As we mentioned in our previous post, by making a slight but radical shift in the way we relate to ourselves and the world around us, we can positively transform our lives. So what kind of shift are we talking about? We already talked a little bit about how we can shift the way we relate to ourselves here. So let’s take a step towards shifting the way we relate to world around us; specifically, how we relate to other people.
Interconnected happiness arises when we are able to bond with others. In this section you learn how to cultivate a sense of Interconnectedness, expressed through love and responsiveness to the needs of other folks.
Normally, our behavior is out of accord with our beliefs when it comes to connecting with others. We all understand the interdependence of our environment, the animals, plants and humans that live in it. It is fundamental to our scientific understanding of the biosphere. Yet, careful examination reveals that we live out of accord with this understanding, and that keeps us from experiencing Interconnected Happiness. We behave as if the our needs and the needs of our dearest loved ones are so important that it is even ok if sometimes others needs are trampled on while we satisfy ourselves. Honestly, speaking isn’t that true?
For example how well are we when we are plotting our next career move or thinking about how to get the house we always wanted. Compare that to a time you took care of someone who was ill, or stopped on the side the road to help someone who had an accident. Those times, where we lended a helping hand, aren’t usually considered pleasant situations, yet theystill provided us with a sense of well-being even if we were at the same time sad or worried. It is through connected with others that we find a kind of meaning and satisfaction in life that we don’t even find when we discover Basic Happiness.
Through contemplative reflection, we gradually begin to understand the common bond of experience we all share. This leads to empathy as we interact with others and learn to act more considerately—even with people who really, really annoy us.
There is a counterintuitive switcheroo since we usually think that to properly take care of ourselves and our loved ones, we have to put our needs and theirs before all others. But Interconnected Happiness arises through cultivating loving kindness and compassion and by learning to value others in almost the same way we value ourselves!