Evening Hymns

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Hymns echo down the valley

As the light shines through

Shadows of tree skeletons

A winter baptism of fresh air

The walk home from work

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

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The Life Balance of Happiness

We are well on our way into 2015, and well…interestingly enough life keeps slowing me down…causing me to pause, breathe, and smile. Here is something about happiness I’ve been reading lately that has poured a lot of insight into my day to day routine.

“Our minds, hearts and souls have been fully coded for happiness; all the wiring is built-in. Everyone is capable of finding happiness. all he or she has to to is look for it in the right places. While happiness is our natural state, we’ve been trained to feel more comfortable with unhappiness. In a strange way we are not used to happiness: at times it feels not only unnatural but undeserved. That’s why we often find ourselves thinking the worst about someone or some situation. It’s why we must work to feel good about being happy and why we must commit ourselves to happiness.

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Part of the work is accepting the belief that finding happiness is essentially our purpose of life. Many people recoil at such a thought, saying such an approach is self-centered and uncaring. Why do we resist the idea that the purpose of life is being happy? We feel guilty being happy, and we wonder how we can strive to be happy when so many people are less fortunate than we are.

You were meant to enjoy all the wonders around you. And remember that you have more to give to others, to the suffering, when you are happy. When you have enough and are content, you will not act from a place of need or lack. You will feel that have a little extra to give to those around you, that you can afford to share more of your time, yourself, your money, and your happiness. Happiness expands our capacity to give. True happiness is not the result of an event, it does not depend on circumstance. You, not what’s going on around you, determine your happiness.

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Happiness depends not on what happens, but on how we handle what happens. Our happiness is determined by how we interpret, perceive and integrate what happens into our state of mind. How we perceive things is determined by our commitment. This is where the balance comes in, learning our lessons and remembering the truth about each other. Are we committed to seeing the worst in people and situations or the best? What we commit to, what we turn our attention to, grows. So the best or worst grows within our interpretations, and within ourselves. If we see the past in a bad light, as lacking purpose or meaning, we plant seeds that will grow into similar futures. This is why we refer to the past as our baggage–it’s something heavy to carry around. It is the part of ourselves that continues to weigh us down and slows our progress toward happiness.

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Happiness is our natural state, but we’ve forgotten how to be happy because we’ve gotten lost in our notions of what things should look like. Making comparisons is probably the shortest route to unhappiness. With little effort, we can quickly compare ourselves into downright misery. We don’t even need others for these self-destructive comparisons; comparing ourselves to our past or future can do the same thing. Happiness comes from seeing ourselves as being okay, just as we are, today. without comparison to others, without reference to the way we were or the way we fear we will be.

Happiness is just as possible with this set of circumstances as it is with the next. Often, we don’t see a situation as it truly is. Instead, we focus on our image of what the situation ‘should’ look like, or how it should be. By projecting our ‘should’ onto circumstances, we deny the truth. We see illusions. To see truth is to know that no matter what may be happening, the universe is moving in the direction it is supposed to. The world is set up to work in a way that brings us to our lessons. It is designed to move us to joy, not away from it, even when we think things are going in the wrong direction.

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We want to live our lives in balance, but what we think of as balance is not balance at all. In fact, it’s very much out of balance. We are a mass of contradictions. Always trying to be more, yet trying to accept and love ourselves just as we are. Trying to accept the reality of the human experience while knowing that we are also spiritual beings. We suffer, yet we can rise above our suffering. We experience loss, yet we feel love forever. We take life for granted, yet we know it does not last. We live in a world filled with less and more, with cycles of scarcity and abundance, big and small. If we can recognize these oppositions, we will be happier. Our part of this universe is always in balance, it just may not seem so to us.

Part of dealing with this balance means understanding that life does not revolve around our big moments: the promotion, the wedding, the retirement, and the cure. Life also occurs between the big moments. Much of what we need to learn is found in the small moments of life.”

-Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Breaking the Rules

breaking the rules

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” ―Katharine Hepburn

“If you do not see light at the end of the tunnel, consider it an opportunity to create an opening yourself,wherever you want.” ― Ashok Kallarakkal

“Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones. We have to break the rules. And we have to discover the sensuality of fear. We need to face it, challenge it, dance with it.” ― Kyra Davis

*photo via  http://theclassychoice.tumblr.com/post/6533113941 photographer unknown