Happiness And The Experience Of No Self

Polly Young-Eisendrath is a scholar of  Buddhism and Western psychology. She gave this Tedx talk at Middlebury University on Getting Free Of Self-Importance Is The Key To Happiness.

The gist of her talk was that self-consciousness and self-centeredness lead us into the experience of self conscious emotions. She lists shame, guilt, envy, and jealousy as the primary ones which cause us and those around us a lot of ill-being or suffering.

The antidote to these negative aspects of human existence is to have the experience of no self. This occurs when we are in the state of flow and don’t think about ourselves in limiting ways.

When we are in a state of flow, we are so in the moment that we forget about ourselves and concentrate on what we are doing. We feel a kind of oneness with the universe and everyone around us.

Young-Eisendrath offered the following suggestions to generate the feeling of oneness:

  • Recognize that you are tiny and the world is large.
  • Spend a day or two or three without a mirror – this reduces your focus on yourself.
  • Become engaged in your immediate world and see what you can do to help other people.

I would add these to the list:

  • Aim for a no car day once a week.
  • Turn off you cell phone for a period of time.
  • Experience a day of mindfulness.

I found this video to be very interesting and engaging. I especially enjoyed her definition of happiness as

“That state of being in which you do not want to be in another state. When you’re happy, you’re not restless. You’re not distracted. You don’t have the desire to be doing something else. In fact, you are completely engaged and involved in your direct experience and you recognize this from your own experience.”

Hopefully, we all know what this means. However, when we experience happiness and recognize it as such, doesn’t it seem to go away?

So, don’t worry. Be happy!

Have a nice day.

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