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The Buddha’s Four New Year’s Resolutions.
Society says we’re not good enough, rich enough, thin enough. But what if we reversed the usual New Year’s Resolution trap, and did something that worked?
Most New Year’s resolutions are predicated on not being happy enough, or not having what we want, or needing to be prettier, or thinner, or more organized. But what if we began with accepting ourselves with , or loving-kindness, and extended that genuine happiness outward?
The Buddha offered four limitless qualities worth cultivating. The first contemplation:
May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness
Recite these to yourself, each for a few minutes. Then discuss with a friend or friends or colleagues, if you’ve done this contemplation in a group setting.
First, recite “May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness…”
Then, recite “May my loved one [name, could be your mom or dad] enjoy happiness and the root of happiness…”
Then, recite ” May my best friends [can be many names] enjoy happiness and the root of happiness…”
Then, recite “May [those you feel indifferent toward] enjoy happiness and the root of happiness…”
Then, recite “May [my ‘enemy’, name] enjoy happiness and the root of happiness”
Then, recite “May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”
That all sounds nice, right? But just you wait: this is hard stuff. Reciting these four contemplations is like exercising a new muscle, usually—wishing ourselves happiness? Some of us have a hard time with that. We don’t deserve it, we aren’t worthy, we shouldn’t go first, we should hide our light under a bushel. That one’s easy for me: it helps me refine and define what I mean by happiness and the root of happiness.
For happiness is something, in the West at least, that’s sold to us, pushed on us, hyped at us…and it rarely results in happiness. We can’t ourselves happy via external products, weight loss, love. Happiness is more fundamental that that. Chogyam Trungpa, the Buddhist meditation master, urged us not to wish one another —for happiness is a conditional state of mind, as opposed to the fundamental state of being that contentment or cheerfulness or being at ease implies. And conditional states of mind—happy, sad, good, bad, in love, broken-hearted—are suffering, the cyclical state of pushing away and clinging to that is called “samsara.”
And now, for the words of wisdom of Pema Chodron, on all four limitless qualities, from her