Monday, June 18, 2012

The Art of Happiness

In the book "by" the Dalai Lama discussing the art of happiness, one of the keys to happiness is quite simple:  increase the number of things in your life that bring you pleasure, and decrease the things in your life that don't.  (I use "by" because the book is written by this other guy, clearly in his own voice, about his discussions with the Dalai Lama on this topic, so the underlying ideas are his, but ... well, that's more than you need to know)

Yes, I'm simplifying things, and I don't think the Dalai Lama will mind too much because he seems to think that the secrets to life are very simple, so...

This weekend I had a stark reminder of how that works.  One of the group of friends I went to visit, I have known since college.  Let's just say that time has not been her friend.  And I wonder, as I type now, if she was as bitter in college when I first knew her as she is now, and I just didn't notice and it's be amplified by time, or if this is something life has given her in the last 20 or so years.

Because she is not a happy person.  And, as the Dalai Lama instructs, I do feel compassion for her.  I wish I could find some way to uplift her mood or outlook on life, but I do realize, at the end of the day, that's not my job or responsibility.  Or perhaps, sadly, possible. 

There was a group of us all together, so we didn't always spend all our time all together.  And in reflecting about the weekend, I find that I really enjoyed the time this weekend when she wasn't around, and I really didn't enjoy the time this weekend when she was present.  Now, I hate reaching that conclusion.  It saddens me tremendously.  But, I also respect and acknowledge it. 

And I realize that I will limit the responses to invitations from this friend to small bits and not large ones like a full weekend in the future.  I will meet them for dinner, where I can escape after a lovely meal catching up.  But I will not plan on spending a long evening with them where I feel trapped and unable to escape her negativity. 

I'm not sure I can necessarily capture in any greater detail or specificity what it was about her demeanor this weekend that turned me off so much, and I'm not sure for the purpose of this post that I need to.  But I did appreciate the CLEAR illustration of the Dalai Lama's principle of reducing or removing things in your life that do not bring you happiness.

Share your stories about toxic people in your life, and think about who you might need to spend less time around in order to be happy and not dragged down to their level of unhappiness.

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  1. Yup life is way too short for spending too much time around Debbie Downers. I try to avoid them whenever possible!

    1. Ironically one of my friends named Debbie is also a downer... :O