When you’re feeling blue

Photo by Tenzin Choejor

It’s been a while! I wish I could ask you what you’ve been up to; how you’ve been. I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you’ve been feeling somewhat happy, somewhat blue. Or maybe just happy ? (!).

If you scroll through the other posts in the ‘Food for Thought‘ section of the blog, you might notice that the general theme seems to revolve around ‘happiness’ and how to find it. I reflected upon this, and thought to myself: “but what do I know?” I feel sad all the time. Mostly happy, but sad, too.

And yet, it is that suffering which allows me (us) to feel compassionate to those who are currently suffering and to come up with a way of alleviating it. The days, months, or years of suffering most of us go through at some point are what incite us to put things into perspective when the next setback comes along. They are what make us long for a deep, lasting feeling of true joy and fulfilment and appreciate it when we (finally) experience it.

I chose the above title so, whenever you feel blue, you can come back here and read some of the reflections below from The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams (9 pounds, VERY well-spent).

ONE: Be compassionate and avoid suffering. “When we focus on ourselves we are destined to be unhappy. Contemplate that, as long as you are too focused on your self-importance and too caught up in thinking about how you are good or bad, you will experience suffering. Obsessing about getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t want does not result in happiness.”

TWO: The 3 pillars of joy. “According to Lyubomirsky, the three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous.

THREE: Deep, lasting joy cannot be achieved by sensory satisfaction; true happiness is experienced at the level of the mind. The way we can achieve this is by training our minds. Training them to be present, to just be, without any external, ‘materialistic’, and sensory stimulations or distractions. More on establishing a mindfulness practice?

FOUR: Buddhist master Shantideva: “If something can be done about the situation, what need is there for dejection? And if nothing can be done about it, what use is there for being dejected?”

FIVE: Last, but certainly not least; Archbishop Tutu on suffering as a result of his illness: “I think we ought not to make people feel guilty when it is painful. It is painful, and you have to acknowledge that it is painful. But actually, even in the midst of that pain, you can recognise the nurse who is looking after you.”

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