How to be happier

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint, Evolution, Group VI, no. 12  (1908)

Most of us think we want to be happy, or at least free from suffering. But do we really? As Eckhart Tolle writes in The Power of Now, there is a ‘peculiar pleasure’ derived from being unhappy. Negative emotion can feel good. For example, anger produces a surge of energy that gives us the courage to take action. And then there is the quiet, pleasurable sadness we feel at the end of a sad movie or when parting from someone – the sense of things passing, known in Japanese as mono no aware (the poignancy of impermanence). Continue reading How to be happier

Paying attention and losing my shoes

When it rains it pours. This was my thought walking home through the dark, wet streets one night recently after a dentist appointment where I’d been told I needed treatments that would cost me close to a month’s earnings. Why now, just as I was planning to move? How was I going to afford everything? I felt despondent, defeated by this latest curveball. Continue reading Paying attention and losing my shoes

Memories, moments and the middle way

Félix Vallotton, Le Ballon, oil on wood (1899)

I recently read a short story in which a woman tells her lover a terrible secret. “My mother died in a lake when I was a child,” she says. “And what did you do?” the lover asks. “I watched,” she says. “I stood there watching as my mother’s hair slipped gently under the surface of the water. I didn’t run to get help.” Continue reading Memories, moments and the middle way

Someday this pain will be useful to you

 Tetsugoro Yorozu, Self-portrait with a cloud, oil on canvas (1922) (currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art, Hayama)

The past month has been a rollercoaster of emotions, from the high of starting a new life in the city I’ve wanted to live in for so long, to moments of loneliness and scary anxiety.

I’ve always been a worrier, and a lot of things make me nervous. Change most of all. There is a side of me that really likes things to stay the same. I don’t want summer to become autumn. I don’t want to leave things – homes, jobs, people, regardless of whether or not I actually like them. I even find it hard to leave a place I’m visiting for a day. I resist and fight and push against change. But not changing is even worse. Continue reading Someday this pain will be useful to you

How I changed my habits and changed my life

Daily rituals, routines, habits. Lately this seems to be a popular point of discussion. Up until about a year ago, though, I hadn’t given much thought to my habits, other than when I was trying to break a bad one. But since I’ve started to form new habits, my life has changed significantly, for the better. Continue reading How I changed my habits and changed my life

Life is short / Mid-life goals: part 1

In yesterday’s post I mentioned this article by Maria Popova. I’m glad I read it again. I needed to be reminded that I’m doing the right thing as I get ready to leave my job and move to a new city in a few weeks’ time. For months I’d been worrying about finding work. Then one day I decided to just stop stressing. And within the same week, found myself turning down three separate job opportunities. Continue reading Life is short / Mid-life goals: part 1

Eight ways to calm your mind with numbers

When I’m stressed or worried about something, I find that counting or doing calculations in my head helps to redirect my thoughts. Numbers are also an easy way to quickly recall techniques that reduce anxiety. Here are a few examples.

Continue reading Eight ways to calm your mind with numbers

Entering

This is the poem that inspired the name of this blog. It reminds me of the feeling I get when I’m walking in a familiar area and look down a street I’ve often passed by before. Something catches my eye: a colourful mat hanging over a balcony ledge, a bush of hydrangeas or a line of trees at the end of the road. What’s behind them? I wonder. What else would I see if I walked down that street?  For me, that is how inspiration feels.  I like the idea of creating a world out of one black tree, and then letting it go. Continue reading Entering