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By Michael Doko Hatchett

...At the Mudita Institute, our aim is to help you develop your own intelligence in relation to lasting health and self-care. Intrinsic to that, is the understanding of our mind and emotions and how they are directly related to our foundation of physical health.....

The word Mudita was used by the Buddha. He called it one of the Four Heavenly Abodes. It means ‘rejoicing’, or ‘rejoicing in happiness’. In particular it means ‘rejoicing in another’s happiness’. The other three abodes are compassion, equanimity and kindness or friendliness. Any of these states of mind provide a moment of freedom from our usual excessive self-focus. The Four Heavenly Abodes are the inner places from which our best choices and efforts spring forth.

‘Mudita’ is one of the true benchmarks for what constitutes a really healthy mind and body. Experiencing happiness for others is a sign of robust well-being. Begrudging another’s happiness is a sign of a mind/body system weakened by stress and confusion.

Many of us have forgotten real joy. We have become cynical and suspicious, sometimes even offended by a modern ‘pursuit of happiness’ while there is so much suffering and inequality in the world. It’s seen as a luxury. But this is true only if we believe our happiness to be based solely in how successfully we can experience what we like and avoid experiencing what we don’t like.

Of course this is natural to some extent, but if we are not careful, an excluding, self-serving attitude may indeed creep up on us gradually, making us seek quick fixes and shallow conclusions. It is here that we unconsciously refine and increase our cycle of subtle addiction and avoidance, and before we know it, we are noticing that we are becoming impatient, greedy and confused in our pursuit of health and happiness.

Real happiness is devoid of this cycle. It has a deeply patient and resonating clarity to it; reminding us of our best and fullest potentials. It is thus the cause for more happiness and a broader outlook, not for more stinginess and suffering.

Is it possible to pursue health and happiness without such narrow self-preoccupation?

According to all the authentic traditions of mental and physical health-care, the answer is YES, but we need to develop our capacity for kindness, patience, clarity and a generous spirit.

As the cause for unhappiness is this aggressive impatience and greed, the medicines are these ‘opposite’ states of mind. They are not a feel good band-aid but a serious necessity that provides the only environmental conditions in which self-understanding can take place and endure; in which the real flourishing of this inner understanding can be established in the body/mind’s deep communication pathways. This leads to a buoyancy of emotion that helps us to make good and intuitively healthy decisions, easily.

Real happiness is a healthy mind, and a healthy mind is an absolute essential for a stress-free healthy body.  It is a state that strengthens our sense of ease, not self-protective struggle, and is therefore synonymous with the Four Heavenly Abodes. It doesn’t hide from the difficulties and distress we all experience.

Happiness is... to be surprised by our own capacity for joy, compassion, kindness, and equanimity.  It is that sense of really being at home in our own skin. These moments are moments of freedom; moments when we deeply experience and therefore understand the needs of happiness in ourselves and others. It is to understand how to improve a situation. It helps us understand the world.

"I know of no other single thing so conducive to misery as this uncultivated untrained mind.

I know of no other single thing so conducive to well-being as this cultivated and well-trained mind."

- The Buddha

Thus it is time to expand our definition of ‘health’ in the West. For the good of our planet, our children, and ourselves, someone who is aggressive, greedy, and restless, can no longer be seen as being in good health just because they are ‘strong’ and don’t get outwardly ‘sick’ all that often.

Health is about moving towards a purer and purer happiness. One that has less and less to do with attachment, aversion, and turning a blind eye.

Kindness and patience are our first steps. Slow down, be kind to yourself and others, and you will find the next step.…

Why Happiness?

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