Subtle and Direct Experiences of Happiness
Khenpo Sherab Zangpo’s 2017 publication The Path: A Guide to Happiness, Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications has much to offer about how to become a happier person. Read over the listing below and see what you may be missing.
- Try this mantra: “I am happy the way I am.” “I am happy with what I have now.” Remember: “You can’t always get what you want.” “All you/we need is love.”
- Long-term transformational happiness requires many years of mindfulness practice via meditation and yoga. It requires that you not succumb to the habit of judging all experiences as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. It requires that you radically accept your suffering, and that you fully enjoy your happiness – but without trying to hold on to it. You cannot avoid suffering, and you cannot hold on to joy and happiness. Just BE with it.
- Since happiness is largely a state of mind, it is true that it is an inside job.
- Let go of rigid attachments/desires/cravings for sensory pleasures. Let go of endless efforts to avoid suffering and pain. You cannot do it! Practice fully experiencing life, the good, the bad, and the neutral. Detach from greed, pride, ego-accomplishments, and craved relationships. Practice being satisfied!
- Practice calm abiding when engaged in awareness of mind, body, feelings/sensations, and consciousness regarding all arising and falling phenomena in life. Get out of the endless cycle of partial satisfaction with short-term gains, and relief when suffering fails to reach you. Less is more here! Going with the flow of life is helpful.
- Notice that all emotional moods, feelings, sensations are short-term in their arising and falling away. It is all about the totality of impermanence of all things, including our own lives. Stop wasting energy working to suppress and avoid suffering and pain. It will happen; when it does simply radically accept it and use wise mind skills for living.
- Realize that along with impermanence, everything comes from dependent origination. Nothing arises of itself; there are always causes and conditions to the arising and falling away of all human experiences. Change is a constant!
- Pure joy does occur. When you notice it simply enjoy it, with full knowledge that it too will change. Be content with it and allow it to enter your mind and body. Enjoy your joy; be one with your happiness.
- Happiness occurs only in present moment awareness; it does not occur in past-mind or in future-mind. These are simply memories of the past and projections into the future. You have no control over the past; it has already happened. You have no control over the future; plan for it but know you do not control it. Accept!
- Like happiness, suffering is also subject to impermanence; it changes in time. All things change in time.
- You may activate the feeling of joy and appreciation when meditating or doing yoga outdoors in nature. Can you meditate and complete asanas with an attitude of joy inside yourself? Practice this! Be the joy!
- Negative mood states of anger, jealousy, anxiety, depression, fear, and trauma need to be faced and radically accepted without activating unhelpful behaviors. Stop self-medicating in fruitless hopes that it will bring joy and end suffering. It will not! Make space for them rather than treating them as your enemy. Befriending via wise mind skills and calm abiding may lead to reduced impact on your emotions. You may even make these conditions your allies, all trying to teach you something that will help you do better, be better. Use self-compassion often.
- When emotionally reactive, directly observe the process of your mind to understand why you are experiencing what you are experiencing. Recognize, allow, investigate and reduce impact on the self (RAIN process). Realize that in the end, the ultimate end, everything is empty. Be skilled. Be happier.
- Practice mindfulness, mindfulness meditation, vipassana meditation, yoga, loving kindness, compassion, and gratitude. All these practices will help you.
- Study the Four Noble Truths and The Eight Fold Path to understand all phenomena and yourself more deeply. Skills here will lead to greater internal, lasting happiness.
- For those of you more involved in Buddhist Psychology, you may want to read Nagarjuna’s, Fundamentals of the Middle Way or Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva. May you have great success in learning how to be a happier person! There is much wisdom in these writings.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness