Sympathetic Joy is to Receive Happiness from Others

For the past few weeks this blog has been focused on teachings about the four immeasurables. You can catch up on previous teachings on lovingkindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy from earlier weeks here.  Next week, we will continue to explore what teachers from various traditions say about  equanimity. We invite you to read along with us during the last few weeks, and please comment below and let us know how these practices resonate with you.

“If we approach other people’s successes with an attitude of sympathetic joy, we can genuinely and wholeheartedly receive happiness from their good fortune. Instead of running an internal monologue that goes something like, Oh no, you got that, but it was meant for me! It should be mine, and you took it away, we can accept that the prize was never ours and rejoice in the other person’s success.

If we approach life from a place of scarcity, a mind-set that emphasizes what we lack instead of what we have, then anyone who has something we want becomes the enemy. But when we can rejoice in other people’s happiness, we realize that joy and fulfillment are not finite quantities we have to grab while we can. They are always available because they are internal qualities that flow naturally if we allow them to.” from an article entitled, “Know Your Enemy” on LionsRoar.com by Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman.

Watch along as Uma Thurman discusses the book, “Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit and Be a Whole Lot Happier,”  with its authors – her father, Professor Robert Thurman and Sharon Salzberg.

Exercise: Sympathetic Joy

Try practicing Sympathetic Joy as you walk down the street with this heart opening exercise from tricycle.org.

  • Take a walk down a busy street.
  • Look at people’s faces—briefly, without staring.
  • If you see someone who is smiling, be happy for them.
  • Notice how it makes you feel about yourself.

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