Happiness: Precept 12

Reference: The Happiness Rundown


12-1. Be of good appearance. It sometimes does not occur to some individuals—as they do not have to spend their days looking at themselves—that they form part of the scenery and appearance of others. And some do not realize that they are judged by others on the basis of their appearance. 

While clothes can be expensive, soap and the other tools of self-care are not that hard to obtain. The techniques are sometimes difficult to dig up but can be evolved. 

In some societies, when they are barbaric or become very degraded, it can even be the fashion to be a public eyesore. Actually it is a symptom of a lack of self-respect. 

Exercising and working, one can become very messed up. But this does not rule out getting cleaned up. And as an example, some European and English workmen manage a style of appearance even when working. Some of the better athletes, one notices, look good despite being wringing wet with sweat. 

An environment disfigured with unkempt people can have a subtle, depressing effect on one’s morale. 

Encourage people around you to look good by complimenting them when they do or even gently helping them with their problems when they don’t. It could improve their self-regard and their morale as well.

12-2. Take care of your own area. When people mess up their own possessions and area, it can slop over into your own. 

When people seem to be incapable of caring for their own things and places, it is a symptom of their feeling that they don’t really belong there and don’t really own their own things. When young, the things they were “given” had too many cautions and strings attached or were taken away from them by brothers, sisters or parents. And they possibly did not feel welcome. 

The possessions, the rooms and work spaces, the vehicles of such people advertise that they are not really the property of anyone. Worse, a sort of rage against possessions can sometimes be seen. Vandalismis a manifestation of it: the house or car “nobody owns” is soon ruined. 

Those who build and try to maintain low-income housing are often dismayed by the rapidity with which ruin can set in. The poor, by definition, own little or nothing. Harassed in various ways, they also come to feel they do not belong. 

But whether rich or poor, and for whatever reason, people who do not take care of their possessions and places can cause disorder to those about them. I am sure you can think of such instances. 

Ask such people what they really do own in life and if they really belong where they are and you will receive some surprising answers. And help them a great deal too. 

The skill of organizing possessions and places can be taught. It can come as a new idea to someone that an item, when picked up and used, should be put back in the same place so it can be found again: some spend half their time just looking for things. A little time spent getting organized can pay off in speeded work: it is not the waste of time some believe. 

To protect your own possessions and places, get others to take care of theirs. 

12-3. Help take care of the planet. The idea that one has a share in the planet and that one can and should help care for it may seem very large and to some, quite beyond reality. But today what happens on the other side of the world, even so far away, can effect what happens in your own home. 

Recent discoveries by space probes to Venus have shown that our own world could be deteriorated to a point where it would no longer support life. And it possibly could happen in one’s own lifetime. 

Cut down too many forests, foul too many rivers and seas, mess up the atmosphere and we have had it. The surface temperature can go roasting hot, the rain can turn to sulphuric acid. All living things could die. 

One can ask, “Even if that were true, what could I do about it?” Well, even if one were simply to frown when people do things to mess up the planet, one would be doing something about it. Even if one only had the opinion that it was just not a good thing to wreck the planet and mentioned that opinion, one would be doing something. 

Care of the planet begins in one’s own front yard. It extends through the area one travels to get to school or work. It covers such places as where one picnics or goes on vacation. The litter which messes up the terrain and water supply, the dead brush which invites fire, these are things one need not contribute to and which, in otherwise idle moments, one can do something about. Planting a tree may seem little enough but it is something. 

In some countries, old people, the unemployed, do not just sit around and go to pieces: they are used to care for the gardens and parks and forests, to pick up the litter and add some beauty to the world. There is no lack of resources to take care of the planet. They are mainly ignored. One notes that the Civilian Conservation Corps in the U.S., organized in the 1930s to absorb the energies of unemployed officers and youth, was one of the few, if not the only project of that depressed era that created far more wealth for the state than was expended. It reforested large areas and did other valuable things that cared for the U.S. part of the planet. One notes that the C.C.C. no longer exists. One can do as little as add one’s opinion that such projects are worthwhile and support opinion leaders and organizations that carry on environmental work. 

There is no lack of technology. But technology and its application cost money. Money is available when sensible economic policies, policies which do not penalize everyone, are followed. Such policies exist. 

There are many things people can do to help take care of the planet. They begin with the idea that one should. They progress by suggesting to others that they should. 

Man has reached the potential capacity to destroy the planet. He must be pushed on up to the capability and actions of saving it. It is, after all, what we’re standing on.

If others do not help safeguard and improve the environment, the way to happiness could have no roadbed to travel on at all.



0. Make sure you have completed the exercise section at Happiness: Precept 11. Study the precept above.

1. Check the responses to the following questions for false data (see false data steps at Happiness: Prologue).

(a) “Have you been told or taught not to safeguard and improve your environment?”
(b) “Do you have any rules or ideas contrary to safeguarding and improving your environment?”
(c) “Have you been led to believe that you shouldn’t safeguard and improve your environment?”
(d) “Do you know of anything that conflicts with safeguarding and improving your environment?”
(e) “Do you have any false data about safeguarding and improving your environment?”


2. Go over each of the following questions repetitively, until there are no more answers: 

(a) “How have others transgressed against the precept: ‘Safeguard and improve your environment’?”
(b) “How have you transgressed against the precept: ‘Safeguard and improve your environment’?”

Do a quick review to see if you did not miss any answers on this step. You should be feeling good about this step.


3. See if the following question definitely brings up some name you know of:

“Is there any specific person in your past who really transgressed against the precept: ‘Safeguard and improve your environment’?”

If no name comes up then go to step 4. if a name has come up, then continue with step 3 as follows:

“Can you recall an exact moment when you observed ___(name)___ transgressing this precept?”

If there is a realization, go to step 4. Otherwise, continue contemplating as follows, until there is some realization.

“Is there any time when you wanted to be like ___(name)___ ?” 
“Is there any time when you decided that not safeguarding and improving your environment was a good thing?”
“Did you ever do anything bad to ___(name)___ ? 
(Get all possible answers)
“Are there any differences between ___(name)___ and yourself?”
“Are there any similarities between ___(name)___  and yourself?”


4. Handle any anomalies that come up on the following question by looking at the anomaly more closely. 

”Do you have any reservations about safeguarding and improving your environment?”

If the anomaly does not resolve then review the precept as well as all the exercise steps above to see if anything was missed. Then do step 4 again. When there is no anomaly go to step 5.


5. Contemplate on the following question.

“Do you have any reservations about getting someone else to safeguard and improve the environment?” 

If any reservation comes up, then consider the following: 

“How would that be a problem?” 

Get answers to this question until there are no reservations.


Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: