“Instead of trying to control the world to make yourself happy, work to reduce your psychic irritants.”

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness – Walking the Buddha’s Path.

This was a rough weekend. It was the stress from the full week crashing down on me, and all at once, unexpectedly I found myself dragged out to sea. Despair, helplessness, and anger at my helplessness and despair.

The funny thing is all the progress and lessons learned, though logically I knew them and I remembered them, none of them could help me feel less of what I felt. I am talking about all the meditation and mindfulness practice since the quarantine started back in March. It is only in reflection that I realize that mindfulness doesn’t stop suffering, it just helps us to identify the moment as suffering. The helplessness is still there. It’s like being at the top of the rollercoaster, recognizing you are strapped in and at the top, about to tumble down, the anxiety and fear and helplessness is all there – you just notice it.

I reread my notes from the book, Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness. Here they are:

  1. No matter what we do, change separates us from what we love and presents us with what we hate. Losing anything to which we are attached makes us angry and sad.
  2. A simple life and disciplined life, good friends, meditation, and mindful investigation of the true nature of experience are the foundation of happiness.
  3. Unhappiness comes from conditioned things.
  4. Conditioned things are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and selfless- / soul-less.

The eight mindful steps to happiness include:

  1. Skillful understanding
  2. Skillful thinking
    • generosity or letting go
    • loving friendliness
    • compassion
  3. Skillful speech
    • telling the truth
    • avoid malicious talk
  4. Skillful action
    • abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and intoxication
  5. Skillful livelihood
    • is what I am doing harming others or harming myself?
    • does the work I do prevent me from living an ethical life?
    • does the work I do undermine my integrity?
  6. Skillful effort
    • prevent negative states of mind
    • overcome negative states of mind
    • cultivate positive states of mind
    • maintain positive states of mind
  7. Skillful mindfulness
    • mindful meditation
    • mindfulness of the body, feelings, mind, and thoughts
  8. Skillful concentration