Compassionate Integrity Training Final CIT training manual 11-30 - Page 55

Compa ssionate Integrit y Tr a ining A S e cu l a r Ethic s Appr oa c h to C ulti vat ing Pe rs on al, S o ci al and E n vir on me n tal F lo u r i shing I f we look at all living beings, including animals, it universal and in itself a good thing. Rather, the problem appears that we all want happiness, and none of us seems to lie in us making mistakes with regard to under- wants unhappiness. Since happiness can mean so standing what will genuinely bring us lasting happiness. many things, it is important to clarify that in CIT It’s easy to see the problem in a person who believes that a this basic wish for happiness refers to our fundamental steady stream of narcotics will bring them lasting happiness. orientation toward that which we consider good for us It’s harder to see the same problem in ourselves when we and those we care for, such as safety, security, well-being, believe that increased fortune, status, praise, material health and so on. Simple observation shows that even possessions or finding the right partner will bring us true non-human animals seek warmth in the winter and a happiness. Similarly, it’s easy to see that when a friend is safe place for themselves and their offspring. In fact, dreading a certain outcome (like not getting what they even single-cell organisms move toward nourishment want), that the outcome might not be as bad as they are and away from danger. fearing. It’s harder to see this exaggeration in ourselves when we are afraid of something that we believe will bring us great and lasting unhappiness. Finding True Sources of Happiness As in the previous skill, here we should use various methods That being said, research suggests that we are not terribly to investigate what will in fact bring us greater lasting happi- good at determining what will lead us to happiness. When ness and well-being. Our universal goal is happiness. If individuals are asked to predict what future outcome will we think an external thing or circumstance can bring us bring them happiness and will bring unhappiness, they happiness, we should examine this idea and see if it is true. prove consistently poor at predicting the effect these Our society often tells us that certain external things will outcomes will have. Those who get what they wanted tend bring happiness. Four in particular stand out as general cate- not to experience the lasting change in happiness that they gories: pleasure, praise, material gain (such as wealth) and predicted, and those who get what they don’t want (an status/fame. However, under these broad categories we may unfortunate thing happening) tend not to experience the come up with a variety of external circumstances that we decline in happiness that they expected. 50 think will bring happiness: finishing a major project; getting Common experience also shows us this, although it is often a raise; being a genius or very talented; winning a certain easier to see in others’ lives than our own. How often do we prize or award; being respected more at work; and so on. think (or do we see others think) that having something will bring great lasting satisfaction, and yet even when we achieve it, it results in only temporary happiness, or even worse, actual dissatisfaction and disappointment. How often do we see peo- ple chasing after the same things again and again, even though we know they will not achieve lasting happiness that way? Whatever things we want, if they are external, then we will probably find through investigation that we want them because we think they will lead to one of the four universal external circumstances that we tend to associate with happi- ness. And we believe that those external means will lead to happiness. Unfortunately, research, common experience and The problem is not our wish for happiness and to avoid common sense all suggest that external conditions do not unhappiness, pain, disappointment and distress, which is reliably lead to lasting happiness, satisfaction and well-being. Ce n t e r for Compa s sion, I n teg r i t y a nd S e cu l ar E t hics | L ife Uni ve rsi t y | M ar ie t ta, G e or g i a - 49 -