I recently emerged out of this really rough patch and throughout the entire situation, I kept asking myself, what am I learning from this? What have I learned by experiencing this? After it was over, I was relieved–of course–but surprised that I didn’t feel that much different.
Then one day during yoga class it hit me. I knew at least one reason why I had to go through this traumatic experience: I needed to go through this to learn to empathize more with others. I’ve always considered myself empathetic but the Universe decided that I needed to learn this skill on a much more personal level. And I have–in a way I’m not likely to ever forget.
How interesting then, when I picked up and read the Art of Happiness in a Troubled World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama that he argues that we can only find true happiness through empathy and compassion:
“The method begins by cultivating a deep sense of our common humanity, a profound awareness of the common characteristics we share with every other human being. This becomes the basis for generating a sense of empathy for every human being. This empathy becomes the basis for generating compassion. Generating a feeling of compassion will lead directly to greater personal happiness. Acting on the basis of that compassion will result in taking steps to overcome the problems of today’s world, and will eventually lead to ‘a happier society, as well as a more peaceful world.'” (pg. 308)
I’ve been looking for happiness, almost as if it was a lost set of keys and was something I could “find.” But it’s not–it’s something that I’m learning and one of the lessons I’ve learned is that happiness comes by being connected to others.