Some may think that the pursuit of happiness is a vain and selfish quest. However, when one is happy, one
tends to be more loving, compassionate and giving than when unhappy. So, the attainment of happiness is
a goal that can help everyone.

Many people think of Buddhism as a religion, but Buddha considered himself a practical teacher, not a
God to be revered.  He was the Benjamin Franklin of his culture and time.  It doesn't matter what religion
one belongs to or believes, one can learn to be happy by practicing some of the Buddha's teachings.
Concerning happiness, Buddha says,

To find happiness one practices no desires, no expectations, and no judgments.

Practicing No Desires
When you read this for the first time, it seems like an impossible task. How can one have no desires?  We
desire to eat, don't we?  Perhaps there is a misinterpretation of the word, desire. The way that Buddha
could have meant "desire" was very similar to the Old Testament's, "covet," which brings up a totally
different perspective. In a country such as America, we have so much material wealth that coveting is fed
to us along with pablum and our children's first TV commercials.  One of the first words a baby learns is,
"Mine!"  The first sentence is with a pointing finger, " Want that!"   And, he or she usually gets "that!"

This is not a new idea.  People have known that we are a country spoiled with so much that the idea of
cutting back, down, or out is overwhelming to parents. However, this article is not for children, but adults.  
Look at what coveting or passionate desires have wrought; keeping up with the Jones', divorcing to marry
someone else better(?), liposuction, silicon implants, botox, starving models, movie stars, and hoi paloi,
teenage girls who hate themselves and their bodies because of the starving models, movie stars, and hoi
paloi, males who take dangerous steroids to be better than everyone else, politicians who cheat, lie, and
steal, CEOs who cheat, lie, and steal.  All of these because they covet their neighbor's whatever.

What would happen if all of us suddenly gave up our coveting desires?  Can you imagine?

Practicing No Expectations
This is another hard one.  How many times have we said, done, or given something with an expectation
tag on it?  One of my dumbest expectations is that someone will think I'm really nice.  Ewwww, just
admitting that makes me blush.  But, I do want people to think I'm nice so I have to work on that
expectation.  Another common one is that everyone should like me because I like them.  I certainly never
got away with that one! Here's another one; when I do something for someone, I expect some thank you or
praise.  Yuk.  Down, Fido; We've pet you enough!

Think about some of your expectations and how you could eliminate them.  One of my elimination
techniques is to repeat, "no expectations" about 25 times when I do something that I've usually wanted
positive feedback.  We all like praise and acknowledgement, but it's important not to expect it if we want to
be happy.

Practicing No Judgments
This is the hardest of all.  When I watch myself carefully, I judge everything I see or hear.  It's like I'm on
automatic judgment!  Everything needs a grade, even if it's just good or bad or I like, don't like.  How
boring!  I haven't made enough headway on this one to tell anyone how to stop it.  When I do, I'll write
another article.  The only thing I do when I catch myself is say, "judging, judging," and send whatever or
whoever it is a blessing.  It's a start!

Other Practices
One of the things I taught my teenage daughter was when she went to bed, not to daydream about her
prince charming of the day, or all the things she wanted (desired).  I don't know if it helped her or not, but it
seems to have.  I'll ask her. It sure has helped me.  I sleep like a log as soon as I've blessed my family and
friends.  I love to see each and everyone's face in my mind as I feel the love and send the blessing.

J. Sue Gagliardi, M.A., PMAFA
February 3, 2009
Practicing Happiness