Does my bum look big in this? How to defeat your ego and connect with your Buddhahood instead…

Do you need to look good and be right all the time? Are you over-sensitive to rejection? Are you surviving instead of thriving? Do you find it difficult to say ‘sorry’, even when you know you are wrong? Do you get angry and defensive easily? Do you find you need a lot of praise and validation to feel less anxious? Will you do anything to avoid failure? Do you get jealous easily? I have certainly experienced all of the above during my 30 years of Buddhist practice. And yes, I have wondered if ‘my bum looks big in this?’ So if you are sometimes like this (most human beings are…), it might be time to move your ego out of the way and focus on your Big Beautiful Buddhahood instead.

By ‘ego’ I mean our smaller self, our unenlightened self, the self that is dominated by fear and anxiety and lashes out in anger. The self that may have helped you survive difficult childhood experiences, adding layers of protection to shield you from further pain. This ego has a positive intention (protection and survival), but if it dominates your life, it will slowly stifle your heart and strangle your soul.

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“Be you, everyone else is already taken,” – Buddhism and the search for authenticity

I have realised recently that whatever topic my different (and lovely) clients want to be coached on (e.g. relationships, career choices, addictions, assertiveness, leadership skills etc…) the one thing they all really want to feel is that their lives are authentic. They often realise, usually after one or two sessions, that the real reason they’re unhappy – for example in a job or relationship or town – is because they find it hard to express their true feelings. When that happens, life quickly begins to feel empty or meaningless. Or the discomfort may manifest as restlessness (what am I here for?) or anxiety (will I ever make anything of myself?) or a sudden loss of ‘mojo’, or anger (caused by cognitive dissonance.)

Cherries and peaches -  Cezanne
Cherries and peaches – Cezanne

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What is Happiness? A few Buddhist jottings…

Put the word ‘Happiness’ into Google and it churns out an eye-popping 49,600,000 results. In 0.22 seconds. That made me smile. Type the same word into Amazon and it suggests no less than 35,793 books you could read. As a human race, we are fascinated by it. But what exactly is it? Look up ‘happiness’ and the definitions tend to include phrases like ‘sense of well-being’, ‘flourishing’, and ‘quality of life’.

Anyway I hope that some days you feel so bouncy and excited just to be alive that random strangers come up to you in the street, squeeze your (possibly) chubby cheeks and declare: “Wow, you are bursting with joy and scrumptiousness, thank you for being in the world.” Admittedly this doesn’t happen too often in my bit of Leicestershire. Yet.

Happiness is of course the purpose of Buddhist practice and in a way the whole of this blog is trying to define it and inspire more people to discover it. And after 29 years of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and 9 years as a Life Coach, I thought it might be time to sit down with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit and attempt to pin down this nebulous concept. So… here is my little list, happiness is:

Strong, white, no sugar please
Strong, white, no sugar please 🙂

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The myth of ‘I’ll be happy when…’

Very often I hear people say things like, “I can’t wait till…” or “I’ll be happy when”, or “it will all be OK as soon as”:… (tick any that apply to you):

Jaguar car

  1. I stop work
  2. The kids leave home
  3. We’re out shopping for clothes
  4. I’m on that beach in Turkey
  5. I’ve had my breasts enlarged / reduced
  6. I’m in the pub Continue reading “The myth of ‘I’ll be happy when…’”

Relative and absolute happiness

Nichiren Buddhism makes a really useful distinction between relative happiness and absolute happiness. Relative happiness is, say, when you have built a life that’s financially secure, with good relationships, satisfying work, and robust health. It’s the kind of happiness achieved to the highest degree by, for example, famous footballers, actors and other celebrities. The people who are fast-tracked through airports, or have red carpet access to the big shows, while the rest of us join the queue. The people we admire or are jealous of, or are happy for, or want to chop down to size, depending on our point of view or frame of mind.    cropped-sky-trees-large.jpg Continue reading “Relative and absolute happiness”

How to inspire yourself every day (life is precious…)

You will never be truly happy unless part of you already knows (or is at least willing to imagine) that life is precious. It took me 24 years of Buddhist practice to begin to glimpse this fundamental truth! Of course I know some non-Buddhists who seem to havpink leafe been born this way – feeling that every moment and every life is valuable and feeling grateful just to wake up every morning. May hats be doffed to you, because once you get this truth, there is almost no limit to what you can be, do and achieve in terms of goals and relationships. Continue reading “How to inspire yourself every day (life is precious…)”