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P“Go outside. Practice walking like you’re happy.” Prompt 19# by Ruth Ozeki in her Preface to Choices (Borderline Press, 2016)

When I’m trudging through a tiresome task or activity, a grumpy attitude can be modified if I think of the bracelet my friend Pam Helberg wears: “Run happy.”

Grafting “happy” onto most tasks promotes mood change: swim happy, vacuum happy, scoop the neighbor’s dog poop off the lawn happy, get up happy. Note: the tactic doesn’t always work 🙂IMG_4295

Today on the daily walk my wife Amory and I take around a nearby lake, I asked, “What do you think walking happy means?”

“Having a spring in your step,” she said, adding a little lilt to her gait to demonstrate.

I dismissed the achy muscles and headache that I woke up with, faked a spring in my step, and thought about the ideas that I’d read the night before in a book  my youngest son Weston gave me: How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh, a monk who has been teaching mindfulness for more than seventy years.

I read that  little book last night and extracted some quotes which allowed me to walk happy today.

  • While you are walking smile–be in the here and now. p.39
  • We have the capability to walk in a way that we only imprint peace and serenity upon the earth. p. 40
  • Walking is a celebration. p. 45
  • When we walk mindfully, our feet are massaging the earth. p. 92
  • When life seems like a turbulent ocean, we have to remember we have an island of peace inside. p. 106
  • The mind darts from one thing to another, like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. p. 112

I also noticed the single petal suspended on a spider’s web, the perfect mirror of the evergreens that the lake reflected, and the way my step lightened, almost enough to match Amory’s.

It occurred to me that Thich Nhat Hanh’s ideas pertained to yesterday’s blog theme of peace: “Sitting and walking can bring peace and joy. We have to learn how to sit and walk so that we can produce peace and joy during the time of sitting and walking.”


Resource: Hanh, Thich Nhat. How to Walk. Berkley, CA: Parallax Press, 2015