Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 24, 2004
Know joy. Make the choice to be happy
Light One Candle
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
Browsing through some Christopher files from a while back, I came upon a wonderful story based on a Buddhist koan. A koan is a paradox used for meditation and to gain enlightenment. This tale is about happiness - and about attitude.
There were two Buddhist monks, one sombre and one joyful. The first monk prayed all day in deep, motionless silence. The second sang and danced his praise of God near a great tree in the monastery garden.
One day an angel appeared to the first monk, saying, "I have come from God and you have been given permission to ask him one question. What is your question?"
The sombre monk quickly asked, "How many more lives must I live before I will attain self-realization?"
The angel then went to the second monk and gave him exactly the same message. And the second monk asked the angel exactly the same question.
A week later, the angel returned to the first monk and said, "I have your answer. You must live three more lives before you will attain self-realization." The first monk started to weep and moan, "Three more lives, three more lives. Oh no! Three more lives."
The angel went to the second monk and said, "I have your answer. You must live as many more lives as there are leaves on that tree before you will attain self-realization."
The second monk looked up at the tree and said, "Why there must be 10,000 leaves on that tree! Only 10,000 more lives! Only 10,000 more lives!" And he began to sing and dance joyfully.
Suddenly, a voice spoke from heaven, saying, "My son, this day you have attained self-realization."
They say it can take years to get all the wisdom from a koan. But it's certainly obvious that while attitude may not be everything, it can be pretty close.
How many people do you know who go though life always seeing a glass that's half empty? What are their lives like? I'll bet they are the negative, critical, pessimistic folks that you go out of your way to avoid.
On the other hand, there are the "half full" sort of people who exude optimism and positive thinking. These are the men and women we enjoy being around. More importantly, I suspect these are people who enjoy their own company, as well.
Beyond that, while most of us say we want to be happy, too many of us spend more time pursuing the things we think will make us happy rather than simply choosing to be happy wherever and whatever we are. If we decide that such-and-such will make us happy, then how can we possibly be happy without it - whatever "it" may be.
So what's the relationship between attitude and happiness?
A wise man named Abraham Lincoln put it this way: "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
Have you made up your mind yet?
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Half Empty or Half Full - It's All In Your Attitude, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48th St., New York, NY 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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