Posts on juillet 2009

Happiness at school

If happiness was taught at school, what would the world look like?

My friend Nathalie, author of the blog Origin.all, sent me this video about a japanese teacher.

It starts with a dialogue between the teacher and his pupills on the first day of school:

« What is the most important thing this year?

– To be happy!

– What are we here for?

– To be happy! »

Surprinsingly, there is a lot of crying in the documentary because being happy doesn’t mean avoiding pain. He is teaching the kids and the viewer that bonding, caring, empathy, trust, friendship help go through difficult time. The teacher , Toshiro Kanamori, can also be hard but in the end his goal is to show how precious life is, to guide them to principles that make a happy life.

Happiness and compassion

Amsterdam

Kerkstraat

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Amsterdam

A flash in my mind. One of the key to my happiness is compassion.

I have always been very hard on myself. I always thought I might have some qualities but they were always overshadowed by my ugliness. Whether it was physical or mental, at times, it was unbearable to live with myself.

We are all made of light and darkness but again, your vision, the importance you give to one or the other is a major player in what you will feel and develop.

In 2005, I had left New York for a new job in Amsterdam. I was living in a very nice two storey flat in the antiquaire’s quarter. I believed firmly that the lack of meaning I had felt would be erased by a change of scenario. But amazingly, the same symetry in people, situations appeared in my new life! That’s when I asked:  “Is there an other way to experience life?” and, shortly after, I met two women.

The first one was Teresa and was a masseuse. She was of Indian (American) descent and used bird feathers and drum music to gently rock your heart. She was very motherly and told me I was beautiful. She nourished my body and my heart.

The second one is Joëlle and is a therapist. She taught me a lot but the main door she opened was compassion.

I was talking with a friend this week who told me how even though she is a tuff cookie, she lately told her story to a group of strangers and the compassion she received changed her vision of life.

That’s what Joëlle did for me. I told her, and for the first time to someone, my story from A to Z and in one sentence of compassion, she opened a huge door in my heart. It felt as if someone was seeing me for the first time.

Once you have compassion for yourself, not self-pity or indulgence, but real compassion, you start to feel the happiness rising. You know you did the best you could with what you had. Now you take responsibility of your destiny and your own happiness. You can now give compassion to the people you cross path with because it has the power to free people from suffering, you’ve experienced it.

Well that’s what I experienced.

I almost forgot! Those two women, Teresa and Joëlle, popped into my life within the same week to teach me just as if I was a child learning the fundamentals of life again. My mother’s and father’s names are Thérèse and Joël. A coincidence.

Happiness in Versailles in the 17th century

Versailles grille

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…I went for a stroll in the gardens of Versailles Castle. Gold and marbles are a testimony of past fastuous living.

Louis XIV, the Sun King extended drastically the castle under his reign and transformed it in a jewel for festivities. It was then that classical french arts flourished.

Now children are running barefoot in the green. Old couples, hand in hand, listen to the wind flapping tree leaves. But still, when you get lost in the maze, you could swear you heard famous writers from the golden age whisper.

Here is what they said about happiness …

Bossuet was born at Dijon, in Burgundy, in 1627. He was a  catholic preacher.
“Human happiness is composed of so many pieces, that it always misses some”

Corneille was born at Rouen, in Normandy, in 1606. He was a famous dramatist.
“We never taste happiness in perfection, our most fortunate successes are mixed with sadness.”
“Happiness seems made to be shared.”

Molière was born at Paris, in 1622 . He was a playwright. In French we say Shakespeare’s language for English and Molière’s language for French. He played a major role in French literature.
« Unbroken happiness is a bore; it should have ups and downs. »

Jean de La Fontaine was born at Château-Thierry, in Champagne, in 1621. He was a poet and fabulist. I am quite sure that 99% of French people have learned or read one of his fables.
“We ought never to scoff at the wretched, for who can be sure of continued happiness?”

Montesquieu was born at Bordeaux, in Aquitaine, in 1689. He was a political thinker.
“False happiness renders men stern and proud, and that happiness is never communicated. True happiness renders them kind and sensible, and that happiness is always shared.”

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