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It Is Easy To Invite Joy Into Your Life

Something good happens to you - you cleared an examination, your blood test results are great, you just got that long-awaited promotion at work - and you feel overjoyed. You radiate that happiness to all around you and life is generally on a roll. The moment all that's listed above happens to someone else - and you have failed the exam, your cholesterol is high, and you did not get the raise or promotion you expected at work - you start burning with jealousy, you are angry, and you radiate all these negative feelings, making yourself and those around you miserable. Why is it so difficult to feel happy for your colleague or friend who managed to achieve those things?

When you take delight in the happiness of others, the Buddhists call it mudita. It means sympathetic joy . Physician turned mindfulness and dharma teacher Christiane Wolf writes of the Buddha's exposition of the four brahmaviharas, the highest qualities of the heart. They are, metta, loving-kindness; karuna, compassion; upeksha, equanimity and mudita, sympathetic joy. Of these, mudita is perhaps the most challenging as it requires you to feel happy at the achievements of others. Jealousy among colleagues and even strangers is somewhat comprehensible but to resent the success of one's own sibling or parent, or even child, is something that is really gross. Instead of feeling joy and love, you feel violated, that how come this is not happening to you, and why is it happening to them? Why not me, why them?

The first step towards cultivating the quality of mudita, to feel joy at the happiness of others, is to learn to look at your own self more sympathetically. Appreciate your good qualities, your plus points and maintain a decent degree of self-esteem. Uncover your strengths. Once you do that, there will be no room for feelings of insecurity and inferiority because you are beginning to realise your own worth. Once this is done, you will find it difficult not to feel joy for others, because you have begun to learn the art of inviting joy into your life. Because you know now how to feel joy within yourself. So, feeling happy for others is only the next step.

Once you have stopped being a party pooper, always seeing the negative side of things, so critical and ever complaining, you will see that all of these have been preventing you from experiencing what you really deserve, to feel wonder and joy at your own self and in your life. These positive feelings will begin to radiate outside of you as well, and naturally, when something good happens to others, you, too, feel elated. You are no longer a drag, held back by dark thoughts that prevent you and others from participating in the euphoria of life.

The four brahmaviharas mentioned earlier, also known as the immeasurables, are all inter-connected, and once you are in the process of cultivating them, you will find it very difficult indeed to keep joy out of your life. This is aptly summed up in the following Sanskrit prayer: "Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu." That is, once we strive to end our own suffering and have good thoughts for ourselves and others, we will wish happiness for everyone in the world. It's an ancient but timeless affirmation.

Authored by: Narayani Ganesh
ganeshnarayani@yahoo.com




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