I am mainly speaking about the cultivation of these attitudes during daily life. I commonly hear of directing goodwill (metta) and equanimity towards oneself. But the descriptions of compassion (karuna) and joy (mudita) are always in terms of another. If metta and equanimity can be directed towards others also, why can't karuna and mudita be directed towards oneself? Maybe they can, I just haven't read this anywhere yet.
It makes more sense to me like this. Just say I'm feeling down. I can send metta to myself, but sometimes it takes a great deal of forced effort to get through negative feelings (panic attack, anxiety, etc.) and cultivate good intentions. I did this this morning on the way to the morning work meeting. I've had a couple panic attacks up there but as I felt those feelings this morning I fought through with good-will and positivism and walked upstairs to the meeting happy. This was difficult though, it was forced. This may not be easy or safe in the long run to go about a strategy like this for coping with this particular problem. Please also note I look to develop the sublime attitudes for further reasons as well.
If I was to, however, have compassion (karuna) for myself instead, then I could much more easily surrender to my current self and the feelings I experience. From there it seems logical to recall equanimity and karma's role....which would lead to realizing that the past can't be changed and the need to focus on goodwill (metta) for myself now.
And what about when I'm extra happy? Laughing with others? Can I feel joy (mudita) for myself as I would feel for others when they are happy? This only makes sense to me but I want to find back-up from a Buddhist perspective like the suttas.
It seems to be somewhat forced, when I'm feeling down or particularly high, to realize "I'm not doing it right. I should be focused on kindness and goodwill for myself" and become consciously focused in changing a situation that would do better with karuna or mudita over metta. Thanissaro considers karuna and mudita to be extensions of metta anyways, so this seems to be the case. Any comments?
Lastly, when does one move past oneself and onto others? I understand that in formal private meditation, we should be becoming very concentrated, and as you become stable in these feelings on yourself, you can safely move to the next safest person on the list.
But in daily life? For a beginner working at these attitudes, should I just stick to directing goodwill, compassion, joy and equanimity towards myself whenever I can? And spread these feelings towards others as the time calls for it? (ex. a person shows me they need a hand ...compassion, or they tell me a joke in a happy mood...joy/mudita) I don't want to get caught up in focusing on others when I haven't stabilized the feelings for myself.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.