Joy (sukha in Pali) should be our natural state of being. Unfortunately, though, we’ve been brought up in a society that emphasizes wanting things and having things as the primary path to happiness. Wanting things actually destroys joy, while having things brings only a short-term burst of pleasure that fades quickly.
In fact, thinking that joy depends on things outside of ourselves is a trap. It makes it harder for us to experience real happiness. True happiness comes from our attitude toward things, not from things themselves.
Despite its seeming elusiveness, it’s possible for us to spend much of our time in a state of joy, and here are a few suggestions for moving … Read more »
Most people know their less than wonderful qualities, such as too much ambition (or too little), a weakness for wine or cookies, something of a temper, or an annoying tendency to rattle on about pet interests. We usually know when we make mistakes, get the facts wrong, could be more skillful, or deserve to feel remorseful.
Some people err on the side of denying or defending these faults ( a word I use broadly here). But most people go to the other extreme, repeatedly criticizing themselves in the foreground of awareness, or having a background sense of guilt, unworthiness, and low confidence.
It’s one thing to call yourself to task for a fault, try to … Read more »
As we grow up and then move through adulthood, we all have normal needs for safety, fulfillment, and love.
For example, children need to feel secure, adolescents need a growing sense of autonomy, and young adults need to feel attractive and worthy of romantic love. When these needs are met by various “supplies” — such as the caring of a parent, the trust of a teacher, the love of a mate-the positive experiences that result then sink in to implicit memory to become resources for well-being, self-regulation, resilience, self-worth, and skillful action. This is how healthy psychological development is supposed to work.
But it doesn’t always go this way, does it? In the lives of … Read more »
As the nervous system evolved, your brain developed in three stages:
Since the brain is integrated, avoiding, approaching, and attaching are accomplished by its parts working together. Nonetheless, each of these functions is particularly served and shaped by the region of the brain that first evolved to handle it.
Petting your inner lizard was about how to soothe and calm the most ancient structures of the brain, the ones that manage the first emotion of all: fear. This article continues the series by focusing on how to help the early mammalian parts … Read more »
It’s all too easy to focus on what’s wrong in our lives, and to overlook what’s positive. It seems almost that we’re pre-programmed to respond strongly to the things that threaten us, while things that are of benefit end up being taken for granted. There are certainly people who are continually acknowledging the positive, but they’re comparatively rare, and I’m not one of them!
And yet one thing that’s been demonstrated in studies is that appreciation makes us happy. There’s a well-known article in Yes Magazine, from a few years back, that discusses this. Two pieces of advice they give from the science of happiness are:
… Read more »
Savor Everyday Moments
Pause now and then to
The words “abundance” and “spirituality” may not seem to go hand in hand but, Bodhipaksa argues, mindfulness, properly seen, is inherently enriching.
Once, on retreat, I was in a discussion group in which we were discussing the metaphors that encapsulated how we saw our spiritual practice. We all had very different ways of seeing what we were trying to do with our lives.
One person thought in terms of becoming a kinder person, shedding compassion like the sun sheds light; another in terms of really seeing how things are. One saw himself as a spiritual warrior; another as a tree taking root, aspiring to provide fruit and shade for other beings. I was impressed both … Read more »