The Six Stages of Metta-Bhavana (Loving Kindness)

I have a love-hate relationship with the aphorism “happiness is a choice.” On the one hand, the saying has wonderful potential: it can speak to the power we could have (or already do have) to lift ourselves out of emotional quagmires. But on the other, it can completely dismiss the power that anger and pain can have over a person.  Repeating these words to a loved one when they are going through a difficult time can tell our loved one that we think their painful experiences are invalid, regardless of whether they think we might have meant well.

However, if we were to replace the word “happiness” with “kindness,” “love,” or even “anger,” the saying becomes less disposable. Happiness becomes important and relevant when we recognize its relationship to our actions and emotions.  Suddenly, wishing for someone to have happiness, or even to create it themselves, means something.

But we have to understand that happiness is not a component of a good life.

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