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  • Writer's pictureJeff Johnston

A Slice of Happiness

Envy and jealousy are negative emotions, yet in the right context can be tremendous catalysts to great ideas. I know early in my career as a financial advisor I would often look at the “successful” advisors and would try to emulate them. Being a competitor my whole life, I was never comfortable watching someone perform at a higher level than I. This drove me to become better and I am convinced had a lot to do with building my successful wealth management firm from the age of 23. This competitive spirit can morph into an evil spectre of pettiness and bitterness if not careful. I fell victim to this selfish allure many times in my life and only as of late realized how empty this had left me. Let me illustrate one area where this issue reared its ugly head, youth sports.

After surviving the trauma of coaching and being active in youth sports I was often shocked by the vile and disparaging comments parents would say about other kids as soon as they left the playing field. I realized that no matter how much people commented about your child's athletic ability in front of you, they would often be the first ones to criticize your child the second they had a chance. It was the classic “one for all and all for one” as they say. I confess, at times I participated in this immature game of which I am not trying to pass the blame nor am I proud of my past comments. What an ugly and spiteful way to live nonetheless. I have a solution if you find yourself falling into these emotional trappings, meditation.

Meditation has been a tremendous asset to me as of late. One specific practice is called “Metta (loving-kindness). This term appears in Buddhist texts as an important concept and practice. In simple terms it involves the practice of wishing happiness to others. Saying to yourself, “may you be happy” or “may you be free from suffering” specifically directed at someone during a meditation session instills a real sense of power and joy. Just the simple act of genuinely being happy for someone has made a tremendous difference in my life. I think far too often we say we are “happy” but in reality, we are jealous and envious of the person we are bestowing this token sign of appreciation.

It would appear that this would be a form of “imposter syndrome.” The “feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt” of imposter syndrome is amplified by comparisons to other people. The instant I genuinely became happy for the success of others was a very liberating moment indeed. Being absolutely happy for other people does not have to be a loss for you, yet so many people look at life this way. It’s as if there is a “happiness pie” and for every slice, someone takes it’s one less slice for you. Life and happiness don't work that way. A very good friend of mine says regularly, “we all get to eat and there is plenty of room at the table!” Thanks, John I love that quote!

Metta meditation is a central practice within Mindfulness Pain Management (MBPM), the positive results have been supported by a range of studies. Those studies could show a positive impact on problems such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and even back pain. Mindfulness focuses our awareness on what is happening now-the present moment being the only thing that really matters. Everything is pretty much thought about something that has already happened, or may never happen. I am excited to continue learning about this and the applications to mental health and addiction. So, pull up a chair and enjoy some pie!

Live Undeterred!

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