Habit of Happiness 8 – Rejoicing in the Virtuous and Indifference towards Evil

From our e-book “Filling our Life with Celebration”

Rejoicing in the virtues of others

Rejoicing in the virtuous and Indifference towards evil; this is what Patanjali and the Buddha taught. Recently, one of the top ten richest men in Malaysia mentioned in the papers that he will give half his wealth away. The next day, the papers quoted some individuals who claimed that the tycoon is just carrying out a publicity stunt. The world is such that we do not believe that anybody can be genuinely generous or virtuous. There must always be a hidden agenda behind every virtuous action.

Osho rightly pointed out that when we reject the virtuous actions of others, we are also rejecting the virtues within ourselves. How we think of others reflects how we think of ourselves. Because we cannot bring ourselves to give to others, we cannot believe it when another person is able to give away his wealth so easily.

On the other hand, when we rejoice in the positive actions of others, we will try to emulate them. The Buddha said that when we rejoice in the positive actions of others, we also share in the merits or good karma from those actions. This makes sense because our thoughts are energy which we send out to the universe. When we rejoice in the virtues of others, we are attracting those positive vibrations to us. When we rejoice in the generosity of others, the universe would give us the opportunity and put us in the position to be generous too.

Unfortunately this also works pretty well for evil actions. When we condemn evil, we are putting our thought energy into it. A race car driver is taught to look away from the objects that he may crash into. When he is approaching a curb with a wall, he must look away from the wall. If he stares at the wall, he will inevitably crash into it. When I was teaching my daughter how to ride a bicycle in a badminton court, I was amused by how she wobbled whenever she passed by the poles use to put up the net. I explained to her that by looking at the poles, she was giving unnecessary attention to the poles and this affected her balance.

We give energy to whatever that we focus our attention on and whatever we condemn, and as a result, we bring more of the negativities into our lives. When we rejoice in the virtues of others, the world appears to be filled with kind and loving beings and we get uplifted by it. It benefits our mood and our health. When we condemn, the world looks dark and evil. We fill ourselves with anger and fear and our health and mood suffers.

We rejoice in the virtues of others by praising the kind deeds done by others. Even mentally praising others to ourselves is a method of rejoicing in the virtues of others. We can create the opportunity to rejoice in the virtues of others by reading the autobiographies of people who help others or watching movies or documentaries made about these great beings.

Dr. David McClelland and his colleagues conducted a fascinating series of studies showing the power of relationships to affect immunity. They asked students to watch a documentary movie about Mother Teresa’s service to the sick and dying poor of Calcutta’s worst slums. Another group of students watched a more neutral film. On average, those who watched the movie about Mother Teresa showed a significant increase in protective antibodies whereas those who watched the neutral film did not.

However, not all students who saw the film about Mother Teresa showed improvement in immune function. Some actually got worse. The researchers wondered why after students watched the Mother Teresa documentary, the researchers then showed the students a photograph of a couple sitting on a bench by a river and asked them to write a story about this couple to gain greater insight into each student’s unconscious perceptions and projections.

What did they find? Those who wrote stories depicting the couple in a happy, trusting relationship who helped each other, respected each other, and shared warm, loving feelings had the biggest increases in immune antibodies. They also reported fewer infectious diseases during the preceding year. Those who wrote stories in which the couple manipulated, deceived, and abandoned each other showed the biggest decreases in antibodies and reported significantly more illness during the previous year. How they perceived the couple in this photograph was a good barometer of how they perceived the world in general. This is scientific evidence on how the ability to rejoice in the goodness of others can improve our health and vice versa.

%d bloggers like this: