The Chain of Happiness

Doing my reading this week, I was brushing up on a cheeky bit of basic Buddhist psychology. Bearing in mind my dissertation is meant to be on Buddhist psychology you’d think I’d have nailed the basics over the last two years but moving on… I was once again confronted with the idea of wholesome and unwholesome action.

As most people who have ever looked into the big generalisations out there of Buddhist philosophy (or at least have listened to ‘Just Around The River Bend’ from Pocahontas) will know, the world is seen to be a constant and ever changing flow of ‘stuff’, both physical and mental. One thing leads to another and so on. A bad thought turns into a bad day or a kind word makes you happy. In other words, wholesome things lead to other wholesome things and unwholesome things lead to other unwholesome things.

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I think most people can empathise with this way of being. Certainly, anyone whose ever been on a diet knows that thinking about food can easily lead to; you wanting that food, then eating that food, then regretting the food, and feeling bad. So the cycle goes on and on. It’s the same with negative thoughts. Your bad day makes you feel bad and suddenly that day turns into a week or even a month! The cycle of bad feeling just spirals and you get anxious or depressed caught up in so many negative thoughts that don’t even relate to what’s happening at that moment!

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We see this all the time. For a week you feel great about yourself and everything around you. You smile and the world smiles back, but then some outside interference gets in and you just go back to the old cycle of negative thoughts even though really nothing has changed except your own inner attitude.

The fantastic thing is that this concept is also true for wholesome actions and happy thoughts. It’s hard work to keep monitoring your thoughts, to keep in check the negative, and feed on the positive, but it is possible to. Gradually over time you can root out the voice in your head that tells you not to speak and make a fool of yourself or not to wear what you want because you won’t look good. You can spiral into good thoughts and good actions and suddenly you have had an entire week when you have been totally content.

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Obviously I’m not saying that everyday is going to be fantastic so long as you smile. We have bad days and bad things happen, and it’s horrible and nasty and makes you feel horrid and nasty. I would say though, that it’s maybe worth thinking about your day-to-day mindset. Maybe stopping yourself when you begin negative self-talk, or just doing some mindfulness for a few minutes. It’s what I’ve been learning to do and just working on it everyday, whether it’s good or bad, or just normal has really helped me fuel the Inside Tiger (which I don’t know if it is a phrase but it should be!).

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If anyone has tips on how they break their particular chain of unhappiness or how they are onto a real winner of late then obviously feel free to comment! Otherwise have a wonderful week 🙂

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2 thoughts on “The Chain of Happiness

  1. I’m reading The Wise Heart right now—highly recommend it—which is a Western look into Buddhist psychology. The main thing I’m getting from it is that we tend to ourselves or our situation with our mental states—which are passing things, as you suggest above. So the key seems to be being mindful of those mental states and separating them from how we identify ourselves. It’s tricky business and takes lots of meditation, but seems a goal well worth the effort. Good luck on your dissertation.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, I will definitely check ‘the Wise Heart’ out, I’m currently reading ‘Mindfulness’ by Mark Williams and also ‘the orgins of modern posture practise’ by Mark Singleton which are both really interesting! I completely agree about separating our mental states from the physical moment, it’s something I always struggle with but it’s always good to hear about to from other people and get their take on it! Thank you 🙂

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