Do you spend your week just trying to get by and you feel something is missing?
Do you feel unmotivated by your daily life or lack energy after seeing certain people?
Now, are you ready to learn techniques to find inner happiness that a Buddhist monk taught me?!
A hidden temple that helped me find inner happiness
While traveling in Taiwan, my husband, our friend and I went for the Chinese New Year, to the Beitou district. They have hot springs over there and beautiful walks to do, but the universe decided that wouldn’t be the plan for today. In fact, we landed by accident in a place that would bring us great wisdom and insight about inner peace.
We were walking around and saw a stone staircase going up a hill. We couldn’t see what was up there because of the trees and bushes, but we were curious. We arrived at the top and saw a beautiful, small, Japanese style Buddhist temple. It is called the Puji temple.
We felt like we had gone back in time in the Japanese Edo period.
We arrived there where we first met two friendly monks living in Australia who were staying here for a few days. After talking for a little while, one of them showed us around while explaining the history of this temple.
The meeting with the smiling Buddhist monk
We then entered inside of the temple. I turned around and that is when I saw the monk of this temple. At that moment I knew that I was supposed to come here. He was wearing long monk robes with a prayer beads necklace around his neck and had a huge smile on his face. Little did I know that he was going to be joking around with us, laughing and explaining lots of useful insight on how to be happy for well over an hour.
He asked us where we came from and told us about some more information about the temple. Then, he stared at us with a smile and asked us “Would you like to learn a few things about Buddhism?”. We agreed at once. So, he invited us to sit on the seats facing the altar and he sat opposite to the three of us. He then started telling us about the five rules to finding inner happiness…
Don’t be stupid, don’t be a monkey
He pointed to my husband and said (while making me laugh quite a bit), “You there, you are… ugly, you look like a monkey”. Most people would be in shock to hear this from a monk, I was just trying to not have tears of laughter coming down my face.
He continued “If I told you that, you would feel anger toward me. You would later call your parents still feeling insulted and tell them, “I met a crazy monk today. He told me I look like a monkey!!!” and you would tell them about how unhappy it makes you feel to be here. Next, a friend would call you and ask how is your trip in Taiwan. You would answer “Well, it is pretty around here, but you know that I met this crazy monk that ruined it all for me here” and you would go on talking on how bad this meeting with him made you feel and insult this monk.
As a result, he said: “I insulted you and brought negativity to you one time. How many people did you do that to with my one act? How many people did you complain to and told bad things to them?”So don’t be stupid, don’t be a monkey”.
Let it go, let it go!
I think that this is so common in our society. You could have had the best day ever, but if you have that one bad thing that’s not even important, you are probably going to be just talking about that with everyone around you. You are spreading your anger and frustration on others. But honestly, why is this stranger’s opinion of you so important? You don’t even know them, just let it go (like a certain Disney ice queen 😉).
Find what you are grateful for
I am not saying to keep everything to yourself, like when something hurts and you need someone to listen, that’s ok. But there is a huge difference with that situation and always complaining about the least significant little “trouble” that happens every day. You’re not only bringing everyone else down but you’re just making yourself unhappy, because you only focus on the bad things and never see the good in anything.
Pay attention and be grateful for the happy experiences you shared with someone or the beautiful places that you have seen. This will uplift you on a daily basis. I believe it’s a wonderful exercise to spend each evening thinking about what you are grateful for. It will change your perspective little by little and make permanent change in your mind.
Be the master of your emotions
He then went on to a new point with the same example. So, back to the situation where he calls you a monkey. If he insults you in any way and you react, you will feel the anger boiling up or you feel sad that someone has insulted you. How could they do that to you?! Basically, you just gave that person the remote control to your own emotions!!! You let them control how you feel. Because they say what they want and you are affected by it, they are now the master to your feelings.
Be compassionate but stand up for yourself
In this situation, I feel like most of us go through this all the time. Even though with time, we may start to care less about what other people think of us, there will most likely always be people who can set us off. It might be a parent, a friend or a partner. If someone we care about says something hurtful, we will feel the pain.
What helps me sometimes is to try to put myself in that person’s shoes. I feel like this helps to take back my remote control. Maybe that person is going through a rough time and is upset? Then try to have compassion for them, it can be really hard, especially when that person is taking it out on you. You can tell them that when they have calmed down, you can talk about what is really going on. If they don’t want to do anything about it, then leave, you are not a punching bag. Now the hardest part is to let go. Don’t give them the remote and take back your power!!!
Be rich and kind
He told us don’t be a beggar, which I thought was strange since I know that a lot of monks beg for their food. But then, he explained, don’t be a beggar, because someone in that position always wants and needs more. You are never satisfied. He said be rich, be a king or a queen, so that you can always give. If you are rich, then you don’t need anything. If you have nothing to give, then give a smile. Focus on what you can bring to help others, share kindness and happiness and it will come back to you. You will feel happier.
Buying stuff won’t bring happiness
If you have enough abundance to give to others and you are not obsessed with filling an inner void with just stuff that you don’t need, then you are much happier that way. In this way, you could be literally rich, but if you always think I just need to buy that to make me happy, then you will never be satisfied, because it will never compensate for loneliness, frustration or other emotions that aren’t supporting you.
A rich poor family
While traveling, I have met people who are much happier and enriched while owning hardly anything because they are happy to have what they already own. Furthermore, they even want to share their food and things they have. I have met families the first time I went in Sri Lanka who we would consider to be very poor. Well let me tell you that they were much more abundant than I lot of people I know. They shared special drinks and foods that they made, they shared music, dancing and laughter. They showed me true kindness when I was just a stranger to them. They gave me so much in just one day.
Are you the wave or the ocean?
He told us that we think about ourselves as a wave in the ocean, but not as the ocean itself. We see ourselves as an individual. Just like the wave, we have a beginning, some ups and downs, eventually the wave will wash upon the shore and will end. The wave has now returned to the ocean. The ocean itself is calm, profound, deep and powerful. He says that we are actually the ocean, we are as one, all part of it.
This one made me think for a long time. I am not sure if this was the direction he wanted me to think about this one, but I am going to expose just a couple of my thoughts on the matter. This part was really difficult for me, at first, because of the many possibilities you could think about this subject, then emotionally, it provoked some barriers in me.
A wave of our actions
Does this mean that we are so focused on our individual lives that we forget that our actions will affect those around us? If each one of our actions has a repercussion overall than we are, in a way, all connected. If one person affects someone else and that person will then react to another, a chain will be created.
There is a constant movement between all humans that can go on for long distances. We are part of something much larger than ourselves. So, we should contemplate our actions, learn from our past mistakes to not create a wave of hatred or pain. Instead share kindness and love.
Going back to the ocean, our home
Maybe he was saying that we all shall return to the ocean one day?
Maybe it symbolizes each and every one of us as an individual wave not knowing we are part of some huge ocean.
Maybe…Death is in a way going back home, to where we came from?
Finally, he told us that meditation is such a powerful tool to find true inner happiness. It helps you to let go and be present. You live in the past, you can feel regret of something you did or be angry at someone who was mean to you. When you think about the future, you stress about something that hasn’t happened yet. But when you live fully in the present, you are experiencing this moment just as it is, not in your mind with worries that probably will never happen and feeling bad about something that is already gone.
Meditation connects you to yourself and help you find inner happiness
On top of what paying attention to what is happening now around you and not living in the fears of our minds, I believe that meditation is so important to not be affected anymore by the exterior. You will know yourself better, so no matter what other people will tell you, it won’t bother you as much. You won’t feel influenced by their thinking, because you won’t be in doubt about how you feel or think and at the same time you won’t feel like you need anyone’s approval. Once you have let go of that, it is so much easier to be happy, because you can be yourself.
Meditation for beginners
I know it would be more fun to dance, I totally agree. If you don’t feel like jumping right into this practice by setting up with your legs crossed and letting your thoughts just flow by, you can practice by slowly walking in nature and just focus on the sounds of nature, pay attention to the color and the feel of the leaves and the smells of the forest.
You can also try the meditation I explained in How to meditate to heal your body, this one I feel is easier to start with than simply focusing on my breath.
Don’t worry, be happy!
This day ended up surprising me so much. He simply wanted to share with us a way to feel inner happiness and that is very special to me. He asked us to share these words with our families and friends because the more people learn how to be happy and be kind to others, the more it will expand to the rest of the world. The more people are happy and help others, the more we will live in a peaceful world. Doesn’t this sound just like the wave?
Take baby steps
I realize that it is easier said than done, but if we just try to follow one tip at a time and make baby steps, just maybe, in a little while, we will feel transformed. If we fail, that’s ok, because we tried and we learned how it didn’t work out for us and how we can do better next time. Don’t ask too much of yourself and be happy of any step forward you took, even if it was just trying!
Before we left, he gave us a New Year’s Eve gift, a red envelope containing a beautiful image of Guan Yin, goddess of mercy and compassion. I think that what she symbolizes is admirable. She is often represented with many arms to help as many people as possible. This image is a reminder of his deep wisdom that he shared with us this day. He showed me how grateful I was for I had in my life and how much I was actually in control all this time of something so precious, my happiness.
What makes you happy?
Have you found ways to let go of negative emotions to be more present and happy in this moment? Do you have any special technique or way of looking at life that makes you feel happier? Share your experiences or any questions you may have in the commentaries 😉