Happiness and Poverty Mentality

  
Pure present moment joy. Once you leave Bangkok and travel northeast into the jungles and rice fields of Issan province this is what you’ll find: A way of life called, “sanook,” in Thai – it means to find the joy in whatever you do. 

When I left investment banking and became a Buddhist monk this was where the first forest temple (Wat) I lived in was – and the experience inalterably changed my life for the better. Living in Thailand shined a stark light on what has become an obvious and evident truth – that true joy comes from the inside – and exudes and shines its way out through expression, speech and action.

When I first arrived in this rural area near the Laotian border I thought everyone – all of these happy people were impoverished. It didn’t take long to discover that it was me who was lacking. Poor and desolate. That with all of this money, education and ambition that I was so incredibly vacant, so uninformed and pathetically poor – immersed in what I have come to understand and termed as, “poverty mentality”. Poverty mentality is in opposition to joy, it is falsely seen through the eyes of consumerism and materialism as something to cultivate and even admire. The attitude and stance that nothing is ever enough: To always want and need more – to never be satisfied. Insatiable craving and thirsting for more and more. In retrospect I don’t know how I didn’t see it. 
There is no real sanook in consumerism – just temporary and fleeting gratification from mundane pleasures that are mistaken for happiness, but far from well-being. There’s nothing wrong with material things as long as you know their actual worth: that all things actually have no inherent value beyond the conditioned mind that assigns and attributes a price to their perceived function.

The first day as a monk I begged (Buddhist monastic tradition) for food from a young woman with two infants who lived nearby in a small corrugated tin shanty. I’ll never know her name. She fed me in the rice field that I was walking through that day – she simply placed rice and vegetables in my bowl and offered prayers. There are fewer humbling experiences than begging for alms. How to accept food from someone who has less than you? Only to quickly realize she had so much more. Sitting outside on a thin rice mat smiling with her children and hands in prayer. She was so rich and so filled with the joy of generosity. 

I never felt so poor as that moment. In that time and space it occurred to me almost instantly that my ambitious values and constant craving were at odds with harmony, contentedness, peace and love – even for myself. Right there in the middle of that rice field thousands of miles from home my knees buckled and I wept and wept. That was the day I gave up, let go and truly started to give in. That was the day I found my good heart and began to discover the joy in the easy naked simplicity of just being. Sanook. 

May you be happy, may you be well, truly peaceful and at ease 🙏❤️🌷😊

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Passionate Love

It would be so easy to settle for companionship. For years I’ve watched couples in counseling gravitate toward the middle, what even they describe as “good as it gets, I guess,” being comfortable, and just feeling safe.

I’m fascinated by extraordinary people who also have extraordinary relationships. People who live not only their lives to the fullest, but are complimented even further by their partners. And there’s more – they keep it going throughout their lifetime together.

We’ve had the chance to interview many of these unfortunately rare couples. Thirty years together plus, and still passionate for each other. Is there a commonality? Yes! What have we discovered?

These passionate couples share these five qualities in common, and I seriously recommend that if you’re going to be in a relationship that it has these qualities, and if you’re not in a relationship with these qualities – to recalibrate – and quickly!

1. They have the same sexual frequency – this is the number of times over a given period under optimal circumstances that they desire to be with each other sexually. Inevitably this turns out to be a deal breaker for passionate people if it’s not met.

2. They are emotionally responsible. They don’t blame each other or make demands on one another. In fact they are each other’s biggest fans and supporters! This is huge. They support each others dreams and aspirations even when it’s inconvenient. They have similar communication styles and take complete 100% responsibility for their behaviors and emotions.

3. Their values and beliefs are aligned. Think religion, ethics, financial responsibility, philosophy of life, vision.

4. Intellectually compatible. Need I say more? Not a deal breaker necessarily, but definitely a stressor if there’s a mismatch.

5. Recreational Activities. She likes to camp, he’s a metrosexual. Again, not a deal breaker, but a stressor.

Passionate couples who last over the long term – are five out of five on our checklist. They consequently know what to expect from each other – they have a degree of certainty which creates stability. Consequently they have little fear of uncertainty and both trust and support the changing passions of their partner. They are behind them all the way. They can’t seem to get enough of them, and support them to the end.

I highly recommend never settling for anything less than this regardless of the consequences. This is your life, and be fair to your partner as well, recalibrate as often as necessary. Staying together without passion is not what we’re looking for. Lots of people manage that, there are plenty of ordinary relationships, we’re seeking something else!

There’s more to it than this of course, but this is a great start!

One last bit of advice, and it’s completely telling of the relationship: In your heart do you believe that this person would be there for you if you were sick, injured, bed-ridden? Could you see this person sticking it out with you on your deathbed? If the answer is no, you’ve got some talking to do with yourself.

If you’re going to be putting your life into this, and that’s what a passionate relationship is all about, watch that selection process and save yourself years or even a lifetimes worth of heartbreak.
Finally, if it’s just not happening, do both of you a favor, don’t be afraid to fire someone, to let go and move on. It’s your life and you’re worth it.

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