May 30, 2015

One Simple step to Real Happiness.


The Buddha taught that suffering is caused by a misunderstanding of what actually causes happiness and what causes misery—a confusion that he called ignorance.

We all make the mistake of trying to get what we want, which sooner or later brings dissatisfaction. We all also make the mistake of trying to avoid what we don’t want, which makes us miserable even before we eventually, inevitably, have to face discomfort.

Thankfully, there is a simple solution.

Whenever we remember, in meditation and throughout the day, we can take a moment to create a feeling of spaciousness in our minds.

We can do this by visualizing an open sky or a vast ocean and letting out a long, slow exhalation. Then, we can imagine that we are breathing our own pain and suffering and the pain and suffering of others, into the heart, which we can visualize as being as vast and spacious as the sky or ocean. As we exhale, we can send a wish of relief and resolution to our own bodies and minds, and to all beings.

That’s all there is to it.

This is the practice of Tonglen, or “receiving and sending.”

It may seem counterintuitive to invite pain in, but it reverses our normal tendency to numb and check out to avoid discomfort, which is the actual root of our suffering.

Then, knowing that countless others are also feeling pain in this same moment, and including everyone in our best wishes, helps us feel that we are not alone.

With time, this practice helps us recognize that we are essentially good, loving people who care about others as well as ourselves, and this self-recognition brings with it a kind of happiness that is independent of circumstances.

The joy of knowing our own good heart has no opposite and leaves no hangover.

This is how we become sustainably happy.


Buddhist Monk’s Inspiring Ted Talk on Happiness & How We can Get It.


Author: Shy Sayer

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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