The Art of Happiness

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This is an excellent book and full of wonderful advice on how to achieve happiness in our modern world.  A few of my favorite points are listed below.

  • Happiness can be achieved through training the mind.
  • Success may result in a temporary feeling of elation, or tragedy may send us into a period of depression, but sooner or later our overall level of happiness tends to migrate back to a certain baseline.
  • Whether we are feeling happy or unhappy at any given moment often has very little to do with our absolute conditions, but rather it is a function of how we perceive our situation, how satisfied we are with what we have.
  • Our feelings of contentment are strongly influenced by our tendency to compare.
  • Greed is an exaggerated form of desire, based on over expectation.
  • The true antidote of greed is contentment.
  • Inner contentment is not to have what we want, but rather to want and appreciate what we have.
  • It is more sensible to spend energy focusing on the solution than worrying about the problem.

Buddhism

Siddhartha Gautama (the founder of Buddhism) was born a prince and lived a life sheltered from all suffering.  One day, he left his palace home and encountered the four signs:  old age, pain, death, and a holy man.

He decided to renounce his life of luxury and sought answers to life’s problems through suffering.  He spent years in self-deprivation, discipline, and isolation.  However, he still had no answers.

Siddhartha Gautama spent three days sitting under a fig tree.  He came to the realization that the path of moderation is the best way.  He also learned the four noble truths and achieved enlightenment.  From then on, he was known as Buddha or the Enlightened One.

While reading about Buddhism, a few questions came to mind that I think would be interesting to discuss.

Since Buddhism does not have a supreme being to worship, should it still be considered a religion?  Would you call it an atheistic religion?  Would it be better to describe Buddhism as a life philosophy?

The Four Noble Truths:

  1. Dukkha – all life is suffering
  2. Samudaya – suffering is caused by craving or desire
  3. Nirodha – to eliminate suffering, it is necessary to eliminate craving or desire
  4. Manga – to eliminate craving or desire, follow the eight fold path.

The Eight Fold Path:

  1. Right Thought
  2. Right Understanding
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Concentration
  8. Right Contemplation

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(source:  Know it All by Susan Aldridge, Elizabeth King Humphrey, Julie Whitaker)