The Dalai Lama, Kaizen Happiness & Swimming
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on July 9th, 2010

The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler collaborated on a book called The Art of Happiness, which has sold 1.5 million copies since being published in 1998. We have a copy in the Laughlin  library and several family members have read it.

Its  message can be capsulized as:

1. The purpose of life is happiness.

2. Once  basic  needs are met, happiness is determined more by the state of one’s mind than by external conditions, circumstances, or events.

3. Happiness can be achieved through the systematic training of our hearts and minds, through reshaping  attitudes and outlook.

4. The key to happiness is in your own hands.

More succinctly, the Dalai Lama advises,  before making a choice  ask: “Will this bring me happiness?”

Reading this yesterday brought to mind an experience from last November:

Kaizen Happiness

Eight months ago, I met opera director Paolo Carignani in Manhattan. We swam  at Reebok Fitness Club before Alice and I watched him conduct a performance of Aida at the Met Opera.  Paolo had transformed himself into the picture of grace with TI practice (aided by TI Coaches in  Zurich, NY, Tokyo and Barcelona. )

Paolo always practices TI before a performance, because it increases his energy (as we saw, conducting an opera demands incredible endurance–Aida lasted over 3 hours) and even makes his conducting movements more fluid!  But he was even more emphatic about the importance of a  more holistic effect: Several times he repeated “TI has such a gift for making people happy!”

Two days later, after finishing a practice in a very happy state myself, I was reading an article about a zen roshi who conducts a weekly devotion near Woodstock. He said “People seem much happier as they leave the service.”

Suddenly this confluence of happy thoughts produced the most inspiring possibility I’d ever considered — Kaizen Happiness!

As with all things Kaizen, this would result in:

1) Continuously increasing one’s knowledge of how to  create feelings of happiness; and

2) Continuously deepen the quality of happiness one feels.

If you could do both, you might one day inspire someone to say of you (as Howard Cutler wrote of the Dalai Lama): “I still had a long way to go before achieving the kind of pervasive joy that he seemed to radiate so effortlessly.”

Since that week in November I have had a clearer vision of the direction of my own swimming, and the Total Immersion program: Aim both more consistently toward the Pursuit of Happiness.

I’ll expand further on this idea  in posts to follow, but invite you to ask yourself before any practice or set: How will this bring me happiness?

4 Responses to “The Dalai Lama, Kaizen Happiness & Swimming”

  1. Lawrence says:

    Terry, I tend not to say this to friends as I already talk too much about TI, but my motivation for learning TI freestyle is a conviction, formed after watching you and Shinji demonstrate the relaxed elegance that it is possible to attain with practice, that if I could reach such a level of competency I would have a new and reliable source of peace and deep happiness in my life that I could enjoy every day.

    In short, what drives me on with TI is the rhetorical question I ask myself whenever I view these demonstrations: wouldn’t it be *great* to be able to do *that*?

    Not many things have this effect on me!

  2. Sylvia says:

    So true for me.

  3. Tom says:

    Terry–Similarly, back in the ’70s, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of TM, once said, ““Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of happiness.” I took TM and meditated for a while. But after having had a seizure in my twenties, TM not only didn’t work, it irritated the resulting damaged nerves. TI swimming, on the other hand, is beneficial, being a meditation in movement.

  4. […] influential book that drew me from swimming-to-be-faster, toward swimming-to-be-happier is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ”Flow: The Psychology of Optimal […]

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