The Well

Tag: Joy

Beginner’s Mind

by Andrew Shaw on Jan.11, 2010, under Archives

Over the Holidays, my wife and I visited her family in San Francisco.  We had a wonderful time and enjoyed every minute as we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like.  We were also able to be with our nephew, William, who at 15 months, is completely fascinated by the world around him.  It is such a joy to watch him explore, so full of curiosity and enthusiasm.  Even something as simple as a light bulb going on and off is a profound event.  If you have children or have been around little kids at all, then you know what I’m talking about.  They are seeing everything for the first time.  For these young eyes, everything is full of wonder.  Everything is new and interesting.  Theirs is a whole-hearted eagerness. 

Unfortunately, I think we lose this sight as we grow older.  We lose this special ability to be amazed by, and to see the wonder in, the everyday.  We forget, or we take for granted, the mini-miracles happening all around us.  And we are quick to judge or presume we know everything there is to know about something.  There is a concept in Zen Buddhism called Beginner’s Mind.  It refers to having a mind like a beginner; an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions.  If we are able to practice letting go of all that we think we know, of letting go our need to be right or to be the expert, we open ourselves to new possibilities, to new discoveries, to surprises and to new insights.  We can shake off the old and like a child, see things anew.

Children are our best teachers in living this way and in showing us how to get back to the basics.  By watching how they live, we are reminded to awaken to the present, to be open to new experiences, to be curious and excited about life, to see the world anew, and to live in awe and wonder.  This can be an incredibly enriching and meaningful practice, one that brings greater clarity, appreciation, joy and happiness.

Be Well

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Do What You Love

by Andrew Shaw on Sep.07, 2009, under Archives

My father, one of the greatest men I know, has been working the same stressful job for the past twenty-five years.  It’s a difficult environment and there’s a new crisis for him to solve every week.  I know it has been really hard for him.  But, he is responsible, loyal, hard-working, and selfless.  He has always put his family first, staying at his job not because it’s what he loves, but because it provides for his family.  Another great man I admire, my father-in-law, was fortunate to find work that he loves.  He was able to create his own business, one that allowed him independence, a way to use his hands to build something, and to be outdoors, fully in the moment. 

Over the years, both my father and father-in-law have also found passions outside of work.  My father loves to work on little projects, around the house or on his computer.  He loves photography.  He is happy being in nature taking pictures of the world through his lens.  He enjoys sailing.  Watching him out on the water, one with the wind, you can see in these moments, he’s truly happy.  He also finds complete joy in cooking.  It is an art-form by way of the kitchen, a chance for him to create and entertain his family and friends.  More than anywhere else, he seems at home here, focused, present, and absolutely loving what he’s doing.  My father-in-law has meditated and practiced yoga for forty years.  It brings him peace, joy, and clarity.  He loves to be active and outdoors.  He runs everyday, backpacks through the wilderness, he gardens, he surfs.  With all of these things, he is grounded in the beauty and simplicity of the present moment.  He feels complete, happy, like a part that’s connected to a larger whole.  

I share this with you because of the example they provide.  We only have this one life and our time here passes quickly.  What do we want to do with the time we have?  How do we want to live?  What really matters?  If you’re like my father-in-law and lucky enough to find a job that makes you happy, this is a wonderful thing.  We should all strive to do what we love, to make our passion and work one in the same.  If you’re thinking about starting a new career or if you are deeply unhappy in your work, maybe you can use this as a guide, to find something more meaningful or enjoyable.  If you can’t do this, there is still a way to do what you love.  Like my father, let work be a means to live.  Come home from your job and do the things that make you truly happy and fulfilled.  Spend time with family or friends, sing and dance, go hiking, play an instrument, cook a great meal, take a walk through the park, listen to opera music, join a book club, go to church, meditate, take an art class, try rock climbing, garden, knit, take up surfing, fly-fishing, story-telling, horseback-riding, watch old movies, write poetry, surf the web, blog.  The options are limitless, so many things to love.  And what matters in life is doing what you love.  Whether that’s in a career or in your day-to-day life, what makes you happy?  What brings you joy?  What do you love to do?  Ask yourself these questions often and then live the answers!

Have Fun and Be Well

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