I've always been a fan of case studies in personal development books. Reading someone else's story and learning how they practice helps me to better understand and appreciate the theory behind a program like this. However, there was one case study in this chapter, David's story, that left me a little off balance.

On page 225, the authors discuss how David reaches a point of clarity and decides that he will no longer actively pursue happiness as a state of being:
It came to him that what he was experiencing was "craving" --a longing for things to be other than they are. Over and over again, he became aware of just how unhappy this was making him. Eventually, he knew deep in his bones, not just in his head, that he was creating this suffering himself. And, with that insight came a compassionate response: why not do yourself a favor and let it go?
The authors go on to explain that by letting go of happiness as a goal, David is able to make space for it to enter on its own. 

Now the concept of letting go of the pursuit of happiness so you don't feel like a failure for not being "happy enough" makes sense. It's along the same lines as accepting that where you are right now is perfectly okay.  Still, I think this concept got me reeling because it's the opposite of everything I've ever been taught. After all, isn't happiness life's ultimate goal? And aren't goals meant to be worked at? Strived for? 

My suspicion is that the authors are trying to illustrate the dangers of attachment. (A concept that I'm exploring in my own life with the help of my fabulous coach Michelle.) David spent so much time being attached to the idea of becoming happier, that every little setback transformed into a bright red flag that Team Failure would wave in his face. So by releasing his attachment to happiness as a goal to be reached, he was able to let go of his expectations and accept his current moment whatever it might be. The disappearance of this self-inflicted stress made space for awareness, compassion and eventually, you guessed it, happiness. YAY David!
David continues to work at the same job--he still does not experience the same clarity and peace there that he knows is available to him in his wider life, but he can sit more lightly with his work situation…He knows now, deep down, that mindfulness is much more than paying closer attention to the color of the trees or the sounds of the birds, delightful as these are. He knows that mindfulness also provides a way to discern those patterns of mind that serve us and those patterns of mind that create and perpetuate suffering.
So how do you feel about setting aside your attachment to happiness? Does it make your belly rumble to think about relinquishing control of such a desired emotion? Or are you ready to dive in and give it a try?
Image Credit:  BK Symphony of Love / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Original Image Credit: Manuela de Pretis / CC BY 2.0 
 
 
It took a little longer than expected, but I have finally whittled down my Currently Reading list from 6 books to 1.  

"Hold up! 1 book? I thought you were going to pick 2?" This is what I imagine you might say if we were having this conversation in person. Of course, you would be right!

Originally, I had declared that I would choose 2 books, 1 for myself and 1 for the Brayer Books book club that I have with my husband. When I told him about my plan I realized that truthfully I wanted to take things a step farther and commit to only reading 1 book at a time. 

He did the math, and it turns out that even alternating between a book for me and a book for us, I'd still end up reading more books with him than I do now.  That's what happens when my attention is focused and I no longer take several months to complete any title I start. So I have settled in and now it is on!!!

"But what book did you pick?" You again, if we were face-to-face.

"This one." I'd answer pulling it out from behind my back with a non-verbal ta-da!

The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic UnhappinessMark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Click image to see larger
I've been working on this book since March, and I am tantalizingly close to the end. I have yet to practice any of the exercises in full, but it looks like the last chapter is a guide to implementing the entire 8 week program. Each week of implementation refers to earlier chapters in the book, which will also give me the opportunity to discuss them here without having to start the book all over again.

Have you read this book before? If so, have you incorporated any of it into your daily practice? Was there anything that didn't really resonate? 


Is this book, or another one like it, sitting on your shelf patiently waiting to be read? Why not pick it up, find a comfy seat and dive in?
Image Credit: Werner Kunz / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Book Covers photographed by Tanya Brayer