One step to happiness
How often do you get sad or upset about other peoples problems? Genuinely? How often do you worry about your children or become concerned about your friends and family? I will admit it, when we think about other people who are in need or who are suffering we do feel for them but… But we genuinely only ever feel truly anxious or angry about things in our lives when there is an “I” involved. We only ever feel upset or get hurt when we are thinking about ourselves. Yes we feel compassion for others and yes we care for others and wish them well but only when we are thinking about ourselves do we feel affected – trapped and hurt, angry or irritated. Am I wrong? Is the main cause of our unhappiness the mere fact that we think about ourselves and not others?
Would you like me to continue or would you like to argue with me on this one? Have you already started disagreeing with me and do you already feel like you have an opinion you would like me to listen to or buy into? I will hear you out but…
Lets say you do care about your mother or father or your best friend and that they have been betrayed or fired or if your child was bullied at school. Draw on any example you would like to if you want but lets say that someone you care about is suffering in some way or another. Lets say that you may need to lay off some employees that you care about. Lets say that your brother or sister got locked up for a crime they never committed. I agree. These are emotional situations and events and can cause us to feel deeply about these people in our lives. However, do we actually feel pain because of their suffering? Check carefully.
I challenge you to check carefully. Do you feel pain for what is happening to them or is it pain because you are not getting what you want out of the situation or you are not having it your way. Do you feel angry for your brother who got locked up unnecessarily or are you feeling upset because you will not be able to spend time with him or that you disagree with what the Judge’s sentence was. Do you feel anxious because you will have to fire employees that you care about or do you feel afraid because of what they will think of you or that they will be angry with you?
We most likely feel all of these emotions but I can guarantee you that the pain does not come from feeling or caring or loving or wanting others to be free from suffering and be happy. It comes from the concern we have for ourselves.
“All the suffering in the world comes from wishing ourselves to be happy and all the happiness in the world comes from wishing others to be happy. ” Shantideva
As an experiment, lets try this and see what it does to us. Lets stop blaming the situation we are in or the world around us for our pain or suffering that we experience however big or small it may be. Lets change just one thing, our concern for ourselves. For example: When you are driving in traffic, genuinely wish every single other person on the road to have a safe journey and to find all the gaps and to make all the green traffic lights. When you are standing in a queue at the supermarket, wish that everyone else in every queue is not feeling irritated. Genuinely go to work and wish that your manager or boss has a stress free day and that everything goes well for him or her. When you see anyone, smile at them and wish them well in your heart. You do not even have to change any of your actions. Just change your intention.
We are not saying that you should neglect yourself or stop taking care of yourself. All we are saying is that as you change your concern from yourself to a concern for others, you will be happy.
Another benefit to this way of thinking is that your world expands or contracts based on the intentions you have. If your good intentions are for yourself or just one person, your world will be small and if your good intentions are for others or many people, your world will naturally grow and expand.
I challenge you to: Just change the intention to make yourself happy for one day. Change it to making others happy. Genuinely wake up and think of ways to make others happy. See what happens to your life, I dare you!