Book Freak #44: Dalai Lama’s Tips for Happiness
Short pieces of advice from books
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Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. Here is advice from his book, The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living.
When life becomes overwhelming stop and reflect
“When life becomes too complicated and we feel overwhelmed, it’s often useful just to stand back and remind ourselves of our overall purpose, our overall goal. When faced with a feeling of stagnation and confusion, it may be helpful to take an hour, an afternoon, or even several days to simply reflect on what it is that will truly bring us happiness, and then reset our priorities on the basis of that. This can put our life back in proper context, allow a fresh perspective, and enable us to see which direction to take.”
Train your mind to be resilient to disturbing events
“Through training, we can change; we can transform ourselves. Within Buddhist practice there are various methods of trying to sustain a calm mind when some disturbing event happens. Through repeated practice of these methods we can get to the point where some disturbance may occur but the negative effects on our mind remain on the surface, like the waves that may ripple on the surface of an ocean but don’t have much effect deep down. And, although my own experience may be very little, I have found this to be true in my own small practice. So, if I receive some tragic news, at that moment I may experience some disturbance within my mind, but it goes very quickly. Or, I may become irritated and develop some anger, but again, it dissipates very quickly. There is no effect on the deeper mind. No hatred. This was achieved through gradual practice; it didn’t happen overnight.“
Begin every new encounter with a positive attitude
“If you approach others with the thought of compassion, that will automatically reduce fear and allow an openness with other people. It creates a positive, friendly atmosphere. With that attitude, you can approach a relationship in which you, yourself, initially create the possibility of receiving affection or a positive response from the other person. And with that attitude, even if the other person is unfriendly or doesn’t respond to you in a positive way, then at least you’ve approached the person with a feeling of openness that gives you a certain flexibility and the freedom to change your approach as needed.”
View your struggles as growth opportunities
“Imagine what it would be like if we went through life never encountering an enemy, or any other obstacles for that matter, if from the cradle to the grave everyone we met pampered us, held us, hand fed us (soft bland food, easy to digest), amused us with funny faces and the occasional ‘goo-goo’ noise. If from infancy we were carried around in a basket (later on, perhaps on a litter), never encountering any challenge, never tested – in short, if everyone continued to treat us like a baby. That might sound good at first. For the first few months of life it might be appropriate. But if it persisted it could only result in one becoming a sort of gelatinous mass, a monstrosity really – with the mental and emotional development of veal. It’s the very struggle of life that makes us who we are. And it is our enemies that test us, provide us with the resistance necessary for growth.”