A Key to Happiness at Great America

Great America

Still on summer blogging break, but I had a thought that I wanted to get down. The boys and I were at Great America’s Boomerang Bay yesterday.

I forgot to bring a book, so while the boys were playing in the kiddie pool, I people watched. I was trying to empathize with strangers by mimicking their body language and face expressions in my mind. What I noticed is that a majority of people at this theme park were not happy!

Fox smiling with green tongueOf course the kids were happy, but many of the parents and mature adults looked stressed, irritated, or burdened. Truth be told, it was near 100 degrees outside and all the pool chairs in the shade were taken, but we were in California on a beautiful summer day.

So I tried to zero in on people with smiles on their faces. I categorized the happy people into four main groups—singers, dancers, talkers, and sympathetic joyers. Everyone singing and dancing were having a great time. Those who were talking to others also seemed to be enjoying themselves. The happiest people in the park, however, were the ones who were soaking in the joy of others, usually their children.

In Buddhism, we have the four divine emotions—metta (lovingkindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity). I focus a lot on metta, karuna, and upekkah in my daily meditation practice, but I often forget about mudita.

This day at the park reminded me of a few things. First, we have the choice at every moment to practice a divine emotion. Second, there is always opportunities to find happiness through sympathetic joy, especially around children.

From that moment on, I sucked in the joy of all the children playing in the water like a vampire in a blood bank. Actually, the legend of a vampire fits here. Vampires were supposed to be able to live forever by sucking on the blood of youth. I estimate that I’ve increased my lifespan by practicing sympathetic joy with my sons. Even if I don’t live longer, I will live deeper and happier.

I wanted to publish this post to remind me to choose sympathetic joy as much as possible. I hope your days are filled with moments of joy, both your own joy and the joy of others.

My Life is Perfect Because I Want it to Be Perfect

The ubiquitous Rarasaur recently posted some pictures of herself:

Rarasaur photo

Rarasaur in all her glory

I commented that I loved her short hair, and this was her response.

P.S. Thanks! I love the short hair, too. I was trying to grow mine out again, but I’m just not there yet… not ready to see the Rara that used to look like that, so… instead… my short hair is perfect because I want it to be perfect. ;)

I love the last line. What if we changed “short hair” to “life”?

My Life is Perfect Because I Want it to Be Perfect Continue reading

Everyday Thanksgiving–December

“A thankful heart hath a continual feast”–W.J. Cameron

This is the monthly download of my daily gratitude practice–everyday I post five things I am grateful for. Gratitude has changed my life. You don’t need to read my list, but I hope you will start your own.

December 2012

Thank you for being Freshly Pressed and the lessons it has taught me; all the likes, comments, and follows; my amazing wife who taught me to see the doughnut, not the hole; my youngest doing his business on the toilet–Freshly Pressed and no dirty diaper today; validation that comes from within.

Fox TP

Doing something a little different today thanks to A Table in the Sun. Here is my top five wish list of things money can’t buy.

1. A constant reminder of how lucky we are to be alive in this wonderful country where anything is possible.
2. To be able to hug the chubby cheeks of my sons whenever I feel like it.
3. To have peace of mind no matter what is going on around me.
4. To have all the people I love know in their hearts that I love them.
5. To continue to grow in all ways towards unending happiness and joy Continue reading

Smile Bigger

Scott Graham Photography

Scott Graham Photography

Smile Bigger, Hug Longer, Love Stronger

The other day, I was passing a cute older couple crossing the street, so I smiled. The older woman smiled back like only older people can–with wrinkles of joy. I was so delighted that I tried to smile bigger. By the time we passed each other, my face was sore from trying to make the edges of my lips touch my ears. Continue reading

5 Ways to Give Yourself a Hug

Weekly Photo Challenge--Reflection

Weekly Photo Challenge–Reflection

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a hugger. I hug my sons 20+ times a day; the Hugging Saint, Amma, is my guru; I hug trees, dogs, large fruit, unsuspecting acquaintances; you name it, and I’ll hug it.

I grew up in one of those households where no one hugged, so I guess I’m making up for lost time.

At certain times in my life, I didn’t have anyone to hug–sigh. I know the feelings of loneliness that are immune to social interaction–the kind of loneliness that one can feel in a room full of friends, music, and good food. Looking back, I wish someone had taught me how to hug myself.

So I offer you, 5 ways to hug yourself: Continue reading

The Animated GIF: The Antithesis of Mindfulness


People who like GIFs (a series of images that create the impression of movement) are the same folks who slow down on the freeway to try to catch a glimpse of something gruesome after a car wreck. Ok, that’s a bit of an over-generalization taken out of context meant to be incendiary, which is a pretty good definition of an animated GIF. Continue reading

Re-hydrate Your Spirit

Shirin K. A. Winiger / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Something counter-intuitive that I learned recently is that when we get really dehydrated, we stop feeling thirsty. This is a problem for me because I get so consumed in what I am doing that I often disregard feelings of thirst. After a while these feelings of thirst subside even though I haven’t drunk anything. Since a majority of our body consists of water, major dehydration leads to huge crashes.

The same can be said for spiritual dehydration. I believe that like water in the body, the spirit is a major part of who we are. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing that we ignore signals of “thirst” sent by our spirit. Soon these signals stop coming, and this is when we are headed for a huge crash or crisis. Continue reading

1978 Suburban Guru: “Pimp Your Marriage”

hood ornament from suburban

While walking home from dropping off my kids at school, something crept up on me that I haven’t seen in over 20 years. Moving about as slow as a three-toed tree sloth with a gentle purr that cloaked the V-8 power beneath the powder blue paneled exterior appeared a mint condition 1978 Chevy Suburban. This behemoth was the grandfather of all modern SUVs, and like most grandfathers from back in the day, the Suburban could kick the crap out of any of his cheeky grandsons. With three full sized bench seats, the Suburban could comfortably SLEEP three intoxicated adults. Just the sight of this classic beach car flooded me with memories of Mexican beaches, tan bodies, and early morning surf sessions. But enough of this mid-life crisis penis envy about a muscle truck. What really mattered sat inside the Suburban. Continue reading

The Divorce Guru

A close friend of mine is going through a nasty divorce. He has two beautiful kids, so a lot is at stake. His wife’s lawyer is falsifying dates in order to get his client alimony for the rest of her life. My friend is upset that if the ruling goes against him he will be paying a large chunk of his hard-earned money to his lawyer, his wife’s lawyer, his wife, and a bunch of other people who have no interest in the welfare of his children. I remember an English Professor in graduate school once told me that you never recover psychologically nor financially from a divorce. I hate to believe that this is true, but I’ve never been divorced so I cannot speak from experience. What I have experienced, however, is how gurus treat different disciples differently. Some disciples are treated like first-born children–they never leave the guru’s side; they receive constant nurturing. Other disciples are treated like red-headed step-children–they are expected to clean the latrines, instructed to meditate in caves, or encouraged to go on missions or pilgrimages. The great gurus know exactly what the disciple needs to attain enlightenment. Could it be that divorce is an everyday guru that is giving certain individuals exactly what they need?

Continue reading