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What Do I Really Need Right Now?

--by Sharon Salzberg (Aug 12, 2013)


An essential question we might ask ourselves is, 'What do I really need right now, in this moment, to be happy?' The world offers us many answers to that question: You need a new car and a new house and a new relationship and . . . But do we really? 'What do I lack right now? Does anything need to change in order for me to be happy? What do I really need?' These are powerful questions.

"When I have gone on retreat in Southeast Asian countries there is generally no charge for staying at the monasteries or the retreat centers, where all of the food is donated. Often it is donated by groups or families who come to the center to make the offerings. I'm sure that all of these groups of people offer absolutely the best that they can afford, but each day what is provided can differ quite a lot depending on the circumstances of those who are donating. Sometimes it is a lavish, bountiful feast. Sometimes it is quite meager, because that is all that the family can provide.

"Time after time, I went into the dining room for a meal and looked at the faces of the people who had made the offering, since they commonly come to watch you receive it. They would look radiant, so happy that they'd had an opportunity to feed us, to offer something that would help sustain us. They seemed so happy that we were going to be meditating, exploring the truth, and purifying our minds and hearts on the strength of their offering. In that moment, when they were so genuinely grateful for the chance to give, I would ask myself, 'What do I really need right now in order to be happy?" I realized that I was getting fed a lot more by their joy and delight than I was by the actual food.

"The Dalai Lama has said, 'If you are going to be selfish, be wisely selfish.' In other words, if we carefully look at our lives we can see that we spend an awful lot of time looking for happiness in the wrong places and in the wrong ways. We yearn to be happy, and this is right. It is appropriate; all beings want to be happy. The problem is not in the urge, or yearning, but in our ignorance. So very often we don't know where happiness is to be found — that is, true and genuine happiness, abiding happiness — and so we flounder, and we suffer and cause suffering to others.

"As I go through all kinds of feelings and experiences in my journey through life — delight, surprise, chagrin, dismay — I hold this question as a guiding light: 'What do I really need right now to be happy?' What I come to over and over again is that only qualities as vast and deep as love, connection, and kindness will really make me happy in any sort of enduring way."

-- Sharon Salzberg, excerpted from "The Kindness Handbook: A Practical Companion"


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19 Previous Reflections:

 
On Mar 23, 2016 lamborgini wrote:

  I have all need to be truly happy and it's all the simple things in life... My husband, My kids, my grandchildren and my family and friends We may not much we have each other and that's what life is about and love... - See more at: http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=954#sthash.y52vw6WN.dpuf

<a href="http://lamborgini.altervista.org/">lamborgini</a>


On Nov 16, 2013 Dharav shah wrote:

Thanks for the artilce..I loved it :-)  As a psychiatrist, i have seen the pain which people who touch alcohol/ tobacco and their families undergo. Hence I am working on going to schools & colleges and spreading awareness - as to why one should not touch the 1st drink or the 1st smoke. Hearing the claps & thank-yous of students and reading their feedbacks have been the most joyful moments of my life now-a-days... That makes me agree with you - yes, it is by trying to serve that i can earn true happiness for myself..



On Nov 3, 2013 Supaporn Wiwattanakul wrote:

 



On Sep 3, 2013 Toni Netherton wrote:

 I have all need to be truly happy and it's all the simple things in life... My husband, My kids, my grandchildren and my family and friends We may not much we have each other and that's what life is about and love...



On Aug 15, 2013 Brinda wrote:

 Happiness is like a butterfly.
The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.
But if you turn your attention to other things,
It comes and sits softly on your shoulder.
– Henry David Thoreau



1 reply: Me | Post Your Reply
On Aug 14, 2013 Ganoba wrote:

truth Love, happiness (annand) , beauty, creativity etc that we seek out there are actually aspects of our being. They are to be lived not sought.
having realised this i try to be true to myself. i follow my intuition, be guided by my mind.
that is it. As simple as that.



On Aug 13, 2013 Clegg wrote:

Rather than seeking happiness, I think it is better to ask "what gives us meaning?"



On Aug 13, 2013 Radhika Srinivasan wrote:

 There's no doubt in mind that giving brings happiness, more often more than when we receive. However, when I delve deeper into why this should bring me happiness, I realise that it is ego-gratification. True and lasting happiness comes from discovering my inner self through meditation. The glow and the joy of such contact with my inner self carries me in total contentment through long lengths of time. I think that looking for happiness in any other place or way is misleading.



On Aug 12, 2013 Prof Mohandas wrote:

 Excellent write up. In this connection, I would like to mention that  there are several instances of providing free food in many places in the southern part of Kerala. Many people believe that providing food for the needy is the best way of extending charity ( ANNA DAANAM MAHA DAANAM : Giving food is the best way of giving). In my village, it was a custom to provide food almost all persons in the  village on every happy occasion like birthdays, weddings and  shastipoorthy(60th birthday) etc. There are many temples in North Kerala and Karnataka providing free food for all. For example, If you reach  Parassinikkadavu  temple in  Kannur in Kerala in the he morning, breakfast with  either idli sambar or upma banana, lunch rice with at least sambar and thoran and evening diner with chapathi curry are served to all who visit the temple. The expenditure is met from the donations to the temple in cash and kind (food materials like rice, vegetables  See full.

 Excellent write up. In this connection, I would like to mention that  there are several instances of providing free food in many places in the southern part of Kerala. Many people believe that providing food for the needy is the best way of extending charity ( ANNA DAANAM MAHA DAANAM : Giving food is the best way of giving). In my village, it was a custom to provide food almost all persons in the  village on every happy occasion like birthdays, weddings and  shastipoorthy(60th birthday) etc. There are many temples in North Kerala and Karnataka providing free food for all. For example, If you reach  Parassinikkadavu  temple in  Kannur in Kerala in the he morning, breakfast with  either idli sambar or upma banana, lunch rice with at least sambar and thoran and evening diner with chapathi curry are served to all who visit the temple. The expenditure is met from the donations to the temple in cash and kind (food materials like rice, vegetables etc). Udupi Lord Krishna temple sumptuous lunch is provided for all from 1130AM to 230PM. In fact, there are very few hotels in Udupi preparing lunch as almost all including bus and auto drivers take food from the temple. Every one, rich or poor  take lunch  without any hesitation. On many imprtant occasions in my life, we try to provide a days food for inmates of really good poor homes, or palliative care centres run by committed NGOs in our place. More than giving the money, taking food with the inmates gives us immense pleasure. May be the 'Karma Kitchen' concept is a modern innovation of these instances of good practice in Kerala.

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On Aug 12, 2013 Dan Duncan wrote:

Needs are quantifiable, answerable, where wants are an abyss.
Thus Mick Jagger, "...your debutante knows what you need, but I know what you want."
Do I really want to face that abyss? The abyss between you and me even larger than the abyss in my mind....



On Aug 11, 2013 david doane wrote:

 I appreciate the author's question of "What do I really need to be happy?"  It's an important one.  What I need is to love, which I think includes connection and kindness.  When I love I am connected and kind.  I emphasize that what I need to be happy is to love, not to be loved.  I have loved and had times of abiding in love, and have experienced being happy during those times.  I have been loved, and that's a positive experience, but I'm not necessarily happy in receiving it or as a result of receiving it.  There have been many times when I have been loved when I have not been happy.  It is clear to me that I can be loved without my being happy or it generating my being happy.  I don't think I can love without being happy -- I never have.  Loving generates happiness.  To love is to be happy.  The ultimate is to love and be loved, but to love is the sine qua non.  I think you know you are looking for happiness in  See full.

 I appreciate the author's question of "What do I really need to be happy?"  It's an important one.  What I need is to love, which I think includes connection and kindness.  When I love I am connected and kind.  I emphasize that what I need to be happy is to love, not to be loved.  I have loved and had times of abiding in love, and have experienced being happy during those times.  I have been loved, and that's a positive experience, but I'm not necessarily happy in receiving it or as a result of receiving it.  There have been many times when I have been loved when I have not been happy.  It is clear to me that I can be loved without my being happy or it generating my being happy.  I don't think I can love without being happy -- I never have.  Loving generates happiness.  To love is to be happy.  The ultimate is to love and be loved, but to love is the sine qua non.  I think you know you are looking for happiness in the right places and right ways if you feel happiness that feels true and is abiding. 

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On Aug 10, 2013 Tim wrote:

There is a time  when one takes stock of all the benevolence one has met through life and the often unaccounted for kindness that surrounds  one. So did the author in these monasteries. I remember a previous passage we were invited to reflect upon, from Albert Einstein, where the author suggested that, at some point, one had to answer for him/herself whether life was a good or a bad, let's say, event. A lot depended on that answer. If I answer that there is such a thing as goodness and that it manifested in my life in many occasions and still manifests, like, as it were, with this forum, then why be unhappy? To me happiness cannot be directly aimed for, for then we look for it, as the author says, in the wrong places, we are the prey of illusion. I see happiness as the by-product of an inward balance, clarity. And if this state is not there to start with then I need first to look into my unhappiness. There is a lot  See full.

There is a time  when one takes stock of all the benevolence one has met through life and the often unaccounted for kindness that surrounds  one. So did the author in these monasteries. I remember a previous passage we were invited to reflect upon, from Albert Einstein, where the author suggested that, at some point, one had to answer for him/herself whether life was a good or a bad, let's say, event. A lot depended on that answer. If I answer that there is such a thing as goodness and that it manifested in my life in many occasions and still manifests, like, as it were, with this forum, then why be unhappy?
To me happiness cannot be directly aimed for, for then we look for it, as the author says, in the wrong places, we are the prey of illusion. I see happiness as the by-product of an inward balance, clarity. And if this state is not there to start with then I need first to look into my unhappiness. There is a lot to look at, a lot to see before, as someone said, one can feel free as a singing bird in a clear sky. The drive towards inward freedom is the same as the drive towards happiness.

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1 reply: Lfm | Post Your Reply
On Aug 9, 2013 Conrad P Pletcher wrote:

 Excellent writing. While I was reading I was thinking that giving makes people happy. I strongly believe that and I wonder why I don't give more because I have found it makes me happy and peaceful. I have the feeling that if I strive to be happy that striving or trying does not make me happy. Just giving with no thought of return brings peace and happiness. My guess is that people of all religions, and agnostics and atheists have found that to be true over the years. My thought now is that I am getting more out of writing this then the readers who are reading it. Warm and kind regards to everyone and thanks for the opportunity to respond.



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On Aug 9, 2013 susan wrote:

 Since I saw how selfish my depressions (from early childhood) were, and began living earnestly, fully, I began to notice lasting, constant experiences, as opposed to temporary feelings, such as happiness.  I began to find joy and gratitude which can continually be mined and realized, whereas happiness is temporary and dependent on externals.  I began to see how I could be sad or upset and joyful.  Joy and gratitude are magic carpets to the present, to timelessness.  I need to continue to practice mindfulness and presence where I find joy which needs nothing from the outside.



1 reply: Amy | Post Your Reply