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Over the last year I have written about books on the subject of human happiness. I wrote about Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Todd Gilbert, a psychological and medical attempt to track happiness. Basically, as the title implies, one stumbles upon happiness; it cannot be predicted nor can one actively plan to be happy; but rather it is a matter of being receptive and stumbling upon it. Rather discouraging, I thought.

In January of this year, I wrote about Tony Hsieh’s inspiring book, Delivering Happiness, in which he describes efforts to bring happiness to the workplace and to clients. I was so struck by the results Mr. Hsieh brought to his co-workers in serving clients, and making them happy, that I joined the “Delivering Happiness” website. [You will perhaps note that in my October 2010 post I also briefly mentioned one of many books I read last year on servant leadership. The thread of thought is harmonious: service to others, co-workers and others leads to real happiness.

I'll just add here that if you are interested in developing your happiness and your strengths, and those of your co-workers, you may find books by Tom Rath superb sources for detailing how to bring natural talents to the fore resulting in well-being for oneself and others. I may write later in another post about one or more of Tom Rath's books.

But for now, I want to focus on two books that have come to my attention this year, each giving more clues for bringing happiness into our lives.

First, The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra. Quickly, here are the seven keys: [Most of my notes are Chopra's words or my thoughts and summaries as I read through the book.]

1. Be aware of your body; in Hindu concepts practicing this awareness leads to Sat, Chit, Ananda, or in English, Truth, Being, and Bliss.
2. Find true self-esteem: This refers not to self-image or others’ view of you, but a connection within to All That Is. The qualities identifying self-esteem include being creative, fearless, and experiencing an unlimited connection to life that is enhanced by synchronistic and serendipitous activities and events, an effortless connection to the flow of life.
3. Detoxify your life, not just your body, your life: take responsibility. Release and forgive, and love.
4. Give up being right: [In my notes I find the following:] “Ask, ‘Am I awake? My goal is to be happy rather than being stuck on being right.’”
5. Focus on the present: Constant renewal. In timelessness is True Self. Again, Am I awake? Bliss. Things change, yet I AM remains. [My collection of Eckhart Tolle recordings comes strongly to mind.]
6. See the world in yourself: loving kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, and beholding the wellness & success of others.
7. Live for enlightenment: “A human being is a creature who has received the order to become God.” –St. Basil

Here are some summary notes from Chopra’s description of someone living a happy life: Life flows; love motivates; your are creative and imaginative; you are guided; your choices benefit all.

The Purpose of Life: Expansion of happiness, the goal of very other goal.

Chopra gives us a formula: H = S+C=V which translates to Happiness equals your set point plus conditions of living plus voluntary activities.

I leave it to you to locate this book and give it the thoughtfulness it deserves. In most all cases, the books I describe can be found in your local library.

The second book I want to discuss is Happiness Genes: Unlock the Positive Potential Hidden in Your DNA, but James D. Baird, with Laurie Nadel. In this book we return to a medical investigation of happiness, and one that is a delight to read. Let me start out with this phrase from the book: “Ask yourself how good can it get?”

The authors lead us to understand that rather than being at the mercy of a more or less whimsical chance at happiness, indeed we can actively cultivate happiness. You will read that emotions are stored as molecules in the limbic system and you can cultivate new thinking and acting that will elevate your baseline emotional state. p.71

For those interested in the scientific details of our genomes in relation to environmental impact, and our experience of happiness, you will find this book a treasure. As you progress in reading about the blueprint of our genes, to the cultural medium of our blood, to the “central voice” of our mind, and the magnetic field of the heart, I promise that you will think differently about happiness and your capacity to nurture it.

As a start to building one’s happiness, it is helpful to learn that a Mayo Clinic study concluded: “Those activities you choose intentionally, mindfully, and proactively, are likely to improve your baseline happiness…” p.58

I felt that sense of recognition one experiences of knowing the words are true as I was reading this: “Happiness is the word most frequently associated with unconditional love and compassion.” And, though no one finds it easy to live in dire poverty or illness, at the bottom of the Maslow hierarchy, after basics are met happiness is not reserved for the rich: “Sense of well-being is not likely to change much with a higher standard of living.” p. 111

“…love, compassion, and a universal sense of responsibility are the source of peace and happiness.” Dalai Lama p.118

The authors include a 28-day program to promote natural happiness that can be summarized with these key words: Release, Reboot, Relax, and Rejoice.

After reviewing Maslow’s hierarchy, the authors list characteristics of the peak experience, a state of transcendence, to remind us what is our potential: unconditional compassion; unconditional love; inner peace; detachment; living in the moment; peak experiences; universal unity.

Sounds good to me.

Reminds me again of those Eckart Tolle purchases I made and why I need to revisit them.

Funny, back in October of 2006 I wrote that I enjoyed watching Glenn Beck; he was on CNN I believe at that time. What I liked was that he had a good sense of humor, was a bit off the wall, and didn’t take himself seriously, or so I thought. What was I thinking?? I stopped watching him shortly after he moved to Fox News and began taking himself seriously. It goes to show that either I have changed or his court jester role has turned to a rant.

I watch very little television nowadays. I still enjoy History Channel on occasion and PBS. News of interest, but not watched as often as previously, includes: Lehrer Report, Travis Smiley, and whenever I can find Soledad O’Brien, (Where has she gone?). On the Internet: Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Max Keiser. Websites: The Real News, Media Gazer, Real Clear World, Watching America.

Below are hyperlinks to websites following WikiLeaks:

From the WikiLeaks page itself, a browsing arrangement, by country and date, of the Diplomatic Cables.

The Guardian has extensive coverage of WikiLeaks, from the War Diaries of Iraq and Afghanistan to the current Embassy Cables as they are released, and includes analysis and commentary.

The Wikio is a world news portal.  From their own description, Wikio is an information portal with a news search engine that searches press sites and blogs.With Wikio you can very easily create pages to follow the breaking news that interests you. Our info is continuously updated!

Der Spiegel includes a global map and indicates level of classification of documents; all appear to be low in classification, few “secret” and none “top secret” that I can determine.

Beta Search Engine for diplomatic cables already released. Linked from a tab on the WikiLeaks website.

The New York Times posts selected WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks

I hope world governments are out-growing the political  machinations of the Cold War.  It is time to be bold and honest, transparent.  Private conversations between nations can still be practiced if the countries acknowledge that all conversations will one day be declassified and made public.  History will out all secrets.  Therefore, private conversations can be best entered into knowing that the” ears of the future”  are also sitting down at the table with the parties involved.   My hope is that WikiLeaks will help governments worldwide transition toward greater maturity in foreign relations — communication should be as transparent as possible, and private conversations kept to a minimum –  and secrets or shadow governments, no more.

The United States once was a beacon of democratic principles to the world but has fallen into greed, black-ops, invasion of privacy, and lawbreaking on a massive scale.  America is in a state of decay.   Our media is failing us; our journalists are caught up in the propaganda either by intent or by inattention.  It is heartbreaking. And it is heartbreaking to hear journalists and politicians attempt to shore up the crumbling walls of secrecy.    WikiLeaks is good for America.

Winter Reading

My recommendation for a wonderful book I listened to on CD this winter is Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. I had been looking for secrets and keys to personal happiness by reading various popular psychology trade books and came across this gem that I almost didn’t check out of the library when I read the subtitle and thought it was only a book about employee motivation.   But I decided to give it a go.  And I am grateful that I did.  I have found this business book gives practical answers for personal lives too.  So inspired by completing it, I have  joined the Delivering Happiness Movement which is a way to reinforce the practice of spreading the happiness to others.

I think those of us whose eyes have been opened about the deplorable and depressing state of world affairs, and who realize that political activism only increases polarization and hyperbole,  are choosing instead to actively envision and create for ourselves the world we prefer.  Tony Hsieh has written a book that not only shows how to lead a business to profit, but to help individuals grow and spread happiness.  Every little bit makes a difference.

Former Air Force Officers met the National Press Club today to relate their experiences with UFOs and to declare the end of secrecy and the beginning of honest dialogue with world citizens.

Obama & Biden

After supporting Ron Paul in the Presidential Primaries, all for the sake of an honest politician telling us the truth about our economy and foreign policy, I did support and vote for Obama/Biden.  They have been in office about a year and a half, facing the most complex set of challenges I believe any Presidential team has faced, and handling themselves with dignity and perseverance in the face of spiteful opposition. I have concluded that the opposition is not simply a difference of concern or position, but is the result of unwillingness to cooperate with this President or to serve the American citizenry in goodwill.

Those who are overzealous capitalists, or who are idealists still placing trust in our leaders regardless of the obvious brokenness of Washington D.C.,  cannot comprehend the abuses of global corporatocracy or separate global corporations from small business owners across this country.  The fact is the global corporatocracy and the cartel of banksters have taken this country down the road to ruin, while they are laughing all the way to the vault.  However, it appears that now even their security is in peril as the world economy approaches complete collapse.

Several months ago, I switched my focus from following the mainstream media and fretting over politics to envisioning a better world and placing my energies toward creating another reality.  I am now nurturing a more mystical, spiritual paradigm .

With a parting note about Caroline Kennedy, then, I will move onto other interests.   I saw the media storm arising around Caroline and respected her sensibilities in choosing to reconsider her run for the Senate.  I think she chose the wiser part for herself and her family.  She chose quiet dignity.

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