Author Topic: Being happy (instead of not sad)  (Read 3909 times)

GooperMC

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Being happy (instead of not sad)
« on: May 06, 2015, 06:35:05 PM »
In a different thread JMatlack said

Quote from: JMatlack
As a closing remark I want to say that Richard Davidson refers to being happy as a "skill."  That means your efforts to be happy are what make you happy not your efforts to be not sad( if that makes sense)

I have been thinking a lot about this and realized that so far mindfulness has only helped me become not sad.  I have gotten some separation between myself and my anxious / sad thoughts such that most of the time I don't react strongly to them.  That has meant I no longer spiral into deep depression nor become completely debilitated by anxiety (which is a huge improvement in my life); however, so far, it hasn't made me happy.  Even spending more time being mindful in every day moments, instead of dreaming about the past or future, hasn't brought me joy.  Instead much of the time I feel flat or empty of emotion.  I used to feel sad all the time and it feels like that has been replaced with feeling nothing, even when I'm being mindful.

Sorry if that is a bit rambling; I'm having a bit of trouble concisely articulating my thoughts.  I hope what I wrote makes sense.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2015, 07:24:04 PM »
I think this is a common notion; in the absense of the misery, fear and dispair,one might have felt the expectation is on extreme elation surfacing as a result. With the dissapating of suffering through insight comes the loss of elation via similar though processes (thinking nostalgically, fantasizing about the future, etc). Being in the present moment comes at a cost of both ends of the spectrum.

That said, there is a joy that can be felt in the present moment from the beauty and joy contained within. For me anyway, everything is pretty awesome once you stop trying to measure and judge it. Working on loving kindness can also bear happy fruit.

I find letting go of expectations is useful.

Pacific Flow

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2015, 03:41:49 AM »
It seems to me as if you were looking for some kind of blizzfull experience, something crazily happy. Real happiness is balance though, not blizz. Blizz is just the other side of the stick from depression. It is not a balanced state of mind.
If that doesn't make sense to you, try to look at it this way:
Isn't the absence of depression, anxiety and other negative states of mind reason enough to feel happy? There is no unhappiness there, so why feel unhappy about that? Just because there is no extreme happiness?
One might even define happiness as negative happiness, i.e. the abscence of unhappiness.

Marc

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2015, 08:47:11 AM »
I thought that if you kept observing you would find joy flowing from deep inside. A little bit disapointed that it's only absence of sadness

TheMichelle

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2015, 12:48:40 PM »
In my experience, I used to feel joy all the time. Even when I got a bit sad I had something to pick me up and made me feel joy and bliss. But since I started feeling anxiety and sadness I got worried because it was something that I had never felt before, at least this way. I even thought I could be depressed. Then I started to meditate everyday, and try to meditate at least 20 minutes a day, and just like you, sometimes it feels that it's just absence of sadness. But just like Pacific Flow said, why wouldn't we be happy if we don't feel sad or anxious? I'm starting to find joy again in myself, my hobbies, being with people I like, etc. Maybe if we don't expect much, we'll get there. I don't know, at least it's what I think.

Marc

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2015, 01:40:00 PM »
Yes I agree, I actually dont have many expectations. I dont care if my experience of life stays as it is right now for the rest of it. Its pretty awesome as it is.

What i meant is that Ive heard from experienced meditators that they have like a fountain of love an joy within. Its not that I expect to get to this stage but I intellectually thought it was possible
« Last Edit: May 07, 2015, 01:44:12 PM by Marc »

Matthew

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2015, 09:14:11 PM »
There is plenty of positive bliss to be had not borne of material things but from living in the moment.

Try searching http://www.accesstoinsight.org for "bliss" or "happiness" .. you won't be short of reading :)
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

bomega

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2015, 01:56:22 AM »
Instead much of the time I feel flat or empty of emotion.
I've read somewhere that metta meditation is recommended when this happens, but I'm not sure where I've read it.

That is really great that you have gotten to a place where you can reliably say that anxiety and depression and controlling you. Congrats! :) I agree that maybe you should manage your expectations in that you have spent a lot of time being run ragged by ego and maybe the lack of negative stimulation is all you are experiencing right now. You could try just sticking with the practice and seeing where it takes you.

But maybe you just need to go deeper into yourself now. In Erich Shiffmann's book, he gives the guidance somewhere when you are following the breath in meditation,"to feel the body, and then feel the feeling." When I do this, I get a gentle feeling of contentment and joy come up. Ekhart Tolle's ideas about "Now" (from The Power of Now) helped me too to understand how to get there, especially when I try to take it into the day to day mindfulness (as opposed to when I am on the cushion.)

GooperMC

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2015, 12:38:51 AM »
Thanks for the responses everyone.

I'm not sure I did a great job in my original post so let me try to clarify.  I'm not looking for or expecting constant bliss.  I'm not even expecting occasional bliss :).  My only real goal is to be happy but as I write this I realize I don't really know what that means.  I guess that was part of the reason for the original post.  What is happiness?  A few moments of joy each day (which I don't currently have)?  Something to look forward to each day (another thing I don't currently have probably related to the lack of joy)?  Just wanting to continue to live (something that I struggle with)?  The absence of unhappiness (which doesn't seem to be enough for me)?  Something else?

I believe I have a generally blessed life.  I have a awesome wife, a great kid, a job that used to make me happy, friends, a fully working body, great relationships with my brother, and my parents, few financial stresses, etc.  Pre-depression happiness wasn't something that was hard for me.   I just was.  There were times I was sad, times I was stressed, times I was upset, but when those temporary states passed I was just happy.  With the depression I thought that handling my negative thoughts in a productive way would get me back there but that doesn't seem to be the case.  Those states are thankfully temporary again but now when they pass I just feel empty.  When I'm being mindful in daily activities it makes me calm but I don't feel joy, again all I feel is empty.  It appears, at least for me, absence of unhappiness is emptiness not happiness. 

A couple people suggested metta meditations which is something that I always intent to do but never seem to have the energy.  I'll re-commit myself to doing them.

bomega

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Re: Being happy (instead of not sad)
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2015, 04:57:51 AM »
Thanks for the responses everyone.

I'm not sure I did a great job in my original post so let me try to clarify.  I'm not looking for or expecting constant bliss.  I'm not even expecting occasional bliss :).  My only real goal is to be happy but as I write this I realize I don't really know what that means.  I guess that was part of the reason for the original post.  What is happiness?  A few moments of joy each day (which I don't currently have)?  Something to look forward to each day (another thing I don't currently have probably related to the lack of joy)?  Just wanting to continue to live (something that I struggle with)?  The absence of unhappiness (which doesn't seem to be enough for me)?  Something else?
This is what I thought you meant in your original post. And its perfectly reasonable for you to expect this. I still struggle with depression, but I can predictably arrive at joy using the ideas I put in my post upthread.

Both Erich Shiffmann and Ekhart Tolle also talk about surrender. This is easier said than done though, hence all these techniques and descriptions and words.

I believe I have a generally blessed life.  I have a awesome wife, a great kid, a job that used to make me happy, friends, a fully working body, great relationships with my brother, and my parents, few financial stresses, etc.  Pre-depression happiness wasn't something that was hard for me.   I just was.  There were times I was sad, times I was stressed, times I was upset, but when those temporary states passed I was just happy.  With the depression I thought that handling my negative thoughts in a productive way would get me back there but that doesn't seem to be the case.  Those states are thankfully temporary again but now when they pass I just feel empty.  When I'm being mindful in daily activities it makes me calm but I don't feel joy, again all I feel is empty. It appears, at least for me, absence of unhappiness is emptiness not happiness.
I can see how it may seem like that, and I have had that experience at times. But I think the benefit of being mindful is that you have the power to be present and have access to the most information to then in turn make the best decision. Hence, everyone recommends to stay with the process. In a way, none of us can tell you what you need to arrive at the joy that is always available to you...you have to figure it out for yourself, because you are a unique person with unique circumstances. We have all shared our perspectives and given you some resources, but you still need to arrive at joy on your own, in a way that works for you.

 

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