Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Exclusive Interview: Peter Clothier

Here's the first of (hopefully) a series of interviews on happiness and relationships. This first interview was with Peter Clothier, the founder of a fantastic blog called "The Buddha Diaries". I came across this blog a while back and found the articles very interesting and inspiring. Mr. Clothier was very kind to answer a few questions I had prepared.


The Interview:


Though it is a very vague and broad question, what do you think is the KEY to being happy?
The key to being happy is actually pretty simple (and very hard); it comes with learning to disengage from both attraction and repulsion.  If I persist in longing for what I don't or possibly can't have, I'll never be happy; if I spend my time trying to avoid at all costs what I consider to be unpleasant or undesirable, I have the same result.  True happiness comes with liberation from who I imagine myself to be and what I imagine myself to need.  Here's a fine mantra that I think about a lot: This is not me, this is not mine, this is not who I am.


What importance, if any, do you think relationships have when it comes to being happy? By relationships I don’t only mean romantic but also relationships with friends, family or even pets. Many people spend their life alone and claim to be happy, is this truly possible?
It's certainly possible for some people to be perfectly happy on their own.  Some others of us--perhaps most--find great happiness in relationships of all kinds.  They give us the opportunity to practice generosity in the giving and receiving of love.  Are they a necessary ingredient of happiness? I don't think so.  They can also easily be--and too often are--the source of dreadful pain and suffering.  So your answer very much depends on how you approach relationship.  It's neither good nor bad in itself, neither essential nor disposable.  It's whether you do it right--freely, without dependence or the intention to exploit.


It is said by certain people that external factors have very little to do with happiness and that joy and happiness must come from within. Would you agree with that? To what extent do you think external factors (lifestyle, circumstances and material goods) affect our happiness?
Those external factors are the source of transient happiness, sure.  I myself am more fortunate than most of my fellow travellers on this earth in the circumstances of my life.  But as with relationships, dependence on material goods or wealth is bound to bring suffering: remember, this is not mine, this is not who I am.  True happiness, as I understand it, cannot be affected by gain or loss, nor assured by external factors (like wealth, possessions) that are inevitably subject to change; if it's conditional, it's not true happiness.


How do we know when we are truly happy?
I'm not there yet myself.  Maybe I should tell you when I get there!  In the meantime, my guess is that we know it when we're free from all those things that stand between us and that goal; when we no longer have to be someone; when we can be in the moment without clinging to the past or planning for the future.


How much does our happiness depend on the happiness of others? If we live in a stressful, unhappy world, is it still possible to be happy?
Good question.  That's one of the things that stands between me and the happiness I strive for: I'm still hung up on the notion that I'm supposed to change the world, or that I'm responsible to ensure the happiness of others, even though I realize that I can do neither.  I still look around and see that "stressful, unhappy world" you ask about, and I get caught up in its stress and pain.  My goal is to learn how to be responsible without "taking responsibility."  A fine distinction.


I'd like to thank Mr. Clothier once again for taking the time to answer these questions. I must say that I find his answers very intriguing, mainly because he made me see the situation from a different angle. I was especially taken by the argument that true happiness cannot be affected by material gain or loss, it makes perfect sense yet I never would have thought of that.


If you'd like to know more about Peter Clothier, I highly recommend you check out his blog:


http://thebuddhadiaries.blogspot.com/


Thank you Peter, thank you readers. I invite you all to follow and comment!


Perry.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Where to take a guy or a girl on a date!

Right so I got an email from a certain David who had read my Blog and asked me a question I've been asked many times before; I've just asked this girl out and she told me to let her know when and where we should go, where could I take her?

I am obviously in no way a relationship guru (far from it unfortunately) but it sometimes aggravates me when people take a girl out and can only think of either going o the cinema or to dinner. The way I see it is that a girl has probably been to the cinema or dinner with a guy so many times before that you'd probably earn yourself quite a fe brownie points if you did something else.

Also, a big problem with the cinema is that if you go to see a shit film, you'll both have a shit time. So if you do go out to the movies, pick a good one at least (the guy who took his girlfriend out to pulp fiction when it cam out must have scored easily!).

Now for some frilly colours to grab your attention:

A guide on “where to go on a date”:


The Best Options Are Highlighted:

Where To Go On A Date:

1) The Movies, this is the most common place to go but it's one of the worst because it involves very little talking and interactions, I don't recommend it as a place to go on your first date

2) Go for a walk with your girlfriend/boyfriend, and get to know each other better (and do other stuff )

3) Go to the beach.

4) Go to a Restaurant or a cafe you can talk for a long time and enjoy a good meal.

5) Bowling, this is probably one of the best places to go, you can talk your "companion" and you have fun bowling.


6) A Picnic, this may sound stupid but if you do it right you could end up having a great time

7) Go to an Amusement park, the circus, the zoo 


8) Biking is good as well

9) Music Shows, whether in a real concert or in a pub/bar/cafe you could go see some nice gigs.

10) Invite her/him to your place, watch a movie together, listen to music, play a song for them, show them your music (if you write any)

11) Some other Ideas: Sailing (or any other boat), going for a drive around town, mountain climbing, hiking through nature, horseback riding (kind of rare).



- Perry.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Who is Perry? - A bit of silliness.

This Blog might intend on helping people and being serious, but we all need a bit of silliness in our lives.

As I told you, Perry is just a "Nickname" I'm using. If you wanna see the real Perry (AKA Pear, Kung Fu Peanut, Roopie, Peewee, Pippin, Pip', Snoofoo and many more), then look no further. Here he is:


Well there he is. The only picture I had of him and I took it pretty late at night after he'd decided to declare my bed conquered in his name.

There is no moral to this story...I was actually gonna wait until I had 5 billion followers and then I would make it a national holiday and a world wide anticipated event, the unveiling of Perry. But I'M too impatient, what can I say?

Sensitivity

Over the past year I realised something; over-sensitive people are very annoying. Not only that but they are also more prone to negative feelings.


Here's an example: When I first got to Glasgow, I registered with a GP and applied for health insurance and all that. On the registration form I had the option to tick which organs I'd be ready to donate after my death. I ticked everything except for my brain...I don't know why exactly but to me the brain is what holds your entire being. Everything you've ever thought, felt, wished, been, could have been, would be is inside your brain and that's just something I'd rather not have cut up in to little pieces.


Anyway, fast forward a few months and I receive an NHS Organ Donor Card. On the card it said to keep it on me at all times, so that in case I din myself in a fatal accident, some doctor can come along and "harvest" my organs as quickly as possible.


I took the card out of the envelope in my kitchen and looked at one of my flatmates, sitting on the other side of the table with her cousin and her cousin's boyfriend. It was all quite silent so I thought I'd break the ice by saying, "Well this is kind of depressing....having a card in your wallet, reminding you that you could drop dead at any moment...". 


Now I'm pretty sure you would agree with me or at least understand what I mean. It is indeed quite depressing to have a constant reminder that at any moment, your number could be up.


Here's where "sh*t started to go down" as my flatmate's cousin starts arguing with me about how important it is to donate your organs speaking to me as though I was some evil, ill-mannered douchebag who wanted to greedily keep his organs and stuff them in decorative jars for the rest of eternity.


Later that day, the aforementioned flatmate had a go at me saying that I had deeply offended her cousin because one of her family members had died in the past after not receiving a needed organ.


Now I truly am sympathetic toward her feelings and loss but really don't see how I could have offended this girl. She acted out on me as though I was against organ donating whereas I'm obviously for it because I have the freaking card. This is what people do, they take some moral high-ground and force you to be the guy who's against donating organs even though i clearly am for it. I was just saying that the card is a tad depressing, that's all.


Now this is the problem with these sort of people. First of all, they're usually idiots because they either don't listen or misunderstand what others say or they deliberately chose to hear what would allow them to go absolutely apeshit. Secondly, they just cannot argue logically...they ALWAYS have to bring their emotions into these arguments and act hurt or offended even if the other person is making but a simple logical point that really isn't outrageous at all.


This brings me to an observation I've made, especially in the last few years: People love to be outraged, they love to be offended. Or at leas they feel a need to be so.


Apart from the fact that these overly sensitive people annoy the hell out of me, it makes me think how hard life has to be for them. Getting worked up all the time is stressful (and we all know that too much stress can significantly reduce life expectancy).


Moral of the Story:


Whenever you have an argument with someone, just calm down and hear them out and make sure you get what they're saying before going in to a hysterical fishwife tantrum. It makes your life and that of others so much easier and more pleasant.

Yes Man

Yes Man, many of you might have heard of the film starring Jim Carry that came out in 2008. Well the idea of the film came from a book with the same name by Danny Wallace. I first saw the film last year and it sort of, I dunno, it clicked! Do you ever get that feeling when something just clicks and no matter how good or bad it is, you just say "Wow this is awesome!", well that's what I thought as soon as I saw the film.


Basically, the film is about a guy who says no to everything and spends his days either at work or in front of the telly. One day (for reasons I have neither the time or will go in to) he is convinced to say Yes to every opportunity, suggestion or invitation that arises. Throughout the film, Carl (the main character)'s life improves. He seemingly starts to really live and enjoy everything; he learns to play the guitar as well as learning Korean and taking lessons in flying. He also meets the love of his life (how sweet). Much of the same happens in the book (I'd like to mention here that the book is obviously much better than the film). 


The special thing about the book is that it's a true story and is basically just a brushed up version of the author's diary of the time.


To be honest, the film wasn't AMAZING, but it was the idea that I really loved. I have to admit that I am sometimes quite a No-Man, usually out of laziness. I'm currently with my parents during the summer break and I live quite far from the city...well not so far but far enough to make me lazy at times.


Anyway, I had a bet with a friend: We would both have to do the Yes Man experiment for a whole week. 


The only times we can say "No" are when saying yes:


- Could harm us or others
- Would lead to something illegal
- Is financially impossible
- Is impossible due to other plans (if two invitations coincide, its first come, first serve).


Now I know that this seems like I'm making it too easy, but the moral of the film is also that saying yes to everything can lead to quite a lot of trouble, hence the rules and exceptions.


So I started on Wednesday and saying yes has done quite a few things for me:


It made me realise how often I say no, not out of laziness but out of habit. For example, my sister asks for me to bring her a glass of water, and even though it would take hardly any effort or time, I just say no....for no reason (well actually there is a reason, she should get up and do it herself). The experiment has obviously confirmed the obvious; doing nice things make you feel good about yourself.


The best thing so far is that this experiment has made me go out with acquaintances whom I already feel might become good friends. I had some great nights out and met amazing people. The more I say Yes, the more reasons and opportunities I get to say Yes to.


Oh, I haven't mentioned the stakes.....well it will seem incredibly odd because my friend and I are completely different people: If he succeeds, I have to give him an Ostrich Beany Baby (let me take this opportunity to explain to you that my mate is the strangest of species that I have yet come upon on this fair earth. I keep telling myself that he wants the Ostrich just so he can annoy me, because the truth (the fact that I think he genuinely loves the thing) scares the hell outta me. If I succeed, he will give me a lucky charm and one of those inflatable rings you can stick in your pool (don't ask why, it's just the first thing that came to mind). 


Now if he fails, he cannot use the computer for an entire week (which for him is a huge deal given his obsession with videogames as well as the fact that we're approaching the boring end of summer when all our friends have left for uni). If I lose, I'm not allowed to wear deodorant for a week (I told you, a strange specimen he is, he believes that deodorant, mine to be specific, has a strong, chemical smell that is worse than BO).


Anyway it's been a great experience so far and I hope that when the experiment ends (next Wednesday) I'll still have reason to be open to new opportunities.


Moral of the Story:


Don't be afraid to say Yes. Don't let opportunities slip by out of laziness or needless fear because you never know what an invitation can lead to. Also, I must agree with Danny Wallace when he says that taking a risk and having a bad experience is better than forever regretting that you didn't take the risk in the first place. 


- Perry.

Making Life Perry!

Right well...What to say? 


Well maybe I should first make it clear tat I am not Perry, Perry is actually my dog's name, think of it as an adopted pseudonym if you will. The reason I picked this name? 


Well I started this blog a while ago thinking that I could help people and discuss things that make us happy and it just happened to be the case that my dog, Perry is not only always happy (he actually isn't, I see him become grumpier and more old-man-like every day) but his name also rhymes with Merry. So what seemed like a genius name at the time has become but an object of focus for my cynicism. 


I guess I could also tell you why I write...the obvious reason is that I enjoy it but the other reason is that sometimes you want to tell people things without actually having to spend time with them. I guess I just want to get my ideas out there, even if it means that only a couple of people ever get to see it. 


You'll have the pleasure of knowing that if you read this blog carefully, you'll get to know me better than many other who think to know me well (how exciting).


- Perry.