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Kumāra Bhikkhu

Buddhist Monk, Sāsanārakkha Buddhist Sanctuary

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Are you happier while at the computer, or while taking a walk?

By "taking a walk", I do mean taking a walk, even if just for a short while; not walking while engaging with a smart device. So, what's your experience?

P.S.: Just in case some of you misunderstand, the question is not meant so that we choose one over the other. (We do both anyhow, don't we?) It's not even so that we decide which one is better. It's about self-discovery. What's true for you? If you like to take it further, asking why would be great.

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    Sep 23 2013: I'm happy while I am at the computer, after taking a walk and a nice shower.
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    Sep 19 2013: Interesting question Kumara. I am compelled to do both, but for different reasons.

    Long walks - especially alone among my local hills - is one of my primary 'release valves', which I can rely on to get me out of a low mood. I would find it very difficult indeed to live without it, and would become irritable and depressed. I feel it resets a mind that has become somehow fragmented by the constant noise of everyday living. I come back from walks refreshed and focused, despite physical tiredness.

    I went for one of my walks only yesterday, and it struck me how important the experience of seasonal changes are to me. I feel happy and grounded, knowing the seasons will surely come and go and that I can be out in all of them, feeling the warmth of summer, the biting cold of winter, the achingly beautiful colors and scents of autumn, and renewal of life in spring. I don't have sufficient poetical words to express such profundity of experience...

    Using the computer can also be a happy experience for me, but it is not something I can rely on, and any happiness I feel is only superficial. It can easily be tipped over into feeling bad about the seemingly endless depressing news from around the world.

    In summary, walking gives me a happiness that is robust and deep, whereas the happiness from the computer is superficial and fleeting.
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      Sep 19 2013: Dear Allan,
      While you say you do not have sufficient poetical words to express your experience of walking in the hills, I perceive exceptional beauty and joy with your description. Thanks for that image....I love the change in seasons in my mountains as well:>)
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      Sep 19 2013: Like Colleen, I love walking outdoors in any season or weather where I live, partaking of the feeling of a living Earth.
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      Sep 19 2013: Very nice experience Allan, what a privilege you have to be able to enjoy seasonal changes on your outings.
      I'm a bit jealous.
      We have to drive over 10 hours to get to see the autumnal changes.
      Our family loves the fall.
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    Sep 19 2013: Hello Kumāra Bhikkhu,
    I am happy/content in the moment with whatever I am doing. I like to be fully engaged in the moment with everything and everyone.

    You write..."the question is meant to arouse awareness or discernment about how we live."
    For me, contentment is part of the foundation of the life experience. I am content with learning and growing as an individual while contributing to the whole, which in my perception, can happen in every single moment.

    I generally feel more energized with walking and other outside activities, because of the sun and fresh air. It reminds me of the connection with the earth and all of nature. I believe happiness is a choice:>)

    Are you happier or more content at the computer? Or taking a walk?
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      Sep 19 2013: One thing I am reading in people's responses is that their moments of love, of learning, of feelings of community, and so forth, occur for them in many places and activities and therefore their happiness seems to transcend any particular place where they may be or any transient activity.

      For example, the feeling of loving and being loved travels within many people, regardless of where they go. The joy for some in a life committed to service is not less while at work than at play or vica versa.

      But it is likely some people are more powerfully affected by the temporary and external than others.

      But I have a feeling different people may be understanding "happiness" differently here. Walking in the park likely brings to most people more immediate pleasure than, say, driving across town, but if one is driving across town to be of service to someone at the destination point, one may be no less happy for it.
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        Sep 19 2013: The feeling of happiness/contentment can also travel within us Fritzie. Happiness is a way of travel, not just a destination:>)

        I agree, that happiness/contentment can transcend any particular place or activity. For me, it feels like an underlying foundation of the life experience....loving, feeling loved, happiness, contentment travels within us.....or not.

        I also agree that some people are more affected by the temporary and external than others. I believe this is impacted by how our minds are programmed by others (parents, friends, society, groups, etc.), and how we choose to program our own mind.

        If we accept the idea that something is "hard", "difficult" a "struggle", etc., we may take that information in and adopt it as our own. A job is often thought of as a struggle? While the weekend off from work with friends and family is fun and enjoyable? If we embrace that concept, the entire week doing "work" may be thought of, and felt as a struggle......yes? Then, if the weekend doesn't turn out as expected, that may turn into a struggle as well. I call everything my "work/play":>)

        Sometimes, with expectations, people are constantly setting themselves up for disappointment. If we accept the moment as it is, with enthusiasm and curiosity, it changes the dynamic of the experience. That doesn't mean that we don't, at times, feel disappointment, frustration, and all other feelings. It means that we don't let those feelings color our lives.....we don't need to hang onto those feelings to the point where it impacts how we function.
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        Sep 19 2013: I just noticed your edit Fritzie.

        "But I have a feeling different people may be understanding "happiness" differently here....."

        I agree....that's why I prefer to use the word contentment. To me, the word "happiness" seems to suggest a more fleeting, up and down feeling, while contentment suggests a more constant, stronger foundation.
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          Sep 19 2013: Martin Seligman, one of the best known researchers on "happiness," has changed his language as well to clarify his focus on the deeper version, if you will.
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        Sep 19 2013: LOL!!! Guess I'm in good company? I've been using "contentment" rather than, or in addition to "happiness" for 100 years!!! Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration:>)
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          Sep 19 2013: I don't think Seligman uses the word "contentment." I cannot remember the label he uses but only that it seeks to get away from something transient and superficial to capture something deeper. He thinks more in terms of the theme running through a life- like a trend or character of a path more than the little peaks and troughs, the stubbed toes of life. Life looks different when one focuses on the stubbed toes.
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        Sep 19 2013: That is my intent with the use of the word contentment....expressing something deeper...a foundation or theme in one's life:>)
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        Sep 19 2013: That works for me too Fritzie:>)
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        Sep 23 2013: "I have a feeling different people may be understanding "happiness" differently here."

        That quite obvious. I replied to Yoka Feng on the definition of "happiness".
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      Sep 20 2013: Definitely taking a walk, even if it's just a walk to the toilet. I love the quiet mind.
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        Sep 23 2013: Dear Kumāra,
        I am curious....do you equate walking with a quiet mind? Do you believe we can have a quiet mind while using the computer, as well as engaging in other activities?

        I ask, because I believe we can have a quiet mind at all times....or at least most of the time.

        Meditate...
        "to focus one's thoughts; reflect on or ponder; to plan or project in the mind; intend; purpose; to engage in contemplation or reflection"

        Meditation...
        "a discourse intended to express its author's reflections or to guide others in contemplation..."

        When I am using the computer or engaging in any activity, I am focused, reflective, and contemplative.

        To me, a quiet mind does not necessarily mean empty mind. It means free of extra mind-chatter, being totally in the moment....focused....reflective...with intent and purpose to learn....all of which contributes to more contentment/happiness:>)
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          Sep 24 2013: That's relative, isn't it? When using the computer, we have to think: evaluating, pondering, examining, even when we are doing that we a relatively collected mind. In walking though the state of mind can range from restlessness, to contemplative quietness, to thoughtless peaceful stillness. I can't experience the last while using the computer due to the need for grosser cogitation.
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        Sep 27 2013: Hello again Kumāra,
        I perceive everything to be interconnected, so yes, I believe it is relative. While walking AND while using the computer, I perceive an opportunity to experience restlessness OR contemplative quietness, as well as various other feelings/emotions and levels of perceptions.

        Cognition means "to become acquainted with; to come to know; the act or process of knowing; awareness". I do not feel that the level of cognition necessarily interferes with a choice to participate in various activities with contemplative quietness. In my perception, it is a choice to participate with restlessness OR with a quiet mind. A quiet mind can be an open, focused mind, functioning with curiosity and awareness......in my humble perception:>)
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          Sep 28 2013: "A quiet mind can be an open, focused mind, functioning with curiosity and awareness." Yes, that's true.

          I wasn't referring to cognition though, which is basic and happens any way. I was referring to cogitation.
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        Sep 28 2013: OH! I see now Kumāra.....either you changed the word from cognition to cogitation, or I misread it...probably I misread it?

        I perceive the words to have similar meaning anyway...do you agree?
        Cogitate: "to think; to ponder or meditate usu. with intentness and objectivity; plan; to think deeply; reflect...."

        My response to your previous comment would be the same regardless of which word we use...cogitation or cognition.

        In my perception and experience, it is a choice to participate in ANY activity with restlessness OR with a quiet mind. How we use cogitation/cognition is a choice.
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    Sep 28 2013: I am happier while i am taking a walk, its make me fells more connect with the environment, the nature, it makes me fell more alive.
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    Sep 28 2013: Thanks to all who joined this conversation. Happy to see some of you give clear, direct answers (which I believe would help you in some ways). Some however skirted the question, and just philosophized instead. I'm thinking: Isn't examining the reality of your experience more valuable than mere philosophy?

    I'm reminded by these words by Socrates (or maybe Plato): Life unexamined is not worth living. Might sound a bit harsh to some. I love it though.
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      Sep 28 2013: Dear Kumāra,
      I am curious again....always.....all ways:>)

      Are you judging comments? Is this a test?
      You write... "Some of you give clear, direct answers (which I believe would help you in some ways). Some however skirted the question, and just philosophized instead. I'm thinking: Isn't examining the reality of your experience more valuable than mere philosophy?"

      Perhaps people examine their/our life experiences in different ways? Perhaps philosophizing is one way for some people to get in touch with their/our own thoughts, feelings, ideas, and perceptions? Are you suggesting that one way of examining life experiences is more or less valuable than another way of examining life experiences?
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        Sep 29 2013: Why not? Would thinking about how a leaf would feel like be as good as experiencing it by touching?

        Nothing wrong about philosophizing, of course. It's how we use it. Some use it as an avoidance strategy, mostly without being conscious of it.
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          Sep 29 2013: Kumāra,
          Thinking about how a leaf might feel may be as good as experiencing it by touch. I have a pretty good imagination, a foundation of happiness/contentment, and we never know for sure how something may feel to another person.

          I agree that some people may use philosophizing as an avoidance strategy, and some may use it as a way to get in touch with their honest, deeper feelings. We don't know, for sure what is going on in the heart and mind of others, unless they choose to share that information with us.

          To assume that some commenters on this thread use philosophizing to avoid the topic.....as you say..." Some however skirted the question", suggests that you may be avoiding looking at the question/answer in a different way?

          In my perception, if a person joins a conversation s/he is not trying to avoid anything, and can maybe offer a different perspective:>)
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        Sep 30 2013: That's possible.
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      Sep 28 2013: Kumara my friend,

      Are you looking for an answer you have in mind? In TED, people who just answer a question without looking at it in a unique way, are rare :)
      TED is a huge repository of brilliant insights, most of which comes from people who more than answer a question.
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        Sep 29 2013: Thanks for asking that. No, not any particular answer. And actually I do wish that people would answer the question while looking at it in a unique way--even if it's just to themselves (which some apparently did, as all they did was to give the question a thumbs up). Some however never answered it.
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          Sep 29 2013: You are heartily welcome in TED :) We wish to learn from from your insights too.
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    Sep 27 2013: Hi Kumara,

    I think one can only be happy, not happier.
    A perfectly happy mind will enjoy a walk and time before a computer in equal measure.

    My opinion of course.
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      Sep 27 2013: So true Pabitra!
      When we choose happiness/contentment as part of the foundation for our human life experience, we carry it with us wherever we go....always....all ways:>)

      Nice to see you back on TED my friend:>)
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        Sep 28 2013: Thanks sweet friend :) Hugs too.
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          Sep 29 2013: Dear Pabitra,
          Hugs ALWAYS contribute to my feeling of being happy/happier/happiest/content.....thank you:>)
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      Sep 28 2013: For "a perfectly happy mind", I get your point. But that doesn't answer the question, does it?
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        Sep 28 2013: It does, in a way. When you admit that there can be a perfect happy mind it becomes inconsequential as to whether it will be happier with A or B. This is logical and a not so perfectly happy mind can follow it too.
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          Sep 28 2013: Not sure if you got it. The question asked "what's your experience?" Unless of course "a perfectly happy mind" is your experience regardless of what you do.
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          Sep 28 2013: Pabitra and Kumāra,
          In my humble perception and experience, it provides ONE answer to the question, and it is an answer that I understand, because it is my experience as well.

          Happiness/contentment is part of the foundation of my life experience, and as you say in your next comment Pabitra, "I reflect very little about whether I am happy"......it just is what it is!

          I agree with your statement Pabitra..." I love to be in the mindful, inquisitive, compassionate state of mind to take everything as it comes with humbleness and poise."....well said my friend:>)

          That state of "being" can serve as part of the foundation for EVERYTHING one faces in the life adventure. My mother taught me that from the time I was a wee little lass, and I have refined it throughout the life adventure:>)
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        Sep 28 2013: My experience is this honestly.
        I reflect on very little about whether I am happy, be it walking or spending time before computer, or not. It is my experience that being unattached to evaluation of happiness is being happy. I am not sure if it is a perfect state of happiness but it is rewarding for me. I love to be in the mindful, inquisitive, compassionate state of mind to take everything as it comes with humbleness and poise.
        I was not like this always. I cannot say I consciously pursued spirituality to attain it either. It just happened with experiences and engagements.
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    Sep 23 2013: If the computer has just provided messages that are unwelcome or bearing bad news then I am not happy .... If I am walking in a high crime zone ... I am not happy.

    Most events are cause and effect determined. I am a firm believer in the "Choose the right" theory. If when given a choice or option if I choose to do the right thing my life will be less complicated. These are not easy options. I consider them moral and ethical actions.

    Pay my bills, obey the laws of God and man, help your fellow man when given the opportunity, live my life with honor and dignity, and above all know who I am and learn to like that person.

    Where I am or what I am doing does not determine my happiness. Life is much greater than that one event.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Sep 24 2013: "live my life with honor and dignity"

      I like that!
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      Sep 24 2013: Robert, you bring up some great points.

      Our environment does affect our happiness, although we often can’t choose are environment we can choose to shape it and how we view it. A computer can help you learn or harm, each of us has the power to shape that environment.

      For example (that also connects to "Choose the right") last year when learning I had Viking Ancestry on the computer I also learned about “the Nine Noble Virtues” and have been using them to shape my life.
      Courage, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-Reliance, Industriousness, Perseverance and Truth (AI: I always seek to discover, see, and accept the truth.)

      And we should try to shape our walks and the walks of others when possible; via planting, cleaning, improving the lighting, adding art, etc.
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    Sep 23 2013: I am happy when I decide to be happy. But that has taken discipline & time to achieve. And also I am not consistent. It still takes time & discipline. But happiness, true happiness, is truly achievable. You just have to be willing to shape your own thoughts and decisions to make it so. Make it so, and it will be.

    I spend time at my computer. I also take walks. If I am careless, I am unhappy both places. If I am careful. I am happy both places. But it takes work and discipline to discover that anew every day. Hard work can make that happen: happiness. But this is not a very common idea these days.
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      Sep 23 2013: Hi Rollin,
      I agree with you that happiness, in large measure, is a daily choice. It doesn't come easy to me and I'm working on it, so I'm interested in what particular discipline works for you.
  • Sep 22 2013: I think my initial answer was at at different level. Try this one.

    I am usually happy before I walk or sit at the computer. Sometimes both actions cause me to temporarily more or less happy, but usually I am still happy at the end of the day. At the end of the day, when I reflect on if I used my time wisely that day, I would think about the walk and the computer time and decide if I brought happiness to others, spread positive energy, improved myself, or did something for the general population that was worthy of the gift of that day. I might also consider if my choice of computer time or walk added the variety and breadth of experience to my life that enabled me to better understand myself and find inner peace. Depending on how representative the experience was of what I believe to be 'normal' on that day, I might choose to make a small correction to my path in life by spending a little more time 'on line' or a little more time walking.

    If on my walk I meet no one, then then experience is personal, usually calming, and tranquil. If I meet someone, I have the opportunity to learn from them, perhaps make a friend, and a chance to spread positive energy with kind words or actions (for example, I like offering to take group photos so everyone is in the picture when I walk in popular places). Similarly, in my computer experience, I can choose to entertain myself with videos or music, accomplish tasks like pay bills or research things for work, or...and this is a big one...visit the questions area of TED conversations and perhaps use my words, knowledge and experiences to help someone solve problems, sort out life, brainstorm, learn from my mistakes, realize there are others of similar opinion, give a thumbs up to a good comment, or...here is the big finish...help others find enlightenment and inner peace, and create my own by assisting with the journey!

    "Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.".... ;)
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    Sep 20 2013: I am happiest when I sleep because all things are real and anything is possible.

    "Nothing exists outside the mind for it is the mind that makes it so"- Keith W Henline

    The internet (world's knowledge) at my fingertips at the speed of thought is my second choice.

    "Our only adversary is ignorance"- Keith W Henline

    Nature is my reward.

    "Freedom is the law of nature" "Justice lives in the halls of nature"- Keith W Henline

    Bottom line: I am happiest while in the service of others, myself included.
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      Sep 22 2013: Hi Kieth,

      I have found that sleep is made so that we can prepare ourselves.
      This works on every single level - from the cellular to the synaptic to the genetic .. and probably beyond.

      In the synaptic - it is clear that life's experience is disconnected in sleep, from the conscious need, to allow it to speculate all combinations of all the maps we have made.

      The basal brain moderates the body-inputs to do the necessary things in the body-output. A bit simplistic, but good enough to talk about.
      So - in sleep, the inputs from the spine are supressed, and the outputs are blocked - otherwise we would twitch ourselves out of bed and injure ourselves - you will probably know when this fails and you twitch in your sleep.

      So what's going on there? I have found that the Cartesian join of all maps made are allowed to play-out in sleep without physical consequence. Of course, the most refreshed maps will dominate - but not totally.
      They all combine in what we call dreams - the narrative continuity is lost because the re-combination is simultaneous - we impose narrative upon waking - if we retain it.

      Sleep is simply the disconnection of neural maps from individual-temporal harnessing to outcomes of advantage. All outcomes are calculated simultaneously - a preponderance of negative outcomes is a nightmare, a preponderance of positive is a pleasant dream.
      All are speculative -

      The affect is that you begin the day - upon wakening, pre-sensitized to make advantageous map-connections - if these connections are not acted-upon, then the speculative connection will atrophy and sublimate.

      If you accumulate a lot of sublimated connections, they will begin to recur in dreams more and more until it seems like an actual experience.

      Such a dream-map will over-power real physical experience and become core belief.

      In this way, aberrant core-belief becomes circular religion - so watch out - more sleep is better fo the troubled - but acting on intuition is the only escape from dispair
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        Sep 24 2013: Hi Mitch,
        Keith writes, "when I sleep because all things are real and anything is possible."
        He is of course referring to dreaming. Is dreaming something that is occurring all the time in the brain except when deep sleep is occurring in the brain? It occurs to me that we fantasize during non-sleep time, but we think that this is different than dreaming.

        Best,
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          Sep 24 2013: Hi Theo,

          Good points.

          But I don't think dreams are the same as fantasies.
          A fantasy is directed imagination. It is more temporally narrated and tends to have an objective.

          Dreams, on the other hand seem a lot less time-based, and have no specific objective. They tend to include narratives and objectives in chunks.
          This seems entirely consistent with disparate maps co-firing.

          I suppose I'm extrapolating from Damasio's observations about the role of integrated body function - no upper-brain-stem = no consciousness.
          It infers that dreams might have a pre-conditioning role. A speculative association between the day's experience and major parts of the stable world-view conglomerate. "Making sense" of experience.

          Also, there is a good chance that we all have a different understanding of what happiness is .. I often forget about that. I suppose we all do - so I appreciate your comments.
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          Sep 25 2013: Another conjecture:
          The human capacity to sleep is the factor that enables imagination.
          Imagination is speculative Bayesian forecasting - as Wolper observed, it is an intrinsic part of the motor systems.
          I speculate that it is the capacity to disconnect motor-outcomes in the brain stem that allows a motor-map to fire speculatively.
          This would mean that "mirror neurons" are motor neurons being fired with the brain-stem supressed. This means they are dual-purpose.
          It remains to be seen which part of the brain does this "switching" between active-motor and speculative-motor.
          But I will note that Damasio has observed the constant brain-stem consultation with almost everything the brain does.

          In a way, you could say that everything we imagine or plan is "sleep" .. it's the same stuff, but done in microseconds rather than all-night.
          The difference between motor-speculation and dreams is duration of state.
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      Sep 22 2013: Our fundamental physiological wellbeing, which includes the very critical part of our mental wellbeing, depends entirely on getting enough sleep.

      Sleep is vital both in quantity and in quality. And the importance of sleep can not be emphasized enough.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/jessa_gamble_how_to_sleep.html
      http://www.ted.com/talks/russell_foster_why_do_we_sleep.html

      I am pleased to read that you are aware that sleep is your source of happiness. This is the only way of being able to be of best "service to others".
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        Sep 23 2013: I agree with you and Russell Foster on the benefits of sleep from a health perspective and since I have suffered from sleep apnea for over thirty years, not knowing what it was, it is even more important to me now.

        From my hypnosis experience and studies I have discovered that the sleep state and hypnotic state are very similar if not the same. Realizing this over forty years ago I have used that knowledge throughout my life to access and process information while asleep and upon awakening I write down what I have discovered. Some things I reveal, some things I have not and never will.
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        Sep 23 2013: Sleep, the other dear old medicine! :-)
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    Sep 19 2013: I am happy when I'm with the computer, and when I walk, and when I work, and when I play. I choose to be happy; even when circumstances rage like storms.

    But I prefer to take a walk than to sit by the computer. The sightseeing allows me to take in the grandeur of nature; which I always find amazing.
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      Sep 19 2013: Stand like the mighty oak in the middle of the storm....:>)
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    Sep 19 2013: Due to evolution the human eye and body is made for hunting&walking outside, but not for sitting in front of pc all day. So u need both i guess.
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    Sep 19 2013: Hello Kumāra,
    It is a pleasure to see you here :) Things that are source of great happiness for me are learning and nature. Above all, I love nature. I am always in nature......activity (walking, biking, etc.) or stillness (just sitting in nature, by a river) are a need that I must meet often. Also I can't go a day without seeking new knowledge (about nature). Before I learned mostly from books and libraries and now also the internet which brings wonderful libraries and museums to us so much more efficiently, that is what I use a computer for.....Balance between the two is key. Thank you for your wonderful question.
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      Sep 20 2013: The name looks familiar, yet... :-)

      The question was inspired by a recent observation. I noticed that I was still "at the computer" in a lot of times when I wasn't at the computer. Noise. Computer-related mental noise. Just a few days before that, when I walked, I walked (mostly). And the mind was peacefully, contentedly happy. No noise.

      That prompted me to consider how I was using the computer recently, and saw the mind was obsessed with some work. Then led to a reevaluation. Now, I notice that I use the computer differently. Quite pleased about it.
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        Sep 21 2013: Thank you for you kindness in sharing. I am happy you were able to make a change that reduced work-computer-related mental noise.3 questions on the way the solution appeared to you; Was it a moment of sudden recognition, comprehension, or clarity? Was there anything special that you would attribute this realization, inspiration, insight to? What helped you actually make the shift?
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          Sep 22 2013: For me the answers to the questions overlap. So, I'll answer them in one go.

          I wouldn't say it's sudden. First I saw the condition, and realised that it's been around a few days. I saw it as an affliction. Since the mind was significantly more peaceful before, the distinction was apparent. The cause was obvious, and I know I rather not go on like this. So, the decision was made.

          I still used the computer as usual, but not as usual, not with the eagerness.
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        Sep 23 2013: This is interesting- that you came to use the computer differently. Yes, people do use their computers differently, which may be part of the reason for the variety in responses.

        Thank you for directing me to your answer to Yoka. While I see "getting something" as a somewhat ambiguous term in that you put being with someone you love in the "get something" category but being in the midst of the sensory experiences of nature as not in the "get something" category, I may now understand what you were interested in.

        Were you interested in whether walking or computer makes people more restless and how important it is to people to avoid restlessness? As an example, some people find meeting challenges and the learning that comes from that as invigorating and an essential component of their happiness, though not every moment of their work is restful. The work of a doctor or nurse or teacher may not be restful but doing that work can make these people happy on a very different level than a life of restful pastimes would. I don't know whether their sense of doing good for others through their work is in your "get something" category.

        Another theme I may see in responses is that to some people connection to others is a large component in their happiness, as they find joy in multiple aspects of that relationship, and the computer is a key means of making that connection. I have known people who, without the computer may be quite alone, and persistent alone-ness may not be restful to them. Another hour walking may make for a less contented day than using that hour to make connection.
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          Sep 24 2013: Exactly the point of different kind of happiness. One depends getting to experience something, which ranges from evil to noble. The other is about freedom from anything that deprives the mind of peace.

          By "talking a walk", I don't mean necessarily in a natural environment. I've experience great peace before while walking in a very crowded and noisy place. Retrospectively, I see that the reason was that I wasn't interested in the surrounding. The attention was inward and clear.
  • Sep 18 2013: I think I am happy, or I am not.

    I am happy if I walk in the botanical garden with my wife, but I am unhappy if I am walking and unexpected bad weather appears, I am chased by a dog, or I see something that makes me sad.

    I am happy when I respond to TED conversation questions, read the responses of others, or get the chance to communicate with someone I may never otherwise meet in a distant land. I am unhappy when I read offensive rhetoric, think lies are being spread, or see people doing bad things on the computer.

    How do I quantify each happiness? They are different. Why must I choose a favorite?

    I think I spend more time on the computer than I do walking, but this makes me more aware of my surroundings when I do walk and I think it increases the quality of the walk.

    I think I really enjoy being free able to do both and pick my flavor of happiness for the day.
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      Sep 19 2013: Thanks. Just in case some of you may misunderstand, the question is not so that we choose one over the other. Besides, we do both anyhow, don't we?

      Rather the question is meant to arouse awareness or discernment about how we live.
      • Sep 19 2013: "While our state of mind depends not on the external activity, as I see it, it is conditioned by *why* we do them. Eg, why do I turn on the computer?"

        Is it wrong to seek happiness from either a walk or time spent on a computer?

        If we are escaping with a walk or computer based excursion, perhaps the simple break form life's problems enables us to have a relaxed disposition and fresh perspective when we return.

        If we are looking for something, then are we driven by curiosity or a sense of confusion that we may find in a new place?

        However, I think for many the decision may just involve exercise, weather, or perhaps the desire to share a life experience with a friend, old or new, virtual or physical.
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          Sep 20 2013: I reading your question "Is it wrong to seek happiness from either a walk or time spent on a computer?" I wonder if I've failed to clarify. Anyway, I agree that why we do something is more important.
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    Oct 2 2013: This conversation ends in 18 hours. Before it does, I'd like to thank everyone here for participating, even if that means just contemplating on the question. All the best to you all.
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      Oct 2 2013: Thank you Kumāra, and the best to you always...all ways. It is a pleasure to have a conversation with people who have an open mind and open heart:>)
  • Da Way

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    Sep 30 2013: I try to tell myself I'm happier taking a walk but secretly I'm happier at the computer. Being on the computer to me is like taking many walks at the same time.
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      Oct 1 2013: I love that you notice that for yourself.

      Surely using the computer is a lot more exciting, isn't it? There's just so many thing that you can do. Endless.

      Taking a walk? What so great about that? Put one leg forward, then put the other leg forward, while keeping the body balanced, and watching your steps. Borrrring.... Strange why some people find themselves happier there.
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      Oct 2 2013: Hope you didn't take that wrongly, Da Way. Actually, I appreciate the honest, revealing response very much.

      I find myself liking to do things with the computer. Yet, I notice being happier while taking a walk (or doing some other simple activity). Get what I'm saying?
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    Sep 24 2013: The activities that help me clear my mind of unhappiness, has changed over the years.
    In my younger years creating art was my meditation. Totally focusing on each stroke until my mind was purely in the moment and it was as if my brain was multitasking, one part focus on the art and the other looking inward. Now I get that when gardening, so I guess it is still art, just with a different medium.

    I have MS and for many years I had what is called “brain fog”, think of it as horse blinders for your thoughts. And with thought blinders on having a calm/meditative mind was easy to achieve in lots of activities, so I say if you can lose yourself in dance, exercise, work, or anything you have found you meditation and hopefully it is something productive, healthy or helpful to others.
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      Sep 25 2013: Do you become unhappy again when you are unable to lose yourself in something?
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        Sep 26 2013: The simple answer is no, it is not “just” a temporary escape.
        I would say a claim mind can give me the enlightenment/wisdom/answers to my troubles, so my hardships still remain but I see them in a new prospective or see the fix or a work-around. Plus if it’s something constructive, that make me feel good.

        I do at times need to fight depression, (caused by reality/hardships and chemical imbalances) but for me it has been a winnable fight. (just to be clear: I’m not to saying it is just a matter of will power, for chemical imbalances depression often needs drugs to fix the issue and no amount of will power will work. )

        With wisdom, enlightenment, spirituality or "whatever you want to call it", you can live a happy life no matter the hardships.
        I do have a happy life and I have embraces hardships as nothing more than lessons for spirituality growth.

        I would not say I lose myself, but I’m pausing my active mind to organize and clean it.
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    Sep 22 2013: Paradoxically -
    Love is the final barrier.

    Those who go beyond it are the only ones who can truly love.

    I am getting tired of hearing the word "love" expelled through un-loving mouths.

    Do you have any help for me Kumāra Bhikkhu ?

    Or is help as illusory as love?

    Verbal Graffiti for personal advantage?

    "All you need is lerve .. la la la la la" .. was a million dollars once.

    Was the message really "la la la la la"?

    I have birds in the trees near here that tell me more than that.

    They come in the spring.

    Last year they tried to teach me their language - 6 of them sat around me, and each told me a word and waited for me to mimic - and the cross chatter between them was obvious - he's too stupid, we are probably wasting our time. They are back this spring. They go down to the coast in the winter and raid hatched eggs of other birds. Here - they are happy with bits of bread.
    In a few months their own chicks will hatch - and they want a friend on the ground.
    They will fight for that amongst other birds and attack my visitors.
    They want me to learn their speech .. I wish I could .. I have a few words.
    But I cannot tell them about how the chicken guy down the road will kill them to save his fluffy chiks.

    I would like to give the birds strategy to kill all those chicks - the rooster wakes me up in the middle of the night when ever a car drives past - the rooster thinks the sun is coming up.

    F**k off if you are not experienced enough to know all this s**t.
    Someone has to keep track of it all - and it isn't you. -
    trust... I am not alone - there are a lot of us.
    In time we might let you in - or not.
    Dealing with humans is easier than dealing with birds.
    You only have to get past the myth of "love".
    It's just a political word to fool humans - use it and prosper.
    The real word is : "advantage"

    There is truth in that - find it.
    The word "love" has no meaning in a mouth that does not know how to say "advantage". Till then, don't say "I love you" - say "blow me"
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    Sep 21 2013: Just in case some of you misunderstand, the question is not meant so that we choose one over the other. (We do both anyhow, don't we?) It's not even so that we decide which one is better. It's about self-discovery. What's true for you? If you like to take it further, asking why would be great.
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      Sep 22 2013: Choice drives us - but choice also reveals motive.

      It is in motive that enlightenment occurs.
      One can stand at the gate - this is a distraction - on the gate is written the wisdom of the universe!
      The things that make us turn to read it are the things that stop us stepping through.

      The ultimate wisdom is to know that all things can be spoken from either side of the door.
      Be still - all is well.

      Wisdom is not the end - it is the start. You get it .. not from reading the door, but by stepping through it.

      step now.

      You can always step back, but each time, you take longer to step back.
      Be patient. Be still

      All is well.

      There are no true motives on this side of the door.
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    Sep 20 2013: It could be said that the greatest happiness is enlightenment, and enlightenment is found by living an ordinary life. So with computers, walking, socializing, working, playing, hardships and joy all being part of an ordinary life, all aspects should be embraced as step along our path of enlightenment/ happiness.

    Note I said path “of” enlightenment and not “to” enlightenment, for enlightenment is not a destination, but instead it is a way to view events in your journey and the journey itself. More than seeing the class as half full, we need to find a worthy propose/desire for the half full class. You can satisfy your thrust, or water a plant. That does not matter, as long as fulfills a good desire.

    Walking/being in nature is claiming for the mind, and feeling at one with nature makes me happy.
    But I also desire to be self-reliant and that requires working at a computer, so being at a computer indirectly makes me happy. Different types of happiness, but because they are linked and I need both for my journey. Therefor to consider one better than the other would be meaningless.
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    Sep 20 2013: I am happiest being here - wherever that happens to be.

    Being here requires the suspension of narrative. Our story-selves are never happy. They talk "about" happiness but cannot enter.

    For instance: The self I must be to write this has no idea of happiness - it describes a ghost of the past. It looks into memory and remembers when this person experienced the state we call "happy".

    In the story, it was a tale of "when I was here". and it also tells a story of being sad in that place.

    We fear that story and try not to go. The less we go, the less happiness we will get.

    Go anyway .. sad is Ok too.

    If you get lost - just feel your skin - it's always here.
  • Sep 20 2013: i love walking alone in the woods. walking in a crowd makes me feel lonely and working in front of a screen is like walking in a crowd.
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    Sep 19 2013: "There is a place for everything under the sun", as the writer of proverbs said in the Old Testament of the bible. In theory, my happiness is independent of any and all external circumstances, computers and walking included.
    Practical experience though tells me not to push myself too hard at either (or any other) activity. One can stretch oneself a little which is good, but when tired - sleep - or do something different.
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    Sep 19 2013: At the moment I feel happier in front of the computer, provided the absence of sadness could be considered as a form of happiness.

    If I was on a walk, alone, my mind would re-focus again on unpleasant memories due to a lack of rapid distraction. Yet if I was on a walk having a good talk with a 'smart' person - no device - I wouldn't mind walking at all ... on the contrary. ;o)
    • W T 100+

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      Sep 19 2013: That is very interesting.

      I find that I love to be alone on walks.
      If someone is with me, then I feel frustrated somehow......

      It is almost like I need to be alone with myself........I luxuriate in the pleasantness of being able to hear my own thoughts, and to be totally focused on ME!!

      I guess it comes from spending most of my time around others, and having very little time to myself.

      But I must admit, I really enjoy being on the computer when I have the time, and exchanging ideas and knowledge with others.
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        Sep 19 2013: I have been like you some time ago. I enjoyed to spent quality time by myself and even absolute silence didn't feel oppressive, as my mind was in balance then.

        It will be in balance again, just not at the moment, and as you may have noticed by now, my humor already returned and not all of it is pure sarcasm... ;o)

        And to get my mind out of vicious circles, in which it spins into in 'idle' or 'self-reflective' state, I either distract it while surfing shallow waters on the Internet or set it on 'learning mode' in which, if the topic is just right, I get into 'flow', which is just perfect. And at night, during sleep, some of my circles have already been broken and the remaining will be soon.
        • W T 100+

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          Sep 21 2013: I love that your humor returned.
          And if I may say, we all go through ups and downs.
          Sometimes we feel like being alone on walks, but other times we might really want the company of an intelligent, well versed individual to walk and talk on a lazy afternoon, meandering through the neighborhood, or into the woods nearby.

          It's all good :)
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        Sep 22 2013: I am like you, Mary, in preferring, typically, to walk alone or with the dog.
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    Sep 19 2013: My happiness is entirely dependent on my own internal state of mind and has nothing to do with what activity I am performing at the moment.
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      Sep 19 2013: I agree. And in comparing your experiences between these 2 activities, what do you notice?

      While our state of mind depends not on the external activity, as I see it, it is conditioned by *why* we do them. Eg, why do I turn on the computer?
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        Sep 19 2013: I think we are in wonderful agreement. The *why* I do something relates to my internal state of mind.

        In comparing the experiences, there are some obvious differences and similarities, but digging deeper, I again end up at myself, and believe that my own state of mind determines the experience.
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    Sep 19 2013: What's the definition of happiness in Malaysian Buddhism?

    I think when I use computer to communicate with people here whom I can't meet in my city or country,I'm happy.
    When I take a walk being peaceful with myself ,I 'm also happy.
    I won't compare these two. They don't conflict in my life.
    Thank you.
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      Sep 20 2013: Don't know about "Malaysian Buddhism"--if there's such a thing.

      In my experience though, happiness can be broadly categorize to 2 kinds:
      One happens when we get to experience something that we want: Being with people we like, watching a movie of our taste, discussing a subject we're passionate about, etc.
      The other happens with the lack of mental disturbances: sadness, restlessness (which was what prompted the question), craving, guilt, anger, etc. We don't *get* something, yet we're happy.
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        Sep 20 2013: Good interpretation. Thank you for your answer.
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    Sep 19 2013: I am absolutely happier while I am out for a walk. While being at a computer, I can accomplish good things, they all feel very non-tangible to me. I prefer working with things that I can touch and see, the physical world. So I enjoy walking! It is for me a great opportunity to meditate.
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    Sep 18 2013: I am happiest, I think, when I am with, or thinking of, my children.
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    Oct 2 2013: Could I ask how much time in a day you spend taking a walk? Could I ask what is the ideal amount of time in the day you would prefer to spend taking a walk?
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      Oct 2 2013: Sure. But why do you want to ask?
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        Oct 2 2013: I think whether someone feels he would feel happier by walking more and using the computer less may depend in part on how much time he spends at each.
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          Oct 2 2013: I see. That makes sense, but that's only true if the happiness is about enjoying something we like, thereby creating pleasurable feelings; not the happiness of freedom from that which disturbs the mind. With pleasurable experiences, we eventually get bored with it. The unwise mind would then try to look for something else or increase the intensity of a similar pleasure to be "happy" again.

          Anyway, I hike down from my monastery for alms daily. Takes about 40min down and 50min up. After my midday meal (with the food I got downhill), I walk to my hut to do some sweeping and then back; 15 min. In the evening, if I've some time, I walk around the monastery again for maybe 20 min. During which, stuff may pop up in the mind for me to see them just mental fabrications, and they die down. The uncluttered mind is beautiful.
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        Oct 2 2013: This is very close to how much time I spend walking as well, also with most in the morning. Thanks for sharing.