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Banishing the Five Thieves of Happiness Each Morning in the Kitchen

David Marshall Posted by David Marshall, Vice President of Editorial and Digital , Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

David Marshall heads the editorial department, which is responsible for 40-50 new titles per year and 5-10 digital products or initiatives. 

Banishing the Five Thieves of Happiness Each Morning in the Kitchen


I didn't pray much growing up, even though I'm a "Preacher's Kid" (my parents met and fell in love while attending Perkins Theological Seminary at Southern Methodist Univeristy in Dallas, Texas).  On my knees by the side of my bed, elbows on the bedspread, and hands presssed together like a steeple, just didn't do it for me. But now I have a new and more sustatinable way to pray, and it includes The Five Thieves of Happiness.

My wife and I visited China and Tibet last year, and I was struck with the floor-to-ceiling, wall-mounted, and hand-held prayer wheels (as in above photo) in Lhasa, Tibet. I now have one hanging on my kitchen wall, which I spin clockwise every morning while reciting the ancient Buddhist mantra  Om Mani Padme Hum, sending benevolence, compassion, and blessings to the  wounded world in all directions.


After reading an early copy of The Five Thieves of Happiness last summer, I made an index card of the five mantras that author John Izzo recommended at the end of each chapter, and placed it on the top of my prayer wheel above the light switch. Now when I turn on the light each morning while my coffee is brewing, I spin the prayer wheel and read one of the five mantras aloud to banish at least one thief for the day.  This morning, the one that spoke the loudest to me concerned the third thief, COVETING. I spun the wheel and said:

Life is not a contest. I will be grateful for what I have and who I am. I will celebrate the success of others; for when I celebrate for others, I am happy.

I have to admit, I'm not there yet.  Sometimes I still think, "I will be happy when..." or "I will be happy if..." but these daily spins help me embrace the present moment.  

Much apprecition, John!

David Marshall, Moraga, California, January 1, 2017


David Marshall
David Marshall

Today, I recited the second mantra about CONCEIT. I'm working to move from monologue to dialogue. As John counsels, "Do not seek happiness...contribute to the good of the whole, and happiness will find me."

January 5, 2017