A Monk's Guide to Happiness. Gelong Thubten
In order to strive for happiness, you need a definition.The author defines happiness as a combination of:
How does the unhappiness evolve?It starts from desiring something and searching for happiness outside of ourselves resulting into feeling of incompleteness resulting into being unhappy.
Modern society supports unhappinessAdvertisements and social media tell us to buy a product or to go and get an experience to become more beautiful, respected or efficient - which implies that we are not beautiful, respected and efficient enough. Social media delivers a constant never ending stream of fresh content. It overstimulates the brain. Junk brain food pumps our bodies full of sugar and caffeine. We become accustom to the sensory overload and the more easily we get bored and distracted, the easier we crave for more stimulation.
What's wrong with external sources of happiness?They don't last forever (e.g. a sunset, a romantic moment) - when they end, you look for the next one. If we try to control them, we often fail (e.g. prevening our partner from leaving us). Even when we get what we want, we keep scanning the world for the next something just out of reach - like a guy at a party who constantly looks for another person to talk to. He always thinks about his next conversation, never completely engaged or satisfied with the one he's having.
What's wrong with pushing feelings, emotions, thoughts away?We try to get rid of people, places, situations, thoughts, emotions we would rather not experience. E.g. headache - besides the physical suffering that might be unavoidable, there is also a mental resistance that you feel toward your pain ("I don't want this! Go away!"). If you stop pushing against a headache (or any other problem you are experiencing), you will still have the headache, but no more discomfort from resisting it. Instead, you feel a sense of neutrality which gives a sense of peace.
Stop pushing away. Stop grasping. Just let it be.
The path to let it be.If you want to train your body's muscles, you work out. To strengthen your mind's capabilities you need a mental training. Common misconception about the meditation is that it is a method of stress release. Meditation is rather a method to develop the ability to be happy when we are not meditating. Meditation is practicing the skills of neutrally observing our thoughts, emotions, sensations and experiences.
1. Focus your mind on an anchor. 2. Notice it's drifted. 3. Gently bring it back to your anchor. 4. Repeat.Details:
Do NOT close your eyes or play meditation music when meditating - the objective is to be mindful when we are not meditating, when we are in a normal environment.
General rule for handling mistakesIf you would not make mistakes (like drifting your focus away from the anchor), then you would not have a chance to practice. So, it is not a fail, it is an opportunity for practice!
Ilya's remarks and references
Summary by Ilya Vasilenko.