How to Find Deeper Access to Joy: Start with a Peaceful Mind

How to Find Deeper Access to Joy: Start with a Peaceful Mind

A lot of people I know avoid reading the news first thing in the morning—being confronted with all of the injustices and bad deeds in the world is an unsettling way to start the day. It’s difficult to read about the latest school shooting or the obscenity of human trafficking and keep your peace of mind, and it’s even harder to know how to respond.

The conflict feels more immediate when you witness an unjust act firsthand or are yourself subjected to one—whether your wallet is stolen, your car’s broken into, or any sort of hurtful behavior is directed your way. The answer to this problem is upeksha (non-attachment), the fourth of the brahmaviharas—the qualities of true, authentic, and unconditional love.

This state of mind, taught in both yoga and Buddhism, allows us to respond to the nonvirtuous deeds of others and to all of life’s fluctuations in such a way that we are, as Buddhist scholar Peter Harvey describes it, the opposite of James Bond’s martini: stirred but not shaken. When we cultivate equanimity, we’re moved by injustice in the world and motivated to make things better, but our deep inner serenity is not disturbed.

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