Category Archives: Happiness

24,000 AND COUNTING!

I was blown away when I added up the numbers. There are 24,000 Happiness Cards somewhere out in the world spreading happiness. It all began 15 months ago with a wish to share my flower photographs with more people.

The first cards were 2″x3″ photos that I printed on my trusty Canon printer with an inspiring quotations that I glued to the back of each picture. I gave them away one at a time or left them around town for people to pick up. They were a hit.

A friend who saw them encouraged me to box them up so they could be sold and others could join me, so I did just that. If only 10% of the 24,000 cards have added to happiness in the world, my mission has been accomplished, but I’m not stopping there.

Last week I placed a new order for 8,700 cards, and thought you might like a sneak preview of some of the new ones:

When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Peace Pilgrim

When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.
Peace Pilgrim

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Henry Miller

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.
Henry Miller

We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. Buddha

We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
Buddha

To serve is beautiful, but only if it's done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind. Pearl Buck

To serve is beautiful, but only if it’s done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.
Pearl Buck

                          http://www.happinesscards.net

LIFE AS A CREATIVE ACT

As I was pondering the various aspects of creativity, my mind flipped a thought around to life itself being a creative act. While I was thinking I was so smart to have come up with that idea I decided to google the thought.  Ram Dass was way ahead of me when he said, “My life is a creative act, like a painting, like a poem.” I probably read those very words years ago, and they popped up out of my memory bank when needed. Funny how that works.

But does living creatively require some end product, like a song or a drawing? What would it look like to live life creatively with no external product?  To do so I think we have to be our authentic selves and express our uniqueness in our choices from what to wear to how we spend our time and what we pay attention to.

Serendipity provided me with an email this morning from Deepak and Oprah who had this to say about living a creative life.  “This creative power of your conscious self is a new kind of creativity. It’s not limited to artistic ability or outside-the-box problem solving. It is the power of your being to recreate the unique expression of life that is you at this present moment. That is the primal creativity of Nature itself moving through you, and this is the creative power behind all success.”

With that said, I must admit I’m happiest when I’m engaged in some creative activity that often does end as a photograph or painting or new recipe. It’s what gives my life meaning; it’s a time when I can lose myself in the activity.

Perhaps my challenge is to get that same charge from living every moment creatively. What gets in my way is falling into an unconscious routine that buries my creativity.  Being fully aware and in the moment seems to be a prerequisite for any original thought or action.

The Japanese poet, Osho preceded Ram Dass and me when he wrote:

When I say to be creative

I don’t mean

You should all go

And become great painters

And great poets.

I simply mean

Let your life

Be a painting

Let your life be a poem.

To write a poem or paint, compose music or write a book can be a wonderful experience, but incorporating small creative acts into daily life can be lots of fun, too. I stumbled upon a wonderful  website where the author, Katherine Torrini, encourages tiny acts of creativity. She suggests small, fun activities that can be done by anyone in just a few minutes. Check it out.

In the meantime, Henry Miller’s advise should go a long way toward living a creative life.  “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” 

LET THERE BE LIGHT!

I live happily in a tiny house 2 miles from the ocean, surrounded by redwoods. Who could ask for anything better? I have been very content here for the past 13 plus years. I didn’t realize what I’d been missing until my front door began to come apart at the bottom edge. No big deal, really, but my wiser landlord realized it couldn’t be repaired and would only get worse with time. So he ordered a new door with a 9 pane window, the window being a new and unexpected feature.

Installing it turned out to be a 3 day job as the new door measured 1/2″ bigger than the old one, and much sawing and ripping apart was required. But when it was finally shoved into place I had light! I had no idea how dark it had been in my living room with the solid door. I loved the new illumination, but I also saw all the spots on my pantry door I’d missed when cleaning.

That experience got me thinking about the many facets of our lives in which light plays a prominent role. A very informative article is about how life on earth is dependent on light from the sun in more ways than the obvious ones we usually think about.

Last night I was presented with another opportunity to experience light, or more accurately, lack of light. Yesterday heavy rain and fierce winds pelted the area, a perfect set-up for downed power lines. We made it through the day in my neighborhood, but at 10:30 last night all went black. I fumbled around for a flashlight, 2 of which I keep by my bed. One didn’t work because I’d “borrowed” its batteries and never replaced them, and the second I’d forgotten how to turn on.

So I went to bed. PG&E had us up and running by 10:30 this morning. I was almost disappointed. I like the infrequent power outages that remind me of one more thing I take for-granted, and I feel gratitude to Thomas Edison, PG&E and everyone else who sees to it that when I flip the switch the lights go on.

As a Quaker I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our belief of “a light within” that everyone has. When someone in our community, or someone we  know, is having a hard time we ask that all who are present hold that person in the light. We all have our own idea of what that light is, but for me I think of it as  Spirit.

Finally, I received this post from Humanity’s Team a few days ago. It’s another way to bring light into your life.

February 5th, 2015 Imagine taking deep breaths infused with light, envision this light breath filling every cell of your body with more coherent light vibrations. Imagine when you observe the beauty of the rising sun each morning that you can reinforce and feed your own light cells. Realize that the live foods you ingest also carry light particles. Think of it as eating sunlight. This supports and contributes to building a strong luminous light body.Make it a practice several times a day to pause and sense, feel or envision light coming into the crown of your head, replenishing, nourishing every cell of your physical body with life-giving and life-sustaining LIGHT.–Field of Coherent Light by Peggy Black and the ‘team’

 

SURPRISE AT THE DMV

I woke Tuesday night with a start. I hadn’t renewed my driver license on my birthday a few days before. Oh, no! I knew what I’d be doing Wednesday morning! I woke at 5:15, thanks to my feline alarm, and went through my usual “first-thing-in-the-morning” routine before facing the inevitable. I pulled up the driver’s handbook on my computer, did a quick scan of the California rules and regulations and set off for the DMV.

As I pushed open the glass door leading into the small office I was overwhelmed with a standing-room-only crowd of patiently waiting, mainly Hispanic, patrons. I’d forgotten the new California law that allows undocumented residents to apply for a driver license.

There were more than 35 people ahead of me with 2 overworked clerks. Discouraged and upset, I left to run some errands. On my return I saw I’d advanced by one number. Didn’t look promising. I returned in the afternoon, and things were only slightly better. Grrrr!

The only solution seemed to be to arrive the next morning before the doors opened. Got there at 7:30. First one to arrive. I sat in my car to stay warm until others were gathering by the doors. (Great opportunity to pass out Happiness Cards, which I did.)

Doors opened promptly at 8:00. I was second in line and was called immediately by one of the 2 clerks. I made out the necessary form and presented that and my old license to her. She scanned my papers and with a puzzled look said, “Your license hasn’t expired. You have another year! With that, I learned once again how unnecessary all the strum and drang of the past 24 hours had been.

 

WHY FLOWERS?

“Flowers are love embodied. Look deeply at the color. Feel the vibrancy. Put your nose a little closer. Look deeply. Fall inside. Start your life over right here, right now, inside a flower.” ~ Lao TzuTulipWhat a tribute to flowers Lao Tzu makes in that quote! It makes me want to do just as he suggests: soak up the vibrancy and fall inside. Following are some further thoughts about the subject that I wrote for a page on my website to explain my chosen subject matter for photography.

Of all the extravagant beauty on our earth nothing is as colorful, varied, ubiquitous and downright flamboyant as flowers. They are not only lovely to look at, but our very lives depend on them. Most of our food comes from plants that flower, are pollinated and grow into fruits, vegetables and grains. Often the grains are then fed to animals that many people eat.

For a photographer flowers are perfect subjects. They can be shot on location or brought into the studio. They pose endlessly, don’t move around and need no breaks. Each blossom has its own distinctive characteristics. Their varied forms allow me to emphasize detail in a macro photograph, delineate abstract features in black and white, or portray a group of blossoms in all their brilliant color.

You need not be a photographer to enjoy flowers. Bring a bunch of spring daffodils inside to see how they brighten a room. Buy a bunch to give to your neighbor who needs some cheering up; surprise your spouse with his/her favorite blossoms. As Luther Burbank said, “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.” Here’s to flowers! http://www.happinesscards.net

 

KEEP IT GOING

With the holidays and the traditional gift-giving season behind us it’s easy focus on our own concerns and forget about giving until next year. But if one of our concerns is feeling happy, we’d be better served by finding ways to give, give, and give some more. Science has told us in many studies that giving makes us happy. An excellent, fun to read article from Happify has lots of information and clever graphics about the science behind giving and some suggestions about how to keep it going.

The article was published before Christmas when we tend to spend more on gifts than we do throughout the year, but it’s not necessary to spend anything to make yourself and someone else feel good. A smile, a hug, a kind word from you can make someone’s day…and yours, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU MARK ZUCKERBERG

Despite my initial skepticism, fumbled beginnings and ongoing frustrations, I think I actually love Facebook. It’s taken me awhile to get the hang of it, and I often don’t know what I’m doing, but so far I haven’t made any embarrassing mistakes, that I know of.

I used to eat breakfast alone, but now I eat while catching up with what my family and friends have been up to since I checked the day before. Yes, I know, I’m doing more than one thing at a time, and interfering with mindfulness about the food I’m eating, but the pleasure I get from connecting with family members who are hundreds of miles away is worth it. I’ll be mindful later.

Inevitably I find some post that makes me laugh out loud (what better way to begin the day?), and if I take the time to look at a video or two, I’m in for more fun. It’s not just the funny stuff I like, either. I love being steered to an interesting TED talk, an inspiring quotation or article, a beautiful photograph or whatever my friends share.

Recent research tells us that senior citizens are the biggest group of new users on social media. As a senior myself I can completely understand that. I often run into younger people who seem surprised that I am on Facebook and have a website: www.happinesscards.net. I designed and put it together when I was 83. Take a look.