weekly blog--one for the ages
On Tuesday, my wife and I took her sister and daughter from Israel on a tour of the Brooklyn Waterfront (DUMBO) and Lower Manhattan. Our tour featured a ferry ride across the East River. In the late 1850's, Walt Whitman captured the feeling in a poem called Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.
Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sunset! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me!
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta! stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house or street or public assembly!
The above excerpt is from section 9 of the poem where Whitman tries to invoke the images of his experiences to suggest the flowing of time. The physical existence of man is like a ferry plying between the two shores of mortality and immortality. He and his fancy (his imagination) use objects to express the idea of the search for the eternal beyond the transient.
This search, or the function of fancy, is exemplified by the ferry ride which moves from a point in the physical world to a destination in the spiritual world. This journey of the spirit can take place easily in a universe which is harmonious and well adjusted.
Positive emotions have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being in numerous scientific studies. If you can’t take the Brooklyn Ferry, try some of these techniques.
Express gratitude. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you have — from a roof over your head to good health to people who care about you. When you acknowledge the goodness in your life, you begin to recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside yourself. In this way, gratitude helps you connect to something larger than your individual experience — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
Leverage your strengths. To reap the benefits of your strengths, you first need to know what they are. Unfortunately, according to a British study, only about one-third of people have a useful understanding of their strengths. If something comes easily to you, you may take it for granted and not identify it as a strength. If you are not sure of your strengths, you can identify them by asking someone you respect who knows you well, by noticing what people compliment you on, and by thinking about what comes most easily to you.
Certain strengths are most closely linked to happiness. They include gratitude, hope, vitality, curiosity, and love.
Savor the "good." Most people are primed to experience the pleasure in special moments, like a wedding or a vacation. Everyday pleasures, on the other hand, can slip by without much notice. Savoring means placing your attention on pleasure as it occurs, consciously enjoying the experience as it unfolds. Appreciating the treasures in life, big and small, helps build happiness.