The Slow & Steady Path to Happiness

Buddha

I wake up in the morning and find everything calm around. I’m not out of the bed yet, and my eyes are still heavy with sleep, but my mind has already started racing like a wild horse. Racing laden with thoughts of forgotten yesterday, worries of uncertain tomorrow, and anxieties of yet-to-begin today: things I’ve no control over. It is like a scene from an action movie where one moment everything is still and the very next everything starts exploding.

The wandering thoughts create noise on all spheres of my brain. The greatest impact of this noise is that it clogs my creativity, clogs the power to imagine, clogs the power to think clearly. Because before I can contemplate, I’m worried; before I can imagine, I’m resolving things of the future. So I close my eyes to shut it all out.

Inside my mind it is like a busy square with the thoughts like cars – large and small – all honking and wheeling in a haste. Then, with the eyes closed, I fall asleep again only to raise after few minutes with the mind still racing as before. And the assault of the mind continues throughout the day, until dinner when my mind is more exhausted than my body.

So what should I do? Should I change my job? Or change my society? Or change my life?
How can I escape this noise? How can I detoxify my mind? How do I get out of the habit of thinking (and worrying) all day long?

I’ve identified and acknowledged the problem and I’ve started working on it. I took a closer look of my daily routine and realized that the problem is not the job or society but my own life. And things need to change!

So the first change I’m trying to incorporate is: Quality Internet. I’ve resolved to not check my email every fifteen minutes, to not unlock my cellphone on every notification, to stay away from my laptop as much as possible. For this I’ve started to keep the mobile internet off most of the time. I’ve started to leave my office chair after every half an hour and walk around. This is the first change I’m trying to accommodate and convert into a habit.

Second change I’m working over is morning walk & exercise. Not a heavy workout like the pros, but a light jogging to the nearest park, some relaxing exercises, and small ‘sitting idle with closed eyes’ in a fresh, cold morning air of the mountains. And this is one change I’m actually enjoying more than I had expected. It greatly helps the mind to calm down, the stray thoughts to vent out, and my body is charged for the day.

I feel blessed that I live in the mountains where I can take in as much as fresh air as I want. When I finally sit in the park with my eyes closed, I see more than what I see with open eyes. I hear mynas chirping on a tree to the right, then I hear bleating of a goat on a distant hill. Next, a wild rooster hoots in a bush nearby. And the sound of the fresh stream strolling down the hill is music. This jogging, exercising, and relaxing takes thirty minutes of my morning time, but these well-spent minutes make the greatest impact on my day.

The third change, not a change actually but it now has a new meaning for me, is morning music. I tune in to instrumentals & devotional music in the morning and though I should actively listen to it, the passive listening (with some work at hand) is also a pleasurable and uplifting experience. I used to listen to music every morning before also but after the jogging & exercise, music sounds even better.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius

Now this is not a final routine and I’m not seeking perfection. In fact, the pattern of my daily exercises is not even fixed, the music I hear has varied timings: sometimes I listen for ten minutes, sometimes I get more than an hour. But the experience has a promise of cure, and it seems a lifelong journey…

***

This article: ‘Want to be happy? Slow down’ at TED Ideas has greatly motivated me and reinforced my faith that I’m on the right track. Please do read it. And Stay Happy!

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8 thoughts on “The Slow & Steady Path to Happiness

  1. Dear Sunil ,First of all congrats for following ur heart and doing what u like….most of us are unable to break daily grinding web of life and follow what truly matters…
    Excellent and practical article , internet has oflate became addiction with everyone. ….like every addiction it is destroying our peace of mind…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sunil, This is a very thoughtful post. I love the changes you are making. I believe that our peace of mind and a sense of serenity affect every aspect of our life. I used to worry all of the time. I can’t say that I am cured of all worry, but I try to stay present – right where my feet are planted – and not rehash yesterday or fret about tomorrow. I also walk in the morning, read meditations, and listen to music as ways to find calm in the stress of daily living. I do not send notifications to my phone, except for text messages, because that could be family. Thank you for the inspirational message! You are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. – Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article Sunil. I love the quotes you include. And your analogy on the cars. So true! In mindfulness they talk about noticing thoughts sometimes as leaves passing down a river. You’re spot on. Sometimes it’s not about trying to stop the thoughts, but acknowledging them and letting them pass. Harder said then done! Have you heard of Dr Russ Harris, or The Happiness Trap? You might like his work 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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