Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The key to happiness in prison lies in focusing upon the small things that bring pleasure.
To raise one's eyes above the horizon, to dream of the world just out of reach, is to risk subjecting oneself to that endless torment that comes from grasping for the Moon.
Today is a good day. The words have been flowing from mind to keyboard at an astonishing rate. Someone has lent me a battery to run my new MP3 player and I can allow myself to be moved by music. The paper I am printing on is a particularly pleasing shade of white. There is an interesting science programme on the TV. My beard is nicely cropped, like a Gandhi gone slightly to pot. And I replied to a pile of my mail, easing my conscience somewhat.
I am in prison. From where I sit, I can only take three steps before the walls or door halt me. I am separated from those I love and care for. I am fighting the depression that grows out of the perpetual frustration of feeling unable to make a difference to life. And I go to sleep knowing that this will be repeated again for an unknown number of tomorrows.
Focus on the small things. You will surely be happier.


  1. Is there anything that could possibly make your life inside.

  2. Wise words indeed for everyone.

  3. I will second Gaina's comment. Focussing on the positives in the small is one of the secrets to a more balanced life. Whoever or wherever you are. Those for whom there is nothing satisfying apart from the ever more novel or exotic are to be pitied.

    On the good side Ben:
    You have a roof over your head. Food is provided. You have, by your own admission gained an education that may well have been denied you outside. Reasons why many join the military voluntarily.

  4. I agree with Gaina. We could all learn from this. A lot of what is wrong with the world comes from greed and discontentment. You are valuing what you have and trying not to dwell on what you are denied, plus living for now and not tomorrow. I wonder, does your Zen practice help you do this?

  5. I find the key to happiness *outside* prison lies in the small things that bring fulfilment.

    Confucius say "The things you really need in life are few and easy to come by, but the things you can imagine you need are infinite, and never fulfilled".

  6. You do indeed make a difference! And yes, you are right: small and simple pleasures. And btw, you are on my blogroll.

  7. I know it is being unable to make a difference in your own life that makes you depressed but, in case it helps, you have made and are continuing to make a huge difference to the lives of a large number of people outside of your cell.

  8. The small things in life make you happy, the big things make you grow. Your choice.

  9. Thank you Ben. It's easy to forget the little things. My day was better for your post and I'm sure I wasn't alone.


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