Ten things that Science and Buddhism say will make you happy…..

The first sunny day of the year and a quite a reasonable temperature was a lovely way to drive to my acupuncture session today. I am having it every three weeks now and it feels lovely to go and be rebalanced and energised. Michael, my acupuncturist had already heard my good news so was thrilled to know that he has helped me become stronger and able to fight this sucker!

I had a nother great nights sleep last night but I did feel I was trying to make myself awake in the night so that I can focus on visualising. I haven;t been doing it as much recently probably becasue I feel so much calmer knowing that my hard work has been paying off but I don’t wanto to get complacent. I already feel I am slacking with regards to food and air and heat etc.. Some days depending on how it pans out I don’t get to do everything. One thing has to be put aside, for instance my green juice yesterday as we had an early start going into London. part of me feels ok with it. I feel that life is all about balance now and getting the right balance does mean that I am unable to do everything all the time but it should be ok. I hope it is anyway.

I have today received an email from the fundraising manager who works for The Cancer Vaccine Institute and she is keen to help sell bracelets, if there are any left, as well as feature me in their newsletter. She has also asked if I would like to help with PR as they have a lot of requests for people to feature in newspapers and magazines.. Oh go on! You twisted my arm! haha!

I made yet another trip to the post office today posting out more bracelets and have had more requests from friends who are selling them for me. Stars.. all of them. I have been totting up what is left after the amounts I have dished out to everyone and there are only 51 left for me to sell and I think I am meant to be giving about 100 to a friend who lives in the midlands. Oops.. Sorry .. I think it will be less now. I best start thinking about making more!

Tomorrow I am off on a road trip again. Off to Essex again but not to see the usual suspects. I am going to meet Mark Newey from Winning Minds. I came across him online as he has worked with many canSer patients dealing with the fear of death and the fear of leaving loved ones behind. It combines NLP, hypnotherapy and other specialised stuff he has created. At the time of booking it I felt that I really needed that but right now I don’t but I am still interested in learning techniques that will help me in my darkest hours. I did consider asking him to help me give up drinking. Yep you heard it right! Give up drinking.. then I came to my senses and thought, no way Jose! I like to drink. Also I am bit worried that if I dont drink then what will there be? Do non drinkers have any fun? Now I am stuck in this place where the media and research all says that drinking alcohol is bad for the health and can cause canSer. But really? I don’t know what to think. It’s difficult as it’s such a social thing and if anyone knows me and Pete then you know our house is for partying..(Seriously cool with a bar/cabin outside and a champagne bar inside!) This one I will need to consider more on. I love champagne! Champagne is the answer! ha ha!

I read this great article on the ten things in life that makes us happy, written by scientists, so it is scientifically proven, but the great spin on this article is that it’s also backed up by a buddhist too. See what you think. I totally relate to it all.

10 Things Science (and Buddhism) Say Will Make You Happy

 By Guest Writer Bodhipaksa

 I’m a science geek as well as a Buddhist geek, and recently when I was leading a retreat on how to bring more joy into our lives I found myself making a lot of references to an article published in Yes magazine, which touched on ten things that have been shown by science to make us happier. It seemed natural to draw upon the article because so much of the research that was described resonated with Buddhist teachings.

 So I thought it would be interesting to take the main points of the article and flesh them out with a little Buddhism.

 1. Be generous

“Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it,” Yes magazine says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.

 And in fact Buddhism has always emphasized the practice of dana, or giving. Giving hasn’t been seen purely as the exchange of material possessions, however; giving in Buddhist terms includes non-tangibles such as education, confidence, and wisdom.

 “And which are the three factors of the donor? There is the case where the donor, before giving, is glad; while giving, his/her mind is bright & clear; and after giving is gratified.” (Anguttara Nikaya)

 2. Savor everyday moments

“Study participants who took time to savor ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression.”

 This of course is an example of another fundamental Buddhist practice — mindfulness. When we’re mindful we stay in the present moment, and really pay attention to our experience. Walking meditation, and even eating, can be ways of savoring everyday moments. In being present, we dwell in the present without obsessing about the past or future, and this brings radiant happiness:

 They sorrow not for what is past,

They have no longing for the future,

The present is sufficient for them:

Hence it is they appear so radiant.

(Samyutta Nikaya)

 3. Avoid comparisons

“While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction.”

 Buddhists are advised to avoid “conceit.” Now in the west we think of conceit as a sense of superiority, but in Buddhism conceit includes thinking you’re inferior to others, AND it includes thinking that you’re equal to others! What’s left? Just not thinking in terms of self and other at all. The ideal in Buddhism is a kind of “flow” state in which we un-selfconsciously respond to others without any conceptualization of there being a self or an other.

 “Though possessing many a virtue one should not compare oneself with others by deeming oneself better or equal or inferior.” (Sutta Nipata 918)

 4. Put money low on the list

 “The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,” [researcher Richard] Ryan says. “The satisfaction has a short half-life—it’s very fleeting.” People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

 Despite western preconceptions to the contrary, the Buddha wasn’t against people making money. In fact he encouraged it! Money is useful to the extent that it supports our physical needs, allows us to make others happy, and — most importantly — to the extent that we use it to support genuine spiritual practice. In Buddhist terms we validate our wealth creation by giving our money away to support what’s really important in life, which is the pursuit of wellbeing, truth, and goodness. The idea that materialism can bring us genuine happiness is what Buddhism calls a “false refuge.”

 There is no satisfying sensual desires, even with the rain of gold coins. (Dhammapada 186)

 Knowing the bliss of debtlessness,

& recollecting the bliss of having,

enjoying the bliss of wealth, the mortal

then sees clearly with discernment.

Seeing clearly — the wise one —

he knows both sides:

that these are not worth one sixteenth-sixteenth

of the bliss of blamelessness.

(Anguttara Nikaya)

 5. Have meaningful goals

According to Harvard’s resident happiness professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning.”

 The Buddha’s last words were “with mindfulness, strive.” The whole point of being a Buddhist is in order to attain spiritual awakening — which means to maximize our compassion and mindfulness. What could be more meaningful than that?

 “He gains enthusiasm for the goal, gains enthusiasm for the Dhamma, gains gladness connected with the Dhamma.” (Majjhima Nikaya)

 6. Take initiative at work

“How happy you are at work depends in part on how much initiative you take. Researcher Amy Wrzesniewski says that when we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.”

 The Buddhist teaching on work is called the practice of Right Livelihood. And the Buddha saw work as being a way to show initiative and intelligence:

 “By whatsoever activity a clansman make his living … he is deft and tireless; gifted with an inquiring turn of mind in to ways and means, he is able to arrange and carry out his job.” (Anguttara Nikaya)

 Heedful at administering

or working at one’s occupation,

… [these are factors]

leading to welfare & happiness.

(Anguttara Nikaya)

 7. Make friends, treasure family

 “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones,” says Yes magazine.

 To the Buddha, spiritual friendship was “the whole of the spiritual life.” And even though people tend to think about monks and nuns leaving home, for those who embraced the household life, close and loving relationships with others was highly recommended. “Generosity, kind words, beneficial help, and consistency in the face of events” are the things that hold a family together, according to the Buddha.

 Let him associate with friends who are noble, energetic, and pure in life, let him be cordial and refined in conduct. Thus, full of joy, he will make an end of suffering. (Dhammapada 376)

 Support for one’s parents,

assistance to one’s wife and children,

consistency in one’s work:

This is the highest protection [from suffering].

(Mangala Sutta)

 8. Look on the bright side

“Happy people … see possibilities, opportunities, and success. When they think of the future, they are optimistic, and when they review the past, they tend to savor the high points,” say [researchers Ed] Diener and [Robert] Biswas-Diener.

 Buddhism doesn’t encourage us to have a false sense of positivity, but neither are these researchers. They’re suggesting that we find the good in any situation we find ourselves in. Buddhism encourages positivity through practices such as affectionate and helpful speech, where we consciously look for the good in ourselves and others.

 The strongest expression of this is where we’re told to maintain compassionate thoughts even toward those who are sadistically cruel toward us:

 “Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.” (Majjhima Nikaya)

 9. Say thank you like you mean it

“People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals,” according to author Robert Emmons.

 The Buddha said that gratitude, among other qualities, was the “highest protection,” meaning that it protects us against unhappiness. And:

 “A person of integrity is grateful and thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people.”(Anguttara Nikaya)

 To one ever eager to revere and serve the elders, these four blessing accrue: long life and beauty, happiness and power.(Dhammapada 109)

 Gratitude in Buddhism helps us to align our being with the good (kusala) so that we’re more likely to live in a way that leads to happiness and wellbeing.

 10. Get out and exercise

 “A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expense.”

 And the Buddha said — well, I don’t think he said much about exercise! In a culture like the Buddha’s where most people worked manually, and where walking was the main form of transportation, there wasn’t much need to emphasize exercise as a thing in itself. It’s only in sedentary cultures like ours that people have to make a special trip to the gym to exercise — although they usually park as close to the entrance as possible to minimize the amount of exercise they have to do in order to get to the exercise machines! But walking meditation was, and is, a key practice in Buddhism, even though it’s sometimes done very slowly. However the Buddhist scriptures commonly mention that such-and-such a person was “walking and wandering up and down beside the river for exercise,” suggesting that monks, with their own form of semi-sedentary lifestyle, needed to set aside special time to get their bodies moving.

 “Monks, there are these five benefits of walking up & down. What five?

 One is fit for long journeys; one is fit for striving; one has little disease; that which is eaten, drunk, chewed, tasted, goes through proper digestion; the composure attained by walking up & down is long-lasting.

 These, monks, are the five benefits of walking up & down. (Anguttara Nikaya)

 

All good advice I feel and I totally agree!

So go and be happy y’all.. I know I am.

XX

The problem with Triple Negative Breast Cancer is the name is so negative!

We have been waiting for todays appointment for ages!

Today we left early to get though the piles of traffic into the city of London to see Professor Tutt. We had heard of him through the internet and Professor Harris as being the leading oncologist with an interest in triple negative breast cancer. As mentioned before he is heading up research that focuses solely on this strain of disease.

He is a lovely man and very thorough. He discussed my history and every detail into what I have had and am having in the way of treatment. We discussed the immunotherapy with him too. He did an examination and said I am in perfect health and wouldn’t know that I have canSer. I know it sucks right! He was very honest with information he gave us and very frank with what can be done. The overall feeling was a good one. He did say there is a very negative spin on triple negative breast cancer probably from the name but it doesn’t always have to be recurrent and doesn’t always end in metastasising. In fact there is good treatment that knocks it out sometimes better than standard breast cancer.

He said looking at what I have been treated with, infact he called it using the ‘retrospectoscope’ he thinks the treatment I have had is all great. Every chemo I have been given was the right choice. In terms of what to do now. He says, ‘If it aint broke don’t fix it.’ So carry on as I am. I was always going to do that! As usual he wasn’t offay with immunotherapy but did keep asking me if I get any side effects from the injections. He seemed to think that the vaccines could cause many changes and create more canSer. But I haven’t had any side effects and I have felt just dandy! I am pleased we have touched base with him and he has said that if there is anything else I may need or want direction with he could help.

He did give me some insight to what he knows about triple negative. He says there are some similarities between triple neg and ovarian canSer and in how melanoma functions is simlar to triple neg. This all seems very interesting but I so want to hear they are close to a cure. Surely they must be close to a cure!

As usual the conversation always comes up as to how the disease is being dealt with at the mo but in the future if the disease should not be contained by capecitibine there are many other routes I can go down in terms of standard treatment. Pete asked outright if any of his patients have been cured from having standard treatments. He said, ‘yes’ there have been the odd few that the canSer hasn’t returned. That’s good enough for me.. But it does always fill me with dread. I am starting to dislike hearing, ‘better quality of life for as long as possible’.

He said that triple negative needs a positive spin on it to make it seem less negative. He says we need to focus on the positives. I told him that the name of my facebook page is ‘Making triple negative a positive’. He gave me a thumbs up! He seemed genuinely delighted that we are raising money for his research.

He said that Professor Harris, my oncologist is a big deal in canSer research and that Professor Middleton is really great for trials in the Oxford hospital. He said that there are still many routes to go down should the canSer start to grow again and also that he knows of people that have been on capecitabine for about 20 cycles, that’s nearly two years. I guess there is still hope then. But there is always hope. As hope is all we have.

I have just got back and been getting lots of bracelets packaged up and posted up. I still have a few hundred left but they have been allocated to friends and volunteers. I am so impatient.. we have already reaised £1385 to date and I am really chuffed with that but I want to get more! I know There is no rush but seeing that total totting up is such an incentive. I want more! I sound like Oliver Twist..

Overall I feel that today was success. Prof Tutt said he would happily help me in the future with anything needed such as getting on trials I need to as well as seeking out certain treatment. What a nice man!

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day- show your support!

It’s been a few days since I last blogged and lot has been happening. Friday Pete and I drove to London to attend our friend’s mother’s funeral. I have to admit I was a little worried as it was my first funeral ever in 37 years… There was such a huge turnout and I really was overwhelmed by the love of everyone that attended. The funeral was a humanist service. I obviously have nothing to compare it to but Pete said it was really nice, simply no mention of God. The whole service was so personal to the family. The music was brilliant and when Eva Cassidy Fields of Gold came on.. That was it.. I was in floods. What is it about Eva Cassidy that does it to me every time?

Pete says funerals are accumulative. You remember all those people who are gone but not forgotten. It can feel quite cathartic. The service was filled with history, love, and even humour. I was pleasantly surprised. But I have to admit I did find it hard not to blub all the way through. That’s where my breathing exercises came into good use. I got to talk to the grieving family after including the husband, who was so selfless and was more concerned about knowing if I was ok. In fact everyone was really thoughtful about me. They all know my situation, which isn’t easy. Having canSer and going to a funeral of someone that has just died from canSer is a toughie. Also it being my first one. The support from those people was amazing considering they are the ones who need the support right now.

After the service we had to dash back to the ‘Shire’ and get to hospital to pick up Ray. He has been in hospital for 3 months. Unbelievable that they are simply sending him home. But that’s the way the system works in this country.  We got him home and he immediately started to feel shaky and the hospital at home team arrived. Pete and I are both dreading what is going to happen. I know it’s not very positive in thinking but we have been ‘here’ for so many years and approaching his 90th birthday it doesn’t appear to be getting any easier and he has a strong will to live. Bless him.  I don’t know why but the Ray thing stresses us out more than anything at the moment. So much responsibility and poor old Pete has all of it.

Then we shot hours later to do deliveries of the wish bracelets I have made. I am lucky enough to have many people offering to sell them for me so after having packaged bundles up they were driven all over west Oxfordshire to their sales people! I can’t thank them enough..I was like the Avon lady arriving with my wares…. thankfully I didn’t have to do any hard sell!

Sales of the bracelets and donations on my giving page started on the 27th and as of this morning we have already raised £1235. It’s brilliant but most of the donations are actually from those who didn’t want a bracelet! Amazing. A few people have donated anonymously and others have left such lovely messages of support. There have also been a few people donating a £100! Wowee… I simply am chuffed to bits. So it’s been a good start but I have only put online that I want to achieve £2000 from the bracelets but I really am aiming for £10,000 overall. It’s going to take a while but I am sure we can do it.

Today is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day. 03.03.13. Its being recognised in America too. I have tweeted some celebs in the hope that they will retweet and support as well plastered it all over facebook. Everyone’s being simply ace all passing it on and urging others to get involved.

One group of ladies had an event yesterday to raise money for the same cause. They had 25 of my bracelets and sold them all and now want more. I am keen to find out what else they did on the day and will let you know ASAP.

 Tomorrow is a big day for us too. We go to London to meet a professor who specialises in triple negative breast cancer…. hugely exciting.

So now for my Sunday. I will keep an eye on social media and the donations. I hope that we can keep the money coming in. I have to visit Ray and footie is on the tv.. time to put my feet up and read my Zest magazine.. I’m not in this time.

 

P.S  I may have accidentally agreed to do a sky dive as my next charity initiative. I am not entirely sure it’s for me… but I will consider it for sure!! Arghhh…….