Flipping from Envy to Joy

Much of the mental and emotional discomfort we feel is manufactured by the mind.  Some of it has evolutionary roots that served us at one time, but now has unnecessary side effects in the modern world.  Meditation can help us take moments of unnecessary discomfort and flip them into moments of comfort.

Take envy.  When we encounter someone who has something that we want (an attribute, a skill, a possession, an experience), the green-headed monster pokes us in the gut, and in the heart, too for good measure.  We feel physically uncomfortable and mentally slightly (or more) anguished.  But that’s just phase 1.  Often Phase 2 follows with a wave of guilt.  "Can’t we just be happy for our friend/colleague/neighbor?”   This cocktail of sensations is a world away from the elation we feel when we have attained something…. but it doesn’t have to be.

First, it’s important to let yourself off the hook about envy.  We are engineered to want to be the most attractive mates in a tribe;  to be the fittest, and best-looking, to have the most provisions…. if we were the most attractive mate, we had the greatest shot at passing along our genes.  So the discomfort we felt when we weren’t at the top of the heap spurred us on to get try to get there.  Studies show, now, however, that envy can be depleting, sapping our resilience rather than spurring us on to improve.  

Second, by training our hearts and minds to rejoice in the good fortune of others as if it were our own, our default response to others’ good fortune increasingly becomes a shared sense of joy.  When we practice Empathetic Joy, by bringing to mind someone’s recent good fortune and wishing them continued well-being, wealth, success and joy we begin to empower ourselves to feel the joy of others’ joy.

So when we feel Envy welling up inside us, we can note, “This is normal and natural, but I have a choice.  Joy is not a zero-sum game.  It is infinite.” and we can begin to rejoice with them.   But it takes practice, so we hope you will join us this week as we all calibrate our default responses together.

By the way, practicing Empathetic Joy is just one way that meditation can help us “flip the moment” from uncomfortable to comfortable. Stay tuned for more!

May all beings everywhere without exception feel the joy of others' joy,
Your friends at CMP

This week we invite you to join us as we practice flipping the moment toward joy.  Please join us!

Monday 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM - Trumbull Library, 33 Quality St, Trumbull
Monday 7:30 PM - Sama Yoga, 45 Grove Street, New Canaan
Tuesday 1:00 PM - Ferguson  Library*, 1 Public Library Plaza, Stamford 
Wednesday 12:00 PM - New Canaan Library, 151 Main Street, New Canaan
Wednesday 7:30 pm - Trumbull Recovery Group, Grace Episcopal, 5958 Main St., Trumbull

* Made possible by a grant from Bankwell

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Erika Long