The Dalai Lama shares his wisdom about happiness in a series of interviews with psychologist Howard C Cutler. His Holiness uses stories as well as meditation exercises to convey his idea of happiness, showing anyone how to feel happier in everyday life through mindset changes. The simple actionable tips allow anyone to welcome more peace into their life.
My key Takeaways from “The Art of Happiness":
Long lasting happiness comes from having the right state of mind rather than external circumstances. Sure, an amazing vacation, party, or simply a phone call from a friend can make you happy for a short while, but you'll know from experience that you soon go back to feeling 'normal'. That's why you must systematically train your brain to be happier. It's a slow process but you'll eventually feel an inner calmness that allows you to find joy and happiness no matter what is going on around you.
Takeaway #1 Compassion
Compassion is key when it comes to happiness. Compassion means being in a state of mind that is not aggressive, one where you wish to see others free from suffering. To truly be compassionate, you wish all people and creatures to live a life free of suffering rather than focusing just on those around you. Practice compassion by feeling empathy for others. If you find this difficult and usually go to a place of anger rather than empathy, consider what you and the other person have in common, then put yourself in their shoes and consider how you would feel if you were in the same boat.
Takeaway #2 Intimacy
In the Western world, we often associate intimacy with our romantic partner meaning that when you're single you feel like something is missing. It doesn't have to be that way when you stop associating intimacy with sex. It's highly possible to feel intimacy with a wide range of people around you from friends, and family, teachers to work colleagues, you just have to connect with them over time, have an appreciation for them and respect them.
Takeaway #3 Religion & Spirituality
To be spiritual you do not have to be religious but being spiritual or religious will lead to greater happiness. Basic qualities such as goodness, compassion, and caring are all basic qualities that people can practice throughout the day no matter their religious beliefs. These acts bring us closer to humanity whilst helping us to feel more calm, relaxed, and ultimately, happier.
Takeaway #4 Suffering
Suffering is a natural cycle of life but unfortunately, we humans tend to enjoy wallowing in our suffering, making it bigger than it really is as we exclaim how terribly unlucky we are and play the victim card. That's not to say that ignoring or avoiding suffering is the answer, instead, we should aim to remove the mental cause of the suffering as fast as possible. It's important to learn not to resist change, not to try to cling on to people, possessions and negative events and thoughts as this only lengthens the feeling of suffering. Accept that life is in constant flux and people, things, and thoughts are always coming and going – When you let go of the pain and anger, the suffering will end.
Takeaway #5 Negativity
Harmful negative emotions such as anger and hatred are poison to our mind and should be beat using love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and generosity. CBT and meditation can help with the process of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones but it's a slow journey that cannot be rushed. Without knowing why you're changing your thoughts and indeed where the negative thoughts came from, you won't succeed in finding peace and happiness long term. That's why it's so important to shift your perspective and find the good in everything, even the most terrible times. Remember, no event, circumstance, or feeling is ever 100% negative.
The Art of Happiness Chapters
Chapter One -The Right to Happiness
Chapter Two - The Sources of Happiness
Chapter Three - Training the Mind for Happiness
Chapter Four - Reclaiming Our Innate Stae of Happiness
Chapter Five - A New Model for Intimacy
Chapter Six - Deepening Our Connection to Others
Chapter Seven - The Value and Benefits of Compassion
Chapter Eight - Facing Suffering
Chapter Nine - Self-Created Suffering
Chapter Ten - Shifting Perspective
Chapter Eleven - Finding Meaning in Pain and Suffering
Chapter Twelve - Bringing About Change
Chapter Thirteen - Dealing with Anger and Hatred
Chapter Fourteen - Dealing with Anxiety and Building Self- Esteem
Chapter Fifteen - Basic Spiritual Values
Best Quotes from The Art of Happiness
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
“Whether our action is wholesome or unwholesome depends on whether that action or deed arises from a disciplined or undisciplined state of mind. It is felt that a disciplined mind leads to happiness and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering, and in fact, it is said that bringing about discipline within one's mind is the essence of the Buddha's teaching.”
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
“Sometimes when I meet old friends, it reminds me how quickly time passes. And it makes me wonder if we've utilized our time properly or not. Proper utilization of time is so important. While we have this body, and especially this amazing human brain, I think every minute is something precious. Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. There is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time we will be here. But we are working for that purely on the basis of hope. So, we need to make the best use of our time. I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy. "
"So, let us reflect what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. The purpose of our life needs to be positive. We weren't born with the purpose of causing trouble, harming others. For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities—warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful—happier.”
“Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations,you can modify the extent to which you can suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.”
“We need to learn how to want what we have NOT to have what we want in order to get steady and stable Happiness”
“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.”
“No matter what activity or practice we are pursuing, there isn't anything that isn't made easier through constant familiarity and training. 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.'
"Certainly not. The Dalai Lama has been engaged in training his mind since he was four years old.”
“Happiness is determined more by one's state of mind than by external events.”
“Self-satisfaction alone cannot determine if a desire or action is positive or negative. The demarcation between a positive and a negative desire or action is not whether it gives you an immediate feeling of satisfaction, but whether it ultimately results in positive or negative consequences.”
“The more honest you are, the more open, the less fear you will have because there's no anxiety about being exposed or revealed to others.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.