Archives for July 2011

Walk in the right direction

The Buddhist Proverb says:

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.

But how do you know you are walking in the right direction? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

Do most of the things I do make people smile, laugh and say “Thank you!”? Or do most of the things I do make people frown, turn away or…or…or nothing?

Do most of the things I do make me a better person – stronger, kinder, smarter, more capable? Or do most of the things I do just kill time and take up space?

When I leave the world, will the world be a better place?

After accounting for all the food I have consumed, all the plastic and metal that have been fabricated for my use, all the trees that have been chopped down for a rook over my head and a seat under my seat, will the total value of my life be positive?

When I die will people cry because they loved me so much? Or because they didn’t get enough inheritance?

You can probably come up with your own questions, too. But it is not the questions that count, nor the answers. It’s what you choose to do with the answers that counts.

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I am a Perfect 10

So much pressure to be perfect – and sometimes we are our own worst enemy. But it does not have to be that way!

I recently told my wife she should be happy I married her — I’m the perfect “10”.  This seemed to surprise her just a bit.  I explained that I am perfect 10% of the time.

Let’s face it, we all put pressure on ourselves sometimes to be perfect.  We all want to do things “just right”.  There is a certain pride in accomplishment that just can’t be denied.

We can be our own harshest critics.  But nobody can be or should be perfect all the time.  If you can be perfect 10% of the time, you are doing great!  And the next time your spouse, a parent, your child or a friend criticizes you, just tell them they should be happy to have you – you are perfect 10% of the time.  And that is an accomplishment that anybody should be proud of.


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The Happiest Man On Earth: Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard was born in France in 1946. The son of famous French Philosopher Jean-François Revel and painter Yahne Le Toumelin, he grew up amongst the French elite.  He studied biology and had a promising career when, in 1972, after completing his doctoral thesis in molecular genetics, Ricard decided to forsake his scientific career to the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. He moved to the Tibetan Himalayas and has been living there since then.  Since 1989, he has been the French interpreter for HH the Dalai Lama.

He was nicknamed “the happiest man on earth”, after he participated in a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin that aimed at evaluating the level of happiness of individuals, amongst which were Buddhist monks.  The test that used 256 sensors attached to the skull, and three hours of continuous MRI scanning, showed that Ricard’s happiness level was far above all other participants. That same study also proved the neuroplasticity of the brain demonstrating that meditation can play a key role in anybody’s quest for happiness, by restructuring the brain’s neurons.

Ricard has written several books. Amongst others,  Happiness: A guide to developing life’s most important skill, in which he gives advice on how to live a happy life.  One of the most important aspect of his teachings is that, as you can train your body, he believes you can also train your mind. For that reason, happiness is a skill that everyone can develop.

For him, at the source of unhappiness, there are feelings of jealousy, anger, obsessive desire and arrogance.  Since all of these emotions are fleeting and transient, it is possible to prevent them from invading your mind and tormenting you.

How do you do that?  First,  by not responding to the emotion.  If you feed the emotion, it will most likely grow.  However, you cannot deny it either.  You need to look at the emotion and let it dissolve.   By repeatedly practicing that technique, he believes that negative emotions can flow through you “as a bird crosses the sky and disappears” and therefore not affect your wellbeing.

According to Ricard, behind every thought lies what he calls pure consciousness.  Through love, kindness, benevolence, selfless generosity and compassion, and obviously through the practice of meditation, it is possible to access that pure consciousness and flourish.

When speaking of happiness, Ricard refers to the Sanskrit word for this state of being: sukha.

“Sukha is the state of lasting well-being that manifests itself when we have freed ourselves of mental blindness and afflictive emotions. It is also the wisdom that allows us to see the world as it is, without veils or distortions. It is, finally, the joy of moving toward inner freedom and the loving-kindness that radiates toward others.”

The author is Alina Boutros, who owns a University Master’s Degree in Literary Studies, has been researching happiness for the past year. You can read her daily posts on

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Harry Potter Trivia Excitement

It’s not the tickets that count.

This morning, my eldest daughter – 10 years old – did indeed win four tickets to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II this weekend. But that is not the exciting part. The exciting part is that she got on the radio (CISS FM in Ottawa). For the second time. And this time she got to answer the question. And she got it right.

Yesterday, she was so excited to be “caller number three”, and waited in anticipation as Caller Number One (a 12-year old girl) was given an impossible question to answer. I mean, who knows off the top of their head the maximum speed of a Firebolt 2000 (Did I even get the right model number?)?

And then as Caller Number Two – a full-grown man – was given a no-way-you-can-miss, easy-peasy question. No, Harry did not get his scar falling off a bike or bumping into a wall at Hogwarts, two of the throw-away choices he was given. And my daughter was naturally devastated when she did not even get the chance to try her hand at the question.

Well, today she had the radio station’s number on speed dial on her mother’s phone, and they kept calling and calling and calling and … “Hello, you are Caller Number One. Who am I speaking to?”


She answered the question correctly and won four tickets to see the show.

But it is not the tickets that is the best part – we would go see the movie anyway. It was the chance to participate – the excitement of making it onto the show. And, of course, answering the trivia question correctly.

By the way, the question was “Who was Harry Potter’s Herbology Teacher?”

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Happy Families Stay Connected

My family enjoys our happiest times when we are sharing mutual interests. Being the mother of two teenage sons, it is up to me to try to stay up-to-date with their interests, because they sure aren’t going to make the effort with mine. However, I have found that not only did I become closer to my sons by doing this, I also broadened my horizons and truly enjoyed many of their favorite things.

Here are some of the things you can do to better connect with your family:

1. Watch their favorite television shows
This is one of the best things you can do. Because television series are continuing, this can lead to ongoing conversations that can last for months or even years. You might also discover some great TV series that you never would have tried (My family used to talk for hours on end about Lost). (See 20 Best TV Shows for Parent / Teen Bonding).

2. In addition to watching your teenagers favorite films, introduce them to classic films that they would enjoy
There are so many great teen movies from the eighties that your teens would love and so many classic movies from throughout the years that they are ready to see now. Even if they prefer to watch them with their friends, you can still have great discussions with your teens about the movies the next day. (See 75 Classic Movies Teens Should See ).

3. Share music and video games with Guitar Hero or Rock Band
The Guitar Hero and Rock Band series of video games have been one of the best games to ever bring parents and teenagers together. Many teens first discovered classic rock through these games. Later versions began including new rock songs, which parents could then learn. An entire family can play at once as different band members.

4. Share Young Adult Books with your teens, adults love many of them also
I’ve become a big fan. I devoured the Harry Potter and Twilight series and just read and couldn’t put down The Hunger Games series, the hot new series that is coming out with its first movie next year.

5. Communicate with your teens through the type of technology they prefer
Most teens prefer text messages to phone calls. They will more happily respond to you if you contact them by the method of their choice. (See Text Messaging with Your Teens ).

Guest blogger Jennifer Wagner is the creator and writer of the blog, Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology,  where you can keep up-to-date of TV, books, movies, music, gadgets, the Internet, websites, education , and all things teenage.

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