3 questions on happiness

3 questions on happiness

What brings you happiness in life?

What takes away happiness?

Do you feel joy in giving or receiving? Why?

Musician, illustrator and teacher
Hyderabad, India

Recognizing the inner connection with all life fills me with wonder; tapping into this space of oneness, within and around, brings me joy. It may be as simple as observing nature from my balcony: a bougainvillea blooming amidst thorns, a moneyplant creating roots to crawl its way up a wall, a tree spreading its roots deep before spreading its branches wide, birds singing their songs, clouds floating unmindful of the world beneath them, and crimsonhued skies. Each of them exudes a sense of joy and contentment that comes from being in tune with what they truly are.

When I stay in touch with who I truly am, I feel a deep sense of joy within. It may be as simple as having a heartful conversation with someone, a nourishing meditation, 3questions ON HAPPINESS connecting with young hearts in a classroom, reading a book that speaks to my heart, or expressing my inner inspirations through words, pictures, art or music.

The moment thoughts start revolving around myself, this inner connection is instantly affected and I am dissociated from oneness. The ego then shows up in all its faces – anger, fear, confusion, lack of confidence, feeling closed, worthless, victimized – the list goes on and on. At that moment, the way I bring back joy is to shift focus back towards my heart and remind myself to practice acceptance and gratitude. It is not easy most of the time, but is a work in progress. A quick cleaning of my mental space almost always helps me. And sometimes a good book, a melodious song or an inspiring talk are enough to bring back perspective.

Do I feel joy in giving or receiving? In one way both; neither in another. It is based on perspective. The truest joy I feel in receiving something is during meditation. The unbounded inflow of Transmission brings love and joy; nothing matches that feeling. And the truest joy I feel in giving is also during meditation; the process of submitting the heart is a beautifully negating experience.

A flower doesn’t know it is exuding fragrance; it must not know. So I try to focus on staying open and allowing whatever I receive to flow through my heart. That is what brings me utmost joy.

Retired teacher
Dunedin, New Zealand

Often the most joy comes from the little things in life: happy times with family and friends, the laughter of a small child, witnessing an act of kindness, and puppies tumbling over each other in play. The perfection of nature shown in its myriad ways also brings joy: the countryside covered in newly-fallen snow with that hush snow brings to the world, a fragrant flower opening to the sun, the drowsy hum of bees in a summer garden, and the trickling sound of a mountain stream. I find that joy is greatest when my heart is open and filled with gratitude and love. Then my heart really sings.

Those acts or feelings which close us down are the ones that banish joy in a second. Negativity, harsh words, unkindness, envy, prejudice, mean-spiritedness, fear, discontent, resentment and revenge are just a few.

Some feelings open us up and others close us down. The ones that close us down close us off from the part of ourselves that would enable us to get more enjoyment from life, and also close us off from others. At worst we feel isolated and alone.

Joy can be found in both giving and receiving, particularly if the feeling behind the giving is heartfelt. But I have noticed that there is perhaps more joy in giving. I think this is because it moves us away from focusing on ‘me’ and ‘mine’, and opens us up to others.

I particularly remember an annual event in my childhood. My siblings and I would go into a big shop in town with our few pennies of pocket money and buy Christmas gifts for our parents and grandparents. It took us forever because each present had to be just right and each item was chosen so carefully, and of course we were limited in what we could choose by our budgets. Then there was the joy of wrapping them in secret (all fingers and thumbs and giggles and laughter), so they would be a surprise on the day.

Like joy, generosity comes from an open heart. On those occasions all our hearts sang with joy.

Business analyst
Hyderabad, India

When there is a disturbance within, the one thing which soothes me is to go out and spend time looking at the birds and trees, sitting down under a tree. Automatically I see the condition changing within. It gives me a feeling of contentment and happiness.

Joy is different: it’s a condition that prevails or emanates from inside. To be in a state of joy, I need to be connected with my own self internally, and that brings me joy no matter what is happening outside in the world around me.

Also when I see people around who are happy and joyful, I feel joy. We have a helper who always greets us with a smile. That smile is not superficial; it comes from within. When I see her, it gives me so much joy. Her husband is no more, and there are so many other things going on in her life, but in spite of all that she comes with a big smile. When I see such contentment in an individual, I feel very, very joyful.

When we are not connected within, when there are expectations, there is no joy. Joy is forgiveness, selflessness and unconditional.

Do I feel joy in giving or receiving? Both! The moment I feel I’m giving something, there is no meaning to it. The importance of giving goes. When I receive something I feel very grateful, because I experience what I am receiving. When I give someone what I like the most and see the joy or happiness on their face, I feel content and joyful.

Academic editor
Atlanta, USA

What brings joy? Community, cooperation, unity. When people come together for something they love – something they share and believe in. When hands and minds are creating, eyes are alight, hearts are open. When something that must be Love permeates everything. And engagement – work, learning, helping or just enjoying – is important, because joy is not passive. It emanates from the collective hearts, flows through each individual and again back to imbue the whole, bringing with it the best that each individual can offer. So, it is about working and sharing together from the heart. I can experience peace and serenity on my own, but joy, for me, comes from community.

What takes joy away? Isolation, judgment, comparison – on my part. I worry that I’ve failed at x, or I wish I could do y, or I hope that z will happen. All things that have to do with me versus life, fate, the world. Things that create a sense of separateness, and along with it worry and other forms of fear. When I feel this condition, I tend to react to life as if it’s something that is happening to me, not something I am part of. And I realize that what I need to get past it is completely internal. It may take some time apart, some reflection or cleaning away of negativity, but I have to reconnect with that unitive place within my own heart, and the sense of separateness leaves.

It’s easy for me to feel joy in giving; I’m trying to learn the joy of receiving. In fact, I became aware of this mystery recently, when several people helped me with a project that was important to me. They gave so freely of their time and talents that I felt I couldn’t repay them adequately. I found myself, though grateful, also uneasy – and I wondered at it. Because I know in my heart that, as the Buddhist teaching goes, ‘There is no giver and no receiver.’ So, what was resisting in me? I pondered it and felt it was my ego; it saw the equation of giver and receiver as separate and, ideally, even. But when I looked into my heart, I could see that in love we are united and in balance.

Therapeutic bodyworker, reflexologist & polarity therapist
Langley, B.C., Canada

As I age, whenever I see a sweet baby or observe animals – dogs, cows, horses etc. – it immediately fills me with joy and my heart feels lighter. Being with my lovely amazing daughter and listening to her life stories brings happiness. I actually feel joy from food by eating a healthy vegan diet. On the spiritual side, when I see another human being grow and change it fills me with joy for them and their success.

I’m just discovering joy, so really it is a new aspect. I’ve felt peace, profound spiritual conditions, but joy eluded me. I’ve not missed it; I just never knew exactly what it felt like. Joy is not ‘taken away’ by anything. It’s more allowing it to happen and appreciating it as we become simpler and in tune with our own Nature.

When I give to another, regardless if the action is big or small, by supporting another person it can bring unexpected joy. This in some ways actually seems stupid to me, as giving to another is a very natural thing to do!


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