(Again, Ht to Andrew “Even More Panicked Than Last Week” Sullivan)
In a study appropriately titled “Very Happy People,” researchers sought out the characteristics of the happiest 10 percent among us. Do they all live in warm climates? Are they all wealthy? Are they all physically fit? Turns out, there was one—and only one—characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10 percent from everybody else: the strength of their social relationships.
I started running regularly the day after my last birthday, the fifty sixth. The track where I run is a few miles from home, next to the Hudson, across from the magnificent New York City skyline. It’s a place I’ve come to love since I discovered it a few months ago.
Most times when I run, I listen to music. I now carry my entire collection on my phone, a miracle of modern-day electronics. There are songs in it, that, even though I’ve owned my whole adult life and I’ve listened to hundreds of times, I’ve rediscovered and come to more deeply appreciate as I run and sweat and breathe around this cushioned quarter mile. Music mixes well with just about everything.
Recently, however, I’ve begun listening to podcasts by Tara Brach while I run. Ms. Brach is teacher of Buddhist meditation, “with an emphasis on vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation.” Her soothing voice and insightful talks have been a pleasant companion on the last couple of weeks. I get the sense that the mind and the heart open up when the body is pushed to it’s limits. Healing, insightful words seem most welcomed. Continue reading
I had never heard of Tara Brach until today. She’s a “leading western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening. She has practiced and taught meditation for over 35 years, with an emphasis on vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation.”
I have a feeling this is the beginning of a long term relationship. You can never have too many teachers.
I listened to this podcast — instead of my usual musical soundtrack — while running today, and felt it was a healing balm washing over me. It’s titled Alchemy of Wise Effort. Namaste.
From the TED intro:
We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk from TEDxBloomington, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.
Shawn Achor is the CEO of Good Think Inc., where he researches and teaches about positive psychology.
I found this Psychology Today article by Abby Ellin on the subject of aspirational hell when I googled the “On The Waterfront” quote. Please read it.
I have never written a best-selling book.
I have never won a Pulitzer.
I have never reported for 60 Minutes, won a gold medal in gymnastics, or thanked my parents and God as Barbara Streisand handed me my Oscar for Best Actress/Writer/Director.
I do not have a Ph.D. or J.D. Nor, for that matter, did I spend my undergraduate years frolicking amid the ivied walls of Harvard or Yale.
I have only one home, a one-bedroom in New York City. No Tuscan villa. No French chateau. No yurt in Sonoma.
In sum, I am not living the life I expected—the life of, say, Diane Sawyer, Julia Roberts, or better yet, Barack Obama. And this bothers me.