Happiness the Mindful Way

“Mindfulness refers to keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality.”ย  ย -Thicht Nhat Hanh

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Happiness The Mindful Way… I’ve had this book for a few years now; it was published in 2015. It’s definitely the most useful resource I’ve seen for understanding this powerful idea in bite-sized portions. This is the kind of book that gets marked up and stuffed with sticky flags and bookmarks. I feel like it has enough really helpful material in it to support a lifetime of mindfulness practise, but it’s totally approachable for beginners… like me ๐Ÿ˜‰

“Mindfulness means purposely paying attention, in the present moment, without making any kind of judgement.”

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This is aย  photo my daughter sent me of Waterton lake where she lives for her summer work. What’s so stunning about it is the calm. This place is famous for its wind and waves. I’m happy she takes time to pause and mindfully enjoy the incredible natural beauty around her.

Back to the book: Every page layout is like a display of mindfulness from a different perspective. I love this. I can open it up at any time and be presented with a visually calming spread that gently engages my attention. It’s a nice mellow way to take in any subject, but especially this one.

 

Here’s a picture my son took of a gorgeous local place where he was mountain biking this summer:

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Thankfully, even doing something so active (and muddy), he takes the awesome opportunity to soak in the amazing places where he works and plays. Also, I love that they share their pics with the rest of our family.ย 

One thing that attracted me to this particular book when I was shopping for one on this subject, was the title. I’m not talking about judging a book by its cover (although we all do that, don’t we?) I am not a fan of all the grey in the cover art. I know it’s a mellow and very trendy tone, so I get why the cover designer used it; it’s just something I look past to enjoy all the treats inside! Anyway, what I do love is the way this book presents mindfulness as a means to happiness. That’s what we all want, whoever we are, and however we go about trying to find and keep and share it.

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And this lovely photo is of a place where our other daughter went camping, near her workplace this summer. Again, nature is such a powerful source of strength and beauty, and I thank Heaven that she, too, treasures it. And shares with us.

So even though my own personal examples of ‘happiness the mindful way’ are all about feeding our souls on nature, this book is bursting with a wide variety of ways and means to understand and benefit from mindfulness. Some of the pages I found most interesting were questionnaires on authenticity, concentration, and self-awareness…

There are five main parts to this handy book:

*Discovering Mindfulness

*Toward a Mindful You

*Mindfulness Meditation

*Mindfulness Life Skills

*Mindfulness When You Need It

Each section is overflowing with lots of helpful tips and different ways to actually practise mindfulness and bring on its benefits. I recommend this simple little volume to anyone who wants to wake up a little more to the wonder and joy all around and within us.

Do you practise mindfulness? How? What are you most alive to that makes you happy from day to day…?

Also, I want to highly recommend that you check out this gorgeous little podcast if you are interested in finding ways -outside of meditation and yoga- to come a bit more alive every day with simple mindfulness practices and attitudes.

https://www.rachaelkable.com/podcast

She is Australian, and adorable.ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you for reading with me…

I hope you enjoyed this post; if so, please feel free to comment, and subscribe for more book blog posts every Saturday morning!

Leah ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Better Than Before

“Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life.”

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I first stumbled onto Gretchen Rubin’s work several years ago when I happened upon a copy of her hugely popular The Happiness Project.

Since then, I’ve become an avid listener of Happier, the helpful and funny podcast she co-hosts with her sister.

And I just keep reading her books. She is startlingly clever, and devotes a great deal of her abundant energy to researching happiness, habits, and human nature; and thankfully, much more of that energy to sharing what she learns with the rest of us!

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So basically, if you’re human, and want to choose your habits rather than letting them choose your life for you, this book is for you. I really enjoyed learning about what makes us tick, and how to tap into that awareness in order to struggle less and succeed more .

“How do we change? –by using habits…. If we change our habits, we change our life.”

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Self-Knowledge

As knowledge is power, the first part of the book helps us learn see ourselves through the lens of our instinctive response to expectations (both inner and outer)…

  1. Upholders respond readily to both inner and outer expectations.
  2. Questioners question all expectations, and respond only to those they can internally justify.
  3. Obligers respond readily to outer expectations while struggling to meet their own inner expectations! (me)
  4. Rebels resist all expectations, both their own, and those of others.

p.s. In case this fascinates you as it does me, there is whole other book about these four tendencies. (The Four Tendencies)

From there, we proceed to a series of thought-provoking questions to help us further understand our individual natures… (the ‘Distinctions’)

Am I…

  1. a lark or an owl?
  2. a marathoner, a sprinter, or a procrastinator?
  3. an underbuyer or an overbuyer?
  4. a simplicity lover or an abundance lover?
  5. a finisher or an opener?
  6. a familiarity lover or a novelty lover?
  7. promotion-focused or prevention-focused?
  8. and, do I like to take small steps or big steps?

The answers I came up with reveal facets of my personality I wasn’t even aware existed. ‘Things I never knew I never knew.”

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And then, the main course!

The author (I am convinced she is actually a genius. Maybe if I write in to her blog and ask, she will tell me her I.Q. score…?) has identified:

Strategiesย for habit change!

Here they are:

  1. Monitoring
  2. Foundation
  3. Scheduling
  4. Accountability
  5. First Steps
  6. Clean Slate
  7. Lightning Bolt
  8. Abstaining
  9. Convenience
  10. Inconvenience
  11. Safeguards
  12. Loophole-Spotting
  13. Distraction
  14. Reward
  15. Treats
  16. Pairing
  17. Clarity
  18. Identity
  19. Other People

(She often refers to the 21 strategies of habit change, but I have presented the first two- Tendencies & Distinctions- separately above under the Self-Knowledge heading.)

What I really appreciate about this book (apart from its user-friendly presentation of research that matters) is the individualized approach. Once I figured out my own answers to the questions at the top (which was fun to do) I could recognize which strategies would work best with my personality.

The idea is to reduce friction!

And it works. I sleep more now!

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Why make things harder than they have to be?

What habits have you successfully changed, and how?

Thank you for reading with me,

Leah ๐Ÿ™‚

Becoming Mrs. Lewis

 

โ€œWhat on earth would become of me if I should ever grow brave?โ€

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What a heartbreakingly beautiful true story.

I was vaguely aware that C.S.Lewis had been married late in life to an American woman in ill health. That was about all I remembered from the film, Shadowlands. Then I happened upon this book in a library e-reader app last week, and could hardly put it down until I came to the inevitable end.

From the first page, it compels.

Who knew that the woman who would one day become Mrs. Lewis started out as a highly intelligent, atheist Jewish child in New York City?

That she lived and wrote as a communist, and graduated with a masters degree from Columbia University?

That she endured years of infidelity and abuse with an alcoholic  husband before fleeing with her two little boys to save her health and hope…?

Not I…

Early in this historical novel (which reads more like an autobiography) Joy had a totally unexpected experience when she fell to her knees in desperation and fear on the floor of her baby’s bedroom one night. She was surprised to find herself uttering a prayer, which was answered by an immediately overwhelming sense of comfort and peace. She could never look at her life the same way again.

“Much of what Iโ€™d done โ€” mistakes, poems, manipulations, success and books and sex โ€” had been done merely to get love. To get it. To answer my question: do you love me? . . . From that moment on, the love affair I would develop would be with my soul. [God] was already part of me; that much was clear. And now this would be where I would go for love โ€” to the God in me. No more begging or pursuing or needing.” (‘Joy’) 

She was an award winning writer in her own right, and knew other writers; one of her friends had spent time in England with the well-known author, C.S. Lewis (known to his friends as Jack.) She wrote to him, searching to understand her spiritual experience and gain clarity as a Christian convert.

They did have some things in common, most importantly their incredible intellect, and their surprise at being forced by their own undeniable experiences to forsake their atheism for Christianity.

C.S. Lewis The Kilns, His Oxford Home

~The Kilns, Lewis’s home

(photograph: awesomestories.com)

Joy met her match in Lewis, an Oxford professor 17 years her senior, who worked in a world of academics (of which she was undoubtedly one) and men (of which she was undoubtedly not one.) The college where he worked wasn’t even open to women students!

Little did he know then that this was ‘the beginning of the end’ of his life as a confirmed bachelor. He was originally from northern Ireland, and when Joy stepped into his life he lived contentedly in the English countryside with his older brother, Warnie (who was a dear, and loved her as a sister.) But alas, Jack’s friends didn’t approve of her, especially not for him. It really is amazing that they ever got together.

โ€œIt is not hopeless,โ€ he said with surety. โ€œIt is uncertain, and this is the cross God always gives us in life, uncertainty. But it is not hopeless.โ€ (‘Jack’) 

Love conquers all.

Patti Callahan ( author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis) has researched minutely and read extensively; so much so that she’s able to write convincingly in the first person about Joy’s courageous suffering through her ‘once upon a time’ and brave living which propelled her eventually into her own ‘happily ever after.’

Becoming Mrs. Lewis left me craving more about this brilliantly gifted writer who waded through chronic illness and faced down relentless prejudice to produce an impressive body of written work and captivate the heart and mind of one of the most famous writers and speakers of his time (and the author of The Chronicles of Narnia!)

It’s safe to say she was the love of his life, as he said this of her:

“She was my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign; and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress; but at the same time all that any man friend (and I have good ones) has ever been to me. Perhaps more.”                                                 -Person Jr., James E (16 August 2009). “Books: ‘Out of My Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman'”. The Washington Times. Retrieved 8 December 2011.

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Joy Davidman (findagrave.com)

I know Joy wasn’t alone in her experience of feeling at first that she had to do or be something, good enough somehow, to ‘earn’ the right to be loved by ‘proving worthy of it’…

I’ve experienced powerful change in my own life, by realizing that I, in my flaws, am and always have been perfectly loved by God.

How about you?

Also, can you recommend to me any other good books or movies about Joy and Jack?

Thank you for reading with me,

Leah ๐Ÿ™‚