Tag Archives: observations

Can the Simple Act of Making a List Boost Your Happiness?

seishonagonWhen I was in college, I took a class on the culture of Heian Japan,  and the one and only thing I remember about that subject is The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. This strange, brilliant book has haunted me for years.

Sei Shonagon was a court lady in tenth-century Japan, and in her “pillow book,” she wrote down her impressions about things she liked, disliked, observed, and did.

I love lists of all kinds, and certainly Sei Shonagon did, as well. Her lists are beautifully evocative. One of my favorites is called Things That Make One’s Heart Beat Faster:

  •  Sparrows feeding their young
  •  To pass a place where babies are playing.
  •  To sleep in a room where some fine incense has been burnt.
  •  To notice that one’s elegant Chinese mirror has become a little cloudy.
  •  To see a gentleman stop his carriage before one’s gate and instruct his attendants to announce his arrival.
  •  To wash one’s hair, make one’s toilet, and put on scented robes; even if not a soul sees one, these preparations still produce an inner pleasure.
  •  It is night and one is expecting a visitor. Suddenly one is startled by the sound of rain-drops, which the wind blows against the shutters.

Other marvelous lists include Things That Arouse a Fond Memory of the Past, Things That Cannot Be Compared, Rare Things, Pleasing Things, Things That Give a Clean Feeling, Things That One Is in a Hurry to See or to Hear, People Who Look Pleased with Themselves, and, another of my very favorites, from the title alone, People Who Have Changed As Much As If They Had Been Reborn.

Making lists of this sort is a terrific exercise to stimulate the imagination, heighten powers of observation, and stoke appreciation of the everyday details of life. Just reading these lists makes me happier.

How about you? Have you ever made a list of observations, in this way?


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Stock up now! Okay, end of commercial. Thanks for indulging me.

photo by: koalazymonkey

Am I Becoming An East Coast Snob?

I’m in the Bay Area for the week.  After an afternoon on sterile Sand Hill I treated myself to a drive through gorgeous Half Moon Bay.  I had no idea this is Pumpkin Central.  What made me do a double take is that I kept driving by places with big signs advertising “Pumpkin Farm” and “Pumpkin Patch,” but all I saw were huge dirt fields with rows and rows of pumpkins to buy.    One such “farm” was actively being constructed by six guys with a white panel truck.  They were rapid-fire throwing pumpkins out the back and neatly lining them up, fashioning them much as they might be spaced on a native patch.

In New England you generally either buy your pumpkin at the grocery store or farm stand, no pretenses at a “pumpkin patch”.  Or you go to a real one and cut a pumpkin off the vine yourself.  This California hybrid version was a new one on me.

I’m in the Bay Area for the week.  After an afternoon on sterile Sand Hill I

I took a photo of the Half Moon Bay version that did the best job faking it out.  But this proprietor did not actually call the place a “farm” or a “patch,” so they got style points for their humble “Pumpkins” sign.

And I hope I’m not becoming an East Coast snob…I love seeing regional differences like this.

A M E N E S I A.

        Sitting down on any park bench is the nearest thing to be in contact both with Nature and with other human beings. A lot can be appreciateded  if we just watch with total focous to everybody and everything.
What has helped me a lot,  is assuming the role of a person who has just suffered from  a temporal state of acute amnesia.Experiencing the  feeling and emotional state what feels a tourist who suddenly is placed in a foreign land.
The mind of such a person becomes like a sponge doing his best to absorb every small detail and later on trying to put it on a realiable mental framework.
                 Indeed it would be great if we discipline our mind by using a very kind and subtle suggestion instruct it to just pick out a color, or a shape, or a reflexion, or a specific type of movement.It is really amazing how much we have lost regarding appriciating many wonderful simple things.
        That’s the reason of my invitation to spend as little as seven minutes with a commited action in our minds; five minutes spend with wide open eyes detecting and computing the chosen action, and just two more minutes spent recalling with shut eyes the obseved things or people. As you get convinced of this now useful habit you will surely add different sounds, different smells, even the wind on your face and body it will be like relearning to see, hear,smell and touch.Soon you will find out that strong emotional envolment  goes hand in hand with your mind.
    Wise men from the past and from the present have insisted on changing our world for the better just by changing the way we feel it and it is percieved . Our creative imagination hand in hand with our intuition will help us a lot in this new endeavor.
           What I have done throgh the years is keeping a journal to find out on which days our senses seem to be much more receptive. What I was able to discover was that they have to do a lot with the differnt moon phases ans other astonomical phenomena.
  You are welcome to add some of your interesting insights.

Generating Practical Solutions

Let’s then, ask questions, the same way, as children do!


This time I need your mental company to travel in the past to our childhood. I assure you it will be a very rewarding trip.


So, let’s start assuming that most of us are able to remember many useful things from our childhood. We should force ourselves to recall the way we used to asked questions about the world. How for us, there were many simple solutions for it. How difficult it was to convince the grown up world about our very practical solutions. The adult world wouldn’t accept our contributions. Our parents, relatives, and teachers constantly told us to stop living in our fantasy world. How blind these people were. Their black and narrow minds weren’t able to understand that it was due to the early stage of creativity; Fantasy. It was fantasy in its early stage that later on, everybody was enjoying from the sweet fruits of creative minds. It was fantasy which had birth to imagination, and imagination becoming creative had given birth to many great ideas in great thinkers. These dynamic thinkers found the way to crystallize their inspiration through long and very hard efforts.


The adults told us that we had to study first, then perform a profession, and then, and only then they might be able to listen to our suggestions. They weren’t aware that we were much nearer to the never ending source of Divine Inspiration, which they were.

They wrongly thought that it was knowledge what we needed. What we had at that time was consciousness. This was enough! Wisdom has always been much more important than knowledge! An important definition of wisdom is the following: ”WISDOM IS THE CORRECT APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE!”


Our always wise inner self constantly told us that we knew something without studying it first!

The bad news is that we’re currently doing to our children, the same hateful things adults did to us. We are ignoring too our children! It’s time to reinforce this article by giving you some cold, but important facts about this article.


Both men and women, who make it possible for us the enjoyment of so many goods, including current gizmos, these very creative people still recognize that there is still a far way to go, regarding the active commitment and emotional participation on our part.

It is right here and right now, that we’re supposed to do something useful about the wide, and dangerous gap existing between, the trained minds those who still don’t posses it yet.

How on earth can we, by working together, overcome this issue?

Experts say, it is through formal education combined with dynamic programs dealing with different approaches in improving our creative mental processes. They also keep telling us that that civilization doesn’t only mean the conquering of our environment; it also means the mastering, and discipline of man’s own nature.


The main educational function is, from a wide philosophical point of view, to give people all the acquired knowledge from the past. This special and important knowledge from the past was, still is, and it will continue being truthful and provable. Education should be more idealistic, more stimulant; it should drive us to seek more knowledge possessing pragmatic value. The arduous commentaries, we usually listen from people about life, and our modern educational systems, is that even with the thousands of places doing all kinds of research; doctors, physicists, chemists, engineers on many fields, applied calculus, mathematical equations etc. The majority of these people aren’t aware at all of how their brains work; much less they have a whole idea about their reliable mental processes.


They still haven’t asked some questions, for example:

a).-Is the human brain able to understand itself?

b).-Can the brain understand the mind?

c).-What kind of relationship exists between brain and mind with consciousness?

d).-Is our brain like a gigantic computer, or it is something else much more complicated?


Let’s summarize the important points: One of the favorable attitudes to obtain the mastering of critical and reflective thinking is to greatly increase in our school children, and youngsters INTELECTUAL CURIOSITY. Intellectual curiosity is at a very close distance of human thoughts. This applies in kindergartens, as in Physics theories laboratories.

Both children and great thinkers share this supreme quality, and surely it is the most important factor in any kind of dynamic thought.

I expect to have aroused your curiosity regarding these amazing topics, and still having a lot more to offer, I say to you all. “Thank you!”





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