The saying that “happiness is a choice” is extremely common. There’s a book by that title, as well as a gazillion articles. They all say that you can choose to be happy.
It’s not true. Happiness is not a choice.
Or at least it’s not strictly true that happiness is a choice. There’s a grain of truth here; we can influence our happiness. But happiness is a feeling, and we can’t directly choose our feelings.
What is true is that happiness is the result of our choices.
We can choose actions that will bring long-term happiness. We can choose what we say. We can choose our attitudes. We can choose to have thoughts that increase … Read more »
Someone recently wrote to me, saying that she was lonely and felt unloved, and wondering whether the metta bhavana practice (the meditation for developing kindness) would help. I thought I’d paraphrase and expand on what I’d said to her.
The metta bhavana practice can certainly help with feelings of loneliness. In particular, self-metta and self-compassion — showing ourselves the same kindness, support, and encouragement that we show to others that we care about — would be helpful.
Think about that thought, “No one loves me.” You might say things like that to yourself, but would you tell a friend who was lonely, “No one loves you”? How would that make her feel? Would … Read more »
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is when we observe our experience rather than merely participate in our experience. When we’re unmindful, we’re certainly experiencing, but we’re “merely participating” in that experience, swept along in the flow of our thoughts and fantasies, caught up in thinking without being aware of what we’re doing and what effect it’s having on us, and not realizing that we have the choice to do anything else.
When we’re mindful, we observe our experience. We know that we’re thinking. We’re aware of what effect our thinking is having (for example that it’s making us or others unhappy). We’re aware we have choices about what we do and what we think.
And that’s … Read more »
One of the participants in our current 28 Day meditation challenge reported that she was experiencing stress because of a new job.
New jobs can be very challenging and bring up a lot of self doubt. I remember that well.
She talked about “feelings of inadequacy and uselessness,” and I could instantly see a practice that would help her deal with the challenges of her new job. The practice is to distinguish between feelings and thoughts.
From the perspective of Buddhist psychology, inadequacy and uselessness are not feelings. Actual feelings that we might experience in a challenging new job include anxiety, or fear, or confusion. “I am inadequate” and “I am useless” are thoughts. … Read more »
A woman on the Triratna Buddhist Community’s Urban Retreat, which this year focused on the theme of cultivating lovingkindness, or metta, asked a question about how to deal with “strong emotion” — especially grief — that may arise during lovingkindness practice. For this person, grief tended to arise particularly while she was cultivating lovingkindness toward herself, and she wondered how to be honest with her experience but not dissolve into and become lost in it.
I offered her a few suggestions, which I’ll enlarge on here:
1. Stop considering grief as an emotion.
Is grief an emotion? Is “emotion” even a meaningful term, in the context of Buddhist practice?
Increasingly I find the word … Read more »
Margarita Tartakovsky, PsychCentral: In her book The Need to Please: Mindfulness Skills to Gain Freedom from People Pleasing & Approval Seeking, psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher Micki Fine, MEd, LPC, explains that each of us is made of love.
And as we water the seeds of love within us, we can learn to accept ourselves precisely as we are. When you have a negative body image, this can be incredibly hard to do.
That’s when having a daily practice is important. We can start creating new ways of thinking and feeling about our bodies and ourselves.
A daily practice that can be really helpful…
As I discussed in the first post on upekkha, this word has several different meanings, although they’re all related.
A forthcoming article in the Journal of Consumer Research by Professor Michel Tuan Pham and Leonard Lee of Columbia Business School, and Andrew Stephen of the University of Pittsburgh, finds that a higher trust in feelings may result in more accurate predictions about a variety of future events. The research will also be featured in Columbia Business School’s Ideas at Work in late February 2012. In the research, the researchers conducted a series of eight studies in which their participants were asked to predict various future outcomes, including the 2008 U.S. Democratic presidential nominee, the box-office success of different movies, the winner of American Idol, movements of the Dow Jones Index, the winner of a … Read more »
As a kid, I was really out of touch with my body. I hardly noticed it most of the time, and when I did, I prodded it like a mule to do a better job of hauling “me” – the head – around.
This approach helped me soldier through some tough times. But there were costs. Many pleasures were numbed, or they flew over – actually, under – my head. I didn’t feel deeply engaged with life, like I was peering at the world through a hole in a fence. I pushed my body hard and didn’t take good care of it. When I spoke, I sounded out of touch to others, emotionally distant, even … Read more »
Maureen Salamon: “Am I pretty enough? Am I doing this right? Should I be going to yoga?”
These kinds of anxious, self-judgmental thoughts often run through some women’s minds as they have sex, experts say.
But a new study says “mindfulness meditation” training — which teaches how to bring one’s thoughts into the present moment — can quiet the mental chatter that prevents these women from fully feeling sexual stimuli.
“Rather than feeling it, they get caught up in their heads,” said the study’s lead author, Gina Silverstein, who was a student at Brown University in Rhode Island at the time of the study …