Tag Archives: buddhism

Broken Glass

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Why is it that we are always looking for happiness, but we refuse to do any work to get it?  Why do we read “self help” books, but not take the advice of the authors?  Happiness is not hard to obtain, and it simply involves changing the way you think.

Just the other night I had a friend of mine (who also happens to be a Shaman) over for dinner.  In the midst of cooking, a glass fell off the counter and shattered all over the floor.  I cleaned it up, threw it in the trash, and continued cooking.  I bought the glass at the Dollar Tree so I knew they will have more that only cost one dollar.  Why get upset over something that is so easily fixable?  In Buddhism we are taught that our suffering is brought about by attachment.  Nothing lasts forever, and I knew the moment I bought the glass that there was a chance it would break at some point.  Therefore, I didn’t get attached to the glass, but I did enjoy it while I had it.  My reaction could’ve been totally different.  I could’ve been angry that the glass broke, and I could’ve allowed myself to get upset over something so small.  However, my friend and I continued cooking, and I have yet to replace the glass.  The empty space in the cabinet where the glass once sat is somewhat a reminder that impermanence is all around us.  Enjoy the things, and the people, that you have in your life now, while you still have them.  Don’t wait until they’re gone to appreciate them or tell them you love them.  Tell them now, today.  Change the way you react to certain situations and happiness is soon to follow! 🙂

Touchdown!

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The Quarterback runs as fast as he can!  He’s at the 40, he’s at the 30, at the 20…TOUCHDOWN!!!

Johns’ team just won the game and he couldn’t be happier!  Sarah, on the other hand, just had her team beat.  She drops her head in shame and exits the stadium.  John continues his celebration out of the stadium along with the hundreds of other fans that are ecstatic that their team just brought home the win!

Let’s look at John and Sarah for a moment.  He is happy, she is not.  Why?  Did the football game make one happy and one sad?  No.  The football game did nothing to affect their happiness, but their reaction to the outcome did.  Had Sarah been a fan of the team that won then she too would be happy.  It’s all in how you respond to the end result.  Say, for example, you get caught by a red light.  You huff and puff, and possibly curse, but then you watch in horror as the car that just went before you gets hit at the next intersection.  You realize that could’ve easily been you, and now getting caught by the red light doesn’t seem so bad.  Now let’s step back.  It shouldn’t take a near death experience to teach you that getting caught by a red light really isn’t that bad.  The next time a red light catches you think, “Hmm, there could be an accident up ahead but the few seconds that this light holds me may keep me from being involved.”  Missing a bus, forgetting your keys, etc. are all things that may benefit you in the end; you just may not realize it.  Let’s say your current relationship ends and you are devastated.  However, three years down the road you  meet that special someone that you know is your soulmate and you begin to wonder what you were doing with your ex to begin with!  The loss of one relationship brought about a better, stronger one.  At the time you didn’t see it that way, but it worked out in the end.

I try to approach all things with this mindset.  I recently read a book that taught you to tell yourself that whatever is happening to you is the best possible thing that could happen to you.  The universe has a way of lining things up to work out exactly as they should.  Trust it, and realize that, although you may not see it now, things may work out in the end.

I Love Burning Things!

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I love burning things.  Absolutely love it.  Now, let me explain.

By “things” I’m talking about incense sticks, candles, and sage smudging sticks.  The other night I noticed I was feeling a little down.  I looked around my room and realized it had become a little bit cluttered.  The room felt stagnant and devoid of open, breathable air.  I got up, opened my window, grabbed a box from the basement, packed away a few things, cleaned (vacuumed, dusted, etc) then decided to light a sage stick so that I could smudge my room.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with “smudging” it is the act of using a bundle of sage (sometimes mixed with other things like cedar, sandalwood, lemon grass, etc.) in order to run off any negative energy in the room.  You light it on fire, then blow it out allowing the smoke to fill the room.  I use a leather bound group of feathers to “sweep” the smoke around the room.  The smoke will cling to, and remove, any unwanted energy.  You are literally smoking out the bad vibes.  This may be all in my head, and it may not do a single thing except fill your room with a small amount of smoke, but it works for me.

I’m obsessed with Native American medicine, healing rituals, crystals, chakras, etc. so any chance I get to learn something about any of these things I’m all over it!  Smudging makes me happy, crystal healing/protection, makes me happy, learning about alternative medicine makes me happy.  All these things are things that I enjoy doing and learning about and they bring me some form of happiness.  So why not light a stick of sage and walk around my room, waving the smoke with a feather?  I discovered a year or so ago that I’m an Empath.  I pick up on the energy of others, whether good or bad, and that energy will affect my own.  Yes, for those of you who don’t understand or follow any of this you will probably stop reading my blog at this point.  You probably think I’m nuts, and that’s okay.  You’re entitled to your opinion 😉 I first realized that I’m an empathic person when I had to attend a funeral.  Upon walking in I immediately felt the sadness, my chest became heavy, my lungs tightened, I was very uncomfortable and for the rest of the day I was extremely depressed.  After the funeral I went home and went straight to bed.  I was exhausted.  I didn’t even really know the person who had passed, but the sad and negative energy that I picked up had literally saddened my heart and it truly affected the rest of my day.  The next day I woke up and decided to do something about it.  I smudged my room (and myself), drank some coffee, cleaned, played some upbeat music, and meditated.  I told myself it’s okay to feel for the family and their loss, but there’s nothing I can do about it so I have to allow those feelings to pass.  And they did.  A few years ago the task of attending a funeral could’ve sent me into a deep depression for a few weeks, but the fact that I now know how to handle it means I can be there to comfort others in their time of need without allowing their energy to attack my own.

I’m sure some of you think I’m nuts, but I challenge you next time you’re feeling down to open a window, play some music, pray or meditate, smile, watch a funny movie, get moving/exercise, clean, and allow all the negative energy that’s getting you down to move on.  Don’t let it stay there because the longer you do, the harder it will be to get rid of.  Have a wonderful day!

No News Is Good News

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Why, as a culture, are we so focused on negative news?  The global news, local news, Facebook news, etc. is almost always something bad.  It’s rare that you see happy and positive news going viral.  I hardly ever watch the news, for this very reason, but I do try to keep up with what’s going on in the world.  It seems the good stuff always flies under the radar, but the bad things seem to take a lead role in this production of life.

Just the other day I was watching the news about a man who had killed his 3 month old baby…..HIS 3 MONTH OLD BABY!!!  What the hell is wrong with him?!  I understand that stuff like that happens, and it’s the reality of the world we live in; however, I don’t feel that I need to clutter my mind with that type of negativity.  The rest of the day I randomly thought of that poor baby and how sick that man must be in the head to do something like that.  It made me nauseous.  Those types of things just bring me down and remind me how twisted some people are in this world.  Some of you may say that by avoiding this type of “news” I’m simply shielding myself and preventing myself from hearing about it, and you would be correct.  Speaking from someone who has suffered from VERY severe depression, I have to take an active role in blocking any negativity that could possibly make my depression worse.  This includes depressing news.  If it is something that is really news worthy, and something I need to know about, then I can guarantee I’ll hear about it.  There are a few apps that are on my phone that give you good news, science news, happy news, etc. and I love those apps!  I guess, when it comes to “news”, I tend to lean towards articles versus breaking news.  I’ve learned the breaking news is typically the worst.  I also try not to share negative news on social media, as that means I’m participating in spreading that diseased news.  Only happy news comes through me! 🙂

I challenge you guys to only share and read good news.  Try to stay away from all the negative news about murder, suicide, bombing, etc.  I promise it will make a difference!  I’m not saying to avoid it all together, because being naive and blind about stuff gives the impression that you don’t care.  I’m just saying to not actively seek out negative stuff.

Have a wonderful day!

Late Introduction

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Hello there, and welcome to my blog (even though I’m a little late on this haha)!  I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me on my journey to finding happiness, and becoming physically and mentally healthier!  Let me tell you a little about myself.

I grew up in a small town in middle Tennessee, I have two sisters, and I’m the glorious middle child!  My parents are both teachers and I graduated from high school in 2008.  I’m a gay Buddhist who loves to learn, and I currently work as a 911 Operator/Emergency dispatcher for two counties.  I attended college for a few years at the University of Memphis before moving back home and changing my major from vocal music performance to psychology.  I now attend part time online/night classes at Motlow State.

I’ve always struggled with depression, but it wasn’t until June 16, 2012 (after a very serious bout of depression and substance abuse) that I finally decided I needed professional help.  I checked myself into a rehab facility at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital for ten days and came out a new person!  Since then I have turned my life around tremendously!  For the first time in a VERY long time I actually enjoy waking up every day, and even wake up early to take in as many minutes as possible during the day.  I cannot tell you how happy I am to be alive and free of all substance that used to bog me down.  I’ve learned to face my problems, learn from them, and help teach others not to make the same mistakes.  I’ve since lost 135lbs, been promoted at work, saved SOOOO much more money, and improved so much compared to the person I was.  Plus I smile…a lot! 🙂

I decided to start a blog not only as a way to journal my thoughts and feelings, but to also help others who may be suffering.  I’ve learned to focus on the good things in life rather than the bad things, but I don’t ignore them completely.  I wake up every day, make my bed, and typically start my day with some yoga, a light breakfast, and some coffee.  I spend this time thinking of things that make me happy, and I also try to center my mind for the day to make sure I get started off on the right foot. My day may consist of many things: working, hiking, camping, swimming, kayaking, walking, dancing, singing, cleaning, etc. but I always do them the best I can, and I make sure I enjoy every minute.  You must be an active participant in your own recovery.  Let me repeat, you MUST BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR OWN RECOVERY AND MENTAL HEALTH.  You cannot just sit by and expect to get better.  Yes, you may be on medication (as I am; a basic depression pill), but you still have to play a lead role in getting better.  Medication can only do so much, and it’s not a fix.  There are still days when I struggle, but those days just remind me that there is still work that needs to be done.

Now that all that is out of the way, I look forward to having you take this journey with me!  Please, feel free to ask questions, leave comments, and share my blog entries.  I want to help others so if you feel that someone you know could benefit from a post or something I’ve said, I won’t mind a bit for you to share it with them.  We are all brothers and sisters of the same species in this amazing universe that we live in!  I’m here for you! 🙂

Laughing Loudly

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I once read that by making yourself smile and/or laugh you actually lift your mood.  Whether it’s a genuine, real smile or a completely forced one, it doesn’t matter.  Whenever you smile it sends a message to your brain that says, “Hey!  I’m smiling, there must be something good going on.  Let’s party!”  Plus, it often makes you feel a little silly which normally causes you to laugh…at yourself! 🙂

I’m Buddhist and I love watching videos of the Dalai Lama, whether it’s an interview, or just a biography type documentary.  He is always smiling and laughing, and while watching the video I often find myself smiling as well.  His happiness just radiates and it’s incredibly contagious!  Don’t believe me, just click HERE!  You can also click HERE to check out a hilarious video of babies laughing!  There’s just something about watching people laugh that just cracks me up.  It’s also very rewarding to make someone else laugh.  I often tell little corny jokes throughout the day in order to brighten someones day, and it’s so much fun.

It seems I’m always challenging people to do something that makes their lives just a little bit happier so here you go:  I challenge you to find something to laugh about or smile about every day, preferably several times during the day.  Try smiling at someone in order to pass that smile onto them, which will inevitably move onto someone else.  You never know what someone is going through, and maybe they need a smile.  They are incredible gifts that are free to give so feel free to give as many away as possible!  You will definitely make someones day just a little bit better.

Crazy Dancing

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There are many things I do on a regular basis if I’m feeling down.  Random dancing is one of those things.  And by random I mean crank the music up and just go to town!  I know I’m doing it correctly if I start laughing at myself.  I spin, I jump, I throw in some dance moves that even Michael Jackson wouldn’t attempt and I just have fun.  Plus, it ends up being a nice little workout.

Some people would ask why I do this.  It’s silly, yes, but it makes me happy.  For just a moment I’m able to have fun and be a kid again.  I am able to laugh and forget that I have bills to pay, deadlines coming up and tests to study for.  It’s the small things, like random dancing, that remind me that it’s okay to act crazy and to have fun while doing it.  As adults we spend our lives doing grownup stuff and it often wears us down.  When I go hiking, traveling, dancing, etc. I am able to get away from all of that.  Those things rebuild by spirit and mend my soul.

I work as a 911 Operator for two different counties.  Full time day shift at one and part-time night shift at the other so there are some weeks when I am just exhausted.  I come home after a long, stressful 12 hour shift and all I want to do is sleep, however, I still make time for crazy dancing and other things that bring me happiness.  People who suffer from depression often get into the rut of feeling down, lonely or tired so we forget about the things that once made us happy.  All this does is start the downward spiral that eventually ends with us curled into a fetal position under our covers crying like a baby for no apparent reason.  I’ve said it before and will say it again, in order to defeat depression you must become a daily active participant in your recovery.  Yes, we may be tired at the end of the day, but a 10 minute walk isn’t going to hurt.

I’d like to challenge everyone who reads this (whether or not you suffer from depression) to take at least two days this week and do something you enjoy.  I don’t care if it’s petting your dog on the couch or going white water rafting.  Do something that brings you joy and makes you smile.  And if you can’t think of anything, do some crazy dancing!  You’ll be amazed at how it might just raise your spirits 😉

My Search for Happiness

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How does one define happiness?  Is it something we can see, smell, hear, touch, give away, steal, find or maybe even create?  Why is it that happiness for one person is not the same happiness for someone else?  Is true happiness only available in the form of a pill or can real happiness be found within ourselves?  Buddhist monks, for centuries, have probably been some of the happiest people in the world, yet they have remarkable little material belongings.  They don’t need “things” to bring about happiness, so how do they do it?

I have suffered from depression for years which eventually led me down a scary and rocky path of drug addiction, unsafe sex, alcoholism and a very well needed stay in a psychiatric hospital and rehab facility.  Since then I have focused on eastern medicine, and hopefully finding happiness without using a pill at some point.  Going on hikes, traveling, watching the sunset, walking barefoot through dew-covered grass early in the morning, dancing in the rain, cooking, kayaking, skinny dipping, learning to laugh, playing with puppies…you know, all that stuff that is supposed to make people happy.  Those are the things that I focus on now.  Even now, there are still days when I have to pry myself out of the bed, but I know that it’s the healthiest thing for me to do.  I refuse to allow even one day to pass without allowing myself to fully enjoy every moment.  Yes, there will be bad days, but I know that a storm doesn’t last forever!  The thing with battling depression is that you must be an active participant in your recovery.  You must pursue happiness and some days you have to use every bit of strength  you have to make yourself do at least one thing to make you happy.

It’s not an easy journey, but so far it’s been a fun one!  Since June 16th 2012 I have overcome by addiction to prescription medication, beat the urge to abuse alcohol, lost 135lbs and have now become a much healthier person…physically, mentally and spiritually!  I want to prove to people that it’s possible to be truly happy in an age when most people are incredibly miserable.

I invite you to take this journey with me!  I won’t post every day and there will be times when I may even bore you to death,  but I promise to share my story and to share my expeditions with anyone who will listen!  I’ve started blogs before in the past and told myself I would post at least three times a week, yet I always fail to do so then I just give up all together.  This time will be different, for I won’t actually set a goal, but will simply write when I can.

So here I go on my search for happiness…join me?? 🙂