Reflections on happiness

I like to walk to work as often as possible. I do this for two reasons: 1) I can spend some time thinking about what I’m going to do that day, 2) I can spend some time watching nature and thinking about my readings. Today my thoughts revolved around a passage from The Essential Dalai Lama.

Reflect upon the fact that all the prosperity within samsara ends in some kind of misery and frustration. As the texts say, the end of gathering is depletion, the end of high status is downfall, the end of meeting is separation, and the end of living is death. In short, all experiences, pleasure and happiness within this cycle of existence, no matter how forceful and how great they appear, end with misery.

While this passage may seem very sad, I find it very relaxing. I rarely find myself being excited or joyous, in the physiological sense, with anything the materialistic world has to offer. I still do occasionally want things but rarely do I act on those urges. For me it is better to be content with what I have right now because I do not believe that my life would be any better, many cases it will be worse, if I had the thing that I want.

This passage also relates to acts of kindness. I find that I often do things for other people when asked. However, I rarely care if I am offered gratitude in return, this would only bring about transient happiness. The unfortunate side effect of this sort of thinking is that I sometimes forget to offer others gratitude when they feel it is deserved.

Please email me if you have any thoughts on this subject.