Gaining Happiness by Losing Yourself

A dissolution of body boundaries during meditation leads to greater happiness, says a new study. The results provide evidence that techniques that foster the loss of sense of body boundary can help in the treatment of mood disorders.

In the pursuit of happiness we are often self-centered. I want an ice cream, I want to watch my favorite TV show, I want this woman or man as partner. This hedonic principle can lead to pleasurable states when I am able to consume. But it can also lead to unpleasant situations when I don’t get what I want.

The striving for personal pleasure thereafter leads to fluctuating states of happiness depending on the contingencies of life – factors I may not be able to control. Relying too strongly on these self-related but not necessarily controllable outer rewards can easily lead to unhappiness. The world has not been created to fulfill my personal needs – that’s at least what we have to learn when we grow up. A baby may experience such bliss in the way that every time it cries it is fed, the world is experienced as immediately gratifying. But later in childhood we will inevitably learn that we are not in paradise when again and again we don’t receive the gratification we hoped for. Tolerance for frustration is then needed.

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