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Happiness comes when we manage to escape our desire

Happiness comes when we manage to escape our desire is the second in a series of post discussing the concept of happiness. The first post; Happiness comes from harmony; not money or fame talked about how society today see well-being = money and economic growth are utterly regarded positive. However, research shows that economic growth mostly benefits that 20 per cent of the population that got it all, while the gap between those who has little or nothing getting it worse. Furthermore, the one-fifth of the population consumes 75 per cent of the earth’s resources, despite nearly one billion people don’t get enough food on the table. Recommended post on the economic growth last 20 years: Re-thinking sustainability for the twenty-first century, spirituality; the missing link

Gross National Happiness

Still, leaders, politicians, and others continue a growth strategy that doesn’t work, isn’t it time to try another approach to solve global climate change, poorness, and inequality among the population on Earth? I believe the reduction is one of the most important elements, and I am not alone, the finest example that is possible to do things better differently is the small country Bhutan, has made “gross national happiness,” not economic growth per se. It’s an official goal. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck is leading the development of a program called GNP (gross national happiness) based on nine domains within four basic principles: economic development, environmental preservation, cultural promotion and good governance of Gross National Happiness (GNH). What is important is to find a way to live that puts less pressure on natural resources and at the same time maximises human well-being for the largest number of people on Earth.

What will future generations say when they discovered we knew we were running out of oil

The most important element of sustainable development is to make sure that natural capital is sustainable and manage the inventory of natural resources on Earth so it’s enough for future generations. When global resources disappear our ability to make, sell and consume will be impossible, sooner, or later, we will face it, I wonder what next generations will say when they discovered that we knew oil and gas were running out? Maybe in school, they will look at vintage travelling flyer’s from the early 2000s with prices on cheap flights (New York-London) or show SUV commercials.

Reduction approach

Therefore, despite what many leaders want to believe. Politicians and leaders do not dare to challenge the crisis because taking a “reduction approach” will make them jobless. The evidence of the lack of responsibility for Earth is many, such as the Kyoto and Paris agreement, hardly anything happens and if only smaller adjustment. If they were committed, mandatory recommendations applied without trouble. Reduction and adaption of a simpler, lesser materialistic lifestyle are necessary; this can hardly happen when societies adapting money as god. Material wealth can bring some happiness, nevertheless, only temporarily as soon as we stop buying or when we have life’s basic needs (mostly recognised as physiological) more money is not a factor that makes us happier.

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
 Graphics Kenneth Buddha Jeans. Maslow hierarchy of needs

What is human basic-needs

The psychologist Abraham Maslow was concerned describing a way to basic human needs and the causes of self-realisation. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is probably the most well-known model; of which the bottom represents a comprehensive set of fundamental basic requirements that must be in place for survival as shelter, security, and food, the top, on the other hand, represents human self-realisation. There are at least five sets of goals, which we may call basic needs, also described in “Our common future” (also known as ‘‘the Brundtland Report’’ 1987) and defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’’.

Transpersonal level

Maslow termed the state above self-actualisation as the transpersonal level. Activity here is purely spiritual, characterised by meditative introspection, perfect contentment, complete unselfishness, feelings of harmony and oneness with the universe, and the experience of higher states of consciousness. According to Maslow, this model enables one to determine “best” or “poorer” societies, the best ones gratifying all the basic human needs of the population and permitting self-actualisation. The three main pillars of sustainability are social, economic and environmental, if we look at the concept of happiness in this perspective, at least those three principal indicators of happiness needed in place.

The importance of social wellness

To function in a society, we need a set of personally developed skills that make us comfortable in communicating and at ease with other members, for example, a positive self-image creates social well-being, empathy towards others. Social wellness involves concerns not only on a personal plan but interest in humanity and the environment as a whole. Development of social welfare requires and put a great deal on how compassion, care and helping others outside your family. It can only happen when being comfortable with our own emotions and balanced life, as it requires the self to tolerate and respect others. Buddhism, for example, puts a great deal of importance on keeping body and mind equally healthy. Healthy people are loyal and honest. Only social dimensions of wellness lead to the ability of permanent and close relationship with other people.

Environmental wellness

The effect nature had on our well-being should not be underestimated. The ecosystem of Earth is fragile. It depends on the on-going recycling of its elements. It implies a human lifestyle that maximises harmony with Earth and protects our surroundings. Air pollution, water and food contamination, chemicals, noise, second-hand smoke, ultraviolet radiation in the sunlight is only a few environmental threats. It includes as well lousy relationship, weak and dangerous working conditions and lack of personal safety.

Pollution and unsafe environments

Many people around the world live in polluted and hazardous situations that affect our well-being, despite environmental justice, it’s those facing the worst elements is the poorest in any society. It might be a village in Africa or a suburb in New York. To make sure that the future generations can enjoy environmental wellness without getting sick, we are responsible for creating education systems that can protect ourselves against hazards so that coming generations can enjoy the same clean and safe environment.

Economic wellness

It is tempting to think that wealth brings happiness. But does it? Research shows that to a small degree, wealthier people are happier than more impoverished people. Money makes it possible to buy desirable things in life. It removes stress with unpaid bills or worries for not be able. However, it can’t buy a good life, only the desirable things. The overall association between money and happiness is weak. Research shows that when we live on a decent salary, and we get a rise of, for example, a 20 per cent increase. We do not become happier, there is a limit, and when it reached it not make any difference.

Graphics Kenneth Buddha Jeans 8 dimensions of wellness

Six basic facial expressions that are recognisable by people all over the earth

From experience, I find travelling in south-east Asia the most pleasant, people genuine smiles when asking for direction, walking in the streets or sitting in a café, in Europe smiles comes more seldom. However, happiness is, in fact, universal and among the few emotions across cultural barriers and time, humans genuinely share. Studies into nonverbal behaviour by Paul Ekman (Professor of Psychology) could find six basic facial expressions that were recognisable by people all over earth, these emotions; disgust, anger, fear, sadness, surprise, and happiness expressed themselves automatically to things happening before our consciousness has time to find out what caused the emotions.

The Ancient Greek

Therefore, emotions such as are by many considered authoritative. In spite of more than what before thought of, such as drives of hunger and sex. Two famous philosophers also from ancient Greek engaged in finding out what possibly could create happiness, Aristotle (325 BCE) and Socrates (470–399 BCE), Aristotle named four essential sources that matter: material (propraietari), sensual (hedone), logical (dialogike) and ethical (ethikos). While Socrates so famously said: “The unexamined life is not worth living,” meaning that above all, philosophy is to increase happiness by analysing and understanding oneself. Of course, several other activities increase our well-being, such as being married (yes) and fitness regularly.

Research shows socialisation works

Furthermore, studies show that people who actively seek to socialise are happier than that not, Martin Seligman (1942) who observed the way people socialised noticed that extremely happy, fulfilled people tend to get on with others and enjoy the company. He called their role “the pleasant life,” that was one of the three main characteristic’s he identified.

Suffering caused by desire and released by let it go

Since the beginning of time, humans have searched for purpose and the meaning of life, nevertheless, happiness could not exist unless we experience suffering. In India 600-500 BCE, Prince Siddhartha, who later should become known as Buddha came to understand the suffering caused by desire and alleviated by releasing it. Buddha, who means the awakened or enlightened, searched a lifetime before he found a way and method escaping the suffering cycle of samsāra, experience maximum happiness, or what Buddha referred to as Nirvana.

Wisdom and suffering

Almost simultaneously, in the ancient Greek (458 BCE) dramatist Aeschylus explores the idea that “Wisdom comes alone through suffering.” One can, therefore, assume that when we reduce our ego and desire the changes to experience a happiness increase. Secondly that if we manage to learn and gain insight from our own bad experience, we somehow can understand and well-being. Buddha after his awakening was said to have “turned the wheel of the Dharma” and doctrinal expression to the truth and the reality of things. These first teachings of Buddha were known as the Four Noble Truths, the last which is the Noble Eightfold Path leads to nirvana. The three divisions of the path – Morality, Meditation, and Insight.

The Four Noble Truths

  1. Duh˙kha – all existence is suffering.
  2. Samuda¯ya – suffering is caused by craving.
  3. Nirodha – suffering can have an end.
  4. Ma¯rga – The way to the end of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path.

Meditations of Shamata and Vipashyana

It makes clear that insight is knowing who you are essential for establishing inner-peace, develop compassion and generosity. Buddha said that it was merely possible to escape suffering, achieve and experience some form of happiness through practice; it was not enough to read books or receive teachings. The training he referred to be meditation. Furthermore, he said only two forms of meditation exist. The first form comes from the classical Indian language Sanskrit and is called shamata (Tibetan word shi-né. shi means peace or peaceful, and né means rest or stay).

Practising Shamata and Vipashyana

Practising shamata meditation is a crucial step toward insight. The second form of meditation vipashyana (Sanskrit) means insight, deep insight into our understanding, to see things how they are. This insight gains tranquillity; the mind becomes stable and peaceful; in other words, inner-peace makes it possible to understand who we are.

Meditation brings the mind home

Meditation is to bring mind home. Fortunately, we live in a time when all over the world, many people are becoming familiar with meditation. Meditation seems to cut through cultural and religious barriers. We waste incredible time on thoughts arising from a modern, hectic lifestyle. Most of us live intense, with many responsibilities both towards work and privately, burden ourselves with extraneous activities and preoccupations. The high-speed and aggression, grasping, possessing and achieving seems to be more the standard way of life than not, no wonder our streams of thoughts in many cases coloured with negative emotions and anxious struggle.

Meditation is the exact opposite. To meditate is to make a full break with how we usually manage or operate, it is clutter-free from all care and concerns, no desire, or grasp at anything. The intense and anxious struggle, no fear or hope, acceptance or rejection exists. The state of meditation is not positive or negative. However, the most straightforward place which we slowly start to release the emotions and concept that have imprisoned from seeing the world as it is.

Resting in the peaceful state

The sleeping in this calm state, even if purely for a short time is active and is achievable for all, even those claiming not able to sit still for a minute. At the same time, a skilled master or instructor needed. The art of meditation and different techniques without a master cannot attain. Meditation is to stay in the present, not past nor future when you eat breakfast; you do not do the dish-washing. Meditation throughout the day is the ability to do so.

The reason for my heavy references to eastern philosophy and especially Buddhism is simple, Buddha’s teachings managed for Buddhism to implement his philosophical thoughts throughout Asian societies for more than 2500 years with great success at least from my viewpoint. In the West, philosophers manage only to establish their ideas on an intellectual level as they did not have any software for implementation. Buddha added another practical dimension to the intelligent approach, meditation. The importance of not underestimated practice. Buddha said only through practice meditation can help the mind cultivate inner peace and liberation from suffering. Now, in our time do people finally understand the gifts of meditation, the tremendous flow, inner peace, release, and stabilisation of energy.

 Eastern religions and culture

Western professionals began appreciating and scientifically understand what it is. The book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” was originally published 1999 by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi based on research into the links between meaningful, engaging activity and happiness. Four years later, another book of importance was published; “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” introduces the concept and ideas of mindfulness meditation, to cope with pain, illness, and anxiety by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Buddhism is a way of thinking, a complete philosophy. It’s possible of course to pick the preferable bits. However, it will only be like taking the bus one or two stops on the road to nirvana. The next post in the series will discuss and explain meditation from a Buddhist as well scientific approach giving the evidence that it works.

Sources and useful information

  • Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness by Emmy van Deurzen. Published 2009 by SAGE Publications Ltd
  • The Buddha’s Way of Happiness healing sorrow, transforming negative emotion and finding well-being in the present moment, by Thomas Bien, Ph.D. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
  • The Biology of Happiness by Bjørn Grinde. Published 2010 by Springer Briefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research Energy and the Wealth of Nations.
  • Understanding the Biophysical Economy by Charles A.S. Hall and Kent A. Klitgaard. Published 2012 by Springer Science+Business Media
  • Energy, sustainability, and the environment: technology, incentives, behaviour edited by Fereidoon P. Sioshansi. Published 2011 by Elsevier Happiness.
  • A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard. Published 2006 by Little, Brown, and Company New York
  • Re-thinking sustainability for the twenty-first century, spirituality; the missing link
  • Happiness comes from harmony, not money or fame
  • More about The four noble truths
  • More about Gross National Happiness
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