Often when someone is getting something we want, or they have something we can’t or don’t have, jealousy pops up for us. Here, the practice of joyfulness is really useful, because instead of creating jealousy, and covetousness, where we wish we had the thing, or relationship, or job they had, whatever it is, we can deliberately generate joyfulness. We can take joy in that they got what they wanted, and that they’re experiencing some happiness from that. And, of course, who does this affect the most? It affects us, because jealousy is a really sticky, afflictive emotion. When we’re caught in jealousy, it’s really uncomfortable and painful.
We can see in the buddhadharma, everything is here to help us expand and get out of ourselves and enclosures. It’s to help us connect with a more unlimited sense of being, a more open, spacious, boundless way of being. So one of the practices that can really help with connecting with more boundlessness and help us to come out of things like jealousy is boundless joyfulness.
The practice is remembering a variety of moments to take joy in. We simply try our best to express or feel joy in that person or a set of people’s happiness. We start with those close to us. That’s a little easier. I also like starting with my daughter or other small kids, because it’s so easy for them to feel joy—to laugh, giggle, or scream with excitement. We just take joy in that. After starting with easier things like that, we can move to more challenging things like those we have jealousy toward. For me, sometimes it’s toward those who are creating a circumstance that’s disturbing me. For example, if I’m trying to sleep, and my neighbor wants to play really loud music, [I stop and think], what are they actually doing? They are doing something they want to do, they are doing something that they’re taking joy in, that makes them happy. Yes, it’s disturbing me and not letting me sleep. But, at the same moment, there’s this opportunity that I can see happiness and joy happening around me. Of course this helps as an antidote to my frustration but doesn’t necessarily help my sleep! But it helps with my emotional reaction, and puts me in a more peaceful, open, and boundless space.
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