While walking to go get food today with a classmate we struck up a conversation that gave me satori (flash of Enlightenment) and a deeper understanding how our views of the world differ. Usually this particular classmate and I clash because he tends to comment about how terrible the world is and how he’s forced deal with it. It mildly sarcastic and incredibly negative all the time. On the other end of the scale I’m usually optimistic and perhaps a little too preachy on how things actually aren’t that bad. When he makes a comment about how we’re being unfairly treated I toss in why it’s not actually that bad or how we could benefit or learn from the situation. How the moment will eventually pass and we’ll move on to something else.
The satori that I received gave me the realization that I was trying to solve the problem (his unhappiness) in an incorrect way. I was trying to make things appear better by countering his negativity. However, this was erroneous because it was a way for my ego to think that I am superior to him. In actuality I am no better and no worse than he is.
You see, the ego that wants to prove that it is better than everyone else. Measuring my happiness to his was a way of showing my superiority. There is no purpose in measuring happiness other than to place yourself above or below another person. Countering his negative statements wasn’t bringing him any happiness because it was a way for me to basically say “I’m better than you, what you are saying is wrong”.
The situation is paradoxical because I genuinely want him to be happy but at the same time I liked feeling better than him.
The satori was my realization that I am not solving anything through these action. It was also the feeling that I am no better than him.
Just because I am happier in this situation doesn’t make me a better person. Everyone has highs as well as lows. Measuring and comparing against someone else is useless other than determining superiority. Unhappy is unhappy. My unhappy doesn’t measure against your unhappy. Unhappiness is… unhappiness.
If I want to show genuine compassion, I would show love and sympathy to him. It doesn’t mean that I would agree with his negative statements but I would sympathize in his suffering. It’s something that we all go through during our life. I would love him as a fellow human and understand his suffering without taking it on as my own. I won’t tell him that he’s wrong for his thoughts as that would perpetuate the conflict and suffering.
For him to find happiness he will have to change his views. He will have to realize that the world isn’t as horrible as he believes it to be. Perhaps he will learn this through experience, through time, or, more likely, a mixture of the two. I cannot make him realize this and disagreeing with him will only fuel his negative viewpoint.
My role is to show him my happiness by being happy. To show him that the situation isn’t actually that bad because “look at this guy and everyone else, they’re doing just fine”.
The statement he said that lead to this article was “…you always see the world as rainbows and butterflies…”. It made me realize our disconnect. He didn’t see the world as rose tinted as I did and therefore all of my statements about things not being bad were useless. He couldn’t see them from his viewpoint. Suddenly I realized that I would have to show him happiness, not just speak about it.