Happiness, the sense of wellbeing that we experience from what we bring to the world rather than what we get from the world.
The other day I was sitting in the most beautiful surroundings in a resort and someone commented: ‘who are we not to be happy when we can access this.’
It made me think whether we draw a parallel between experiencing pleasure and having a good life –can pleasure alone give us quality of life?
Genuine happiness in the Buddhist view is the happiness, the sense of wellbeing that we experience from what we bring to the world rather than what we get from the world. (Alan Wallace)
Pleasure would be what we get from the world but the Buddhist view is that genuine happiness is about what we give or bring to the world. Giving to each other, to other species, giving to communities and giving back to the earth.
Is that what many of us experience when we reach middle age, that the promise was hollow, that pleasure and contentment doesn’t cut it?
What makes our souls dance, what gives us delight? Beauty is a source of delight, a flower, a sunset, a face or a view. What about a gesture, what about seeing kindness in action or generosity? Why does that move us and warm our hearts? Is it witnessing the best in us, our potential when we step outside the realm of pleasure seeking?
Delight can also be the feeling we have when we connect with another human, the feeling that we have when helping someone, or the feeling we have when we give back to the earth.
We know from research that the best antidepressant is giving.
The ‘helper’s high’ was named by Alan Luks in 1988. 50% of helpers reported feeling ‘high’ when they helped others, while 43% felt stronger and more energetic. 13% even felt fewer aches and pains. (Why good things happen to good people by Stephen Prost)
Whether we are with the amazing beauty of a Frangipani, or with a friend or with a group seeking the betterment of the earth, the emotion is the same.
What is that emotion?
We experience it when we let go of our own concerns and thoughts and become part of something larger. When we leave ourselves behind we step into a different realm, a different way of experiencing the world. In that moment our separateness and focus on ourselves disappears, connecting us to something larger and we experience our interconnectedness. Or that we are all one, all part of the same energy.
I know that when I am working either coaching or doing mediation the focus often is completely on the client(s) and I am unaware of my own needs and concerns, even at times that I need a cup of tea!! There is a surrendering to the process, a temporary parking of self. And it feels so good, it is when I feel useful.
There are many ways of ‘stepping’ outside ourselves, one is simply contemplating how others feel, considering what is going on for them. Another can be putting up solar panels or planting trees, or joining a political party.
When do you feel most ‘useful’ or what is your contribution point? What gives you the feeling of meaningfulness?