Financial stability, good health and solid relationships are essential to happiness. But these are the results of one’s deeds over a long time.
“Happiness is a product of pure action,” says Denise Lawrence, a senior teacher and international lecturer of the Brahma Kumaris, a United Nations-affiliated nongovernment organization.
Lawrence explains that karma, which literally means action, can either be good, bad or neutral. Every thought, word and deed are seeds that bear an outcome. If the thought (the seed which influences the action) is selfless and sincere, the results will be positive.
“It’s a form of investment. When you start providing what’s needed in the world, you create happiness. Making someone’s life better and making them feel their worth, giving a person courage and patience are true acts of charity. This pure action causes a return flow of blessings and creates happiness,” she says.
Sin or negative action depletes our happiness. “The first is what everybody knows—the sin of commission. One should not do things which are harmful to others.
“The other kind is sin of omission—not doing what you’re supposed to do. It causes us to feel guilty.
“The third sin is of taking sorrow. It does the same damage to the self as when you give sorrow to somebody. For example, if somebody says something very unpleasant to you, you feel bad. If somebody does something to you, it’s their mistake. If you think a lot about that person who has given you trouble, then that’s taking sorrow.”
The technique to remain unscathed is not to react and to turn things around by maintaining one’s self-respect or self-honor.
“It’s important to remember that you’re an extremely nice, intelligent and interesting person. If somebody doesn’t think so, then they have a problem,” says Lawrence.
Worry also depletes one’s happiness. “You worry about tomorrow, your family, money, health, etc. Worry does not change anything. It simply drains all of your energy.”
Loving the self
Happiness is also sustained by caring, communication and community. The first person to care for is the self.
“In our culture, we often disregard the self because we don’t want somebody to think that we are selfish. Hence, we will create an imbalance by paying attention to others and disregarding the self. We then become exhausted and irresponsible because we’re not caring for ourselves. Caring is an act of love which is a subtle quality. Love is an act of giving whether to the self or to someone.”
However, love gets blocked by our past negative impressions of other people or our judgment that these people behaved badly. Sin or negative action is a sign of spiritual depletion.
Trauma is also a blockage. “When the soul is injured, then the flow of its pure qualities is contaminated and then bad actions occur. If you think somebody is bad, it’s because they are weak. Punishing people makes things worse.”
Happiness is also sustained by having a good connection with the Divine Source, humanity and nature, says Lawrence.
Communication is vital in establishing healthy relationships from the level of spirit to matter. “Talking to God is a very good idea. I presume you’re aware that God listens to everything you think and say because He is always with us,” she says.
“When you are tuning your mind to the Supreme, you start to receive love. You don’t just keep it in; you let it flow out.”
Clear communication with people strengthens relationships. “We want to understand each other. We want to get information that we think we need to have. When we are not receiving communication as we would like, then it also takes away our happiness.
“Communication with people also means to think good things about them and to send good wishes. When we stop doing that, we get irritated with them. It’s a good practice to deal with our irritations quickly. We can get over it and extend pure feelings. Otherwise, it leads to a block in our relationship and the communication becomes negative.”
A sense of community is born out of generosity or kindness that vibrates along our web of connections that bind us to the world.
Unhappiness occurs when there is a focus on differences, and people start isolating or ostracizing others.
“Your community can go beyond your religion, your race, national boundaries because we are, after all, a family of humanity,” says Lawrence.
Community includes our relationship with nature. With life-threatening issues due to climate change, Lawrence underscores the value of communing with nature.
“Nature is fed up with humanity because the latter has been pretty awful to nature. It has been so beneficial in giving us food, housing and other necessities, but we have wrecked it. There’s a comeback from that. This is also karma. Natural calamity creates unhappiness,” she says.
The ultimate goal is to maintain one’s happiness regardless of the ups and downs in life.
“This is why a spiritual practice is relevant,” says Lawrence. She recommends meditation which is a form of purposeful thinking. It helps to clear the mind and enables us to experience a true sense of who we are—a being of peace, love, happiness and truth. Its objective is to help us change. By restoring a true relationship with ourselves, meditation builds the foundation for fair relationships with others.
“Meditation allows you to fill yourself up, and stay full so that you are able to give. This is what happiness is all about,” she says. —CONTRIBUTED
Denise Lawrence will hold a lecture series: “Inside Out” Sept. 10, 7:30 p.m. at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, tel. 8907960; “Karma, Choice, Destiny” Sept. 11, 6:30 p.m., at Rembrandt Hotel, QC, tel. 4149421; “Balance with Power” Sept. 18, 6:30 p.m. at Inner Space Manila, 1795 M. Orosa St., Manila, tel. 9848852