Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Excess, Mindfulness, and the Path to Joy

As I flip through the pages of GQ, Esquire, and other men’s mags at 30,000 feet, I can’t help but wonder: really, does any of this stuff make anyone more happy, or does it simply serve as a distraction from our own selves?

I recently read a book called "The Art of Power" by Thich Nhat Hanh. And no, this Buddhist monk isn’t prescribing how to get the corner office, but a different type of power - the power of simple mindfulness and the freedom one experiences when released of their cravings. The book helped me understand that many of the things I "crave" aren’t natural, but the product of my upbringing in the United States, in Texas, in a life that’s continually distracted by what outside forces tell me what I should want, how I should spend my time and with whom I spend it.

Now don't get me wrong, I love living on a beautiful sailboat. I love taking trips to far off places, learning new things, and a nice cashmere scarf, but the truth is, I don't really love these things as much as I think I do. What I love the most are those quiet moments of reflection on my boat, the smiles exchanged with children on Shoe Drops, and the feeling of warmth that the scarf gives me. These are the experiences I crave, that help me to be more mindful of the world around me… and that mindfulness is what I think we’re all ultimately seeking, whether we ever stop distracting ourselves for long enough to realize it.

This Thanksgiving, try to really stop. Sit still. Hold a loved one's hand, and simply be thankful. No matter what your situation, positive or negative, sad or joyful, take the opportunity to truly experience this moment. The stillness. The mystery of this life. For this, and no other reason, I'm thankful.

(PS - Thank you Gillian Zinser for taking the wonderful photograph above)


Mark said...

how can i submit a picture for a Toms AD? My wife and I took our engagment pictures in Toms and the photographer got a incredible shot of the Toms that will have to see. my email address is thanks.

Tisha said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mark said...

I just found out about your shoe project through NPR and just wanted to say- I like your social footprint.

Anastasia Cohen said...

Great point, Blake! We've been trained by our society on what's desirable and what is defined as happiness, but often times people who seem to have it all are still trying to fill the empty gap with things (sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.)that make them numb and content at least for a short while. Living mindfully and consciously, seeing things as a child (as if for the first time) allows you to experience joy and gratefulness, as if it is Thanksgiving everyday!

mary said...

Hi. I sort of stumbled serendipitously on your page, but was really blessed by your Thanksgiving thoughts. It was thoughtful and insightful and in some ways, just what I needed to hear (or read). Just wanted to say thanks.

Mark said...

What a great observation on life, many of us don't realize the important things in this life, until we are close to the next.
I will definitely check out that book. Another great book is AutoBio of a Yogi, see:
Sat Nam,
Yogi Mark
PS Will be buying Toms for my kids, great business model, thank you!

Sophia said...

Great inspired me to write a short poem of my own.

If we cannot sit still and number our blessings galore,
We are in no position to ask the heavens for more.

God Bless.