Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: howard c cutler md

Healthy Habits Create Strong Roots that Lead to Happiness

Healthy habits grow strong roots. Quote from the book on a desert background.

“A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can’t grow strong roots just as the storm appears on the horizon.”

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

How do get those strong roots? By building healthy habits every day. We prepare for the coming storms, because we know they are coming even when the sky is clear and the air is warm. Suffering is inevitable: an illness will find you, someone will die, a relationship will end, you’ll lose a job, a natural disaster will hit where you live. The list goes on and on forever.

What can we do?

Grow deep and healthy roots.

We read and study, exercise, eat healthy to prepare for the coming storms. We work, budget, and save money for the future. We do preventative maintenance on our homes and vehicles so that they continue to work well for us. We learn to communicate and bond with others in new ways so that our relationships can last longer.

We should always be growing and learning, creating more intricate and developed support systems.

Healthy and communicative relationships help you prepare for the future. Each time we successfully navigate a new relationship, build on a current one, or transition from one kind to another, we learn about ourselves and become stronger for the next stage of our lives.

Parenting is another way we prepare for the future. Building a strong and stable family that loves and supports children as they grow their own roots is the best way to contribute to a happier future generation. Your children are born growing. They instinctively know what they need. Follow their lead.

Giving your children the home and safety that you wanted as a child, helps you re-parent yourself and grow those roots you feel you were lacking. In this way, each generation can build on the last.

Strong roots are built by healthy habits.

Strong healthy roots are developed intentionally over long periods of time. The deeper and more intricate they are, the more likely we are to weather the storms of life and create happiness for ourselves and those around us.


You can find The Art of Happiness at Thriftbooks. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it back in December, New Read: The Art of Happiness

“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Assuming Positive Intent is the Start to More Compassion

Having Compassion quote on a desert background.

“Rather, genuine compassion is based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like myself.”

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

Assuming that others have positive (to them) intent, in the same way you do, is the first step to developing compassion.

All human beings? Even people that don’t vote like me or have a different religion? Even people that I think are racist?

Yes, they do. And accepting this and allowing others their space, without infringing on your own, is the way to feel genuine compassion for others. It also leads to happiness, for you and for those around you.

I’m am the worst when it comes to practicing this concept. I know it logically. I’ve written about it. I’ve read about it. I’ve meditated on it. And yet still, I come unglued when I’m faced with the fact that everyone does not think the way I do.

“If you’d only listen to me!” I scream in my head…mostly. “What you are doing does not lead you where you want to go, dumbass!” Dumbass is one of my favorites. I grew up hearing my Grandpa call people a dumbass and loved it. As a kid, it conjured up all kinds of hilarious images. As an adult, it’s even better. Not only is the person stubborn like an ass, but they’re dumb too. Blind, deaf, and mute to the actual world around them, digging all four hooves into the dirt and leaning back with all their weight against getting anything productive done. It’s such an apt name to call people.

I’m guilty of being the biggest dumbass just about every day. Why? Because I honestly believe I know what’s best for everyone around me. It’s obvious that I know more than you do. It’s clear that I’m smarter and more emotionally intelligent. If you’d only listen to me and do what I say, life would be so much easier for us all.

It’s sad that life doesn’t work that way. There are days when I want to scream and lock myself away in a remote cabin, far from the entire world. Just me, my books, my coffee…

Oh, who am I kidding? What’s the fun of living if I don’t get to attempt to control the behavior of others?!

We all do this to some degree. We all think we have the right answers for everyone, or at least we’re headed in the right direction. In all honesty, I wish we could at least know the right answers for our own lives, but that rarely happens too.

If only we could live like the Borg, mentally connected to each other so we could all know how everyone else felt, what everyone else was thinking, without the communication gaps. You know what I think we’d find if we could mind meld with everyone else? We’re all doing the best we can with what we have. We all have our own individual goals, emotional needs, etc. We’re all trying. We all want to be loved unconditionally by someone. We all want tacos for dinner. Once we realize that, nothing else really matters.

I wonder why it’s so hard for us to believe that. Can you imagine a world where everyone around you assumed you had positive intent? What if everyone you met believed that you were making the best choices to meet your own individual needs? And that if for some reason you overstepped another human’s boundaries, they would inform you gently and you’d respond in kind so that you were both comfortable?

Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? We can start with our own lives with this one thought. Everyone around us, no matter what they are saying or doing, wants to be happy and is trying to relieve their own suffering. Get out of their way.


You can find The Art of Happiness at Thriftbooks. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it back in December, New Read: The Art of Happiness

“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Is the Purpose of Life the Pursuit of Happiness?

Pursuit of happiness quote from the book on a desert background.

“The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness.”

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

Ahh…the old “pursuit of happiness” thing!

One thing I noticed here and in other works is that they never say that the purpose is to BE happy but to SEEK happiness. If I’m unhappy that doesn’t mean I’ve failed to fulfill my purpose in life, it merely means I need to keep working.

Where words came from is fascinating to me, so the first thing I did was look up the word “happy.” Word Origin of Happy says the word happy originally meant “lucky” or “wise.” How clever is that? What if I spent my life looking for luck and wisdom? Seems like a good use of time, a decent existence, doesn’t it?

I think that’s exactly what I do, and why I’m a generally happy person. Some may disagree with that statement. They may say, “Michelle, you complain a lot and you tend to throw temper tantrums and get unreasonably angry about silly things. You’re not happy.” But I beg to differ. Ask those that live with me or are around me often. I’ll admit that I am an emotional creature. I wear my heart out on my sleeve and tend to get it bruised up, but I also tend to forgive and forget…mostly.

Happiness has eluded me in the past, and recently it’s felt like an annoying little butterfly just out of my reach. I stalk it in the shadows, pounce down on it, pull my hands up thinking I’ve caught it, only to find…nothing. But I keep looking. I open another book, find another friend, or start another conversation. I’m never disappointed for long. I thank my squirrel brain for that.

What kind of a person is it nicer to be around? What kind of a person is more likely to do something nice for others, work hard at something, and share with the world around them? A happy person or an unhappy person?

I think it’s the happy person, the lucky and wise person. That’s why it makes sense to me to make the pursuit of happiness my life’s goal. So far, I feel like I’m doing nice job of it.

It may look like I have the world from your perspective, but I don’t have everything I want. No one does. Things have not always gone the way I wanted them to. I’ve been sorely disappointed and let down. I’ve made terrible mistakes that have cost me some relationships as well as money and some freedom. The pursuit of happiness, the seeking of that which may make you happy, isn’t about getting what you want, or what you think you want, but accepting what is.

And happiness doesn’t always mean pleasure seeking. Things that are pleasurable don’t always lead to happiness. Wisdom is learning to navigate through those traps. It may bring me great pleasure to spend all my money on books, but I’ll be unhappy when my husband can’t pay the mortgage. It may bring me great pleasure to punch that guy right in the nose, but I’ll be unhappy when I’m in jail for assault.

No, BEING happy isn’t the goal. It can’t be. But SEEKING happiness? That’s attainable!


You can find The Art of Happiness at Thriftbooks. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it back in December, New Read: The Art of Happiness

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it on my Autobibliography page!

Finding Balance in the Study of Eastern and Western Philosophy

Eastern and Western philosophy quote from the book on a desert background.
The first of many gems I found in this book, even though it wasn’t what I expected.

“Underlying all Western modes of analysis is a very strong rationalistic tendency – an assumption that everything can be accounted for.”

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

I can’t be the only one that is thinking that the study of Eastern and Western Philosophy may be a way to bring the chaos of modern civilization into balance. If each of us could spend time considering ways to live more peacefully, the mood of even social media may change for the better.

When I read the quote above, I imagined a bean-counter sitting at his desk picking apart a human consciousness. This is related to this. That is caused by that. Hmm… You can see the animation play out, can’t you?

Some would read this and think, “Yeah, those dumb Western thinkers! Always thinking they can reason their way out of everything, control the outcomes. Not everything has a rational explanation!”

And not everything can, or should be, controlled.

Modern thinking has supposedly thrown out superstitious and spiritual “woo-woo” reasons for what happens in the physical world. In my opinion, it seems we’ve simply replaced it with something far more dangerous, the worship of the state. Voting seems to give government supernatural abilities that are unlimited in scope. We need not worry, think, or reason for ourselves because every few years we vote for someone else to do that for us.

But that’s not what this book is about, or what I came to talk about. It’s just what leaked through my brain as I thought about the quote.

There’s a lot of good that has come from that bend toward rational accountability in Western thought. Christian teaching tells us that God gave us the earth to take care of.

“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 

Matthew 6:26

Taking the reins of life on earth is a big job for humanity. It’s a huge responsibility. The forces of life on earth are great. What if we could control and guide them? What could we accomplish if we drove them instead of rode them?

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible…enter chaos, right? That’s where Eastern thought, and Buddhism specifically, is helping me personally. Could it help all of humanity, like in a balance way, two halves of a whole finally coming together in the modern era?

I think so. Reading this book has only confirmed some of my suspicions about Eastern and Western philosophy and now I want to know more. My Western culture has taught me ambition, responsibility, and reasoning. Can Eastern culture teach me acceptance and peace about the chaos outside?

I’ve been curious about Buddhism and Eastern thought for years and I think it’s about time I spent some serious study in it. I’m still looking for good sources, so if you know of any you’ve had experience with, let me know in the comments.

You can find The Art of Happiness at Thriftbooks. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it back in December, New Read: The Art of Happiness

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it on my Autobibliography page!

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