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75. The World in a Tuna Sandwich

The Olympics are over and we must all turn back to normal life. If you haven't had a holiday yet, you may be feeling a bit jaded. This week's tip offers something to smile about. 'I think that the very purpose of life is to seek happiness' The Dalai Lama I was having a bad day at work yesterday. Feeling a bit tired and stressed, I took myself off to the staff canteen to buy some lunch, and then took myself and my lunch through the grounds and down to the lake. I sat on a bench beside the water and unwrapped my tuna and salad sandwich. A fountain splashed in the centre of the lake and a solitary coot paddled among the water lilies. I started to feel better. I was taking a second bite into my sandwich, ruing the fact that I had declined the offer of mayonnaise, when I remembered something the Dalai Lama said about ways to feel happy. Counting your blessings is a well known mood booster, and the Dalai Lama suggests an interesting variation. I have a problem with the gratitude activity as whenever I am exhorted to think of the things I'm grateful for I am immediately catapulted into a five year old body and a grown up is telling me I should think of the starving children in Africa and eat my greens. Which is odd as I have no recollection of anyone saying that to me. But as with so many things we are told to do in childhood, we do them with resistance, and that spoils everything. The Dalai Lama doesn't guilt trip you into your gratitude. Instead he gently suggests that we think of all the people who have been involved in providing our current experience. And this turns out to be an incredibly rich source of gratitude and connection as you will soon see. I looked at my sandwich and considered the tomato. Somebody had grown that tomato. Someone had prepared the seeds and sown them. Someone had taken the young plant, put it into the ground and nurtured it. The sun had shone on it and the rain had watered it and someone had picked this very tomato and packed and transported it. Yet another person had bought it, someone had sliced it, and the nice man in the canteen had put it in my sandwich as I watched. I was overwhelmed. If so many people were responsible for that one ingredient, how many more would there be if I started on the cucumber, the lettuce, the tuna itself and the bread? And what about the people who had designed and created the lake, the fountain, the gardens, and the people who tended it all? And the person who turned on the fountain that very morning, for my pleasure. And then there was the person who planted the tree that provided the wood for the bench I was sitting on. There was no end to the people who had toiled and thought and created and served in order to provide me with a tranquil and nourishing lunch break. Try this: Staying exactly where you, look around. How many people have contributed to your comfort, nourishment, safety, pleasure in this moment? Just as it's so easy to miss what is there for us, it's cheering to know that it's just as easy to bring it back. Have a happy week. Love Anita

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