I read an article in a recent Sunday New York Times entitled, The Keys to Happiness, subtitled There may not be a magic formula, but here’s what we know about how to get there, according to recent research and expert advice.
The article presents the keys to happiness as:
Making relationships with family and friends a priority;
Taking time on the weekend to peak well-being, surrounded by family and friends;
Moving to Scandinavia, since income inequality (based on the assumption that “economic freedom” leads to happiness) causes unhappiness;
Being grateful, as espoused by singer Pharrell Williams;
Maintaining health (if we can decide whether being healthy makes us happy or being happy keeps us healthy);
Keeping kids happy to improve their learning by modeling behaviors such as living in the moment, being resilient, balancing energy, playing and learning to relax, and being kind to ourselves and others);
Working at a job that allows autonomy and fairness,
Making happiness a personal project;
Adopting the posture and pose of happiness (fake it until you make it): and
Making saying yes a rule, as prescribed by TV producer, Shonda Rhimes.
Since I just published a book entitled Living in Blue Sky Mind: Basic Buddhist Teachings for a Happy Life, I was curious to see what the mainstream thinks leads us to the same place toward which I direct my readers.
The heart of my spiritual practice demands that I enquire into my thoughts and ideas. That would be a good place to start when considering the keys to happiness presented by the New York Times. Question each key and try it out. See if it works for you.
And try this, as well:
My practice informs me that awareness leads to happiness. As one teacher put it, “The more we are conscious, the deeper the joy.” We find our happiness by accepting whatever appears in front of us in the moment—pleasurable experiences, painful experiences; we even dive into boredom. Our willingness to face whatever arises in the moment provides us with the true source of enduring happiness.
Since I practice Zen Buddhism and advocate the Dharma, in my book, I prescribe ways of thinking, speaking, and acting that promote loving-kindness and compassionate wisdom. Conversely, I recommend stopping our thoughts, words, and actions that cause us to be unhappy. We take full responsibility for our own happiness. We understand certain truths of life: only the present moment is real, everything is impermanent and always changing, there is no abiding self that we can cling to, and we are all connected. Since we cannot find happiness in things that change (including prescriptions, keys, poses, and ideas), we realize (i.e., make real in our lives) those things that are eternal—never change, are never born and never die.
And yes, we are grateful, immensely grateful.