letter to a friend on Halloween

Thanks for having written back in response to my mass email. Cool that you liked what i wrote about Burning Man,

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/carol-keiter-burning-the-man-a-utopian-requiem-article-after-1st-burningman-experience/

which i haven’t gone to for years now. It sounds very nice that you are right in the vicinity to get into skiing/snow boarding. I perpetually haven’t been able to afford going. that’s why i lived and worked for several years at Taos, and one year at Santa Fe Ski Basin, so that i could get in as many days as possible.

So you’ve made your way into being a therapist, in what sound like very nice approaches. I’ve heard of EMDR through a girl friend of mine who used this to successfully move beyond some fears she had. Great that you’re applying yourself to something genuinely exploring consciousness and helping people to find peace and joy in their lives, in a world torn with  bizarre dis eases.

cheers to you, and it’s Halloween, dusk as i write this, dusk at 5:15, i’m far north in Berlin. and i’m somewhat bummin’ that i’m not celebrating it at some fat parties in NYC, or in SF.
http://www.thelastmasquerade.com

Arundhati Roy

For those of you not familiar with Arundhati Roy, here’s a brief essay of hers’, captured on video at the Lannon Foundation.  It’s well worth listening to and reading the text.   She’s also written one novel, “The God of Small Things”.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=945405493000735497#

Happiness

I wasn’t sure what would be the topic of this new addition to my carol.keiter blog, which is emerging as a journal of my personal experiences and interests; inquiry into emotions, awareness and an exploration of consciousness.  However, the topic just appeared, to misquote Arundhati Roy “stories cull themselves from the writer, not the other way around”.  I went to look up the word cull, and by the way, one of the sites that i go to often, besides google, is http://thesaurus.reference.com because of my joy and need of looking up word meanings 😉    “cull” to pick out for a reason…

So, I’m sitting at my desk plugged in, to internet access.  I used to relentlessly go to one of several internet cafes, as much for my almost emotional dependency on being ‘out’ among the public, as for the fact that i hadn’t had access at home.  But now, financial poverty and a new vigor towards honing in to and manifesting my projects, is riveting me to just stay at home ‘to play at my work, and work at my play’.

I’ve managed to just ‘get by’ with various jobs that provide income, underemployed positions, peppered with those projects that pop up now and then which I find more rewarding, involving teaching English or writing.  With no regular 40 hour a week job, nor dependents, time has enabled me the ability to work on my own stuff.  Yet there’s that underlying unwritten rule, that when one has too much time, one tends to be less efficient in managing it.

I’ve been writing letters/emails to family members for years, but have decided, thanks to the suggestion of my sister Joan, who’s currently living in Paris with her British husband, to check out wordpress.com to start a blog.  That was after I suggested to her that the two of us should start a blog together, infusing it with all of the topics of conversation that we speak regularly about on our skype to phone conversations.  We’re quite the critics of economic and political policies, power and greed … and conspiracy theories which we’ve contemplated.

Presently, the topic which just emerged to me is ‘happiness’.  Yesterday as I was going about my day, I had had an energetic and calm, peaceful and happy state of mind.  It probably was affected by the mild autumn weather, sunshine and warmth, or being well-rested, or in fact the opposite, sleep deprivation, which often affects my mood – in its early stages – endowing me with a giddy delight and amusement with a lot of things, rather than being bogged down with the perpetual concerns about “what I should be doing or could be doing”, emanating from wanting to live up to ones’ potential in the face of financial insecurity, or looking back at some unpleasant experiences which bait my emotional insecurities.  Hey, |security| and the felt lack of it, could be a later emotional theme topic.

Yesterday I remember interacting with people in brief interludes, with a genuine smile, exuding an ‘i can relate to and identify with you’ warmth, with a sense of harmony and patience”, rather than “this inconvenience for me is because of you – type of anger and blame -driven annoyed response that comes from impatience” a built in not-being-in-the-moment reaction because the person already is on to the next moment in his or her mind.  Later I’d been talking with my parents, it was my Dad’s birthday yesterday Oct. 19th.  Among other topics we spoke about the UTNE Reader magazines that had been arriving & collecting back in Pennsylvania, and then my insight that I could look at their website and look at archived issues to see if any one of them in particular would be one I’d like to have sent to me.  I started doing this, and randomly clicked on a article that popped up ‘glaring at me’, “Finding Happiness by Cultivating Positive Emotions”

http://www.utne.com/Spirituality/Finding-Happiness-Cultivating-Positive-Emotions-Psychology.aspx

I wound up reading this right after I had had this ‘good’ day in which I genuinely felt and exuded more contentment and presence in the moment.  And in addition to the little pleasant interactions with people, I also chose to act on my recognition ‘that i haven’t been focusing on what projects I want to develop’, by not fretting, but starting to do them.   This then percolated into feelings of more satisfaction and moments of laughter and joy at a variety of images and experiences that I had come across.

To my surprise and delight, the writer of this article mentioned, from the data extracted from their studies, some of the very same points regarding what generates ‘happiness’, which I had observed and recognized quite acutely on this particular day, within my own reactions and responses.

One was pointing out that happiness is a collection of positive moments, which often can be missed, because we’re busy worrying about the future or preoccupying with the past.  And that positive feelings such as delight, intrigue, curiosity, inspiration, awe, amusement …are stemming from one’s engaged interaction with something one is involved in, in the present moment.  The author mentions that affluence has less to do with the state of happiness (as long as one is not riveted with concern about basic shelter and security), than basically a person’s reaction to and attitude to their present circumstances.  She also speaks of genuine human kindness, the interactions that we all have on a daily basis, in which we can choose to reach out and be positive, rather than being self-engrossed with our own preoccupations.  And that a collaborative study that the author did with a man who used mathematical equations to measure the success among groups of people working together hinged on a positivity ratio (positive as opposed to negative interactions), in which they found that when people reach beyond their own concerns and are willing to listen and ask questions to others in the group, that this engages more positivity and creativity.  And with an interesting surprise and delight, but no surprise at all, as groups of people reach out more to one another and bounce ideas off each other, a “complex chaotic attractor” is introduced.  Rather than remaining stagnant and rigid, the more randomness quotient people introduce into their group – and ultimately our own lives – the less we’re mechanically going through routines with which we feel little joy or empathy, inflexibly adhering to things ad nauseam, until there’s no growth at all, but stagnancy.  So, the more we strive to learn and grow and listen and ask questions, the more we introduce random new bits of information and experiences into our lives, which then lead us to following our interests, finding creative solutions and ultimately having positive moments absorbed in a task, and happy emotions.

Okay, enough of me paraphrasing the article.  I’ll end with these direct quotes:

“Ask yourself: Am I really doing what I do best? Being employed in a job that uses your skills is a great source of enduring positive emotions.”

This ironically highlights exactly my personal status report of this day, in which I determined that I hadn’t been doing enough, and subsequently took actions for the remainder of the day leading up to reading this article, spending the bulk of my free time searching for more appropriate ways to employ myself, and ultimately engaging in what I like to do most and moving along that flow; reaching out to friends and creating in whatever medium I’m involved with at the time.

And this one:

“It’s in the ordinary transactions of life—being with others and following your interests—that positive emotions grow.”

This is a bit of an addendum to my first blog in which I began touching on the topic of “re wiring ones’ psyche” i.e. building new neuron connections by the new ways one thinks about and approaches those daily moments in life, by thinking and acting differently; towards refreshing new ideas, creative ways of living and being joyful.  Thought is a powerful thing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity

And I have to end this with one of my favorite quotes by Mahatma Ghandi, on Being Positive

Keep your thoughts positive, because they become your words.
Keep your words positive, because they become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive, because it becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because they become your values.
Keep your values positive, because they become your destiny.