Author Archives: Ben

Note to self about shopping…

Must remember to check the Good Shopping Guide before buying certain products in the future – it ranks pretty much every brand for most kind of things we buy for the home – and equally important, banks, fuel, energy providers. It focuses on UK brands, but a lot are international, and it’s pretty easy to translate the idea to local brands here in Spain for example.

http://www.thegoodshoppingguide.com/

Beautiful Autumn Gifts

Being Happiness - Gifts from God

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Twice in the past few days I’ve walked into our bathroom to find a golden autumn leaf delicately balanced on the open windowsill, that’s blown down from a tree outside the window. Here’s today’s leaf in the photo above. It’s like a gift from “God”, the Universe, whatever you choose to call it, given for no particular reason. Maybe to wake me up a little bit.

“[God] is always making little surprises and springing them on us when us least expect….” - The Color Purple

People Are Good

Happiness, People are good

It’s easy to forget that people, other people out there in the world, are all essentially good. If someone drops something, a scarf, a wallet, a notebook, while walking down the street, the natural reaction of anyone that sees this, is to call out to them, or pick it up and chase after them.

We just want to look after each other. (Funnily enough, ants are like this! If one gets into trouble, all the other ants run over to lend a hand. I saw a child sit on a fence once, which collapsed, and hoards of humans ran over to help – just like ants!)

Why people end up killing each other, in wars etc, is a wonder, when we consider that we really want to look after each other. The dropped wallet example is simple, but we can see it at a bigger scale – earthquakes, tsunamis, the mass exodus of refugees from war zones, all lead to instant humanitarian response on a variety of levels – some people with the right skills actually go to the place to help, others quickly send donations.

I think it’s worth remembering every day that all the other people that surround us are essentially good, caring, and would look after us when needed in one way or another. Behind every scowl or stressed face there is essential goodness. Beneath all the trouble, it’s the basic loving energy that is present in all human beings.

Seeing people in this light is a wonderful key to happiness.

This morning on the train to the city I had an idea how nice it would be to give everyone on the train a piece of paper wishing them a lovely day and telling them they were really important to the world. Faced with certain practical constraints (no paper! Too shy!), I set to looking at all of the people in the carriage one by one and wishing them a really happy day in my head.

I don’t know if it will have made a difference to their day, but it made an enormous difference to mine. When I got off the train I felt enormously happy that I wanted all the other good people around me to have a wonderful day.

I hope you have a wonderful day too.

Chopping Wood

Being Happiness - Chopping Wood

I love this (I found it again in The Snow Leopard, a beautiful book about wandering paths, and The Path, in the Himalayas):

How wondrous, how mysterious!
I carry fuel, I draw water.

P’ang Chu-shih - Layman P’ang

It’s the perfect Zen idea that all the wonder of the universe is available to us in the most simple actions – if we just stop and look!

This week I’ve been stopping and chopping wood. I have a bit of free time at the moment and find that I’m drawn endlessly to surfing the net – and though I haven’t been on the computer for more than two hours a day, surfing the net makes me ‘nervioso‘ as the Spanish say – anxious, stressed, and drains me quickly of body heat.

Perhaps I’ve overdone it over the past 8 or so years of heavy net-based work, and I’m burnt out.

So I go down into the garden and chop wood. How wondrous, how mysterious! This simple mechanical action fills me with happiness (and warms me up), and makes me wonder how I can turn my life further in this direction. The internet is increasingly unfulfilling. Reality is a joy!

Soon I’ll have chopped up all the wood from the pine trees I cut back outside the house this week. We thought about cutting more back, to get more light into the house, but I don’t think I can do it, as there are blackbirds and a family of blue- or great-tits that feed and roost in them. I can’t take away more of their habitat with the excuse that we, 3 humans, need more light.

So I’ll look for other everyday manual activities that make me equally happy.

Washing up, sweeping leaves – how wondrous, how mysterious! - Why not?

Being Happiness - Chopping Wood