photo by melted plastic
I worked on blog posts backwards this week, and I did Art Thursday first. It's about Japanese beckoning cat statues, meant to bring good fortune to their owners. Reading quotes about "good fortune" sent me down this Wellness Wednesday path, thinking about feeling fortunate, really experiencing and savoring it, whether the experience comes from your own good fortune or others'.
I implore you to see the universe as a warm and supportive one because you'll look for evidence to support this view. When you anticipate that the universe is friendly, you see friendly people. You look for circumstances to work in your favor. You anticipate good fortune flowing into your life.
Our friend, Timothy J. Russert, was a man who awoke every morning as if he had just won the lottery the day before. He was determined to take full advantage of his good fortune that he couldn't quite believe and share it with everyone around him.
Henceforth I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune.
If you are feeling similarly overwhelmed by how affected you are by the emotions of others, I’d like to offer another possibility for preserving your well-being: Double down on your capacity for empathy. Instead of trying to become immune to other people’s stress, increase your susceptibility to catch other people’s joy.
In Buddhist psychology, empathic joy is considered one of the four brahmavihāras (sublime attitudes), alongside equanimity, loving kindness, and compassion. Like other mindsets, empathic joy can be deliberately trained as a way to deepen your wisdom and well-being. With practice, you can strengthen your capacity to notice, resonate with, and celebrate the happiness of others.
Rejoicing in the good fortune of others is a practice that can help us when we feel emotionally shut down and unable to connect with others. Rejoicing generates good will.
Buddhist teachers interpret mudita more broadly as an inner spring of infinite joy that is available to everyone at all times, regardless of circumstances. "The more deeply one drinks of this spring, the more securely one becomes in one's own abundant happiness, the more bountiful it becomes to relish the joy of other people."
The spirit of mudita, and of the other brahmaviharas, affirms that you deserve to be happy simply because you are, not because you're the same as others or because you are smarter, richer, nicer, or "better" than anyone else. When you believe and understand this truth, you can take delight in the happiness of others instead of feeling threatened by it. Your relationship to the world becomes one of communion rather than competition.
~Frank Jude Boccio
The Dalai Lama points out that there are so many other people in this world, it simply makes sense to make their happiness equivalent to our own because then, he says, our chance of delight ‘are enhanced six billion to one. Those are very good odds.’