If we can learn to embody compassion in our lives, it will lead to more happiness for us. Living a life dedicated to compassion brings us joy.
It seems counter-intuitive at first. We may think that the most selfish people are the happiest. They are, after all, the ones who are worried about fulfilling their own needs and desires, so we could come to a conclusion that they would be happier.
There are really two kinds of happiness I want to write about here. We just have this one word, “happiness” that applies to various different feelings if we analyze it closely.
Hedonic is a word that gets used to describe happiness at the sensory level.
Eudaimonic is a word that gets used to describe happiness at the mental level.
When we think selfish people might be the happiest, we’re thinking of hedonic happiness. I’m happier if I can eat all the ice cream, for example. But the other kind of happiness is something we could be focusing on more. It’s more long lasting and improves our lives.
Sensory happiness is concerned with pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
Mental happiness is concerned with satisfaction with your life, having sense of purpose or meaning in life, and joy.
There are some conditions that often help us find mental happiness in our lives. They are:
-Engaging with a sense of purpose
-Having a positive mindset
-Acts of kindness
All of these things are helped by cultivating feelings of compassion. Compassion helps us connect with other people. Compassion helps us find our purpose in life. Compassion helps us develop a positive mindset because it’s an antidote to negativity. Compassion inspires acts of kindness. All these things help us with having harmony with the world around us.
An obsession with self interest is harmful because it leads us away from social connectedness and a sense of purpose. Being really selfish gets in the way of our happiness.
Compassion opens our hearts and gives us the freedom to step out of our narrow self concern. It provides a moral anchor to help us cultivate virtue.
Compassion can give us a sense of purpose because we can tune into it and our impulse for kindness. We do get a sense of joy from helping others and it’s self-reinforcing. The more you do it, the more joy you’ll feel.
Compassion is natural and we just need to embrace it and make space for it. Compassion is fundamental to human nature. We just have to see through all our emotional baggage and delusion in order to tune into it. It’s our true nature.