Happiness"Seek not happiness too greedily, and be not fearful of unhappiness."
would happen if you were in a state of perpetual bliss? Let’s say
you figured out how to activate those parts of your brain that trigger
pleasure, satisfaction and a sense of wellbeing, and you could just
keep pulling that trigger. Would you get anything done? Would you
bother to talk with anyone? Would you work or create or exercise if you
could be blissed out automatically?
all likelihood, life would grind to a halt. Why would you scratch if
you didn’t have an itch. Why would you earn a living, get food,
cook it and eat it if you could feel just as good empty as full. How
would you know to take your hand out of the fire if it felt as good
when burning as when not?
of discomfort are essential to life. If you stop breathing for 60
seconds, you will get a strong sensation that you should resume the
procedure. That’s a good thing. It assures that you continue to
do an essential life function. Would you want to eliminate the
suffering that goes with not breathing?
seems that pleasure keeps us seeking life affirming action and
discomfort keeps us avoiding life threatening experiences. So while we
are alive, we can assume that we will be presented with an ever varying
array of pleasant and unpleasant experiences. That’s a good
thing. If we are able to respond to these adaptively,
appropriately, we may find ourselves in the flow, and being in the flow
of life generates a sense of satisfaction.
trick then is to figure out how to get pleasure from the right things
and which things it is right to avoid. When we seek pleasure from
things that give bad consequences, we generate more suffering. When we
avoid things that we need for life we also generate suffering. If we
stay confused about which is which, we will waste our energy,
depression will ensue and the system will shut down to prevent us from
wasting any more energy and doing more harm.
we are wise, we have the ability to judge which thoughts, words, and
deeds will be good and which will not. To make that judgment though, we
need to see beyond the present moment and beyond our limited self. To
be happy, we cannot always choose immediate gratification or choose
self-interest over the interests of others.
is a tool we have for helping make these discernments. As they say,
“Life comes at you fast.” When we meditate, we slow it
down. The clarity of mind we find in meditation helps us sort through
the choice points. A calm and steady mind is one that is responsive.
The one-pointed, meditative mind can more readily see through the
thicket of confusing stimuli and impulses so that we can respond with
clear intention to fears and desires. When we examine the nature of our
own mind, our experience and our sense of self, we may
recognize our interconnectedness with other beings and with the
universe. Our choices then can be less selfish and therefore more
likely to be virtuous, true and wholesome. Life then will work out
better and we will be more likely to experience the emotions we prefer.
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