Loving Kindness Meditation and the Disease of the West


A startling aspect of modern western culture is that people are generally unhappy and don’t like themselves. This is incredible that the most affluent society that has ever existed should be populated with people are not happy and have low self-worth. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising given what it has taken to become so affluent.

The perpetual striving for more and more creates what psychologists call the hedonic treadmill. Obtaining a desired object (new car etc.) often brings a happiness that is very transitory. It fades rapidly. So, the person is only happy for a brief time. But the individual interprets this that obtaining things is the key to happiness. So, the individual now strives to obtain another thing. Upon obtaining it, brief happiness ensues but fades, prompting seeking another object.

This perpetual cycle entraps the individual only satisfying occasionally but enslaving him/her to effort and striving. This produces unhappy, but very productive people, who make work their primary focus. In the process, they devote only a modicum of time to relaxation, contemplation, family, friends, and community.  In other words they withdraw from the most important and satisfying components in life. They have effectively chosen thing that don’t make them happy over things that do.

Loving Kindness Meditation can help to overcome this western disease. It causes the individual to focus on others and themselves, wishing them happiness, ease of well-being, peacefulness etc. It shifts focus from things to people, from effort to experiencing. This may be a medicine for the disease. The research certainly supports its effectiveness.

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