Wednesday, August 21, 2013

notice when you are happy

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point “If this isn’t nice I don’t know what is.”

- Kurt Vonnegut

I've found in life that whenever there's something that occurs to make you happy, soon after, or in close proximity, and sometimes in ridiculously quick succession, there's something to make you unhappy. Or, if not unhappy, unsettled, or feeling weird, or odd, or sad, or deflated. Or disillusioned. 

And it is important, extremely so, to notice when you're happy. Say, if this isn't nice I don't know what is. To just sit with that.

My way of coping with the highs and lows of the writing life, the creative life, has been to largely sustain an equilibrium. Trying not to get too excited by either great news or crumby news. 

"Develop the mind of equilibrium.
You will always be getting praise and blame,
but do not let either affect the poise of the mind:
follow the calmness, the absence of pride."

Sutta Nipata

And also, another secret: drink your tea slowly. This is generally good advice, a way to follow the calmness.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves
- slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future;
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

- Thich Nhat Hahn

On a different note, I haven't posted food photos for a while. I've mainly been sticking them on my Flickr page when they come up. Although I can't say I'm the world's healthiest eater, I have really enjoyed the book True Food by Andrew Weil.  The photography in the book is wonderful. Last night we had soba noodles, chicken and various veggies. Some kim-chi on the side. More or less inspired by or riffing on True Food. I manage to make it less healthy by adding store bought spring rolls. (They were really tasty).

And recently, also made this carrot cake from Clean Eating magazine. Which I just made with regular, old-fashioned, unhealthy cream cheese icing. Because I'm like that.


  1. Noticing when one is happy is a learned skill, I've found. I do it occasionally, but most recently, when I was teaching in SK and it was 6:00am and I really did not want to get out of bed to face my 17-hour day. But then I remembered how happy I was to be there, how blessed I was to be doing what I love and getting paid for it.

    1. You're right - it is a skill. And maybe we all need to keep reminding each other too. Thanks, KB.

  2. I'm like that too :) (I have all of Andrew Weil's books -- because I'm like that some more) :)

  3. Love this! And your food shots are great. So many options for you in life, my dear!

  4. I remember a dharma talk Thich Nhat Hahn gave once where he said when we have a toothache it is very clear to us that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing. But once the toothache goes away we tend to forget that a "non-toothache" is very pleasant. Similar to Kurt Vonnegut's Uncle Alex, Thich Nhat Hahn suggests we remind ourselves every now and then, it is so wonderful to not have a toothache.


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