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Zen & The Art of Happiness July 8, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.

Chris Prentiss commences Zen & The Art of Happiness with a profound thought:

There is only one way to achieve lasting happiness.  That way is simple: Be happy.

Rather than exploring all the “ins and out” of Zen, Chris introduces readers to its essence ~ experiencing life in the here and now through awareness and an alert curiosity.

Our view of the world creates our reality. 

How we choose to view events and experiences creates happiness or unhappiness.  

When we view everything that happens as the best possible event that could occur, there is no reason not to be happy . . .

Right here, right now. 

We no longer waste time and energy bemoaning our fate.  We stop getting in the way of our own happiness.  We learn to dance in the rain.

For years, we’ve allowed our thoughts free rein to gravitate to the “worst case scenario” . . . here’s a chance to put our imaginations to better use.   

We can choose thoughts that eliminate unnecessary stress.

Whenever we imagine a bad outcome to a past, present, or future event, we cause ourselves unnecessary stress. 

Instead of getting caught up in daily dramas, we can choose to reframe our default settings:

* The Universe does not make mistakes.
* The path is unfolding as it should.
* Everything happens for our ultimate benefit.

If we choose to speculate on the good that will arise from a given event, we eliminate stress and create happiness . . . right here, right now.

Being happy NOW increases our capacity for happiness LATER. 

Our bodies, brains, and beliefs have a complex inter-relationship with each other.  Without getting into all the meta-physics, there’s a simple reason to be happy now:

When we think happy thoughts TODAY, we create cells that are designed to feel happiness, making it easier for us to be happy TOMORROW.

So don’t worry. Be happy.

How we relate to the issue IS the issue.

If we see events as beneficial to our long-term growth, we stop tormenting ourselves by judging them as good, bad, right, or wrong.  Instead, we view what  happens with acceptance, peace, and happiness.

As we let go of our resistance to the what is, we free up energy to live our lives in the here and now ~ the only place where happiness resides.

Happiness arises as we access our inner peace and wisdom.

Instead of being tossed around by the waves and currents in our daily lives (i.e., the tyranny of events), we learn to dive deep into the stillness and calm that is always present at the center of our being.

As we become centered in the here and now, our awareness shifts from the daily dramas which surround us, to the inner wisdom within us.

At the level of spirit . . . it’s all good.

We are not mired in the past by sad, stale thoughts.  We’re not caught up in endless worry about the future.  We are right here, right now . . . where happiness, joy, peace, tranquility, and serenity reside.

Enjoy this moment.  It won’t last.  The future soon will be the past.  The day quickly becomes the night.  Fill your life with delight.

Quote:  Try spiritual practice and see for yourself. ~ The Buddha

No rules. Just write!

What about you? 

Has time’s passage ever shifted your perspective ~ transforming perceived “negatives” into positives?

Related posts:  It’s All Good * What’s The BEST That Could Happen? * The “It Could Be Worse” Game * The Serenity Principle * When A Cyber Friend Goes Missing * When Ego Wins . . . You Lose * Better Thoughts -> Better Results


1. Tilly Bud - July 8, 2011

I do believe that sometimes you have to make a conscious decision to be happy. To find the silver lining, the positive. It might feel fake at first, but you can make it happen.

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

I agree. When we master our thoughts, we master our life.

The more we “force” our minds to search for the positives . . . the more positive we become. We create new “pathways” in the mind that help keep us on an even keel. 😀

hugmamma - July 9, 2011

Totally agree! The alternative is unhealthy and unattractive, I think. Positive begets positive…negative begets negative. I’d prefer to hang with positive spirits who inspire me to live my best life.

hugs…hugmamma. 😉

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

I’ve found that I’m either in a negative spiral or a positive one. The more I look for the good . . . the more good I see. 😀

2. Maggie - July 8, 2011

The “tyranny of events” is the most accurate phrase I’ve heard in a long time.

You need a reason to be sad, but you don’t need a reason to be happy. (I forget where I heard that…) So just be happy. 🙂

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

Oh, I love that thought, Maggie. I agree. Our thoughts make us sad because of the “spin” we put on events.

When we stop thinking and allow ourselves to “just be” in the moment, happiness surfaces of its own accord. 😎

3. Piglet in Portugal - July 8, 2011

Has time’s passage ever shifted your perspective ~ transforming perceived “negatives” into positives?

Yes! My daughters move date was delayed several months which meant she had to stay with her inlaws for three months. She was in the latter stages of pregancy so very grouchy. When the baby was born she was bed-bound for 5weeks. I pointed out to her just last week that God works in mysterious ways. If she had moved to her new home on the planned date she would have been alone, in a strange area plus she would have had all the stresses of the move to contend with. So from a negative came a positive.


nrhatch - July 8, 2011

Perfect example, PiP!

Experiences seem negative because our vantage point is limited. We are lost in the trees.

Once we move farther along the path, we see more of the forest. Our changed vantage point provides clarity.

When we look over our shoulder, and take a retrospective glance at the negatives (e.g., being diagnosed with a tumor, having to undergo surgery, dealing with a flooded basement), our perspective has shifted.

With expanded cognition, we find that the “negative events” we resisted resulted in valuable lessons and navigational aids for our journey.

We learned something we needed to know. We received a nudge in the right direction ~ a shortcut to becoming who we were always intended to be.


4. kateshrewsday - July 9, 2011

I must read this, Nancy. I’ve always meant to.

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

I enjoyed it ~ another great reminder that the thoughts we think create the reality in which we reside.

We don’t have control over everything that happens to us . . . but we have control over how we choose to view it.

5. CMSmith - July 9, 2011

Good perspectives and important to try to incorporate in our lives. However, you say we need to “think” happy thoughts. I agree. But there have been times in my life when my thoughts are not the ruling force, my emotions are. That’s where the real challenge comes in.

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

I suspect the problem isn’t the e-motion . . . which ebbs and flows. It’s the thoughts we assign to our emotions, making them stick around longer than necessary.

Without thoughts to trap our emotions in place: Sadness wells up. We cry. And it drifts away.

With thoughts, we say, “I’ll miss them so much. I’ll never be happy again. I’m so sad I could die.” The sadness can’t drift away because we keep recalling it with our thoughts.

hugmamma - July 9, 2011

But in time, you always seem to come around to your positive self. I’ve seen that in your blog posts. I think sometimes we can give in to what we’re feeling in the moment, we’re only human. When the moment passes, and it will, we can add it to our life experiences…our armament against ongoing negativity.

you, my friend, have quite an armament to fend against some enormous challenges…hugs. 😉

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

Wonderful points, hugmamma.

We need to embrace our emotions as they arise ~ anger, sadness, happiness, sorrow. That’s part of the human condition.

But once we FEEL the emotion, we need to let it go. We are adding to our suffering if we chase after it and keep calling it back:


6. ElizOF - July 10, 2011

“The Universe does not make mistakes….” I find great joy and succor in those words and every time I start to fret, I remind myself that no matter the situation, tomorrow is another day; a chance to start afresh. I’m happy! 🙂

nrhatch - July 10, 2011

Same here.

Some people would argue that viewing the world that way is overly optimistic. So what? While others are busy looking for the “mistakes” . . . we optimists can balance out their pessimism. 😀

7. The Science of Happiness | Spirit Lights The Way - June 20, 2014

[…]  Zen and the Art of Happiness, Chris Prentiss explains why gloomy thoughts create a body that, at the cellular level, is more […]

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