Zen and the Art of Happiness: Springtime Soul-Searching

Man, am I happy I began reading Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss earlier this week. Just moments later I would be greeted by my lovely five-year-old daughter asking me to accompany her in her bedroom. Attempt number one of getting her to sleep…

It would take many attempts last night. None of it being her fault. It’s a natural response to her experience of her parents’ divorce. And it’s the reason I had her sleeping in my room for the past few months.

But there I was last night, trying to get her back into sleeping in her own room. And boy, could that have gone more smoothly.

Yet, according to my newly purchased book, this was not a negative occurrence, nor was my exhaustion the following day. Because “everything that happens is the best thing that can happen” (page 26). This idea was helpful in preventing me from falling into a rabbit hole of negative self-talk and feeling defeated.

Living each moment as a fresh new moment, untainted by previous moments is something I have strived for and taught for a long time. For example, when it comes to weight loss, I prefer a more intuitive approach, but some benefit from more regimented meal planning. In those scenarios, if we eat something we intended not to eat, instead of steeping in self-regret and self-loathing, feeling like we fell off the bandwagon and thus choosing to eat crappily for the rest of the day, we can start anew instantly and realign ourselves with our greater goals, and our greater good.

Another point made early on in the book is that happy feelings breed more happy feelings and sad feelings breed more of the same. And it’s actually based in our biology: the type of peptides which are produced is influenced by the current emotions we are experiencing. These peptides then bind to the cell receptors, which in turn, influence further cells to be produced with similar cell receptors. For further details, see pages 48-53.

I was taking cell biology in college the semester that my father died suddenly. Mental health and emotional well-being have been much closer to my heart ever since that life-shattering event. And now, to see it explained in cell biology terminology strikes a chord deep within me.

I can’t wait to read on and learn more about what Zen and the Art of Happiness has to offer to enhance health and well-being!

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