Our topic for last night’s Buddhist discussion meeting was Gratitude. At first I couldn’t think of anything to share other than my usual response: “There’s always someone who is worse off than me.” While this is true – I only need to briefly remind myself of the impoverished conditions of people living in developing countries – I didn’t want to give the same tired answer again. I reflected briefly on my morning prayers over the past few days and decided to share this brief experience at my meeting.
On Monday morning, I decided to spend the majority of my hour to an hour and a half chanting time dedicated to praying for my own happiness. We don’t always know what we need in our lives to make us truly happy. Many people mistake material goods, the great job, a brand new car or a perfect relationship for happiness. While we do achieve a certain amount of happiness once we have attained our goal, the happiness is transitory – it rarely lasts. We lose our job, crash the car, break up with our boy/girlfriend, and once again we are miserable. Real happiness only comes from within.
On Monday and Tuesday, I briefly chanted for friends and family members, my Buddhist group, and for the constant nightmare in my life to end. I spent the rest of the time chanting for my own happiness – for me to be the happiest woman. I definitely noticed a change in my life after chanting this way, and I continued chanting in this manner Wednesday morning as well. Afterward, I felt happier, a little more cheerful, and a lot less angry!
I noticed that it was difficult for me to chant solely for my own happiness, as if I should always put others first. I realized that chanting for my own happiness isn’t selfish, but instead leads to developing appreciation and gratitude for my own life and for the lives of those around me.