Happiness lessons from…prayer

Happiness lessons from…prayer

Learning about happiness from a book within a book within a book! 

Sound strange? 

Well, it might to you but to me; there are opportunties to learn about and to find happiness everywhere and any time. 

Anyway, I'm curently re-reading (for the 4th or 5th time!) a classic novel (J.D. Salinger's "Franny and Zooey") and was reminded that Franny's "breakdown" is attributed, by some (such as her mother) anyway, to her reading of a book referred to as "The Way of a Pilgrim". Now I've not read this book (although I'm trying to track it down) but the gist is described in relative detail by Zooey, Franny's brother…

…in short, The Way of a Pilgrim refers to a Russian peasant's search for enlightenment; and particular for spiritual advice that might help him to learn how to pray "incessantly" (a reference, apparently, to a section within the Bible). 

Now I won't go into any more detail here, partly because (as already noted) I've not actually read "The Way of a Pilgrim", but the reason for mentioning all this here is that the solution to the pilgrim's prayer problem was to repeat 4 prayers before each and every meal. The argument goes that by doing so, the words spoken by his lips affect parts of his brain which in turn affect his consciousness and ultimately his soul and, well…it eventually becomes him and he becomes the prayer. Hence, incessant praying…

What does this have to do with happiness? 

Well this reminds me a lot of positive psychology strategies we teach to boost optimism and hence, happiness and resilience; this reminds me of the neuropsychological research and the exciting work in neuroplasticity; this reminds me of strategies for developing healthy and happiness inducing habits; this reminds me a lot of what we encourage our clients to do within our programs!

So specifically, how can you use this to enjoy more happiness and to live a better life? 

Use regular times of the day, like meal times, as prompts to remind you to focus on certain things; anything that you need to focus on to boost your happiness such as…

  • gratitude

  • your priorities and values

  • the other people in your life

  • the importance of caring for your body

  • anything…

Having regular reminders and using these regular times of day to pray, or in positive psychology terms to actively focus on and remind yourself of key principles will definitely help; I have no doubt. 

So I hope this lesson I learned from a book within a book might also help you or at the very least remind you of what you might be able to do for more happiness. Let me/us know what you think…

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