Recently, I was listening to instruction on doing things for the benefit of others. Lovingkindness. Love in action.
In the Buddhist tradition, the practice of putting others ahead of
oneself is strongly encouraged.
This famous Buddhist
verse says it all: “All the happiness the world has to offer comes from
desiring wellbeing for others. And all the suffering the world has to
offer comes from desiring happiness solely for oneself.”
Not a real epiphany but worth thinking about when you're outside and trying to ignore the weather: selfishness causes pain, and caring for others brings happiness, which begets true joy.
If happiness is truly what we seek, we need to turn our attention toward the wellbeing of
I'm not saying that I'm good at this. There's nothing I enjoy more than focusing on myself - than curling up alone in front of the fire with a bottle of Cab and my iPad. But even in those indulgent moments, I know my instincts to draw inward are misguided. I'm feeling comfortable, but it's not happiness!
I'm actually the most serene when I'm not spending too much time thinking about what I want - and don't want. When I just accept the present moment, and give my energy to someone else.
The practice of extending love and kindness to
others does not require that I give up all my earthly possessions...duh. The same wishes I have for myself, the wishes reserved for those close to me - I just need to stretch that muscle! Expand "me" and "mine" to include others, especially strangers. That's where the possibility, the limitlessness, lives!
When I practice this, any sort of small loving gesture, especially when it's clear I have nothing to gain, it brightens me. When I respond to a need, I get the joy I didn't know I wanted.
Happiness is a choice.
Love is a verb.