4 Favorite Lists for Cultivating Happiness
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
I was cleaning out my purse and found a beat-up old piece of paper on which I had scribbled some Buddhist lists. Buddha loved making lists. These lists are actually really great ways to jumpstart cultivating wholesome states of mind and redirect the mind when it is going towards the negative.
These particular lists are my favorite and I was carrying them around in case I ever want a quick meditation boost, or talk about them with yoga clients and students.
I am sharing them on this site so you can enjoy them-- and also, so I can find these lists easily, rather than carry around scraps of paper in my purse!
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
1. Suffering/non-satisfactoriness exists
2. Suffering/non-satisfactoriness arises from attachment to desires
3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases (There is a way out)
4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path
Simple explanation: so many of our thoughts center around what isn't quite right in the moment. If I go to a deli and order a cup of coffee with milk, and I get a cup of coffee that has way too much milk for my taste, I have thoughts of dissatisfaction. This is not what I wanted, I wish I had exactly what I wanted. I am not happy. When I let go of my desire to have that perfect cup of coffee, I am able to get on with my day. Similarly, if i don't get the promotion I wanted, I have to find a way to let go of my attachment to getting what I want. This is much more difficult than getting over the imperfect coffee, but it is the same work.
THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
1. Right understanding (Penetrating/embodying 4 noble truths)
2. Right thought
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration
All the other steps on the path are about directing the mind towards wholesome and kind thoughts and speaking and acting accordingly, in all aspects of life. Ultimately we want to develop the mindfulness and wisdom to be free of suffering.
THE TEN PERFECTIONS
1. Generosity (dana)
2. Morality (sila)
3. Renunciation (nekkhamma)
4. Wisdom (panna)
5. Energy (viriya)
6. Patience (khanti)
7. Truthfulness (sacca)
8. Resolution (adhitthana)
9. Loving-Kindness (metta)
10. Equanimity (upekkha)
The Buddha spent many lifetimes cultivating the perfections before he could reach enlightenment. Meditating on these qualities is noble pursuit for cultivating mind.
THE FOUR BOUNDLESS STATES
aka Bramaviharas: Friends on the way to freedom
1. Loving kindness (Maitri/Metta)
2. Compassion (Karuna)
3. Sympathetic Joy for others (Mudita)
4. Equanimity (Upeksa/Upekkha)
The boundless states or brahmaviharas are considered friends on the way to Nirvana. They help in dissolving the idea of a separate self.
Interestingly, these precise qualities are in one of my favorite Sutras from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Sutra 1:33 Maitri karuna muditopeksanam sukha duhkha punyapunya visayanam bhavanatas citta prasadanam
By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
I hope you enjoy these lists! Ultimately the goal of all yoga is to live kindly and let go as much as we can so that we can cultivate peace of mind and live the happiest, kindest life we can. If we can point ourselves in that direction, we are doing the practice.