Simple Ways to Reduce Stress, Create Energy, and Find Happiness

Many people are looking for ways to feel happy these days. The secret, I think, can be found in buddhist teachings…with the simple ideas that happiness is awareness and that the future is formed from the present. Sometimes we worry so much about the future that, as Thich Nhat Hanh expresses in Touching Peace, we sacrifice the present for the future.

In my own pursuit of finding contentment, I've found that a reminder helps me raise my consciousness of the present moment and to live for that day. My exercise is to get up each morning and say to myself…

Today is beautiful because

Then I finish that thought.

Today is beautiful because the rain is dancing on the windows.

Today is beautiful because I can see the hummingbird flirting with the fuchsia.

Today is beautiful because I am warm.

I've also started sharing my thoughts with others at times, like my spouse:

Today is beautiful because you came home safely to me.

I'll repeat the exercise more than once a day sometimes, as I feel the need for a reminder. If you'll do this, not only will you feel happier, but you will feel grateful, being appreciative of even the littlest things, and find yourself not taking so many things for granted.

The book "The Tao of Abundance: Eight Ancient Principles for Living Abundantly in the 21st Century" by Laurence G. Boldt , lists the following methods of cultivating qi (pronounced "chee" with spelling variations of ch'i or ki) and feelings of abundance.

  • Be cheerful.
  • Breathe.
  • Move your body.
  • Rest your body.
  • Master your emotions.
  • Meditate.
  • Simplify.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Eat well.
  • Cultivate an awareness of your surroundings.

So simple and basic, yet so profound. Practicing the above principles will almost certainly bring happiness and fulfillment, and increase energy while reducing stress. The intention of this entry is to serve as a reminder and a guide.

I recommend the book, "The Tao of Abundance: Eight Ancient Principles for Living Abundantly in the 21st Century" by Laurence G. Boldt for those seeking true and pure contentment and those wanting to find balance and meaning in life. I do think it's a book for everyone: young, mid-life, old. Don't let the title influence you either way.

I also strongly recommended listening to "Power Of Myth", an audio CD of conversations between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. From that work —

Campbell: "Have you ever read Sinclair Lewis' Babbit?

Moyers: "Not in a long time."

Campbell: "Remember the last line? 'I have never done the thing that I wanted to do in all my life.' That is a man who never followed his bliss. Well, I actually heard that line when I was teaching at Sarah Lawrence. Before I was married, I used to eat out in the restaurants of town for my lunch and dinners. Thursday night was the maid’s night off in Bronxville, so that many of the families were out in restaurants. One fine evening I was in my favorite restaurant there, and at the next table there was a father, a mother, and a scrawny boy about twelve years old. The father said to the boy, 'Drink your tomato juice.'

And the boy said, 'I don’t want to.'

Then the father, with a louder voice, said, 'Drink your tomato juice.'

And the mother said, 'Don’t make him do what he doesn’t want to do.'

The father looked at her and said, 'He can’t go through life doing what he wants to do. If he does only what he wants to do, he’ll be dead. Look at me. I've never done a thing I wanted to in all my life.'

And I thought, 'My God, there’s Babbit incarnate!'

That’s the man who never followed his bliss. You may have a success in life, but then just think of it — what kind of life was it? What good was it — you’ve never done the thing you wanted to do in all your life. I always tell my students, go where your body and soul want to go. When you have the feeling, then stay with it, and don’t let anyone through you off."

Moyers: "What happens when you follow your bliss?"

Campbell: "You come to bliss."

So to that list of things to do to make you happy and fulfilled, I would add:
Read or listen to an inspiring book … starting with the three mentioned in this article.

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