My Happiness Project at Stanford
“Excellence in life, excellence in academic” is the motto of Stanford. That is so true for the ones, who look for more than academics. As I have mentioned in my blog (in Finnish), I took a practical course of happiness. And it changed me in a good way.
I learned to meditate and to prioritize also leisure. The lectures were a good help, yet I believe that the book (The Happiness Project) can give you almost the same, if you already know how to meditate. Here is also a blog from the author.
First step: Notice. How often do you recognize the beautiful things around you? Such as: All the colors of flowers, all the plants and all the tiny composites of architecture? They are there. Too many people multitask or suffer from hurry sickness. I was one of those, when I came here. But then, I stopped running.
I had always overbooked my schedule with the school since highs school, as I wanted to learn everything. Although, it didn’t make me happier: I ended up studying only the given material thanks to the lack of time. So, I didn’t have time to ponder. Yet, I learned to like to be in a hurry all the time. As a result I spend too little time with my friends and hobbies. To My Friends: I’m so sorry. I’m going to stop this madness now. Or at least I’m trying.
The professor of the happiness class made me think that it is ridiculous to be in such a hurry all the time. He said: “I’m not so important person that I wouldn’t have time to enjoy the flowers”. If a pioneer in his field (positive psychology) thinks that, why should I think I would be important enough to ignore all the beauty around me? He said this in the first class and I have followed this ever since. I started with dropping half of the units that I had planned (leaving me with ten units).
|Mainz, Germany. Banana on campus!|
Second step: Trust and Love.
How can you trust on a person you don’t know?
This step was one of the hardest and I am still on my way. Yet, now I can trust everyone in this campus. They have proven that to me in many ways: being helpful when I got lost, returning my lost cellphone… The atmosphere is just so friendly here. It is easy to make friends and feel like home.
The key thought that helped (and helps) me is to believe that everyone’s motive towards you is primarily just being friendly. Don’t add any “but”. I don’t know if trusting is as easy back in Europe, but I’m giving it a try.
Loving people followed naturally from trust. Meditation helped me a lot in here, as it helped me to organize what is actually important in life: all living creatures. Life is a miracle – still it is seldom treated with proper respect. I know this sounds silly, but to breath is a small miracle that happens every second; every heartbeat is a gift.
|Here I am now.|
Third step: Just be here. When you talk with a person who is multitasking it is easy to notice that (s)he is not present. Nowadays I usually just give up and wait that the other one stops to play with the phone. If the other one doesn’t listen, there is no reason to talk. I have made a choice of living in the moment meaning that I’m with the people that are there with me. Chatting is not the same as having face2face conversation. That’s okay. Chatting is great. However, being with someone can give you more. When you truly focus to one conversation at a time, it is possible to go in a deeper level. This is again my opinion, but I like discovering new ways of thinking and seeing the world. I rarely discover anything while multitasking. Another reason for ending multitasking is stress. Additionally it can feel frustrating to jump from one task to another compared to doing one task to the end and then starting a new one: in this way you can get a feel of completing.
Being present is more than being present in a conversation. Human mind is constantly busy with the past and with the future. How about – thinking things that happen now? This is almost the same as noticing. Just the supporting meditation method is different.
|Marathon in Mainz is a funny carnival!|
I want to end my first post in English with couple of important words. Gretchen Rubin (2009: 67) defined: ’To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.’
I think feeling right means feeling purposeful in your life. Feeling good means doing something that you enjoy and feeling bad stands for knowing yourself. Growth, as Rubin described: ‘explains the happiness brought by training for a marathon, learning a new language, collecting stamps‘.
To conclude with Loving Kindness Practice's words:
May You be happy.
May You be safe and protected.
May Your body support you with health.
May You be wealthy.
May You be happy.