About Cheerful Monk

hope bear praying


happiness as a spiritual practice, or…

Close-up of crocodile


how to avoid being eaten by a crocodile


In Happiness As a Spiritual Practice I mentioned that my spiritual path chose me when I was 17 years old. It came as a voice in my head that said, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy?” I still remember where I was standing and the feeling of certainty that happiness was valuable. And the world needed more of it. I knew from experience I couldn’t make the people I cared about happy, so I had to start with myself. It was a weird point of view, so I didn’t talk about it much.

In college when friends talked about what they wanted to do in life, all I could offer for myself was a lame, “I want to increase the net supply of happiness in the world.” I didn’t have the words to talk about it until my mid-twenties, when I read a book entitled The Importance of Being Imperfect by John Clarke. I don’t remember much about the book except that he connected imperfection with creativity and growth, and he told me a story about an apocryphal tribe that lived on the banks of a great river. The people of the tribe believed that when they died they would be called before their god Isis and be asked two questions: “Have you found joy in life? Have you brought joy to others?” If they could answer yes to both questions, they would be rewarded with eternal bliss. If they had to answer no to either question, they would be eaten by a crocodile.

The story tickled me, so for years my mission in life was to avoid being eaten by a crocodile. I feel more comfortable about talking about spirituality now, and this blog is a chance to do that. Still, I do like that crocodile image. Which do you prefer? Happiness as a spiritual practice, or how to avoid being eaten by a crocodile?


Hope bear photo by youngdoo via Flickr. Creative Commons license.
Crocodile photo by David Gardiner Garcia via Flickr. Creative Commons license.

14 Responses to About Cheerful Monk

  1. Carole says:

    Hi Jean,

    Your site is awesome and has a delightful simply yet inspiring presence.

    I’m so pleased to have stumbled upon you.

    Peace, love and chocolate


  2. What a wonderful perspective!
    It took me 40 + years to discover myself, but the journey has been a blessing. Even the parts I did not enjoy!

  3. I am just beginning to find more and more moments of joy in my life. What a wonderful way to live. Love the story about the crocodile

  4. Jean says:

    Thank you all for commenting! 🙂

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  6. Liara Covert says:

    What an uplifting purpose. If you live in northerrn Australia, it could be more of a challenge than if you live elsewhere in the world, but whose to say crocodiles don’t travel widely? Your healthy and energetic perspective offers a wonderful example. Happiness begins and ends within ourselves.

  7. Jean says:

    🙂 Thank you!

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  12. bikehikebabe says:

    I was paddling a canoe in Florida wearing my usual 16# weight belt (for strengthening) & there were alligators (I hope no crocodiles) all around. Don’t want to be thrashed by an alligator either. I’ll pick happiness.

  13. Toni says:

    A study was done that showed that when a kindness is shown to another, the giver produces the same ‘joy-hormones’ as the receiver. The same study states that an observer of the kindness also shares in the chemical response.

    While I would prefer not to be munched by a croc, I would like to spread kindness and happiness for the sheer delight of sharing happy-happy, joy-joy chemicals and make people smile.
    Toni´s last blog post ..Snape…Snape…Severus Snape

    • Jean says:

      I find that when I’m happy I want everyone else to be happy too. It makes it easy to be generous.

      I tried leaving a comment on your site, but I couldn’t remember my WordPress user name and password. I’ll see if I can find it somewhere.

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