Seek Pleasure and Ye Shell Not Find.

The odd thing about pleasure is that if you try to pursue it you won’t get it as much as you could if weren’t trying. This is what the philosophers call the “paradox of hedonism”: that best way to get pleasure is by not trying to get pleasure.

Here is an example from my own life. I booked to go on a Canopy Tour and I was expecting to be in the Forest Canopy exploring nature. Instead the tour turned out to be zip lining above the trees across a valley. Not even attempting to connect with nature. It was too late to back out. It turned out to be very memorable and enjoyable experience. Had I concentrated on having pleasure I would have started by being disappointed that I wasn’t going to be on a real Forest Canopy, then I would have thought I am not in a mood for this titillating activity, I could be having more pleasure by doing something else. I may even have worried about the fear factor too; all because, I waned to pursue pleasure.

Luckily I didn’t worry about pursuing pleasure, I didn’t even worry about the fear factor, I was strangely calm and accepting. The zip lining activity forces you to be in the present by having to focus and concentrate what you are doing for safety and the awesomeness of the surrounding natural beauty. It turned out to be the most pleasurable day yet.

The pleasure of having done this activity will be with me for a while. Here are some pictures of the fun stuff.

Getting ready for the Canopy Tour

Start of the tour- strangely calm.

Beginning of the tour, strangely calm.

First platform of thirteen.

Practice Run

In gratitude because we survived the first run.

Getting comfortable, trying to be superman.

Getting closer to the end of the tour.

Second to last run, can see the ground.

Being a Monkey on the last run.

This same principle applies to pursing respect or wanting to do something meaningful. You have to be engaged in activity which will earn you respect or give meaning to life. If pursued directly you will limit the rewards.

Resources:

The Best Things in Life, by Thomas Hurka.

Sunshine Award

Dear Mary (Blog:-g8listener.wordpress.com)

Thank you for nominating me for the Sunshine Award, I am in Costa Rica and enjoying life. I am honoured to be nominated for two awards in one week.

I hope this means my blog is visited by people and it encourages them to think and reflect on what the best things in life are; this is only the first step for pursuing ‘good life’.

Ultimately I hope my blog will have some contribution to someone’s life to bring them happiness,patience and peace; allows them to love and be loved,  to be compassionate, to live without fear and with ease.

If this is so, I am ecstatic with joy.

Thank You with all the possible sense of profound gratitude.

From Costa Rica

Hari Chana

Nominated by http://g8listener.wordpress.com ; I am complying with the acceptance by …………Nominating the following

I enjoy following your blogs. Congratulations.

Thank You everyone.

Hari Chana

“Pura Vida”- a Pure Life

We are staying about 1hr and 20min drive on an unpaved and a dusty road from the city Liberia. So we had been limited by the choice of activity offered by the hotel. Luckily we befriended an employee of the hotel and he happened to have a day off and his friend had a car.  On the side he also has a tour company, which he is trying to get off the ground. We asked him to plan activities for the day Costa Rican style. Only guidance we give him was we wanted to eat authentic Costa Rican food and we wanted to go on a river to see the animal. Apparently you are more likely to see animals on the river than in the national park.

We arranged to meet him at 8 am in the lobby of the hotel. Having lived in England and Canada all my life I have been brain washed to be prompt. Some of my friends would argue about me being prompt but as it happens we were prompt and we were waiting for him patiently. Eight o’clock came and went. We started to get little anxious because we didn’t have any back up plan to do anything else if he didn’t show up.

My brother went to look for him in the car park and within few minutes of my brother going to look for him the guide had turned up with his friend. His friend was going to be the driver and he was going to be our guide although he didn’t speak very good English. He was a likeable person never the less; he giggled and smiled a lot. It was almost nine o’clock when we left for the tour.  We enjoyed the dusty and bumpy ride to the city and later to the river. When we arrived from Canada it was late at night so we hadn’t see the countryside. So it was nice to see what we had missed; there were lots of small farms, children going to school, horses and cows grazing on the side of the road. No one seemed to be in a hurry to go anywhere. I noticed this in other hot countries, no one rushes, life just happens.

The most commonly used phrase in Costa RicaPura vida” literally means “Pure life”, but the saying goes beyond its simple translation: it’s a way of life. Contextually, then, it symbolizes the idea of simply enjoying life and being happy. As the Urban Dictionary states, it’s a synonym of “hakuna matata” and reflects the relaxed lifestyle of Costa Ricans; they say “Pura vida” for example, if they missed their bus to work, without becoming “anal” about it. I thought this is a very good phrase for improving the general mood of the country. They accept in their culture that shit happens and it’s no point getting upset about. Everyone seems to enjoy saying “ Pura Vida”, followed by a big smile.

On the way they stopped the car went into a small village shop and came back with bottle of water, can of beer, lemon flavored peanuts and a banana each. It was too early for the beer but we enjoyed the cold water and the banana. The lemon-flavored peanuts were specially made for me because I love the lemon flavor.  They were great with the beer later in the afternoon. After nearly two hours on the road we arrived at our destination. Lots of vehicles were parked there; a sure sign of a tourist spot. And it was.

We had arrived at a river, lots of boats, people being guided on the boat one at a time from a platform. Everyone seemed to know our guide and he easily got us on one of the boat. Within few minutes of leaving the platform we saw monkeys, iguanas, crocodiles, birds of all kind. But again – no snakes or spiders. Here are some photographs of the wild life on the river.

 

I was thinking after we had done the tour, that how lucky we are in Edmonton to be able to go for a walk by the river without fear of crocodiles!

Nova arranged for us to go to a traditional Costa Rican Restaurant. The food was delicious. Here is what we had.

On the way back our guide decide to treat us with green mangos and sugar cane. Of course it wasn’t his mango tree, I just hoped it was on a crown land. The sugar cane was certainly not on his land, it belonged to some big sugar plantation. I didn’t think they would miss one sugar cane. Beside our guide looked so pleased with himself I didn’t have heart to tell him not to get into trouble for steeling!!

The sugar cane reminded me of my childhood because I remember chewing on them in India when I was a little kid. The green mango he said taste great with salt and chilly pepper. But I discovered they taste even better with one of the local sauce call “Lizano”

Pura Vida for now. See you soon.

The Happy Get Happier And Sad Get Sadder.

Natural Beauty

If you lived in North America for a while one get used to everything being big. The meals are big, people are big and even the vacuum hoses are big, so naturally you expect hike to a water fall to be long and a water fall to be North American size. It turned out the hike was two hour gentle stroll and water fall was pretty but dainty.

Then came the experience of a mud bath, sauna, natural hot springs, followed by a massage. Sounded pretty good to me but my brother was not too keen. So I went on my own.  The mud bath was not a mud bath, it was a bucket full of mud and people was putting it all over themselves and then laying in the sun to dry it off. I was expecting a hot mud bath I could jump into and sit in it for a while. Just for the experience I took part in the ritual anyway. The mud was cold, but I was determined to cover myself with it but I didn’t have the patience to lay in the sun to dry afterwards. I went straight to the shower to wash it off. Another not so pleasant surprise, the shower was ice-cold.  I tried to wash the mud off quickly but the mud was thick and took ages to come off. I was finally glad to run into the natural hot spring pool. It was hot and soothing. I stayed in there for a while to get the chill out of my body and also for the sheer pleasure of sitting in a natural hot pool surrounded by lush vegetation and monkeys swinging in the trees making a ruckus. The natural happiness in me was revived. I even had a good conversation about the day with an elderly couple also enjoying the pool.

I remembered reading about our happiness coming from four sources and if you activate one then you are likely also to activate the others and thus making you even happier. The sitting in the pool was a physical pleasure and I knew it wouldn’t last for very long. Since I was on holiday I treated myself to a massage, another short-lived physical pleasure. It was wonderful. As I waited for the massage to begin; again I enjoyed the natural surroundings. I could see the wild jungle through a huge window with a fast running stream not far away from the window. I felt as though I was in heaven.

In case you are wondering what the four sources of pleasures are, they are as follows: 1) happiness from physical pleasures as I mentioned; usually it is icing on the cake but not the main layer of happiness. 2) Good mood or our temperaments, such as being optimistic, is more promising source of happiness and it is longer lasting. 3) Pleasures we get when some things we are happy about,, for example that we live in politically stable country, or we are happy our favorite actor got the Oscar etc – it is intellectual appreciation of good things in life. 4) The last source of pleasure is life satisfaction or being in gratitude.  Feeling happy is not as easy as some of the self-help books claim because it takes an effort to change the temperaments and life satisfaction. Some think these two are fixed and are not changeable, but to me they seem changeable.

I should also point out that these sources of pleasure are not isolated, they are related. Sometimes one source of pleasure blends into another, and they regularly reinforce each other, so having one type of pleasure encourages you to have others. Being happy in one way tends to make you happy in others, just as, on the other side, sadness breeds more sadness. In other words the happy get happier and the sad sadder!

Horses for those who didn’t want to walk.

Beautiful Costa Rica

Pretty Water Fall

Pretty Water Fall

Termite Nest

Natural Beauty

Bird with Red Head – Woodpecker?

Resources:

Best Things In Life by Thomas Hurka

Walk In The Jungle and The Master Gardener

Roughing it in Costa Rica

I walk in the city by the river everyday to connect with nature. It grounds me, inspires me and sometimes it gives me insight to the problem I maybe mulling over. You can imagine what I was expecting with a walk in the rain forest, nothing less then communicating with God!

We were driven to the rain forest, which in Indian culture is a sign of disrespect if you are expecting to communicate with God. We should have walked to the rain forest to show humility to the God. But sometimes one just has to accept what the universe has planned.

Our car arrived and pulled to the side of the road. The vehicle must have startled strange looking creatures, with brightly coloured feathers and a lump on their throat, which looked like a goiter.  They weren’t very pleased and strutted across the road looking indignant, without giving me a chance to take a friendly picture of them. Our guide said they were wild chickens.

The three of us, my brother, me and the guide got out of the car and slowly started to walk in the jungle. I asked the guide what we were likely to see and if there were any snakes around. He said we will see small mammals, like monkeys, cats, cougars; birds, butterflies and of course the snakes. He said there is higher probability of seeing a snake because it was windy and flapping of the leaves and branches disturb the snakes and makes them come out of their hiding places.

As I got over my fear of all the possible surprises waiting to reveal themselves, I started to notice a magical quality about the rain forest. The wind seemed to be playing with us, it was gentle and warm at time, then it would be noisy and melodic, pushy and encouraging, playful but yet powerful.

I also noticed the rain was like little droplets from a watering can, as though master gardener was watering his favorite part of the garden; carefully and gently. I enjoyed the sprinkling every few minutes, it left me feeling refreshed but without drenching me. My clothes didn’t feel wet and I covered my camera with a Safeway plastic bag (recycling!).

We came to a clearing in a sky; huge giant tree had fallen recently. It seemed as though the master gardener was clearing some space for a new growing bed. The light from the sun will stimulate new growth; seeds that had been waiting to germinate for years will have their chance to sprout.

The playful wind can be powerful when it needs to be, directed by a powerful hand to do its will. This was obvious when we saw the noble giant tree uprooted and broken, without the surrounding vegetation disturbed.

At other places the master gardener got more creative. He made some trees grow on top of another one. So he makes some seeds sprout on top of another tree; and as it grows with plenty of sunlight it sends its root system to the ground and eventually becoming independent of the first tree; as the new tree thrives the first tree gets strangulated and dies without the sun light.

We only saw monkeys, few birds and butterflies. Unfortunately, there were no snakes or spiders to be seen today.

I was not disappointed. I felt the magical force in the forest; the master gardener was no ordinary gardener. She was special and powerful.

Hollow Base of the new tree - Strangulating Fichus

Roots system from the new tree growing on the old tree.

The new tree left hollow when the old tree dies.

Owl Butterfly

 

Versatile Blogger Awards

Dear sandyseeber

Thank you for nominating me, I was getting ready to go to Costa Rica when I got the news of being nominated for the versatile Blogger’s award. Of course I am honored but more than that I hope the blog is thought to have some value in encouraging thinking and reflecting on what the best things in life are; and pursuing them in the hope of improving quality of life both on individual level and on the level of human condition in general.

In so far as this award will bring more reader to the blog and helps to continue promoting happiness, peace, able to love and be loved, compassion, being patient, living without fear and with ease, I am ecstatic with joy.

Thank You with all the possible sense of profound gratitude.

From Costa Rica

Hari Chana

Here are the rules to the awards:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself
  3. Pass the award on to 15 more bloggers that you enjoy
  4. contact the people you have nominated.

Number one as above. Here is number 2:

Seven Things about myself!

  1. I was born in India in a small village call Nawan Quiila.
  2. I grew up in England.
  3. Enjoy the creative process of writing and reflecting.
  4. I like travelling, especially if I can learn a new skill or new insight to life from the local culture.
  5. I love Thai food, especially a dish call spicy basal chicken.
  6. I like to think I will never let any of my friends down when they are in need.
  7. I dream of having a Cabin in the country and a perfect soul mate as a partner for life.

I think this is enough about myself. Here is number 3:

My 15 most favourite bloggers are:

I enjoy following your blogs. Congratulations.

Thank You everyone.

Hari Chana

Related articles

Need for Admiration

There are a lot of bright and capable people who are not happy with their lives. Quite often it’s because they have not figured out what is valuable in life that will make them happy. In the article on happiness I discussed what Aristotle thought was worth pursuing for the sake of Eudaimonia.

One of the things people mistakenly think that is worth pursuing is the admiration of others in their community or becoming famous throughout the world. I say it’s mistaken belief because the costs for the admiration or wanting to be famous far outweigh the benefits. Why is there this need by almost everyone to seek admiration or fame? Is it because in the past there was an evolutionary survival benefit for being famous or admired ? and if there was a benefit does it matter in this day and age ?

Let’s see what are the costs of becoming a prominent individual or to be famous. When we seek social status, we give other people power over us. We do things   calculated to make others admire us, and we have to refrain from doing things that will trigger their disfavour. We make it our goal to please others and we are no longer free to please ourselves, we enslave ourselves. This situation is particularly troublesome when we are trying to seek approval of people whose values we reject because they are different from our own. This situation is not uncommon. It am reminded of my friend who was a MLA, she said she quite often had to curry favour with whose opinion she did not share or respected, just to get things done in a bureaucracy. She did not enjoy these situations and always felt the loss of her power. This sense of power loss I think came from her endorsing others notion of what was right and not being true to herself. She also give them power to annoy and upset her if they did not reciprocate when it was their turn to do so.

If we can become indifferent to what other people’s opinions are of us our quality of life will improve. We have no power over other to stop them from sneering at us, so it is foolish to either stop them or spend time worrying about them. We should instead spend this time on something we have complete control over, that is to cultivate ourselves; practice compassion and loving kindness towards all humankind.

It so happens that sometimes, one becomes famous even when there were no intentions of doing so. In this situation use the popularity to promote goals that would enhance humankind’s well-being and continue to be indifferent to what other people think of you. Your life will be infused with sense of freedom and well-being.

Resources

A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine

 

 

Money

Throughout the ages the wise has cautioned humankind about thinking that “it is amount of money and not the state of mind that matters.” The money will not console us in our old age and it will not enable us to live without sorrow. It may buy us physical comforts but it never brings us contentment or banish our grief.

The wise recognized the suffering that comes with the endless pursuit of money. It is our attachment to money and our mistaken belief that money is the key to a fulfilling our life that is the problem, not money itself. When we don’t have enough money we have two options, we can earn more or we can learn to simplify our life. There is a tendency for our expenditure to go up as we earn more, so we may not be any further ahead for having more money.

 

 

 

Living well does not necessarily depend on having more money or more things.It may mean simply to simplify our life. Duane Elgin in his book Voluntary Simplicity says:-

” To live with simplicity is to unburden our lives – to live a more direct, unpretentious, and unencumbered relationship with all aspects of our lives: consuming, working, learning, relating, and so on. Simplicity of living means meeting life face to face.It means confronting life clearly, without unnecessary distractions, without trying to soften the awesomeness of our existence or masking the deeper manifestations of life with pretensions, distractions and unnecessary accumulations. It means being direct and honest in relationships of all kinds. It means taking life as it is – straight and unadulterated.”

More than thousand years ago the Stoics recommended this kind of life. They warned for example against eating extravagant meals because we will lose our ability to enjoy simple diet. Instead of enjoying wholesome sandwich with a glass of milk, our discriminating palate would want freshly prepared pasta with finest herbs and cheese, accompanied by a brand of sparkling bottled water or a glass of the finest red wine. The sandwich and the milk is probably more healthier and less expensive than the pasta, sparkling water or the red wine. Further, rather than mourning the loss of our ability to enjoy simple things, we take pride in our newly gained inability to enjoy anything but “the best.” The Stoics, however, would pity us. Besides enjoying extravagant diets, those who live in luxury also wear expensive clothes and live in expensive, finely furnished houses. The Stoics warn us to dress to protect our bodies, not to impress other people. Likewise our housing and furnishings, our mode of transport should be functional not for showing off.

The Stoics work hard to avoid falling victim to this kind of connoisseurship. Indeed, the Stoics value highly their ability to enjoy ordinary life – and indeed, their ability to find sources of delight even when living in primitive conditions.

If we take the advise of the Stoics and live simply with intention, we will find that our needs are easily met, for as Seneca reminds us, life’s necessities are cheap and easily obtainable. Those who crave luxury typically have o spend considerable time and energy to attain it; those who forgo luxury can devote this time and energy to other, more worthwhile undertakings.

Gandhi said ”  The essence of civilization consists not in the multiplication of wants but in their deliberate and voluntary renunciation.”

After meeting the King of England, a reporter commented to Gandhi on how scantily dressed he had been in the presence of the King. Gandhi replied, ” It’s okay. The King had on enough for the both of us.”

Gandhi lived a life of simplicity – straight and unadulterated; face to face; unpretentious and unencumbered; without unnecessary distractions; without softening the awesomeness of his existence or masking the deeper manifestations of life with pretensions, distractions and unnecessary accumulation. It takes courage to live simply.

Resources

1. Chop Wood Carry Water, by Rick Fields, with Peggy Taylor, Rex Weyler, and Rick Ingrasci

2. A Guide to the good Life, by William B. Irvine

Acupuncture

The art of acupuncture practice has been around for thousands of years, the precise date remains uncertain. The earliest written record of acupuncture is found in the Huangdi Neijing (黄帝内经; translated as The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon), dated approximately 200 BCE.

The practice of acupuncture has evolved over thousands of years in different culture, under different thought processes and different philosophic assumptions than those of the western civilization. The acupuncture is thought to be based on cosmology theory, which was later adopted to be applied to the human body. The basic philosophical assumption in chinese culture is that everything exist as a form of energy and everything is regulated by energy called qi. This assumption was adopted and applied to acupuncture practice. The assumption or the premise underlying the acupuncture theory is that bodily functions are regulated by the energy qi, which flows though the body. If this energy flow is disrupted or disturbed in any way than this will cause the disease process to start. The more severe the energy disruption the more severe will the disease be.

What causes the qi disturbances? It can result from eating the wrong kind of food, exposure to adverse weather such as cold wind, from stress, over work, worry, indulging in excesses.

The qi has five cardinal functions:- actuation of bodies physical processes, warming the body, defending the body from exogenous pathogenic factors, containing body fluids from leaking and transforming food, drink and breath to qi, blood and bodily fluids.

The qi flows from inside of the body ( where the zang-fu organs are) to the superficial body tissues of skin, muscle, tendons, bones, and joints. It flows through channels called meridians. There are 12 regular and 8 extraordinary meridians.

Any factors mentioned above can disrupt the flow of qi in the meridians, this in turn affect the five cardinal functions thus resulting in disease. The balance is restored by putting needles in specific points along the meridians. When the balance is restored the disease process is reversed and health is restored.

This in a nut shell is the acupuncture theory. Question is does it work ? Here is what the Professor of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Edzard Ernst and his colleagues concluded :- “the emerging clinical evidence seems to imply that acupuncture is effective for some but not all conditions.”  Several review articles discussing the effectiveness of acupuncture have concluded that its effects may be due to placebo. Evidence for the treatment of psychological conditions other than pain is equivocal. Acupuncture’s greatest effectiveness appears to be in symptomatic control of pain and nausea.

 I myself practiced acupuncture for more the ten years. In my experience the acupuncture was very effective for diseases that was hard to diagnose using method employed by western medicine. I also found it to be very useful to control pain, headaches , nausea, plantar fasciitis, sinusitis, allergies and anxiety. Not all patients found it helpful so I always advised them to try  two or three treatments and if they thought it helped then they should continue with more.
I also found the theory of acupuncture useful to understand patients illness in much more holistic way , it was especially useful when the patients symptoms could not be explained by the scientific methods. These patients with unexplained symptoms were hard to treat without a diagnosis. However, I was able to make a diagnosis (by using acupuncture theory) in terms of energy imbalances and then was able to treat them accordingly.
There are very few side effects from acupuncture. The main one is bruising. There is much made about possible infections but in the years I practiced there were no infections resulting from acupuncture needles.
Lot of my patients ask me if they should try acupuncture, especially when they are getting too many side effect from the medication they are taking or when they are told that there is nothing wrong with them  even though they are experiencing troubling symptoms. My advice in general is that they should try at least two treatments, and if it helps then to continue. I started giving this advice after I had a patient with chronic pain that no one could help. The pain prevented her from all the fun things she used to do, such as dancing, walking and swimming. Both she and I were getting frustrated and as a last resort I sent her for acupuncture. I was not expecting much, but it was not until she tried the acupuncture that she was able to live to her fullest. She was able to dance again.
Resources
Interchange Blog

Interchange Blog

%d bloggers like this: