Thursday, January 28, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This is part of the Richmond Hill crew that went out on the Sandwich Run with Project 417 last Saturday. A few of my friends go to that church. About once a year they'll join us to hand out bag lunches to our homeless friends in downtown Toronto.
All told, about 23 volunteers came out. We divided them into two groups and went to a couple different areas of the city. I'm happy to say our group managed to give out all our lunches by the end of the night. I believe everyone had a good experience. They got to be a little more intimate with a side of society they might not get much of a chance to interact with on a regular basis. That's a good thing. The better we get to know our neighbours the easier it is for us to identify with them. Understanding goes a long way. Not only between people from different neighbourhoods, but people, in general, worldwide.
Afterwards a few of us stopped for a bite at Johnny Rockets across from Dundas Square. Being a tourist spot it was a bit of a rip off. But, that was to be expected so we knew what we were getting into. We just took the opportunity to sit, relax, chat and reflect on our evening.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I suppose these are a couple of the things people strive for in life - happiness... or at the very least contentment. I think most people in Western society should be content. If you compare what the least of us has here to what others in developing countries have, well... there really isn't any comparison. Most of us have our basic needs met. Food on our table, a roof over our heads, a friend or two to keep us company and the liberties we enjoy living in a free society. We should be grateful for that. As we know it's a privilege not everyone is so fortunate to have.
Happiness is another matter. Its foundation is built on contentment, but taken a step or two further. Happiness isn't necessarily a basic need, but more a want. Still, most of us strive for it and, thus, we should. Happiness gives meaning to our existence. Without it we may as well be robots in the assembly line of life.
So, what brings us happiness? I read a friend's copy of the Dalai Lama's book The Art of Happiness a few years ago. Here are few premises from it.
1. The purpose of life is happiness.
2. Happiness is determined more by the state of one’s mind than by one’s external conditions, circumstances, or events—at least once one’s basic survival needs are met.
3. Happiness can be achieved through the systematic training of our hearts and minds, through reshaping our attitudes and outlook.
4. The key to happiness is in our own hands.
I believe there is some truth to what he says. Once our basic needs are met (and I think most of ours are) we should be able to revise our prior attitudes on what happiness is and work more easily towards attaining it.
So are we happy?
We can begin by asking ourselves what makes us happy? Is it money, power, status? Some people think so. You might believe some of the associated benefits of those things may make you happy. But, you have to weigh the cost of attaining said money, power or status. If the costs outweigh the benefits you have to consider if it's really worth it. To build up one area in your life, another might end up suffering. I'm sure we're all well aware of that. But, sometimes desire blinds us to the risks that otherwise appear so obvious.
Another thing you might ask yourself is if there are any barriers towards making yourself happy? Some people will say, my car is old and rusty... look at that fellow, he's driving a shiny, new Lexus. Or you might hear, my apartment is so small and it's hot in the summer. Look at the place my friend has... it's a huge three-bedroom, backsplit with central air. When we compare what we have to what others have we'll never be satisfied. There's always going to be someone who has more than you. Always. What others have should have no relevance towards how you feel about what you have. Just be thankful you have what you do. Because the reality is, you have much more than most others in the world today.
It might be wise to break it down into more simple terms. Instead of saying a big house or a fancy, new car will make you happy, think of the little things that make you smile. For me it would be seeing a child laughing. I know it sounds sappy, but it's true. Seeing others in a state of joyfulness makes me happy. The bright, shining sun in a clear, blue sky on a warm, summer day makes me happy. Riding my bike with the wind in my face makes me happy. Seeing great photography, art, architecture or design makes me happy. Exploring interesting, new places makes me happy. Holding hands while walking with someone I like makes me happy. You get the idea. If you really think about it, there are a lot of things out there that can make us happy. We just have to take the blinders off and see what's right in front of our noses.