Last week I had the privilege of hearing Chade-Meng Tan, Google's Chief Happiness Officer and author of bestselling book Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace). Meng's talk christened the interdisciplinary mindfulness initiative at the University of Southern California.
I left that event with a couple takeaways, which I gladly share here.
1) I am not my thoughts nor my emotions. This is the difference between saying "I am sad" vs "I am experiencing sadness." The difference between "I suck" and "I am having a feeling one could call suck-dom."
The former I am statement lends me to over-identify with whatever experience is happening and I run the risk of basing my self-worth on that particular circumstance or percolating destructive thought arising from said circumstance. The latter I am encourages me to practice a healthy sense of detachment from the emotion, thought, or experience.
I still give myself room to feel fully; however, I'm better able to see myself apart from the event, thought, or emotion, and therefore, keep a healthy sense of my worth intact.
Easier said than done, yes 'tis, but I've been actively taking note of my I ams and so far so good.
2) I wish for this person to be happy. Meng had the audience do a quick exercise: look at someone else in the auditorium (not necessary to make contact) and silently wish that person happiness for 10 seconds. After the exercise Meng observed that most of us were smiling as we engaged in it.
Meng then invited us to extend this to a daily practice: spend just 10 seconds every hour observing passersby or holding someone in our minds and saying to ourselves, "I wish for this person to be happy."
I've also been implementing this exercise in my happiness practice, whenever I can remember to do it, and it softens my heart in a way that I literally feel a warm opening sensation in my chest. I am better able to see strangers, or folks I might not regard too highly, as flesh and blood peeps who want what I do - happiness, love, success, joy. And I can give a little energetic juju to them, if even in my thoughts.
These are just two of a handful of insights I received that evening. I was so moved by what I heard that I stood on a 15-minute line to buy his book and then stood on another 20-minute (maybe longer?) line to have him sign my book.
This event kicked off another level in my spiritual evolution and personal growth as I've begun a somewhat formal mindfulness meditation practice since. And it's only been a week. More to come...
To your happiness and kickass life,