“You got to pay your dues
If you want to sing the blues
And you know it don’t come easy.”
Ringo Starr, 1971
The photo below is courtesy of bestplacesin.com
Five years ago, I read the book, Wokini – Your Personal Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding by Billy Mills with Nicholas Sparks (1990, Feather Publishing Company, Fair Oaks, CA USA, approx. 140 pages, paperbound). Wokini from the Lakota language means new life, a life of peace and happiness.
In this essay, we present in brief summary form some of the highlights from this very insightful book. Many of the points below are from our notes to a journal at the time. (This is the kind of used paperback you can find in used bookstores, or even in thrift shops or at garage sales. What a gem of a find.)
The author, Billy Mills, is an Olympic gold medalist (10,000 metre run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics). He is also a Native American, and was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Here are some of the tips for happiness from the book (paraphrased for brevity).
Try to be constructive at all times (easier said than done). Don’t let small inconveniences upset you.
2. Don’t be a perfectionist.
3. Count your blessings
4. Help others (when possible)
5. Adjust to life accordingly (dove tails with #2)
6. Set realistic goals (key word is realistic)
7. Live each day is if it is your last
I would add to this list: take pleasure in (& appreciate) simple things like the smile of a friend, a nice sunset (or sunrise), a flower in bloom, a nice song or piece of music, the flight of a bird, a rainbow, a cup of tea or hot cocoa, etc.
Keep in mind that nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, and nothing is finished. Life is a process (an ongoing, continuous process). These last 2 sentences are worth re-reading several times. The journey is more important than the destination!
Let’s quote from pages 57 and 58 (emphasis in original):
WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER FEEL DESPAIR
Feeling despair or unhappiness:
Makes you feel anger, loneliness, and resentment.
Can’t solve your problems, and in fact stops you from solving them.
Often creates new problems.
Limits friendships with other people.
Has no positive benefits.
Will eventually destroy your life.
AND MOST OF ALL, YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL DESPAIR! LIKE HAPPINESS, IT’S ALL UP TO YOU!
now for page 58 ….
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE HAPPY
When you are happy:
You feel good. You feel joy, peace, cheer and contentment. …….
People enjoy being around you. …….
Your life is improved physically.
You can more easily solve any problems which may arise. ……..
end of quotes
Happiness is a state of mind.
Try to make sure that you never let some person(s), or some event, push you, rush you into a major decision or major commitment. Hurried decisions are often less than optimal ones. (That can be seen in hindsight. But, we need to be more proactive, more ahead of the curve.)
The only moment we have is the present one. And that is the only time we can live in.
By the way, my own “philosophy” (which, unfortunately, I often fail to live by or up to) is learn from the past, plan for the future, but remember to live in the present. In other words, take life one day at a time.
The trick is (as in Zen) to be immersed in life, be in the present moment fully, yet still maintain a level of detachment so that you are not tripped up by the deceitful, selfish, people (or the unforeseen bad events) you encounter along the way.
“Easier said than done.” Try to not let events, obstacles, and external pressures disturb or overwhelm your inner equilibrium. Otherwise, you may make short sighted, non-rational, impulsive decisions. We cannot choose what befalls us in this difficult world, but we can choose how we react to, and how we cope with, life’s challenges and problems. (Do not be discouraged. This takes much effort and practice.)
In a sense, we are our experiences. And, we are not separate from our environment. We learn and grow from our experiences (even from the painful ones).
We must not accept being passive onlookers to life. Man is too self conscious. We can choose to love life fully by staying fully focused on the present moment such that we are open to all it can offer to us.
Put aside worries of the future, and regrets of the past. Do not let worries or regrets rob you of the present moment!!
Let out the built up frustrations through some healthy exercise. Run, walk briskly, shoot baskets, swim, or pump iron.
Hopefully, these insights may be a help to you on your life’s journey.
This next and last image is from journeysofthespirit.com
Best wishes to all.