Sunday, October 7, 2012

How much happiness makes up for sadness?

Eric Barker (, Oct. 7, 2012); Wisdom Quarterly
Are Buddhist monastics the happiest of all? (
Smile! It's healthy (
Psychologist Barbara Frederickson is an expert on flourishing and has been an advocate of finding ways to bring more positive emotions into our lives. 
In her research she discovered a critical 3 to 1 ratio, indicating that we need to have three positive emotions for every negative one in order to thrive.

And Frederickson has found out that if we really want to prosper, we shouldn’t try to eliminate negative emotions. Rather, we should work on keeping the ratio at three positive for every one negative. 
Happiness is natural (
Most of us, she has found, have two positive experiences for every negative. This gets us by, but it is effectively languishing. 

How many people are at 3 to 1? Around 20%.
Frederickson and Losada pinpointed such “flourishing” mental health in 45 people from a survey of 188 university students.
Forty-five out of 188 (23%) may seem very few, but several surveys have shown that only about 20% of Americans are flourishing in this sense.
Sound familiar?
Is that our spidey-sense tingling? It should be for regular readers: We’ve seen similar patterns with ratios and happiness before. While 3 to 1 keeps you happy, 5 to 1 keeps relationships smooth.
Sensuality is NOT the way to actual happiness.
It turned out that the 15 high-performance teams averaged 5.6 positive interactions for every negative one. The 19 low-performance teams racked up a positive/negative ratio of just 0.363. That is, they had about three negative interactions for every positive one…
What’s even scarier is that Losada’s 5:1 ratio also appears to be essential when you get home and try to muster the energy for a successful marriage... More

Heaven or Enlightenment?
Buddhist lore, Seven Dharmachari, Wisdom Quarterly
Meditation superhero (
There were once two Buddhist monks meditating, having vowed to reach enlightenment. They became stream enterers, the first stage along the path to awakening and the final end of all suffering -- arhatship. One joyfully proceeded, but the other stopped. The first asked, "Why have you stopped, friend?"
The second answered, "I have suffered greatly over many lives. And I wish, so as a way of making up for all that suffering, to first be reborn in heavenly realms. Then and only then will I seek to accomplish the goal."
The first shrank back, "Friend, do not speak in such way! The Blessed One, the noble ones, they never spoke in such a way."
"My mind is made up," the second stubbornly declared.

The first continued to meditate, and in no long time he reached the goal for which youths of good family leave home for the homeless life of a spiritual seeker. He did what was to be done, abandoning rebirth and suffering once and for all.
The second carried on for years and eventually died in old age. He was immediately reborn in India as the illegitimate child of a woman who, to conceal her infidelity had been concealing her pregnancy. When she gave birth, she immediately went out onto a dirt road along a path frequented by herds of cattle.
Predisposed (
And just as a large herd was coming headed by a chief bull, she tossed the newborn onto the road. The powerful bull, mysteriously moved by the child's merit, stopped over him protecting him from harm as the cows went around.
The second monk had been reborn fully conscious, aware of his grave and dangerous mistake in the previous life, having chosen vain happiness as some sort of compensation for previous suffering -- both of which have their basis in illusion and misunderstanding.
He lamented not heeding the first monk's advice. And by a supernormal feat of concentration, he tossed the dirt that was caked to his body from contact of dust and afterbirth, crossed his legs, and levitated midair thanking the bull.
He developed the absorptions, emerged purified in heart/mind, and took up the insight practice of reviewing the 12 links of Dependent Origination. He penetrated the ultimate Truth and was thereby liberated from all suffering; he became one of the noble ones (fully enlightened individuals, arhats).

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