Everyone’s life is, by nature, continually vulnerable to pain. Remembering this is the gateway to mudita (often translated as appreciative joy or joy for the joy of others), the third of the four Brahmaviharas (Boundless or Supreme States).
Our mental habit may be to think happiness is a limited resource, believing that the more anyone else has, the less there is for “me.” This may begin with comparing ourselves with what others have attained materially or spiritually. Yet, thinking that gains of others mean losses for us promotes self-centeredness and exaggerates our feeling of separation and isolation and diminishes our own joy.
The practice of mudita may be the most challenging of all of the brahmavihara practices, because our mental reactions of comparing, judging, envy, greed, and demeaning can feel so “natural.” Though public discourse often reinforces this, we can go against the stream—let go of guilt about our own happiness or feeling threatened about its loss, employ mind states of delight, gratitude and compassion to help diminish the suffering of attachment and aversion and open the heart to joy.
Celebrating and wishing for the happiness of others, the amount of happiness in the universe or indeed, our own, is boundless. As the Dalai Lama advises, if our happiness is linked to the happiness of others, it multiplies our chance of happiness and connectedness by 9 billion!
Go ahead—gladden the mind—rejoice in your own goodness, generosity and caring and promote the happiness of all. Open your heart to the omnipresent wellspring of joy.