January 22 – Paying attention to joy

By | January 22, 2024

Dear Friends,

With wise effort, we want to abandon unhelpful states and cultivate helpful ones. There are many ways to cultivate these beneficial states, including the Brahma Vihara practices of metta (kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (appreciative joy), and upekkha (equanimity). Today, we’ll focus on mudita!

Mudita is the capacity to feel happiness or gladness, to delight in someone’s good fortune.

Jill Shepherd gives a good example to distinguish between metta and mudita. If you’re a dog person like me, and you see a friendly dog, you might notice a little bit of warmth – that’s metta. If you think of a dog who is happily on a car ride – watching the world go by with a big smile – you might notice a sense of delight for that dog’s delight. That’s mudita! *

As Jill describes in her talk, when it comes to us humans, our society often devalues joy. And there is a lot of tough stuff going on in the world, such that we might question if it’s even possible to cultivate joy. But as Jill says, “in terms of my own practice, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s precisely because there’s so much suffering in the world, that I’ve needed to make the effort to turn towards non-suffering, towards gladness or joy, in order to restore myself so that I can face into life’s challenges with greater resilience and strength and skill. … The capacity to cultivate appreciative joy is the antidote to sorrow.” (Right Effort and Mudita or appreciative joy https://www.dharmaseed.org/talks/62247/)

A gratitude practice can also cultivate this sense resourcing. And gratitude shared is a condition for mudita: I have a dharma buddy who sends me daily gratitudes, and I have such happiness for my friend every time I get a text!

I invite you to post a gratitude in the comments below, and come back later to check on the comments to cultivate a little extra mudita today.

With appreciation and good wishes,

* If you’re looking for a little dog-mudita, here’s a heart-warming story shared by We Rate Dogs this past December:

10 thoughts on “January 22 – Paying attention to joy

  1. Amy

    Much gratitude for our healthy dogs and cat and the delight they bring our whole family each day.

  2. Andrea

    I’m grateful for people who still have lights on their trees and bushes. I love the way the lights sparkle, especially with this fresh snow.

  3. Kalya Kindrachuk

    Drivers and pedestriand, in our small town, wave to each other as they pass by. This is usually accompanied by smiles. What a joyful gift to both parties!

  4. Susan Gungeli

    I’m grateful this morning for all the opportunities that I have to learn. With my usual rich sources of learning—books, newspapers, magazines, journals, documentaries, in-person sessions and courses—now expanded by online options, I am surely one of the most blessed lifeliong learners who has ever had the even larger blessing of a long lifetime on this precious earth. I am further grateful for all my teachers, including you, Andrea, and the opportunity to learn in community, which includes you if you are reading this!

  5. Dianne Miller

    So grateful for the practice and for opportunities to learn from such caring, supportive teachers as you are Andrea.

  6. katherine lawrence

    I enjoy many friendships with several women I see during my morning lane swims. I don’t always know their names and it doesn’t seem to matter. Today, while catching my breath before starting the next 25 metres, my ‘nameless’ buddy in the next lane also paused. We chatted about our shared joy, how we both maintained our routines during the recent cold snap. She told me that the pool is her “happy place.” Mine too! She then pushed off with a strong kick. Her joy swims in me as I carry on with my wintry Monday.

  7. Laurie Peerenboom

    I’m grateful for the ability to laugh, and find others who will laugh with me when the ordinary tasks of daily life go sideways. Car stuck in a block of ice from snow plows. Getting Drs appt time wrong. (add your own story of muddling thru). Sometimes, we just need to laugh. Hopefully, it will get someone else laughing too. That’s when the joy sparks for me.

  8. Doug Loughran

    My first thought about this was being grateful for spending time with my grandchildren, in particular with my 12-year old grandson while taking him to his orthodontic appointment. The conversation was rewarding for me. And reading the above replies also brought me joy.

  9. Kosowan Cheryl

    I’m so grateful for the warmth and welcoming smiles of old friends and new ones. It’s such a blessing and it automatically makes me want to reciprocate.

  10. Grace Staples

    I am grateful for joy buddies. I am grateful for learning and those who take the time to share their wisdom. I am grateful that I “begin again” over and over

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