According to Buddhist author and psychologist Jack Kornfield, happiness is not a feeling or a series of pleasures, it is “a deep sense of well-being and an appreciation for life itself, with all of its mystery and changes.” In her interview with Kornfield last year, Jill Suttie, writing for Greater Good Magazine, probes the meaning of this elusive, universally sought quality.
Kornfield: “There is inevitably suffering in every human life, and nothing insulates us from this-no amount of money, success, fame, or accomplishment. But it’s possible to cultivate and develop a sense of well-being, joy, deep happiness, and worth, even amidst the difficulties of life. I’ve been in the poorest refugee camps and seen people move with more dignity, connection to others, and love than in circumstances of tremendous wealth and prosperity.
“Compassion is important; but joy is also important-it is what the French philosopher André Gide called “a moral obligation.” Our gift to the world comes as much through our being and presence, our smile and touch, our sense of possibility and the mystery of human life, as it does in the specifics of what we do. Wherever we go, we can be a beacon of well-being, love, and care that not only touches but uplifts those whom we encounter.
“Modern neuroscience confirms that we can learn to steady our attention, quiet our minds, and open our hearts in a systematic way. Simple practices of mindfulness, gratitude, forgiveness, joy, and compassion positively affect our health and well-being, and beneficially affect all those that we touch. These states are our birthright; they are possible for us as human beings.”
Radical Joy for Hard Times is dedicated to the principle that, no matter what is going on in our lives or in the world around us, we always have the capacity to find and make beauty.
Click the link to read the rest of Suttie’s interview with Kornfield.