Aug 162013
 

The LA Times reports that according to new research, “Facebook is a bummer that makes us feel worse about our lives.”

A study was conducted by the University of Michigan and Leuven University in Belgium. You can read the research article here. The researchers examined “how Facebook use influences the two components of subjective well-being: how people feel moment-to-moment and how satisfied they are with their lives,” and concluded that “On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.”

It really bums me out to learn that using Facebook will bum me out.

Actually, I can’t get no satisfaction with Facebook, ’cause I try and I try . . .  When I’m scanning down my news feed and all of the sudden it hiccups, and new items slide up and I lose my place. I normally log off by the third time this happens, and I am left with a momentary sense of frustration, but then I move on. I figure my average time on Facebook any given day is less than 5 minutes. I don’t think I am a typical FB user.

At any rate, both you and I know that you can’t find lasting happiness in something like Facebook. But, we know also that people look for happiness in the darndest places, and often in the most futile ways. But happiness, or at least some life satisfaction, is really not that hard to find.

Want some happiness right now? Well, when you finish reading this post, sit back from the computer, or lay down your mobile device, and take a few minutes to reflect on what a beautiful day it is. Better yet, go outside, the perfect place to meet a perfect day. Rain or shine, hot or cold, even if you have a ton of problems, it’s a good day.

In his book, Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice, Thich Thien-An, the Vietnamese teacher who founded the International Buddhist Meditation Center here in Los Angeles, notes,

The practice of [Buddhism] should not be confined only to periods of sitting in meditation, but should be applied to all the activities of daily life. If we are diligent in cultivating the way, we will find that every day is a good day. There are no bad days at all, not even Friday-the-thirteenth. Whether a day is good or bad depends on the mind.”

The key to realizing the full value of what we call mindfulness is through cultivating a mind of appreciation. Mindfulness should be more than merely having some awareness for the present moment. Awareness by itself is nothing special. If you live in the present moment without any appreciation for it, then you’re missing something truly significant. We should try to discover ways to develop appreciation, not only for the present moment, but mostly importantly, for being alive. That’s what I’ve always thought was meant by this phrase in the Lotus Sutra, “Earnestly desiring to see the Buddha, they do not begrudge their lives.”

I won’t belabor the point. Go. Check out the day and harvest some appreciation for it, and everything around you. Unless you are beyond any hope, that should bring some satisfaction and happiness into your life. But, before you do that, click on the arrow below and listen to a tune by Peggy Lee that will help get you in right frame of mind.

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