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Planting Trees. Monday September 28, 2015

The wise teacher asks, "When is the best time to plant a tree?"
I can let you into a secret: the answer they are seeking is, "20 years ago!"

So, when is the second best time to plant a tree? Of course we could say, "19 years ago..." and so on, but the answer I am holding onto today is... "Today!"

Having seen the Dalai Lama recently, several important matters became far clearer to me. One was that "Happiness" is definitely an inside job. Happiness has surprisingly little to do with external materialism. The undoubted value of material wealth is nevertheless eclipsed by: enriching relationships, being in the now, learning, growing, appreciating, giving, and creating a sense of purpose and direction. If I win the lottery this week, I shall be joyful, but that material wealth will only serve to fuel the other elements I've listed. Poverty, of course, can severely impact relationships, our ability to learn and grow, and can even sometimes make us reluctant to give. But money clearly isn't the answer it's been made out to be. It is not of prime importance.

A second important matter was that emotional change takes time. Becoming resilient takes time and experience and review and reflection. Resilience, like a tree, needs nourishment and nurturing. And so does learning to be happy.

I'd thought of planting financial trees that would help me in my later years, but I hadn't thought of planting the seeds of becoming more happy, more resilient, more at peace. I certainly hadn't considered that these trees might take 20 years to come to maturity. Of course, many trees can bear fruit within a few years - so I might be surprised by joy earlier than expected! However, the important lessons for me were that happiness really is up to me, and I need to be planting the seeds for the harvest I want now. With nourishment, those seeds can then grow and bear fruit year after year after year.

What trees would you like to plant? If money isn't the answer we'd been promised, are we focusing on it too much? Is there a better use of our time?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Hopeful One Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 6:27am

Hi Lex- - you hit the nail right on the head when you wrote "Happiness" is definitely an inside job. " . I have this idea that the human capacity for happiness Is fixed. We seem to believe that money, or for that matter possession of anything outside of ourselves, will somehow double it. Thus we come to think and believe that a multi millionaire is multiple times happier than a millionnaire . The fact is one can fill that capacity to the full but we cannot double it. To put it another way , we can try and fill the proverbial glass to the brim( and the items you mention , none of whom can be bought, will help one to do it) but we cannot make that one glass into two.

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 7:43am

Hi Hopeful One, I agree! I know I'm not 'full' yet, so I'm really looking forward to hearing how others in our community are going to get their top up today! L'xx

the room above the garage Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 8:23am

Hallo Lex (and HO)
I've broken down a little his weekend so your blog came as a balm this morning. I'm rusty at the mo so I will carry it with me and use it as oil. I thoroughly agree...material wealth can bring emptiness and despair as what is hoped to be achieved is smashed. Love ratg x.

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 8:29am

Sending lots of love, RATG. To think the words were a balm to you makes writing worthwhile. L'xx

the room above the garage Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 8:31am

Always worthwhile. We are on the same hill x.

Mary Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 8:58am

wishing you well and lots more healing balm for you today. Hugs, my dear.

the room above the garage Tue, Sep 29th 2015 @ 9:35am

Thank you Marydoll xx.

Anonymous Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 8:39am

Good morning Lex. The book you recommended by Richard Wiseman, 59seconds writes about the short life of happiness when it occurs through financial gain. Once we have acquired the new house, object. whatever, the thing we have been longing for, our happiness is short lived. Often we go on to wanting more. Of course this won't apply to those with too little to lead a reasonable life; in these cases, far too many across the globe, money is a source of long lasting happiness. I haven't finished Wiseman's excellent book (thank you Lex!) so maybe he will tell us what brings true happiness as I don't know.

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 8:57am

Spooky! I was reviewing 59seconds this weekend. It was good to be reminded of how small the window of happiness is when associated with material goods. Of course, where people are below the breadline, material wealth really does make a difference - giving us a great opportunity to make that difference. As for what brings true happiness - that's got to be different from person to person. There are, however, common themes that seem to work for all of us: relationships and experiences. Nature and gentle exercise. Good food and quite. Ah... Lovely! Thanks for sharing. L'xx

Mary Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 9:05am

Wonderful post this morning Lex. And yes, I have known for the last 25 years that happiness is an inside job and I can see that I started planting seeds then (and since), so that today, even down here in the dungeon, I can honestly say that I am a very happy woman. I have a truly blessed life, a wonderful family and friends, work that fulfils me and gives joy to the world.I'm not saying this to brag or boast, but it just occurs to me this morning, reading your words, that, just maybe, I can take some credit for all those things, and that they have not come about just through luck. So, if we all start planting those seeds of happiness, choosing to be joyful, to give generously, to forgive, be tolerant, to love, then those seeds will grow and reward us.On the other hand, maybe I'm talking rubbish. What do you all think?

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 10:40am

Hi Mary, I'm having an interesting day. I decided to live today as if there was no condemnation for the mistakes I've made (my other orchard of not so good trees!) and as if I were free to do what I will today (as long as it doesn't interfere with other people's freedom). But your words have inspired me to write another blog. Hold onto that good tree Mary: you are SUCH an inspiration. L'xx

Leah Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 11:00am

Thanks for your blog. I have a slight problem with the concept as surely it is a first world concern. A poverty stricken children in a 3rd world country who is starving , will find that all the inner happiness will not feed them.
We are privileged to have so many choices and time to reflect on how we are feeling.
It is interesting that people who say that material wealth doesn't bring happiness are people who are well off or at least have a roof over their heads, food to eat. clothes to wear etc

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 11:12am

We are in agreement Leah. The research is clear. For those below the breadline, an increase in material wealth makes all the difference in the World. The good news is that we can increase our own sense of well-being and happiness by spending our money helping others. This works far better than spending it on ourselves. L'xx

Lucas Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 11:15am

It's a small thing, but I appreciate that you recognized that money has a definite impact on how easily someone can do or access things that can bring them what I like to call "true happiness." Si often I hear people saying "rich people are actually very unhappy" or reflecting back to some past time when they were "poor, but happy" or other things. Of course money isn't the solution, nor should it be an absolute limiting factor, but I think it is important to recognize, as you have, that it plays a role in ease of access.

Norman Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 11:43am

I think it was George Orwell in "The Road to Wigan Pier" who said money was not about the luxuries, it was about carrying a heavy suitcase for miles in the pouring rain because one didn't have a few pennies for a taxi.

Debs Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 2:26pm

Hi Lex - what a great blog, I do love seeing your name come up when I open Moodscope ;-) I too have seen the Dalai Lama in the past week (did you happen to go to the Lyceum event?!) and was struck by the notion that happiness comes when we are focused on issues of a global nature. I certainly have found my most peaceful sense of self when I'm connecting to something much much bigger than myself - my mantra is 'my life works when it's about other people'.
Thank you for the reminder that emotional resilience takes time and work and reflection. I definitely fall into thinking of my mental health as a one-off fix but in reality it takes time and commitment to stay well. I am keeping that commitment today!
RATG and Mary - sending a group hug full of love xxxx

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 3:51pm

Ah Debs... if only I'd known, we could have said "Hi!" I love your Mantra. Thanks for your lovely compliment too, and your good commitment. L'xx

Dawn Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 2:35pm

I'd like to see tree that grow smiles.
I used to smile often at strangers, but most didn't reciprocate, so I stopped (and felt better for it as it made me feel silly for smiling in the first place). I still smile at some people, mostly older ladies, they are pretty safe and it gives me an inner smile to hope I made a difference to their day. They mostly always smile back.
One way I create happiness for myself is to make things for other people. It takes effort and some craft resources, but I really enjoy making the gifts and it develops my creativity, then seeing the joy of the recipient makes me feel happy.
I am inwardly smiling too as I write this and remember all the joy.
I expect Moodscope is a big smile tree for you Lex, LOTS of people like what you do :D

Debs Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 2:42pm

I love the idea of a smile tree Dawn... A beautiful image - write a blog about it... I'd love to read more ;-)) And try on the idea that the people who don't or can't smile back at you are the ones who probably need your smiles the most... So keep smiling, it's infectious ;-) xxxx

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 3:51pm

Me too. Blog, dear Dawn, blog!! L'xx

The Gardener Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 2:38pm

Hi Lex. Heard a discussion on 'happiness' and 'contentment' not synonymous, apparently. As a gardener, you plant trees for your grand-children. I did, and they let them die. My 'new' garden is being prepared for delights next Spring. Money IS important, not for material goods, but what you do with it.We've been to India nine times, 5 Christmases with orphans - and nuns who will party with anyone given a chance. In my darkest times I look at photos, showing grins of wicked glee as poor 'Auntie' was forced to play Blind Man's Buff, badminton, or Cow and Tiger in the Indian heat. We know our money has given further education to several girls. It gives grand-children treats and holidays the parents have neither time nor money to give. Going back a long time, and definitely from a 'Grumpy Old Woman' when kids only had the street to play in at least they learned to get on with others, the one with football or cricket set was king, but he needed others to make a team. A bit different from alone in bedroom with FaceBook. I watched Cider with Rosie again last night, is there a more joyous film about growing up? I wish we'd put our sour old teacher on top of the stationery cupboard.

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 3:54pm

Beautiful, Gardener, just beautiful. I think some have thought I'm down on 'money' - I'm not. But my approach to it is that it is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Without it, we cannot play by the rules of this world, but it is all too easy to let it rule our world. That's not money's job, it's our job... and I am so glad that you use it to empower the gifts of love. L'xx

The Gardener Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 5:47pm

Lex, economic lecture coming up - money merry-go-round. Once you've spent the fortune getting to India or Indonesia things are cheap (except hotels). I love giving presents - and workmanship there is superb. Indonesia had a currency crisis - rupiah from 3,000 to the pound to 18,000. We bought grand-daughter (then 6) designer dresses for a pittance. (Rich people, this was a Japanese emporium, love European goodies, all very weird). When she grew out of them they passed to our Indian 'daughter' who was overjoyed to wear her 'cousin's dresses. We know the people who make this stuff are exploited, but not buying them is no help. I get furious with most sanctions, which usually hurt the small artisan or peasant farmer. Bankers, politicians and landowners don't get hurt! Love from a whacked gardener - been a hectic day XX

jenny Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 6:04pm

Hi Lex,
I had been reflecting on my progress - 11 months on an even keel- but am worried that bloggers to this site seem not to recover completely. I remember Moodscope when it did not have the current mutual ownership of the whole Moodscope community as it seems to have now. To receive tips from the site in the past did not leave me caring about the health of others using and sharing experiences within the site as I do now. Personalities are coming to life for me within the Moodscope community, which is a nice feeling, but can be a bit unsettling when people share their recurring problems.
Do you think that if we all go on sharing our tips, supporting each other, the Moodscope Tree will be nourished enough to bring us all a more lasting resilience?

Debs Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 6:26pm

Jenny - 11 months well is amazing! Well done you, so inspiring ;-) Share what worked for you to stay in a good place and let us learn from you and pick apples from your tree of wellness.. ;-) And don't get worried about the fact some of us are up and down - everyone is different, we're all learning at different rates and I never give up hope of getting to where you are now and staying there. There are no rules to depression - you have cracked it so revel in that and then share your fruit with us so we might taste the same balance you've found. Big love xxxx

Lex Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 7:38pm

Hi Jenny, You make such a valid point. Is our community about sharing and being understood and accepted, or should we pursue solutions, even if they take time? This is a huge challenge, since, if we were to start delivering professional therapy, the whole dynamic would have to shift and I'm sure there would be legal issues. I think the therapy route is close to impossible, simply because each of us are unique. If Moodscope can remain as an aid to pattern recognition, and the blog maintained as a community of the mutually supportive, I think we're on solid ground. Professional help that leads to lasting resilience, I believe, needs to be in addition to Moodscope and 'outside' of Moodscope's current mission. I must, however, say this is only my opinion. I'm not on the team, but rather am a Moodscope user. What I would hugely appreciate is more guidance on where to go for help and education. What do you think? L'xx

Anonymous Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 7:51pm

I too think Jenny has raised a very interesting and valid observation about how Moodscope has evolved and continues to evolve. Perhaps Caroline could write a blog asking us to comment on how we feel Moodscope has changed over the last year or so and what we think of it. I understand that a small group of Moodscope members did meet recently with the Moodscope team, Caroline and Adrian and I imagine similar issues to the one Jenny raises were discussed. It might be good to widen the forum and open it out to a wider discussion group, i e the Moodscope community which inevitably will be online and through this blog page. Thank you for raising this Jenny and thank you to Lex for his comment.

Caroline Ashcroft from Moodscope Tue, Sep 29th 2015 @ 9:08am

Hi Anonymous, yes, I think it's a good idea to check with our members if everyone's happy with the way the blog/community is evolving. Watch this space...

jenny Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 7:58pm

Hi Lex, I agree. I have had therapy several times over the years and I would not suggest someone excluded this from their armoury of aids to move towards recovery. However, the daily drip feed of support from Moodscope provides a continuity of help beyond the acute phase, when services often discharge you when you still need some on going support.

To follow up on the kind reply from Debs, and to satisfy my plan to help someone every day, I would like to recommend my two current 'Bibles' that I currently read and reread. They are both by Russ Harris:
'The Reality Slap' and 'The Happiness Trap'. I have found ACT explained within these books has helped me to deal with my demons more that CBT did. Jenx

Debs Mon, Sep 28th 2015 @ 8:30pm

Thank you hun - by chance I have just bought The Happiness Trap!! I'm going to read it and will come back with what I learn ;-) I feel better and more hopeful just knowing this helped you so thanks a million for sharing ;-) xxx

Petal Tue, Sep 29th 2015 @ 7:55am

A late response here Lex. You've reminded mejust how far I've come and for that I can be proud. There are manytrees that I have planted over the years, having searched for ways forward and learned alot along the way. The tough one for me is letting go. Letting go of clutter that I "might use one day". Letting go of anger against those who have wronged me. The thing is with thes tough ones is I have to want to plant them. What I can do is plant a tiny little letting go tree, letting go of the little things that are easy to let go. That's all I need to do for now, what's manageable. Thank you Lex. X

Lex Thu, Oct 1st 2015 @ 8:06am

Tiny plants, dear Petal Planted one by one Nurtured by your love And sustained by the Sun. Planting tiny trees Begins with just a seed Here's wishing you the grace To find the strength you need. L'xx

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