopping sprees. As that same individual continues to grow and mature, there may be many other problems that crop up along his or her life journey, including problems in career, relationship, family, health, money, and many others. All these life problems and challenges may continue to create many more behavioral patterns, which are the manifestations of that individual’s own desperate struggle against the unhappiness associated with his or her own emotional, mental, and physical problems; they are just the self-defense addictive behaviors of that individual striving desperately to avoid the unhappiness resulting from the many life problems and challenges encountered along the life journey of that individual.
Avoiding unhappiness is self-delusional, an unrealistic approach to attaining happiness.
Happiness and Pleasure
“Pleasure may come from illusion. But happiness can come only of reality.” Chamfort
“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure but to avoid pain.” Aristotle
Pleasure is having fun at a party, the excitement of new experiences, the thrill and passion of sex, or the delights of a fine meal. They are all wonderful life experiences to be cherished and cultivated by any individual, but they are only life pleasures, not human happiness.
The truth of the matter is that all our wonderful life experiences are only to be enjoyed, and then to be let go of, just as a delicious meal is to be enjoyed, savored, and then to be digested, and ultimately eliminated from the body. Therefore, any life pleasure is fleeting and must be so-if it is to continue to please again in the future.
Happiness, on the other hand, may be less fleeting and more enduring than pleasure; but, still, happiness never lasts forever because nothing in life is permanent, and every thing remains only with that very moment, whether it is happiness or pleasure.
Happiness and pleasure are life experiences to be enjoyed, cherished, and remembered-but they do not last forever.
A State of Mind
“Happiness is a state of mind” Walt Disney
“Heaven is a state of mind, not a location” Wayne Dyer
Happiness or unhappiness is no more and no less than a state of mind of an individual. It may or may not involve the five senses, although they often play a pivotal role in creating the happiness or unhappiness state of mind of an individual.
Remember, your state of mind is always different from that of others; everyone’s state of mind is uniquely different, just like the uniqueness of human fingerprints.
Happiness is a feeling of contentment, of personal conviction that life is just as it should be; unhappiness is just the opposite feeling. But how do you gauge your own level of contentment? And what convinces you that your life is what it should be? Happiness or unhappiness, to you, is only your own state of mind-uniquely yours and yours alone.
The Needs and the Wants
All humans have needs and wants. The most basic needs are clothing, food, and shelter. In addition to these basic needs, they all have their own individual wants too.
First of all, needs and wants are not quite the same: the former are “indispensable” to contemporary living, while the latter are the “extra trimmings” of life. Knowing their differences may help you understand better your own level of contentment. The truth is that every individual has his or her own unique needs and wants; the reality is that all the needs and wants of any individual will change with circumstances and the passage of time.
The bottom line: evaluate and adjust your needs and wants on a regular basis to let you see whether or not the world you are living in right now is what it should be-and that also defines and determines the level of your life contentment.
The Wise and the Unwise
Wisdom is the capability of the thinking mind to see things as they are, and not as they are supposed to be. Based on this simple concept, the wise should be “happier” than the unwise. Having said that, all the wise are not quite the same, and they are not all equal when it comes to understanding the wisdom in living.
To many, wisdom is the acquisition of knowledge and its application in real-life situations. As an example, there are those who are wise in financial investment because they are knowledgeable in their investments. But these so-called “wise” investors may still be “unhappy” because they may be “unwise” when it comes to defining their own life contentment, or identifying their own needs and wants in everyday life existence. By the same token, Sir Winston Churchill might be a “wise” politician but an “unhappy” individual; Ernest Hemingway might be an intelligent author, but ended killing himself in the end.
The bottom line: only “the wise” with the right thinking mind may find the way to true human happiness.
Happiness and unhappiness are only a state of mind-a uniquely subjective perception of an individual.
Happiness is contentment and satisfaction: contentment from getting all the basic needs, and satisfaction from getting some of the wants in life.
Unhappiness is only a personal perception that life is not really what it should be to that individual.
The reality is that there is no recipe for creating any state of mind.
THE HAPPINESS WISDOM