Attachment, Joy, and Chocolate Ice Cream

Attachment, Joy, and Chocolate Ice Cream – by Ben Carrettin

While visiting with family in Bay Village, Ohio I was witness to a simple yet most profound gesture of kindness. I was standing in line with my 5 year old daughter at an ice cream shop called the Honey Hut tucked inside a beautiful neighborhood park on the shore of the lake. The gentleman in front of us had ordered a chocolate ice cream cone – my daughter’s absolute favorite, which she too was waiting to get. As he turned around, she exclaimed, “That looks like the best tasting chocolate ice cream ever!”. To which the man replied with a smile, “It really is” and promptly gave her his cone and walked away. This delighted my daughter to no end – not just the chocolate ice cream, but that a “big person” had confirmed her suspicions that this cone, this very one, was indeed the “best” ever and that she had been given the prize. Later that afternoon, I happened upon the same gentleman, still in the park, with a large group I can only assume were friends and family. I thanked him and was about to muddle the event with too much talk – when he softly stated, “The joy of getting the ice cream is better than actually having it. But giving it to someone else is even better. I was happy to get the ice cream – and she was happy to get it too, which made me even happier. All that joy for the price of one cone, seemed like a bargain to me”.

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 Upon reflection it struck me that so much had happened in this event and that I was moved by it, greatly. Sure, generosity, delighting in a child’s joy, spontaneous giving – they’re all there. But there is more. The Buddhist ideas on non-attachment and this man’s comment that the desire was more than the actual having. He had great clarity of self and was aware of at just what point he found the most joy. He saw in the moment that someone else would equally, if not more so, experience that joy. So, without hesitation – he acted to share that experience. When I spoke with him, it was also clear to me that this man was not trying to just make happiness – he was in fact cultivating it; both for himself and an another; in the world.

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This may sound like I am making it a much bigger deal than it is – but I would suggest there is no big or small in it, just a simple act of goodness for it’s own sake – cultivating happiness for one’s self and the world. The experience has made me more conscious of late of all the little moments, the little opportunities I have every day to stop thinking, planning, or contemplating a better life – and actually engage in the practice of giving of what I have. Whether it’s the 30 seconds it takes to bring my neighbor’s trash cans up for them, an extra minute or two of tickle-time with the kids, being patient with a harried checkout girl at the grocery, or taking the time to compliment a co-worker – it really doesn’t matter. Oh wait, yes it does! As much as raindrops make an ocean – every act of kindness moves us all towards a better life. Take the time to look at your day – see all the moments you have walked through, but perhaps not truly been present for. This is life – a precious series of moments that move in and out like waves on the shore. Take it from me, that “I’ll get to it” list never gets gotten to – it really doesn’t. Live fully, now, in the moment – soak it in every day.

Whatever my schedule, my obstacles, my obligations – there is always room for one act of kindness. Commit it to habit. Do it daily – it’s good for us and the rest of the world too. Remember, in the time it takes to ponder an excuse – you could be doing it. You could be living.

 I’m ready for some chocolate ice cream.

 Ben Carrettin

www.LiveBetterLiveNow.com

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Developing a Joyful, Awakened Heart Through Mindfulness by Micki Fine, M.Ed., L.P.C.

Developing a Joyful, Awakened Heart Through Mindfulness

Literature about mindfulness says that every life has 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. The mindfulness practices described in The Need to Please: Mindfulness Skills to Gaining Freedom from People Pleasing and Approval Seeking enables us to open to these joys and sorrows fully by helping us to cultivate an awakened heart. It that has been beautifully described as having four beautiful qualities or Divine Abodes: loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Since many mindfulness books are about relieving suffering, their main emphasis is on the sorrows and not the joys of life, so the specific meditation practice to promote joy often isn’t discussed explicitly. Because joy is deeply important to our wellbeing, I will focus on it here. Being present for some of the 10,000 joys can provide a balance to the suffering that can often feel heavy.
Some joys in life seem to really grab our attention such as a quiet sunset on the beach or a newborn baby’s momentous arrival. Other common experiences, like taking a sip of water or walking to the car, can be joyful if we see these events through the eyes of mindfulness. Through mindfulness we can become grateful for the blessings in our lives, great and small, and thus able to experience joy more often than just on special occasions or when things are just right. Through mindfulness and joy meditation we might even awaken to joy in spite of everything and in simply being alive.

Here are a couple of tips to grow more joy in your life:
Intentionally cultivate gratitude by taking time to stop, let go of judgment, and purposefully look for life experiences for which to be grateful. Record these moments in a gratitude journal.
Practice a meditation on joy by repeating the following wishes for a loved one. You can practice this while sitting quietly or more informally as you go through your day.

May you be joyful.
May your joy increase.
May the causes of joy and happiness multiply.

Micki Fine – Developing a Joyful, Awakened Heart Through Mindfulness