Sharon Salzberg and Joan Halifax talk about the cultivation of happiness and wisdom through unwavering attention and the capacity to sense suffering.
Salzberg says suffering is key to happiness, that when we look at those habits of mind we’ve developed, we often don’t see things as they actually are and we act from a mistaken notion of reality and from where happiness comes.
So when we feel daily suffering such insecurity, unreliability, and even stress — things can feel off, rubbing, not in harmony. There’s this subtle feeling of being oppressed by the ways we are trying to be happy, which Salzberg says are mistaken notions.
What’s key is that we are hanging on to things that aren’t really bringing us much joy. That’s where cravings come in. She says these dopamine driven pleasure seeking loops, specifically mentioning digital media use, are contributing to less happiness by taking us away from what really matters for inner tranquility and compassion.
It’s not a question of feeling, but being overcome by getting lost in feeling-driven tunnel vision, resulting in states of fret, hostility, and anger. The states aren’t enemies, but the speakers suggest we should create a different relationship with what we experience, understanding our reactions, and understanding we have a choice.
They say we should start with development of greater concentration and move on to mindfulness. Concentration is the platform for mindfulness, and you don’t need to be an experienced meditator to do it. Instead of reliving the past or creating scenarios of the future and getting filled with anxiety, judgment, and speculation, concentration is about gathering all that scattered energy and bringing it together, so that over time we experience a much greater sense of attention and power.
One important aspect is balance, which requires relaxation and ease, and resting attention on an object, for example, the feeling of your breath or images.
Both Salzberg and Halifax clearly call for us to get out of the dopamine seeking trip that so many of us are on (especially when it comes to digital media), bringing our attention instead to one thing and to hold attention on that one thing whatever that is for you. Attention should be stable, not in a state of dispersion, where you can hold stable on a single object for a long time.
It’s not about attention for rewards, but rather the quality of unbiased attention. Without that attention, compassion is not possible because we can’t see suffering. Our bodies may recognize suffering, but we will lack the ability to perceive deeply the truth of suffering. We need to experience a certain level of stress, some quality of arousal, in order to experience compassion.
They also claim our conceptual mind is constantly charactering our world, that we are toys to our own thoughts. The ability to be transparent to the continuum of our own cognitive stream to give us a sense of what’s going on is critical in a world constantly relying on the next email, the next noise, the next collective attention deficit.
Being transparent to ourselves is important for happiness and wisdom. We should be aware of this: we have a body talking to us all the time, but we don’t have to listen to everything it tells us in how we respond and how we make decisions.
Anyway, these ladies say *the answer* is through meditation.
"After chopping off all the arms that reached out to me; after boarding up all the windows and doors; after filling all the pits with poisoned water; after building my house on a rock of a no, inaccessible to flattery and fear; after cutting out my tongue and eating it; after hurling handfuls of silence and monosyllables of scorn at my loves; after forgetting my name and the name of my birth place and the name of my race; after judging and sentencing myself to perpetual waiting and perpetual loneliness, I heard against the stones of my dungeon of syllogisms the humid, tender, insistent onset of spring.”
Sharon Salzberg, who wrote a book on Real Happiness, has words on what role, if any, pleasure seeking activities play in modest, real happiness for us and for others.
Pleasure, she notes, comes and goes so easily, but durable happiness in good times and bad, not so much.
How can we create the conditions for a culture of happiness to flourish, without relying on cravings for happiness to flourish?
Cravings for happiness? These are those endogenous chemicals that reward us for pleasure seeking every day activities, and make us want more — googling the next idea, waiting for the next tweet, staring at a woman’s chest, and so on.
Salzberg admits the importance of dopamine, serotonin, etc. for survival, but she also questions the role of cravings in finding a sense of happiness that isn’t giddy, but more like inner resourcefulness and inner strength.
Salzberg’s podcast audience brought up the following suggestions:
Experience of Connectedness
Relationships without Reward
Capacity to Notice
Altering Response to Events
Anyway, food for thought. I’m going to check out some more of these happiness podcasts, although I think wanting more of them indicates one of those temporary pleasure seeking activities…
People are using available technologies before thinking through their implications, and the consequences can be far reaching and devastating. One hundred years ago, the skills people needed to survive and sustain the earth were far simpler than those needed today. It is imperative that we begin thinking seriously about the thinking that drives us and that will — like it or not — determine the future of life on our planet.Read more at business.in.com
Be Drunk by Charles Baudelaire translated by Louis Simpson
You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.
But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking…ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”
Humility defined: a “modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.”
Dominant values disparage such talk.
More and more, it doesn’t matter what you say. Just say it louder than your competitor. You will win the attention, the work, the money. You won’t be left scolded, defeated for your thoughtful attempt at a conversation in a board room or an online chat. Don’t be so humble. Respect yourself! Be confident!
These are the keys to survival, to success.
But importance is not capabilities, nor accomplishments. Importance is not the basis of self-esteem. How important is any one human, anyway? And if so, for how long?
Even intentions of modest importance can slip easily to self-importance.
If contentment is the only goal (and what other goal would there be?!), the veil of self-importance can lead you astray.
What happens when we surrender to the moment, to humility? What happens when we think like scientists, like humble skeptics who can prove ourselves wrong?
When you awake to nobody, it may be way better than it sounds.
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best. And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest: Lives in one hour more than in years do some Whose fat blood sleeps as it slips along their veins. Life’s but a means unto an end; that end, Beginning, mean, and end to all things—God. The dead have all the glory of the world.
"If we were all given by magic the power to read each other’s thoughts, I suppose the first effect would be that almost all friendships would be dissolved.” - Bertrand Russell
The egocentric pull has always been great, luring us away from what really matters. Long before the web, before the mobile social collective sharing of insipid details to great accomplishments, Russell warned a self-absorbed habit of thinking of oneself as compared to others would be a fatal one.
During a time in which the mass digital sharing of and ongoing feedback after an event becomes more satisfying than the act itself, the pull grows stronger.
Today, all are empowered with digital tools to pursue wealth, fame, and happiness. But while witnessing the evolution of others’ successes can be inspiring, it can also inspire envy.
If happiness, as Russell claims, comes from enjoying pleasures you have, doing the work you must do, and avoiding constant evaluation of yourself as compared to those you imagine (maybe falsely) more fortunate than yourself, then surely there’s a downside to 24/7 digitized social sharing and feel good feedback loops.
If happiness lies in these questions:
Are you humble? Are you caring?
Then it seems obvious a perhaps natural egocentric preoccupation with oneself accelerated by constant public sharing and approval will not breed happiness.
For you of course know you are superior to most everyone else. You are you! But wouldn’t life be just as wonderful regardless?
Since social media channels and the social space are not inherently marketing-focused channels, the correct approach for a business looking to see both short and long term results, is one that is NOT primarily marketing-centric, and therefore NOT primarily content-centric. Here is what that more integrated model looks like:
Social Business favors multi-functional adoption across the org
Of the three social media platforms examined, news-oriented blogs and mainstream media have the greatest overlap. Bloggers tend to credit traditional news outlets for their information and focus on the same topics, mainly political and international news. Even so, the two had the same top story for a mere 13 of the 49 weeks they were evaluated together.
Although blogs cover many of the same topics, the study found that bloggers tend to focus on more ideological and emotional stories — particularly those concerning human rights, like access to healthcare services or privacy on Facebook — and often with a personal or partisan angle. Bloggers also like to make a story out of “off-beat” or “buried” items in mainstream media coverage.
Labor induction — also known as inducing labor — is a procedure used to stimulate uterine contractions during pregnancy before labor begins spontaneously. A health care provider may recommend labor induction for various reasons, primarily when there’s concern for a mother’s health or a baby’s health.
Labor induction carries various risks, including infection and the possible need for a C-section. Sometimes the benefits of labor induction outweigh the risks, however.
Not my ideal plan for having a baby, but due to pregnancy induced hypertension, babe No. 2’s induction has been scheduled for tomorrow night! Wish me luck…I’m admittedly a bit nervous about an induction.
Thanks to the fabulous social marketing list serv, I’ve discovered a great new site. It offers specific tools, case studies, and a planning guide for helping people take actions and adopt habits that promote health, safety and/or sustainability.