By Master Eric Sbarge
I was driving recently when the song Girls Just Want to Have Fun came on my radio. That song was written in the late 1970s and popularized by Cindi Lauper a couple of years later. As I listened to the song I reflected back when I was a teenager in the 70s, and it struck me that back then some girls wanted to have fun, and some didn’t.
But as I gave it more thought I conceded that of course all girls wanted to have fun, it was just that some girls wanted to have fun with someone other than me.
And that’s worth remembering: All girls and all boys, all women and all men, want to have fun. And they want to have fun because having fun contributes to our happiness. As the Dalai Lama says, “The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering.”
We all become happy in different ways. Teenaged boys might have one idea of fun and happiness, their grandmothers might have a different idea. But what is true for all of us is that happiness comes not just from our circumstances, but from how our mind perceives these circumstances.
As the Dalai Lama further states, “Happiness comes from our own attitude.” Most of us readily understand this, yet we can still fail to maintain a positive and happy attitude. Why? Because we aren’t in the habit of watching and monitoring our attitude. It takes diligence to continually nourish our positive thoughts and discard the negative. We suffer not so much because of bad circumstances, but because of bad thinking and a bad attitude towards those circumstances.
How can we develop the diligence needed to maintain a positive attitude and happiness? One of the oldest and most proven methods is through meditation. When we learn to meditate we create the habit of looking inward at our thoughts and attitude, rather than outward at the circumstances that might sour our thoughts and attitude. If we don’t like what we see on the inside, we work on changing it.
Ironically, some people try meditation but don’t find it to be fun, and it doesn’t make them happy. Their legs get sore, their mind wanders, the anxiety that they’re hoping to sooth gets worse. They feel as though they’re a failure at meditation. But the problem is usually one of attitude. They want happiness to be instant and forget that that almost all good things take time. They’re not failing at meditation, they’re failing to cultivate the right attitude for meditation.
With the right attitude, meditation will be fun. Maybe not the immediate fun of roller coasters or beaches or Las Vegas, or girls. But a longer lasting kind of fun, that ultimately brings more happiness.
What’s the solution if you aren’t enjoying your meditation? Develop a more positive attitude, a process that can be perfected, paradoxically, through meditation.