Saturday, October 7, 2017

A small green island

There is a small green island
where one white cow lives alone, a meadow of an island.

The cow grazes till nightfull, full and fat,
but during the night she panics
and grows thin as a single hair.
What shall I eat tomorrow? There is nothing left.
By dawn the grass has grown up again, waist-high.
The cow starts eating and by dark
the meadow is clipped short.

She is full of strength and energy, but she panics
in the dark as before and grows abnormally thin overnight.
The cow does this over and over,
and this is all she does.

She never thinks, This meadow has never failed
to grow back. Why should I be afraid every night
that it won't. The cow is the bodily soul.
The island field is this world where that grows
lean with fear and fat with blessing, lean and fat.

White cow, don't make yourself miserable
with what's to come, or not to come.

-- Rumi

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"What I really love about traditional music -- Irish, gypsy, American roots, whatever -- is how it exists in context with what's come before," DiMario [of Crooked Still] says.  "It's about real people, going through real stuff, who needed music to survive.  I'm more moved by a scratchy field recording, out of tune and with rough edges, than anything modern.  The emotional content underneath resonates with deeper meaning."

-- No Depression #76: Abigail Washburn and The Next Generation

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Enthusiasm

"Enthusiasm is an attribute that feeds our happiness. [It] brightens a situation. It feeds energy. It feels good. When I was a seminary student, my teacher demanded enthusiasm. He taught us that four things would feed it: wanting to be enthusiastic; sticking with it; letting ourselves be happy; and being careful not to get too carried away because that could lead to having-to-lie-on-the-floor exhaustion. [...] We had to give ourselves permission to feel the joy that is a by-product of enthusiasm. Joy can be a little embarrassing if you aren't used to it. It feels a little too Hallmark TV Channelish. A little false. Except it isn't. It's true and it feeds our happiness, our health, and our sanity as it balances out the inevitable sorrows in our lives. [...]

 I can tell when people live their lives with enthusiasm. They are surrounded by things they love. They are happy. And they are helpful -- whether you are an old friend or a stranger asking for directions."

 -- Geri Larkin, Plant Seed, Pull Weed: Nurturing the Garden of Your Life"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

hard work makes you happy

"Psychologists use the Experience Sampling Method, or ESM to find out how we really feel during different parts of our day. Subjects are interrupted at random intervals with a pager or by text message and asked to report two pieces of information: what they're doing and how they feel. One of the most common findings of ESM research is that what we think is "fun" is actually mildly depressing.

Virtually every activity that we would describe as a 'relaxing' kind of fun -- watching television, eating chocolate, window-shopping, or just chilling out -- doesn't make us feel better  In fact, we consistently report feeling worse afterward than when we started "having fun": less motivated, less confident, and less engaged overall.  But how can so many of us be so wrong about what's fun?  Shouldn't we have a better intuitive sense of what actually makes us feel better?

We certainly have a strong intuitive sense of what makes us feel bad, and negative stress and anxiety are usually at the top of the list.  ESM researchers believe that when we consciously seek out relaxing fun, we're usually trying to reverse these negative feelings.  When we seek out passive entertainmnt and low-engagement activities, we're using them as a counterbalance to how stimulated and overwhelmed we feel.

But by trying to have easy fun, we actually often wind up moving ourselves too far in the opposite direction.  We go from stress and anxiety straight to boredom and depression.  We'd be much better off avoiding easy fun and seeking out hard fun, or hard work that we enjoy, instead."

 -- Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken