Envy twists your mind into complex and uncomfortable convolutions. I bet you find that comparing yourself to others who are magnetic, successful or prosperous only diminishes your own self-esteem. It's bound to leave you dissatisfied and at odds. But, what to do?
There's a simple solution if you want to knock jealousy on its head. It's called sympathetic joy, the ability to rejoice at the happiness and good fortune of others.
This is the fourth and last article in our once-a-month series on the Four Boundless Attitudes, which together form genuine compassion: Love, Compassion, Joy and Impartiality. You can read the first three articles here:
- How to Train Your Mind To Be Impartial (And Why It Matters)
- How to Increase Your Love for Yourself and Others
- How to Soften You Heart and Feel More Compassion
In the previous articles we've proposed that:
- All beings are equally deserving of your love, compassion and joy - the essence of impartiality.
- Love is the wish for others to have happiness and the causes of happiness.
- Genuine compassion goes beyond empathy. It's the wish for all beings to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
Now, we'll move on to sympathetic joy, the last of the Four Boundless Attitudes
What is sympathetic joy? It's the heartfelt wish that all beings will never ever be separated from happiness. Just imagine what the world would be like if, instead of responding with competition and rivalry, everyone rejoiced at the happiness of others instead.
How to Practice Sympathetic Joy
This is how to make your mind bigger and fill it with sympathetic joy.
1. Sit quietly for a few moments and allow your thoughts and emotions to settle.
2. Then, begin by bringing to mind someone close to you who, at least for the moment, has found happiness and success. Perhaps they have material wealth, good looks, a fantastic partner or a sense of contentment and peace. Now practice feeling joyful for them and try to magnify this sense of joy as much as you can. Wish them continuous success, prosperity, and unending happiness. Wish them even more!
3. Once you have established a deep sense of joy for this person, think of another close relative or friend and celebrate their particular good fortune in the same way, without even a tinge of jealousy.
4. Then - after you are in the groove of rejoicing for the accomplishments of those you love - gradually begin to expand the circle to include people you feel neutral toward and eventually those whom you dislike or even consider to be enemies. Celebrate their attainments with a genuine heart of joy.
5. Finally, reflect on how wonderful it would be if all beings could have unlimited goodness in every possible form. Wish it to be so!
As you go about your day, rejoice for the achievements of every single person you meet. Whatever qualities you observe in their being or positives in their life, wish for their good circumstances to multiply many times more.
By cultivating sympathetic joy, you will develop a mind that is free of jealousy. Moreover, when you feel happiness for others, doesn't it fill you with happiness too?
The Four Boundless Attitudes - love, compassion, joy, and impartiality - are indispensable if you want to find true happiness and bring others to this state too. They can be encapsulated by one phrase: "a good heart."
Does envy infiltrate your life from time to time? How do you diminish its toxic effects?
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