|A buddhist mind-state that is the spiritual medicine for the poisons of jealousy, envy and resentment.|
If we could hear your thoughts when your friend tells you she just got a promotion at her new job when you’ve been working a dead end job for years, what would we hear?
What if you’ve been trying to have a baby and you see a pregnant woman at the store? If your roommate gets an A on her exam that she didn’t study for, and you get a C and studied your butt off?
How do you react to the success and joy of others? How does that joy impact your own life? Ponder these questions and you’ll begin to understand the meaning of mudita.
Mudita is joy. Joy you feel vicariously through the accomplishments of others. When their accomplishment does not directly benefit you.
Do you delight in the well being of others? Really? Or do you begrudge them if you are honest with yourself? Do you feel jealous, cheated, unlucky or envious?
In Buddhism, joy is interpreted broadly. No matter what our personal circumstances, there is always joy around us. When we are fully accepting and welcoming of the good fortunes of others, we immediately expand our own happiness.
In the age of Facebook and the interconnectedness of the planet, we are faced with the daily, often hourly, choice of practicing mudita or suffering with resentment or jealousy.
As a blogger, I am immersed in a web full of millions of bloggers, many of whom are more successful, ultra creative and more experienced. By practicing mudita, I can feel joy through their success. Instead of cutting myself down in comparison, or feeling less fortunate or popular, I can relish in their creativity and appreciate their hard work. And I can enjoy their blog because it’s great!
When my husband still PR’s (personal record) in his races and I don’t come even close, I can share his joy and feel exuberant myself. I could feel jealous and sit in the self pity pool with thoughts of “I work just as hard as he does!”
Check into social media and either practice mudita or log out. Practice joy when your friends had fun at a party you weren’t invited to. Congratulate your neighbor’s daughter who was homecoming queen and their son who was accepted to Harvard . Easier said than done??
Here are 7 steps that help me practice “appreciative joy”, also known as mudita:
1. Make positive comments to those around me about their successes.
“I so admire you for that great accomplishment.”
“Your hard work has paid off and I am thrilled to hear about it.”
“You’ve been such a great mom/dad, no wonder your son had no trouble finding a job.”
2. Spin an impulsive, less than optimal reaction into a positive one.
“Maybe she’s a little over the top but her positive energy is contagious.”
“There’s room in this world for everyone to be successful.”
“How can I add to this person’s joy?”
3. Take care of myself.
Allow time each day where I’m the priority. It’s easier to feel mudita when I feel good about myself.
When I exercise and eat right I naturally exude more positive mojo toward others.
4. Remind myself that much of what I see is just on the surface.
Jealousy and envy stem from assumptions. We rarely know someone’s journey, the behind the scenes, their life story.
Everyone experiences hardship and challenges. Everyone. Be a cheerleader in my circle.
5. The more positive joy I give away, the more positive joy I feel.
Significance is a universal need. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and unique. Fulfill this need.
The greater the need to share good fortune is not an indicator of how much good fortune someone has but how much they need acknowledgment. I used to fear fueling this need. By tipping off their tank, I become part of the joyous occasion.
6. Show interest in other people’s lives.
Those that don’t feel mudita, tend to speak only of themselves.
Sincere interest is the greatest gift we can give others. I try to encourage others to speak of their good fortune. If I hear misfortune, I try and spin it into a positive light or lesson.
7. Acknowledge how feeling envious or jealous makes me feel.
Bad. Feelings of jealousy are the most self-destructive. Jealousy stems from comparisons we create. People and lives do not come with specs. We can’t compare our life to someone else’s like we compare products at Best Buy. (And even that’s difficult!). It’s impossible so don’t even try!
We can choose mudita or choose jealousy. One expands joy. The other takes it away. Should be an easy decision.
The Brahma Vihara Foundation speaks of mudita beautifully.
It is likened to a flower in full bloom. It is the ability to appreciate something as it is blooming and releasing the fragrance of its happiness, without falling over the edge into a skeptical sardonic reaction. It lifts the heart out of its preoccupation with insufficiency.
I love that! Will you join me in practicing mudita and celebrating each other’s fireworks?
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