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9 Destructive Habits to Get Rid of If You Want to Be Happy

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It’s no secret that we all want happiness. After all, the “pursuit of happiness” is even enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. But happiness is fleeting.

So how can we find it and keep it? According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, it is possible to make yourself happier permanently.

The large portion of your happiness that you control is determined by your habits, attitude, and outlook on life. She says there are numerous bad habits that make us unhappy.

Here are 10 habits that you need to eliminate immediately if you want to be happy:

1) Immunity to awe

It’s hard to be happy when you just shrug your shoulders every time you see something new. But awe is an important emotion to experience. It’s inspiring, full of wonder and reminds us that we’re not the centre of world. One of the best ways to experience awe is to get out in nature and be flabbergasted by some amazing views.

2) Isolating yourself

When we feel unhappy, we tend to isolate ourselves from others. Yet, according to research, this is one of the worst things you can do. Humans are social beings and we all need some level of contact. Whenever you feel unhappy, get out there and make an effort to see people. You’ll notice a difference immediately.

3) Blaming

We need to take responsibility for our own lives to be happy. Blaming is the exact opposite. When you blame other people for your circumstances, you’re not taking control of your life.

4) Criticizing

Judging other people and speaking poorly of them is never a way to be happy. Usually you think it makes you feel better about yourself, but that will only last a short while. All judging does is create a spiral of negativity.

5) Complaining

By constantly talking about how bad things you are, you simply reinforce your negative attitude. Not only that, but no one enjoys being around a complainer.

6) Trying to impress others

Trying to impress other people is a huge source of unhappiness. The people who will be impressed with your fancy job or car aren’t your source of happiness. The people you really need to hang out with who are those who like you and accept you for who you are.

7) Hanging around negative people

These kinds of people wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They simply want people to join in on their negativity. Avoid getting drawn into these types of conversations. It’s simply a ball of negative energy that feeds on itself.

8) Comparing to others

A lot of us naturally compare ourselves to others. But the problem is that we compare ourselves to the best parts of others and don’t really see their whole life. It’s better to realize that we’re all unique with different and complex life circumstances that it’s literally impossible to compare properly with anyone.

9) Giving in to fear

Fear is nothing more than a lingering emotion that’s fueled by your imagination. Danger is real. Fear is a choice. Happy people are addicted to the euphoric feeling they get from conquering their fears.

This article was originally published on Hack Spirit. 

5 of History’s Greatest Buddhist Philosophers Reveal the Secret to Happiness

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To many people who don’t believe in religion, Buddhism is seen as a “good” religion. It doesn’t promote hate and offers the individual more freedom to find their own way.

But can it really help you find meaning, fulfilment and happiness in life?

Many say that it can, and after studying Buddhist philosophy for a few years now, I have to agree.

It offers a different way of looking at meaning, attachment and happiness compared to the west. It teaches us that material objects won’t bring you happiness and that it’s what’s inside that counts.

Below, I’ve collated some of the top Buddhist thinkers and their opinions on happiness and how to find it. Enjoy!

1) Gautama Buddha

We must take responsibility for our happiness:

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Your purpose is key:

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.”

The journey is what matters:

“There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.”

“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.”

The present moment is all that exists:

“The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment”

Do good:

“Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.”

“Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to others.”

Remove attachments:

“A man asked Gautama Buddha, “I want happiness.”
Buddha said, “First remove “I,” that’s Ego, then remove “want,” that’s Desire.
See now you are left with only “Happiness.”

2) Bodhidharma

Seek nothing:

“To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.”

“People of this world are deluded. They’re always longing for something-always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring.”

Understand the mind:

“The mind is the root from which all things grow if you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It’s like the root of a tree. All a tree’s fruit and flowers, branches and leaves depend on its root. If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort.”

“If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.”

You might need a mentor:

“Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help.”

Detach:

“The essence of the Way is detachment.”

It’s what’s inside that matters:

“But deluded people don’t realize that their own mind is the Buddha. They keep searching outside.”

Reason and practice: 

“Many roads lead to the path, but basically there are only two: reason and practice.”

3) The Dalai Lama

Help others:

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

“To be kind, honest and have positive thoughts; to forgive those who harm us and treat everyone as a friend; to help those who are suffering and never to consider ourselves superior to anyone else: even if this advice seems rather simplistic, make the effort of seeing whether by following it you can find greater happiness.”

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

We need relationships:

“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.”

Inner peace is key:

“Inner peace is the key: if you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquility…without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially, you may still be worried, disturbed, or unhappy because of circumstances.”

What others do doesn’t matter:

“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”

4) Buddhadasa

Remove “I”:

“True happiness consists in eliminating the false idea of ‘I’.”

Try not to cling:

“What is the world full of? It is full of things that arise, persist, and cease. Grasp and cling to them, and they produce suffering. Don’t grasp and cling to them, and they do not produce suffering.”

No desire:

“Happiness is when there is no hunger or want at all, when we’re completely free of all hunger, desire, and want.”

The truth of life:

“The entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon, and the stars live together as a cooperative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees and soil. Our bodily parts function as a cooperative. When we realize that the world is a mutual, interdependent, cooperative enterprise, that human beings are all mutual friends in the process of birth, old age, suffering and death, then we can build a noble, even heavenly environment. If our lives are not based in this truth, then we shall all perish.”

It takes practice:

“Those who read books cannot understand the teachings and, what’s more, may even go astray. But those who try to observe the things going on in the mind, and always take that which is true in their own minds as their standard, never get muddled. They are able to comprehend suffering, and ultimately will understand Dharma. Then, they will understand the books they read.”

5) D.T Suzuki

The moment is what matters:

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?”

Catch life as it flows:

“The idea of Zen is to catch life as it flows. There is nothing extraordinary or mysterious about Zen. I raise my hand ; I take a book from the other side of the desk ; I hear the boys playing ball outside my window; I see the clouds blown away beyond the neighbouring wood: — in all these I am practising Zen, I am living Zen. No wordy discussions is necessary, nor any explanation. I do not know why — and there is no need of explaining, but when the sun rises the whole world dances with joy and everybody’s heart is filled with bliss. If Zen is at all conceivable, it must be taken hold of here.”

You won’t be able to explain your happiness:

“No amount of wordy explanations will ever lead us into the nature of our own selves. The more you explain, the further it runs away from you. It is like trying to get hold of your own shadow. You run after it and it runs with you at the identical rate of speed.”

“As far as the content goes, there is none in either *satori* or Zen that can be described or presented or demonstrated for your intellectual appreciation. For Zen has no business with ideas, and *satori* is a sort of inner perception — not the perception, indeed, of a single individual object but the perception of Reality itself, so to speak.”

Compassion is essential:

“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.”

This article was originally published on The Power of Ideas.

 

 

 

The Dalai Lama Reveals the Ultimate Morning Ritual That Will Brighten Your Day

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How do you usually start your day? If you’re like most of us, it involves hitting the alarm clock several times before struggling to get your body out of bed.

But perhaps there’s a better way.

Instead of dreading the day ahead, what if we embraced gratitude and kindness? What if we actually told ourselves we will make the most of the upcoming day?

Would you achieve more? Would you be more kind and compassionate to others?

According to the Dalai Lama, you just might.

Here’s how the Dalai Lama recommends you start your mornings

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good way to start your day!

To get into this positive mindset, it can help to practice meditation. Here are 6 steps you can use every morning that will help you cultivate a positive attitude like The Dalai Lama.

A meditation practice that will help you let go negativity

1. Find a comfortable position.

This could be on a chair, cushion or lying down.

2. Notice and relax your body.

Try to feel your body, and let any bodily tension let go and relax.  Just breathe.

3. Tune into your breath.

Feel the natural flow of breath—in, out. You don’t need to do anything to your breath. Not long, not short, just natural. Notice where you feel your breath in your body.

4. Be kind to your mind.

Yes you will have thoughts and your mind might wander. This is natural and happens to everyone. Just accept the thought is there and bring your attention back to your breath.

5. Stay for five to seven minutes.

That’s all you need to do. Just try your best to focus on your breath.

6. Check in before check out.

After a few minutes, check your bodily sensations again and relax any tension as you breath out.

This article was originally published on The Power of Ideas. 

11 Little Known Laws of Mindfulness That Will Change the Way You Live Your Life

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Ever heard of mindful living? It’s become incredibly popular in recent years thanks to countless scientific research studies showing its benefits.

The truth is, mindfulness practice has been around for centuries thanks to spiritual teacher Gautama Buddha, who founded Buddhism.

The basis of mindfulness is being aware of what’s happening in the present moment without judging it or wishing it were different.

While the practice offers many benefits, you need to consistently keep at it to reap the rewards.

Below we’ll talk about the 11 principles of mindfulness so you can adopt them in your daily life.

1) Your only reality is THIS MOMENT, right here, right now.

This famous quote from Buddha sums up this principle best: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

The past is an illusion. The future hasn’t arrived. The only thing that’s real is what’s happening right now.

2) A negative thought is harmless unless you believe it.

Thoughts come and go all the time. It’s natural. Suffering occurs when we attach ourselves to our thoughts. The reality is, our thoughts don’t really mean anything and they’re not who we are. When you take a step and observe your thoughts from a distance, you realize that if you’re observing them, then they can’t be you. Eckhart Tolle says it best:

“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”

3) You will not be punished for your anger, you will punished by it.

We all get angry from time to time, but acting on this anger rarely results in something positive. It’s easy to get angry, but true courage involves doing something productive about it. When you realize that the present moment is all we have,  you’ll come to understand that life is too short to spend time being upset and angry.

As Lao Tzu said:

“The best fighter is never angry.”

4)  Inner peace is knowing how to belong to oneself, without external validation.

Many people are concerned about what other people think of them. But you don’t look to others to find yourself. You are who you are and what others think about you doesn’t make a difference to that. Osho provides some inspirational advice to not care what other people think of you:

“Nobody can say anything about you. Whatsoever people say is about themselves. But you become very shaky, because you are still clinging to a false center. That false center depends on others, so you are always looking to what people are saying about you. And you are always following other people, you are always trying to satisfy them. You are always trying to be respectable, you are always trying to decorate your ego. This is suicidal. Rather than being disturbed by what others say, you should start looking inside yourself…

Whenever you are self-conscious you are simply showing that you are not conscious of the self at all. You don’t know who you are. If you had known, then there would have been no problem— then you are not seeking opinions. Then you are not worried what others say about you— it is irrelevant!

Your very self-consciousness indicates that you have not come home yet.”

5) Everything is created twice, first in your mind and then in your life.

Our brains are powerful instruments and they create the world around us. And the truth is that you won’t act unless your brain knows what you’re doing. So have your plans and goals in place, and then take action.

“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi

6) We ourselves must walk the path.

Life comes with many challenges and adversities for everyone, but the one thing with have control over is how much effort and willpower we put into something. We can’t attach our happiness or success towards outside objects. It all lies within us.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha

7) To strongly believe in something, and not live it, is dishonest.

Don’t bend to what “society” wants you to be. Don’t change who you are so other people will accept you. It’s important to be authentic and follow your heart. Characterize yourself by your actions and you will never be fooled by other people’s words.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss

8) The right path and the easy path are rarely the same path.

You’ll eventually come to realize that struggle is what makes you grow, and it’s always worth it. While every step may be tough, it will lead you to where you want to go. Just because something seems difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. In fact, it’s all the more reason to chase your goals.

“Those who have failed to work toward the truth have missed the purpose of living.” – Buddha

9) If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs.

So many people ask themselves questions like “what am I passionate about?” to find their purpose in life. However, a better question is “what is worth suffering for?” This will help you find what you truly want to do, and your life will be more fulfilling because of it.

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

10) Over-committing is the antithesis of living a peaceful, mindful life.

So many of us have a massive to-do lists filled with tasks that we couldn’t possibly finish in one day. We think we have to be busy all the time. However, sometimes it can be more rewarding to focus on one task at a time and mindfully be absorbed by it. We also need time to rest and appreciate the beauty of life.

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” – Steve Maraboli

11) When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little.

As human beings, what is it that’s so alluring about control? We desire the certainty and comfort. The irony is that there is actually no such thing as control. We are never in control. Ever. The sooner we grasp this and learn to go with the flow a little more, the easier life will be.

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese Proverb

This article was originally published on The Power of Ideas. 

The 5 Causes of Suffering According to Buddhism And How You Can Overcome Them

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We all encounter mental roadblocks in life. To feelings of self-doubt to anxiety and depression, mental hindrances can be extremely tough to deal with.

However, we’re not the first human beings that suffered from such obstacles.

Buddhist monks and philosophers have studied and practiced the art of freeing the mind from these negative emotions that tie us to what they call the Wheel of Suffering.

They found 5 common hindrances to the mind.

We’ve gone through each of them below and we’ve also discussed how we can actually go about overcoming these obstacles for a peaceful and happy life.

1) The Mental Hindrance of Desire for Sensing.

What is it:

The hindrance of sensory desire is latching onto thoughts or feelings based on the pleasures of the five senses.

Buddhist master Traleg Kyabgon explains it best:

“This term alludes to the mind’s tendency to latch on to something that attracts it–a thought, a visual object, or a particular emotion. When we allow the mind to indulge in such attractions, we lose our concentration. So we need to apply mindfulness and be aware of how the mind operates; we don’t necessarily have to suppress all these things arising in the mind, but we should take notice of them and see how the mind behaves, how it automatically grabs onto this and that.”

How to overcome it:

To overcome the hindrance of sensory desire, the meditator must use mindfulness and acknowledge the hindrance. Then they must observe the hindrance and experience it fully. Once experienced fully, the meditator must contemplate the impermanence of the pleasant desire. Buddhist master Ajahn Brahmavamso emphasizes the technique for letting go of concern for the body and five senses completely:

“In meditation, one transcends sensory desire for the period by letting go of concern for this body and its five sense activity. Some imagine that the five senses are there to serve and protect the body, but the truth is that the body is there to serve the five senses as they play in the world ever seeking delight. Indeed, the Lord Buddha once said, “The five senses ARE the world” and to leave the world, to enjoy the other worldly bliss of Jhana, one must give up for a time ALL concern for the body and its five senses.”

2) The Mental Hindrance of Aversion and Ill-Will.

What is it:

This involves latching onto thoughts or feelings based on hostility, anger, resentment, bitterness etc.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Ill will refers to the desire to punish, hurt or destroy. It includes sheer hatred of a person, or even a situation, and it can generate so much energy that it is both seductive and addictive. At the time, it always appears justified for such is its power that it easily corrupts our ability to judge fairly. It also includes ill will towards oneself, otherwise known as guilt, which denies oneself any possibility of happiness. In meditation, ill will can appear as dislike towards the meditation object itself, rejecting it so that one’s attention is forced to wander elsewhere.”

How to overcome it:

According to Ajahn Brahmavamso, meditation on loving-kindness is crucial:

“Ill will is overcome by applying Metta, loving kindness. When it is ill will towards a person, Metta teaches one to see more in that person than all that which hurts you, to understand why that person hurt you (often because they were hurting intensely themselves), and encourages one to put aside one’s own pain to look with compassion on the other.”

3) The Mental Hindrance of Lethargy and Laziness.

What is it:

This is characterized as a morbid state of lacking energy and desire for wholesome activity.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Sloth and torpor refers to that heaviness of body and dullness of mind which drag one down into disabling inertia and thick depression. […] In meditation, it causes weak and intermittent mindfulness which can even lead to falling asleep in meditation without even realising it!”

How to overcome it:

To overcome laziness, we need to use our energy sources. Ajahn Brahmavamso says:

“Sloth and torpor is overcome by rousing energy. Energy is always available but few know how to turn on the switch, as it were. Setting a goal, a reasonable goal, is a wise and effective way to generate energy, as is deliberately developing interest in the task at hand. A young child has a natural interest, and consequent energy, because its world is so new. Thus, if one can learn to look at one’s life, or one’s meditation, with a ‘beginner’s mind’ one can see ever new angles and fresh possibilities which keep one distant from sloth and torpor, alive and energetic.”

4) The Mental Hindrance of Restlessness and Regret.

What is it: 

This refers to the mind being agitated and unable to settle down. Ajahn Brahmavamso explains it best:

“Restlessness [uddhacca] refers to a mind which is like a monkey, always swinging on to the next branch, never able to stay long with anything. It is caused by the fault-finding state of mind which cannot be satisfied with things as they are, and so has to move on to the promise of something better, forever just beyond. […] Remorse [kukkucca] refers to a specific type of restlessness which is the kammic effect of one’s misdeeds.”

How to overcome it:

Gil Fronsdal says it’s about understanding what makes you restless and accepting it and taking action:

“[There are] a variety of ways to engage restlessness, be present for it. […] [One is] learning, reflecting, meditating and contemplating what the nature of restlessness is. […] There might be a really good cause for you to be restless. […] Maybe you haven’t paid your taxes in ten years. […] [In this case] you don’t need meditation, you need to pay your taxes. You don’t use meditation to run away from the real issues of your life. […] Sometimes what’s needed is to really look and understand are there root causes for being restless.”


5) The Mental Hindrance of Doubt and Uncertainty.

What is it: 

This involves self-doubt and not truly understanding oneself.

Ajahn Brahmavamso states:

“Doubt refers to the disturbing inner questions at a time when one should be silently moving deeper. Doubt can question one’s own ability “Can I do This?”, or question the method “Is this the right way?”, or even question the meaning “What is this?”. It should be remembered that such questions are obstacles to meditation because they are asked at the wrong time and thus become an intrusion, obscuring one’s clarity.”

How to overcome it:

According to Ajahn Brahmavamso, this is overcome by having clear instructions and a way to move forward. He says:

“Such doubt is overcome by gathering clear instructions, having a good map, so that one can recognise the subtle landmarks in the unfamiliar territory of deep meditation and so know which way to go. Doubt in one’s ability is overcome by nurturing self-confidence with a good teacher. A meditation teacher is like a coach who convinces the sports team that they can succeed.”

This article was originally published on Hack Spirit.

21 Soothing Quotes From Zen Philosophy That Will Help You Overcome Anxiety and Stress

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More often than people realize, psychological distress is caused by some combination of lack of meaning, lack of social engagement, and lack of spirituality.  These and other existential issues aren’t always discussed in Western therapies, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

However, eastern philosophy has delved deep into these topics. They encourage us to ask deep questions about life so we can experience peace and stillness.

One of the biggest contemporary problems in society is dealing with anxiety. Below we’ve selected eastern philosophy’s top quotes that will help soothe your soul so you can experience peace.

On acceptance

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu

“It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your failure to appreciate theirs.”  – Confucius

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan W. Watts

On comparing yourself

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” – Lao Tzu

On the present moment

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” – Alan W. Watts

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.” – Alan W. Watts

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

On your dreams

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.” – Lao Tzu

On beauty

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

On minimalism

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

On silence

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius

When you someone good

“When you see a good person, think of becoming like her/him. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points.”  – Confucius

We’re all connected

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.” – Alan W. Watts

Embrace all emotions

“Experience life in all possible ways — good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.” ― Osho

“Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.”  – Osho

On self-love

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

Our real purpose in life

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – The Dalai Lama

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Osho Reveals the Simple Secret to Happiness (Without Any BS)

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Life is filled with obstacles, but many gurus in the past have been through these challenges and can help us with our journey. That’s why reading passages from old sages and mystics can be so valuable. I came across this amazing advice from Osho that I just had to share because it gets straight to the point of what a happy life entails. Check it out:

“That is the simple secret of happiness. Whatever you are doing, don’t let past move your mind; don’t let future disturb you. Because the past is no more, and the future is not yet. To live in the memories, to live in the imagination, is to live in the non-existential. And when you are living in the non-existential, you are missing that which is existential. Naturally you will be miserable, because you will miss your whole life.”

This statement echoes Eckhart Tolle’s advice:

“Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? what could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”

The present moment is we all have. So the question is, how we can start living more in the now?

Here are 7 steps to mindful living:

1) Do one thing at a time.

Don’t multi-task. When you’re pouring water, just pour water. When you’r eating, just eat.

2) Do it slowly.

No need to rush anything. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed or random.

3) Do Less.

You can focus on what you’re doing slowly, completely and with more concentration.

4) Spend time doing nothing.

Sit in silence, and be aware of your thoughts. Don’t try to change or judge them. Just be.

5) When you’re talking to someone, be present.

Focus on what they’re saying, without judgement, and try to avoid thinking about anything else.

6) Eat slowly and savor your food.

There’s no joy in cramming your food down your throat. Really enjoy the tastes and textures of your meals so you can get the most out of it.

7) Savor every moment.

Intentionally focus on the sights and sounds around you. Tap into your senses.

 

 

A Psychologist Reveals 5 Mindfulness Techniques That Literally Strengthen Your Mind

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Do you practice mindfulness? Ever wondered how you’re actually improving mind?

The truth is, it can take weeks or months before you experience any of the amazing benefits you’ve read about. This can cause many people to give up their mindfulness practice.

However, it’s important to remember you ARE changing your brain every time you consciously focus on the present moment without judgment.

I came across this brilliant explanation From Dr. Christopher Willard, who has written a book called Growing Up Mindful.

In it, he explains when you’re practising mindfulness, you’re building your emotional strength, ability to let go, and concentration.

Behind each point below, I’ve also offered different techniques you can use to practice what Dr. Christopher Willard mentions.

1) Each time you focus on or return to the anchor, you are building your concentration

This is rather self-explanatory, but it’s important to remember.

When you practice mindfulness, you’re focusing your attention on something in the present moment. This could be your breath, an object in the environment, or even somebody talking. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but keep in mind that every time you consciously do this, you’re building your focus and concentration skills.

If you can do this several times for even 30 seconds a day, then eventually your concentration levels will dramatically enhance.

2) Each time you focus on the anchor, you detach from your thought stream. This is a practice of letting go in the moment, which translates to letting go in the rest of the world.

I think we can all agree that the art of letting go is perhaps one of the toughest mindfulness teachings.

It’s natural for humans to attach ourselves to relationships, positive mental states or material objects. Yet according to Buddha, attachments causes suffering.

By focusing your attention on anything in the present moment, you can consciously practising the art of letting go. Someone who is fully present and open has fully let go of the past or future attachments.

Just like above, to practice this, simply remember to focus your attention throughout the day on what’s happening right now.

3) Each time you notice that the mind is wandering, that is the moment of mindfulness—not a moment of failure.

Many people get themselves down because they think they can’t practice mindfulness as their mind wanders too much. This is not the case. Mindfulness is simply noticing what’s happening within you and outside you.

If you can catch yourself mind wandering, you’re well on your way to creating a gap between the observer and the mind. When you’re able to do this, you’re on your way to achieving enlightenment.

So, instead of beating yourself up when your mind wanders, simply take a step back and notice what’s going on in your mind. Eventually you’ll be able to not identify with your mind which will offer you enormous liberation from conditioned and reactive thought patterns.

4) Each time you are kind to yourself when your mind wanders, instead of criticizing yourself, you are exercising and strengthening your self-compassion for challenging moments in the rest of your daily life.

Every time you notice that your mind is wandering, it’s an opportunity to be kind to yourself.

So many people beat themselves up when their mind wanders, particularly when meditating. But this simply stirs up negative emotions and makes your mind go around circles.

Instead, be thankful when you notice your mind is wandering. As explained above, taking a step back and watching your mind work IS mindfulness.

5) Each time you notice where the mind is wandering, that is an opportunity for insight into your mind’s habits and patterns—what we might call wisdom or self-understanding

Creating a gap between the observer and the mind offers enormous liberation. You’ll realize that you’re not your thoughts, or your brain’s conditioned reactions, but that you’re the one who is watching what’s going on. Spiritual master Osho describes this as “the first time you become an unconditioned, sane human being”.

To practice this, all you have to do is notice when you’re mind is wandering, and simply take a step back and watch what’s going on.

25 Profound Quotes on Meditation, Mindful Living and Peace

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If you’ve read anything about mindfulness or Buddhism, you’ve probably at one point given meditation a go. And if you’re like most people, you found it hard to begin with.

It’s no secret that meditation isn’t exactly easy for a mind that grew up in the west. In our constant busy lives, it’s rare that we ever get a chance to sit alone with our thoughts. So when we do, we feel agitated and uneasy.

But according to recent research, meditation could be one of the most powerful habits to adopt for our wellbeing. Countless sages and mystics have spoken about the wonders of meditation.

In order to understand the practice, how to do it and why it can be so beneficial, I thought I’d share some of the most remarkable quotes on meditation.

Hopefully these inspire you to keep at it with meditation so you get to know who you truly are.

On what meditation is

“Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.” – Alan Watts

“While meditating we are simply seeing what the mind has been doing all along.” – Allan Lokos

“This is universal. You sit and observe your breath. You can’t say this is a Hindu breath or a Christian breath or a Muslim breath.” – Charles Johnson

“The things that trouble our spirits are within us already. In meditation, we must face them, accept them, and set them aside one by one.” – Cristopher L Bennett

“One conscious breathe in and out is a meditation.” – Eckhart Tolle

On meditation practice

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.” – Ani Pema Chodron

“If you can resist the impulse to claim each and every thought as your own, you will come to a startling conclusion: you will discover that you are the consciousness in which the thoughts appear and disappear.” – Annamalai Swami

“Be conscious of yourself as consciousness alone, watch all the thoughts come and go. Come to the conclusion, by direct experience, that you are really consciousness itself, not its ephemeral contents.” – Annamalai Swami

“If you cultivate the attitude of indifference towards the mind, gradually you will cease to identify with it.” – Annamalai Swami

“If you pay attention to thoughts and feelings while you meditate and try to use them to evaluate how well or how badly you are meditating, you will never reach the ultimate silence. Instead you will just get bogged down in mental concepts.” – Annamalai Swami

“If you can be continuously aware of each thought as it rises, and if you can be so indifferent to it that it doesn’t sprout or flourish, you are well on the way to escaping from the entanglements of mind.” – Annamalai Swami

On the benefits of meditation

“As gold purified in a furnace loses its impurities and achieves its own true nature, the mind gets rid of the impurities of the attributes of delusion, attachment and purity through meditation and attains Reality.” – Adi Shankara

“Self-observation is the first step of inner unfolding.” – Amit Ray

“Through meditation, the Higher Self is experienced.” – Bhagavad Gita

“When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a candle in a windless place.” – Bhagavad Gita

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” – Buddha

“If every 8-year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” – Dalai Lama

“Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.” – Eckhart Tolle

“All you need to do is recognize your true position as the witness. You only have to do this for some time, until the spell is broken. Even after the spell is broken these mental tendencies may arise, but without any power, just like you can see the moon in the daylight.” – Mooji

On your feelings

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” –  Thich Nhat Hanh

On mindful living

“If you have time to breathe you have time to meditate. You breathe when you walk. You breathe when you stand. You breathe when you lie down.” – Ajahn Amaro

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray

“Life is a mystery – mystery of beauty, bliss and divinity. Meditation is the art of unfolding that mystery.” – Amit Ray

“Don’t worry about whether you are making progress or not. Just keep your attention on the Self twenty-four hours a day. Meditation is not something that should be done in a particular position at a particular time. It is an awareness and an attitude that must persist through the day.” – Annamalai Swami

 

Buddha’s 7 Factors of Enlightenment (and How You Can Actually Get There)

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Have you heard of the Tripitak? It’s a famous Buddhist texture detailing the 7 factors of enlightenment. They are:

Dhamma’s keen investigation or dhammavicaya
Mindfulness or sati
Rapture or piti
Energy or viriya
Equanimity or upekkha
Calm or passaddhi
Concentration or samadhi
Buddhism is all about the end of suffering and achieving enlightenment. It says that a person who is focused on the attainment of enlightenment must be aware of the impediments that holds her/him back from achieving enlightenment.

Buddhism says that life is suffering, which is caused by avijja or ignorance. The Buddha says that “It is ignorance that smothers, and it is carelessness that makes it invisible. The hunger of craving pollutes the world, and the pain of suffering causes the greatest fear.”

What causes ignorance? According to the Tripitak, there are 5 hindrances:

The five hindrances

Sensuality or kamacchanda
Obduracy of mind
Ill-will or vyapada
Mental factors or thinamiddha
Doubt or vicikiccha
Many of these hindrances have to do with having an undisciplined mind. According to the Dalai Lama, “Whether our action is wholesome or unwholesome depends on whether that action or deed arises from a disciplined or undisciplined state of mind. It is felt that a disciplined mind leads to happiness and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering, and in fact it is said that bringing about discipline within one’s mind is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching.”

So, the question is:

How can we discipline our minds?!

The Tripika says that mindfulness and meditation are the key to self-mastery. Buddha said that “Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom. – Buddha

In fact, this is what Steve Jobs found:

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”