Salzberg defines “real happiness” as an inner resource – a sense of inner sufficiency or inner abundance – that is born out of three things: awareness, balance, and connection (or compassion). It allows us to be more present, therefore we can notice more fully the wondrous things that are happening around us, and can face negative emotions without denying them or acting on them. And we are less easily swayed by immediate results or praise and blame.
The teacher emphasized the importance of training ourselves to develop genuine compassionate responses. Compassion is about paying attention – the way we pay attention and who we pay attention to. It helps us have a sense of possibility. And a genuine compassionate response is one in which we have perspective, balance, and a sense of spaciousness, so that we do not drown or get burned out in our own or others’ difficult circumstances while we respond. Having a sense of meaning is the biggest predictor of happiness at work, and being present and connected helps give us that sense of meaning. She encouraged us to not just seek meaning in our work; instead, we should also learn to infuse meaning into our work. Ask ourselves, “what are we bringing to each moment?”
She also shared that the content of an experience is less significant than the relationship to that experience – whether it’s an internal experience or an external experience. Happiness lies in that relationship. The content or the feeling tone of an experience will always change. But when someone is able to feel connected to something bigger, they can care about others even when they are themselves going through something difficult, and they are also able to feel and express gratitude more freely. In short, they are happier!
During group discussion, everyone chimed in to share their key takeaways from the talk. This included: learning to bring meaning into their work even if it’s not a job they want to be in; staying present; appreciating relationships and connections over content; not being as affected by praise and blame; not judging ourselves; doing what we can with a compassionate mind; and more.
From the Teachers: Real Happiness at Work
Dharma Video :
* Sharon Salzberg is a meditation pioneer, world-renowned teacher, and New York Times bestselling author. She is among the first to bring mindfulness & lovingkindness meditation to mainstream American culture fifty years ago, inspiring generations of meditation teachers and wellness influencers.
A co-founder of The Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, Sharon is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller, Real Happiness, now in its second edition, and her seminal work, Lovingkindess.
In 2023, Sharon released two new books: Real Life, available in April from Flatiron Books, and Finding Your Way, a small gift book available in October from Workman. Her popular podcast, The Metta Hour, has amassed six million downloads and features interviews with thought leaders from the mindfulness movement and beyond.