10 Dec
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Dancing with Happiness

The Dancing with Life discussion group met last night. We’re on the final chapter: “The Courage to be Happy.” Kind of a strange idea, isn’t it…that it might take courage to let ourselves be happy?

Phillip writes: “You may already be telling yourself that you certainly are not afraid of your happiness. You might be right, but I suggest that you pay more attention to how you handle your moments of happiness before reaching such a conclusion. In my observation ambivalence, defensiveness, and even aversion towards happiness is quite pervasive. Even among people who talk about wanting to be happy, there is a tendency to distance themselves and take their actual felt experience of happiness for granted.

“There are many reasons for this unease. First of all, you might feel guilty that your life is going well when there is so much disease, poverty, inequality, and oppression in the world. You might also be superstitious, fearing that if you open to happiness you will jinx it, or that it will attract envy, or that someone will try to take it from you…

“You may be afraid to open to joy and well-being because receiving joy requires being vulnerable and fully present; therefore, losing the happiness or even the thought of losing it can seem devastating to you…

“Your times of happiness and joy are just as valuable, just as authentic, and posses just as much potential for insight as your difficult moments. As with dukkha (suffering), you are called upon to have courage in order to be fully present in those moments of well-being. You are to feel them fully in your body, to know the quality of the mind when well-being manifests, and to learn the nature of this worldly existence as revealed by your sukha (happiness)….

“Ask yourself, are you genuinely staying mindful during your times of sukha in this manner? Do most of your moments of sukha even register in your awareness, or are you taking them as a given and looking ahead for the next fulfillment? Do you have a habit of acknowledging sukha, appreciating the feeling of well-being, and cultivating gratitude for it?

“Sometimes students resist my instructions to be mindful of their sukha moments because they mistakenly believe that if they bring mindfulness to their joy it will disappear!…Your happiness will not be diminished by becoming fully present with it; it will be enhanced….”

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