Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why I Want LESS Stuff

I'm obsessed with my stuff. Contrary to what you might think a 37 year old male in the US would obsess about though, I'm obsessed with decreasing the amount of stuff I have to the bare bones of what I need to live a simple satisfied life.

When I first moved back out on my own, after 10 years of cohabitation with my ex-wife, I found myself indulging in retail therapy. I bought a new car, new glasses, new Italian jeans and other new clothes and a new plasma TV, none of which brought satisfaction or joy (okay... I really do enjoy my new little A4).

Since then, I've found the greatest pleasure in doing things - riding my bicycle(s), playing my violin, running, practicing yoga, reading - rather than obsessing over getting new stuff. I've donated far more than I've procured lately and it feels great. My home is clean and (relatively) clutterless and, while it looks like a fun toy that I may one day indulge in, I don't feel like I'm missing anything by not having an iPad yet. I even find myself feeling a bit anti-consumerist these days. How un-American...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to become an ascetic minimalist. But I am going to continue to focus on living a joyful life through experiences rather than through shopping.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Music is FUNdamental

This performance at Tedx Tokyo made me smile so big my cheeks hurt. It inspires me want to get my violin out and make a little music of my own. There is nothing like live music to make the world a better place. Please support and enjoy it every chance you get.

In the meantime, pull up a chair, maximize the screen and take 20 minutes to watch Jake Shimabukuro wow the Tedx Tokyo crowd with ukulele playing like you've never seen before (unless you've seen Jake before of course.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Art of Happiness

Reading is a great way to change your perspective and sometimes even your demeanor. The Art of Happiness, by Dr. Howard C. Cutler and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was recommended to me and seemed like a great place to begin my journey towards increased contentment with life and becoming a nicer person to be around.

I copied many of my favorite nuggets into my notebook for continued reflection and I will touch on them here from time to time. First are two short quotes from HHDL - the kernel of how I have become a happy person - which are encountered near the front of the book.

By bringing about a certain inner discipline, we can undergo a transformation of our attitude, our entire outlook and approach to living.

...happiness is determined more by ones state of mind than by external events.

These are an affirmation of my belief that I have ultimate control of who I am and how I feel. Through mindful awareness I have the ability to overhaul my perspective from within. My happiness cannot be created nor destroyed by anyone but me and I control it all within my mind.

What is the secret to your happiness?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Writing and Happiness

Ever since I decided to consciously strive to be The Nicest Person You'd Ever Meet, I find that I am a happier person. In fact I would even call myself "a happy person," which may not mean much to you unless you've known the cynical, unhappy me.

In my past I've used writing as a way to resolve my unhappiness periodically. Writing was like cognitive therapy exercise that read as rambling rants about whatever had rubbed me the wrong way most recently. But now that I'm in generally good spirits, I have not had the compulsion to write for medicinal reasons, which has manifested itself in a dearth of compositions.

Therefore, it is time that I seek alternative motives to spur me on. And what better than to share the inspirations for my happiness; an exploration of and focus on what is important to me - the consequentialities of my life. I have no doubt that putting these cheery thoughts in writing and sharing the things that make me smile will only magnify their effects on me. Hopefully they'll make you smile too.