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Places of Happiness

I recently listened to a podcast interview with Eric Weiner, who wrote an interesting book called The Geography of Bliss. Rather than critique the various ideas about happiness that he and Will Wilkinson discussed, I thought I'd recommend you read a list of people's descriptions of favorite places for experiencing a profound sense of bliss: Your Happiest Places.

As you read through them, you might find yourself imagining being in the scenes. I sure did. Lots of the places have aspects that we're all familiar with and have relished ourselves. It's nice to be reminded of such serene moments in wonderful places. So, wherever you are now, I'm sure there is some aspect of nature that really resonates with your sense of beauty and joy. 

Here are some quotations from a Zen book that relate to these experiences, which I placed The Psychology of Liberty's section on religious views of enlightenment:

Consider your essence as light rays rising from center to center up the vertebrae, and so rises livingness in you.

Consider any area of your present form as limitlessly spacious.

Feel your substance, bones, flesh, blood, saturated with cosmic essence.

Abide in some place endlessly spacious, clear of trees, hills, habitations. Thence comes the end of mind pressures.

Feel cosmos as translucent ever-living presence.

With utmost devotion, center on the two junctions of breath and know the knower.

On joyously seeing a long-absent friend, permeate this joy.

Wherever satisfaction is found, in whatever act, actualize this.

In summer when you see the entire sky endlessly clear, enter such clarity.

See as if for the first time a beauteous person or an ordinary object.

Each thing is perceived through knowing. The self shines in space through knowing. Perceive one being as knower and known.

Such experiences also bear on our comprehension of our own finite lifespans. In "An Issue of Mortality" in The Psychology of Liberty, I noted the following:

As explained earlier, reflecting on the absolute wonder of life can be the most enriching and energizing process for growth and self-actualization. At times, life’s preciousness can entrance us. When it does, reality becomes stripped of arbitrary social conventions. Myriad experiences invite this kind of clarity: the cold brightness of the stars and moon on a clear night; a beautiful landscape of austere openness where the warm, fragrant wind can almost be seen; rising mountains with creeks and stark canyons that seem almost too real; a vista overlooking the vast ocean with the magnified red sun setting on its distant tides; the joyous expressions and heartfelt words of a loved one. Contrasting such experiences with the most remarkable fact that they will all be gone one day—or more precisely, we will be gone from them—can evoke a variety of strong feelings.

Carpe diem.