I spent the day at a continuing education workshop on Positive Psychology. When I signed up I didn’t realize the presenter was an ordained Buddhist scholar. So, to say the least, the day focused on what he called “Buddha Psychology”.
I decided to make the best out of this situation by applying the information to my Christian worldview and to what the Bible teaches. What I came up with was the value of developing the discipline of a compassionate prayer life and staying aware of the presence of Jesus. And, finding peace and happiness in His presence rather than in external circumstances.
Developing a discipline, such as playing the piano, takes practice. There’s a difference between someone, like me, who owns a piano and just tinkers than someone who is serious about it and practices for hours. Just as there is a difference between someone who dabbles with prayer and someone who takes it seriously, approaching it with their full presence and with compassion for others. It then becomes a disciplined practice.
Studies show that compassion for others displays the highest brain markers for happiness. Research concludes that people who aren’t very happy associate happiness with getting what they want. But, happy people synthesize happiness out of what they have. They are able to find value in whatever life gives. They can more easily remember the positive meaning derived from a difficulty than the situation itself. And, they expect favorable circumstances in the future. They are strong in gratitude, generosity and forgiveness.
From the Christian perspective we are able to go a step further and say that “God meant it for my good” when we go through difficult times. We realize compassion comes from suffering and we are open to help others who are hurting. We have our hope in Christ. Rather than simple mindfulness, or awareness, we have the presence of God with us. Mindfulness for us is not remembering to stay close to a chosen object, but remembering to stay close to God!