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Discovering Lasting Contentment: Lessons from The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama

 In his timeless book "The Art of Happiness," the Dalai Lama offers profound teachings that extend far beyond fleeting contentment. He beckons us to delve into the depths of our consciousness and embark on a journey of personal transformation. So, let's explore the wisdom he imparts and discover how to find lasting happiness.

Mindfulness and Personal Growth: Key Takeaways from The Art of Happiness 

Introduction: The Wisdom Within "The Art of Happiness"

In a world often characterized by chaos and stress, the Dalai Lama's "The Art of Happiness" serves as a guiding light, leading us to a place of authentic joy. The book delves into the core principles of finding inner peace and contentment, providing insights that go beyond momentary happiness. As we navigate through life's challenges, let's uncover the gems of wisdom this book has to offer.

1. Cultivating Compassion: A Foundation for Joy

Compassion, according to the Dalai Lama, is not only an emotion but a way of life. By fostering a genuine wish for the happiness of all beings, we not only enrich our relationships but also kindle the flames of our own well-being. As you journey towards lasting joy, remember these steps:

Practice empathy: Step into the shoes of others and embrace their perspectives. Understand their joys, struggles, and motivations.

Act with kindness: Infuse your days with small acts of kindness. These gestures have the power to create a ripple effect of positivity around you.

Loving-kindness meditation: Dedicate moments to meditate on love and compassion. Send feelings of warmth and kindness not only to yourself but to every being on this planet.

2. Overcoming Negative Emotions: Taming Anger and Anxiety

Negative emotions can cloud our skies, obscuring the sun of happiness. The Dalai Lama provides insights to help us tame anger and anxiety, allowing the light of contentment to shine through. Here's how you can navigate this journey:

Challenge your thoughts: When anger brews, challenge the validity of the thoughts that trigger it. Are they truly accurate and rational?

Practice patience: Develop a reservoir of inner calm through mindfulness. Patience becomes a shield against the storm of negative emotions.

Refocus your mind: When anxiety knocks on your door, refocus your thoughts on positive aspects. Shift your attention away from worries.

3. Honesty and Self-Esteem: Keys to Authentic Happiness

Authentic happiness blossoms from the soil of honesty and self-esteem. Embrace your true self and cultivate self-worth through these steps:

Embrace self-awareness: Take a holistic view of yourself, acknowledging both your strengths and areas for growth.

Release self-criticism: Banish harsh self-judgments and replace them with self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same kindness you extend to others.

Live authentically: Celebrate your uniqueness and individual journey. Align your actions with your values, fostering a sense of integrity.

4. Embracing Inner Peace: Insights from the Dalai Lama

Inner peace is attainable through mindfulness, awareness, and detachment from outcomes. The Dalai Lama illuminates this path to serenity. Embrace these practices:

Practice mindfulness: Ground yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness soothes the storms of stress and anxiety.

Detach from outcomes: Find joy not just in achieving goals but also in the journey itself. Let go of attachment to specific outcomes.

Cultivate gratitude: Pause to acknowledge the positive aspects of your life. Cultivating gratitude fosters a sense of fulfillment and inner harmony.

Conclusion: Applying Wisdom to Your Life

As you close this chapter on the wisdom of "The Art of Happiness," remember that happiness is not a destination but a journey. By embracing compassion, managing negative emotions, nurturing self-esteem, and cultivating inner peace, you're stepping onto a path that leads to authentic and profound contentment. So, let the Dalai Lama's teachings be your compass, guiding you towards a life of enduring joy.

In the pursuit of creating a structured, engaging, and informative blog post, I've incorporated a conversational tone, personal pronouns, rhetorical questions, and illustrative analogies to ensure a compelling and relatable reading experience.

Favourite Quotes:

“Yes. I believe that happiness can be achieved through training the mind.”
The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness. It seems like common sense, and Western thinkers from Aristotle to William James have agreed with this idea.

But isn’t a life based on seeking personal happiness by nature self-centered, even self-indulgent? Not necessarily. In fact, survey after survey has shown that it is unhappy people who tend to be most self-focused and are often socially withdrawn, brooding, and even antagonistic.

Happy people, in contrast, are generally found to be more sociable, flexible, and creative and are able to tolerate life’s daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people. And, most important, they are found to be more loving and forgiving than unhappy people.

And as we begin to identify the factors that lead to a happier life, we will learn how the search for happiness offers benefits not only for the individual but for the individual’s family and for society at large as well.

Happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.

Success may result in a temporary feeling of elation, or tragedy may send us into a period of depression, but sooner or later our overall level of happiness tends to migrate back to a certain baseline.

Psychologists call this process adaptation, and we can see how this principle operates in our everyday life; a pay raise, a new car, or recognition from our peers may lift our mood for a while, but we soon return to our customary level of happiness.

In the same way, an argument with a friend, a car in the repair shop, or a minor injury may put us in a foul mood, but within a matter of days our spirits rebound.

No matter what level of happiness we are endowed with by nature, there are steps we can take to work with the “mind factor,” to enhance our feelings of happiness. This is because our moment-to-moment happiness is largely determined by our outlook.

In fact, whether we are feeling happy or unhappy at any given moment often has very little to do with our absolute conditions but, rather it is a function of how we perceive our situation, how satisfied we are with what we have.

Our feelings of contentment are strongly influenced by our tendency to compare. When we compare our current situation to our past and find that we’re better off, we feel happy.

“Certain desires are positive. A desire for happiness. It’s absolutely right. The desire for peace. The desire for a more harmonious world, a friendlier world. Certain desires are very useful." “But at some point, desires can become unreasonable."

For example, in the case of wanting more expensive possessions, if that is based on a mental attitude that just wants more and more, then eventually you’ll reach a limit of what you can get; you’ll come up against reality.

And when you reach that limit, then you’ll lose all hope, sink down into depression, and so on. That’s one danger inherent in that type of desire.

“So I think that this kind of excessive desire leads to greed—an exaggerated form of desire, based on overexpectation. And when you reflect upon the excesses of greed, you’ll find that it leads an individual to a feeling of frustration, disappointment, a lot of confusion, and a lot of problems. When it comes to dealing with greed, one thing that is quite characteristic is that although it arrives by the desire to obtain something, it is not satisfied by obtaining.

Therefore, it becomes sort of limitless, sort of bottomless, and that leads to trouble. One interesting thing about greed is that although the underlying motive is to seek satisfaction, the irony is that even after obtaining the object of your desire, you are still not satisfied.

The true antidote of greed is contentment. If you have a strong sense of contentment, it doesn’t matter whether you obtain the object or not; either way, you are still content.”

So, how can we achieve inner contentment? There are two methods. One method is to obtain everything that we want and desire—all the money, houses, and cars; the perfect mate; and the perfect body.

The second, and more reliable, method is not to have what we want but rather to want and appreciate what we have.

We’ve seen how working on our mental outlook is a more effective means of achieving happiness than seeking it through external sources such as wealth, position, or even physical health.

Another internal source of happiness, closely linked with an inner feeling of contentment, is a sense of self-worth.
In describing the most reliable basis for developing that sense of self-worth, the Dalai Lama explained:

“Now in my case, for instance, suppose I had no depth of human feeling, no capacity for easily creating good friends. Without that, when I lost my own country, when my political authority in Tibet came to an end, becoming a refugee would have been very difficult.

While I was in Tibet, because of the way the political system was set up, there was a certain degree of respect given to the office of the Dalai Lama and people related to me accordingly, regardless of whether they had true affection towards me or not.

But if that was the only basis of people’s relation towards me, then when I lost my country, it would have been extremely difficult. But there is another source of worth and dignity from which you can relate to other fellow human beings.

You can relate to them because you are still a human being, within the human community. You share that bond. And that human bond is enough to give rise to a sense of worth and dignity. That bond can become a source of consolation in the event that you lose everything else.”

The Dalai Lama stopped for a moment to take a sip of tea, then shaking his head he added, “Unfortunately, when you read history you’ll find cases of emperors or kings in the past who lost their status due to some political upheaval and were forced to leave the country, but the story afterwards wasn’t that positive for them. I think without that feeling of affection and connection with other fellow human beings, life becomes very hard.

“Generally speaking, you can have two different types of individuals. On the one hand, you can have a wealthy, successful person, surrounded by relatives and so on.

If that person’s source of dignity and sense of worth is only material, then so long as his fortune remains, maybe that person can sustain a sense of security. But the moment the fortune wanes, the person will suffer because there is no other refuge.

On the other hand, you can have another person enjoying similar economic status and financial success, but at the same time, that person is warm and affectionate and has a feeling of compassion.

Because that person has another source of worth, another source that gives him or her a sense of dignity, another anchor, there is less chance of that person’s becoming depressed if his or her fortune happens to disappear.

Through this type of reasoning you can see the very practical value of human warmth and affection in developing an inner sense of worth.”

True happiness relates more to the mind and heart. Happiness that depends mainly on physical pleasure is unstable; one day it’s there, the next day it may not be.

Everyday we are faced with numerous decisions and choices. And try as we may, we often don’t choose the thing that we know is “good for us.” Part of this is related to the fact that the “right choice” is often the difficult one—the one that involves some sacrifice of our pleasure.

We know it when we feel it. We know it in the touch or smile of a loved one, in the luxury of a hot bath on a cold rainy afternoon, in the beauty of a sunset.

Fortunately we have a place to begin: the simple reminder that what we are seeking in life is happiness. As the Dalai Lama points out, that is an unmistakable fact.

If we approach our choices in life keeping that in mind, it is easier to give up the things that are ultimately harmful to us, even if those things bring us momentary pleasure.

The reason why it is usually so difficult to “Just say no!” is found in the word “no”; that approach is associated with a sense of rejecting something, of giving something up, of denying ourselves.

But there is a better approach: framing any decision we face by asking ourselves, “Will it bring me happiness?”

That simple question can be a powerful tool in helping us skillfully conduct all areas of our lives, not just in the decision whether to indulge in drugs or that third piece of banana cream pie. It puts a new slant on things.

Approaching our daily decisions and choices with this question in mind shifts the focus from what we are denying ourselves to what we are seeking—ultimate happiness. A kind of happiness, as defined by the Dalai Lama, that is stable and persistent.

A state of happiness that remains, despite life’s ups and downs and normal fluctuations of mood, as part of the very matrix of our being.

With this perspective, it’s easier to make the “right decision” because we are acting to give ourselves something, not denying or withholding something from ourselves—an attitude of moving toward rather than moving away, an attitude of embracing life rather than rejecting it.

This underlying sense of moving toward happiness can have a very profound effect; it makes us more receptive, more open, to the joy of living.

THE PATH TO HAPPINESS In identifying one’s mental state as the prime factor in achieving happiness, of course that doesn’t deny that our basic physical needs for food, clothing, and shelter must be met.

But once these basic needs are met, the message is clear: we don’t need more money, we don’t need greater success or fame, we don’t need the perfect body or even the perfect mate—right now, at this very moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness.

In presenting his approach to working with the mind, the Dalai Lama began, “When we refer to ‘mind’ or’consciousness,‘ there are many different varieties. Just like external conditions or objects, some things are very useful, some are very harmful, and some are neutral.

So when dealing with external matter, usually we first try to identify which of these different substances or chemicals are helpful, so we can take care to cultivate, increase, and use them.

And those substances which are harmful, we get rid of. So similarly, when we talk about mind, there are thousands of different thoughts or different’minds. Among them, some are very helpful; those, we should take and nourish.

Some are negative, very harmful; those, we should try to reduce. “So, the first step in seeking happiness is learning. We first have to learn how negative emotions and behaviors are harmful to us and how positive emotions are helpful.

And we must realize how these negative emotions are not only very bad and harmful to one personally but harmful to society and the future of the whole world as well. That kind of realization enhances our determination to face and overcome them.

And then, there is the realization of the beneficial aspects of the positive emotions and behaviors. Once we realize that, we become determined to cherish, develop, and increase those positive emotions no matter how difficult that is.

There is a kind of spontaneous willingness from within. So through this process of learning, of analyzing which thoughts and emotions are beneficial and which are harmful, we gradually develop a firm determination to change, feeling

‘Now the secret to my own happiness, my own good future, is within my own hands. I must not miss that opportunity!’

If you desire happiness, you should seek the causes that give rise to it, and if you don’t desire suffering, then what you should do is to ensure that the causes and conditions that would give rise to it no longer arise. An appreciation of this causal principle is very important.

Well, I would regard a compassionate, warm, kindhearted person as healthy. If you maintain a feeling of compassion, loving kindness, then something automatically opens your inner door.

Regular practice and repetition of the task had recruited new nerve cells and changed the neural connections that had originally been involved in the task. This remarkable feature of the brain appears to be the physiological basis for the possibility of transforming our minds.

By mobilizing our thoughts and practicing new ways of thinking, we can reshape our nerve cells and change the way our brains work.

It is also the basis for the idea that inner transformation begins with learning (new input) and involves the discipline of gradually replacing our “negative conditioning” (corresponding with our present characteristic nerve cell activation patterns) with “positive conditioning” (forming new neural circuits). Thus, the idea of training the mind for happiness becomes a very real possibility.

Even though our society does not emphasize this, the most important use of knowledge and education is to help us understand the importance of engaging in more wholesome actions and bringing about discipline within our minds.

The proper utilization of our intelligence and knowledge is to effect changes from within to develop a good heart.

Our physical structure seems to be more suited to feelings of love and compassion. We can see how a calm, affectionate, wholesome state of mind has beneficial effects on our health and physical well-being.

Conversely, feelings of frustration, fear, agitation, and anger can be destructive to our health.

“So, I think that we can infer that our fundamental human nature is one of gentleness. And if this is the case, then it makes all the more sense to try to live a way of life that is more in accordance with this basic gentle nature of our being.”

“it is still my firm conviction that human nature is essentially compassionate, gentle. That is the predominant feature of human nature.

Anger, violence, and aggression may certainly arise, but I think it’s on a secondary or more superficial level; in a sense, they arise when we are frustrated in our efforts to achieve love and affection. They are not part of our most basic, underlying nature.

“So, although aggression can occur, I believe that these conflicts aren’t necessarily because of human nature but rather a result of the human intellect—unbalanced human intelligence, misuse of our intelligence, our imaginative faculty.

Now in looking at human evolution, I think that compared to some other animals‘, our physical body may have been very weak.

But because of the development of human intelligence, we were able to use many instruments and discover many methods to conquer adverse environmental conditions.

As human society and environmental conditions gradually became more complex, this required a greater and greater role of our intelligence and cognitive ability to meet the ever-increasing demands of this complex environment.

So, I believe that our underlying or fundamental nature is gentleness, and intelligence is a later development.

And I think that if that human ability, that human intelligence, develops in an unbalanced way, without being properly counterbalanced with compassion, then it can become destructive. It can lead to disaster.

When human intelligence and human goodness or affection are used together, all human actions become constructive.

In studies, such as one conducted by Dr. Larry Scherwitz, examining the risk factors for coronary heart disease, it has been found that the people who were most self-focused (those who referred to themselves using the pronouns “I,” “me,” and “my” most often in an interview) were more likely to develop coronary heart disease, even when other health-threatening behaviors were controlled. Scientists are discovering that those who lack close social ties seem to suffer from poor health, higher levels of unhappiness, and a greater vulnerability to stress.

An infant is also biologically programmed to recognize and respond to faces, and there are few people who fail to find genuine pleasure in having a young baby gazing innocently into their eyes and smile.

Some ethologists have formulated this into a theory, suggesting that when an infant smiles at the caregiver or looks directly into his eyes, the infant is following a deeply ingrained “biological blueprint,”

instinctively “releasing” gentle, tender, caring behaviors from the caregiver, who is also obeying an equally compelling instinctual mandate.

As more investigators strike out to objectively discover the nature of human beings, the notion of the infant as a little bundle of selfishness, an eating and sleeping machine, is yielding to a vision of a being that comes into the world with an innate mechanism to please others, requiring only the proper environmental conditions to allow the underlying and natural “seed of compassion” to germinate and grow.

Once we conclude that the basic nature of humanity is compassionate rather than aggressive, our relationship to the world around us changes immediately. Seeing others as basically compassionate instead of hostile and selfish helps us relax, trust, live at ease.

It makes us happier.

The psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm claimed that humankind’s most basic fear is the threat of being separated from other humans. He believed that the experience of separateness, first encountered in infancy, is the source of all anxiety in human life.

The book, The Art of Intimacy, they define intimacy as “the experience of connectivity.” Their understanding of intimacy begins with a thorough examination of our “connectivity” with other people, but they do not, however, limit their concept of intimacy to human relationships.

Friendships that are based not on considerations of wealth, power, and position but rather on true human feeling, a feeling of closeness in which there is a sense of sharing and connectedness.

This type of friendship is what I would call genuine friendship because it would not be affected by the status of the individual’s wealth, position, or power, whether it is increasing or whether it is declining.

The factor that sustains a genuine friendship is a feeling of affection. If you lack that, then you won’t be able to sustain a genuine friendship.

Genuine compassion is based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like myself. And, just like myself, they have the natural right to fulfill this fundamental aspiration.

On the basis of the recognition of this equality and commonality, you develop a sense of affinity and closeness with others. With this as a foundation, you can feel compassion regardless of whether you view the other person as a friend or an enemy.

It is based on the other’s fundamental rights rather than your own mental projection. Upon this basis, then, you will generate love and compassion. That’s genuine compassion.

Also, genuine love and compassion are much more stable, more reliable. For example, if you see an animal intensely suffering, like a fish writhing with a hook in its mouth, you might spontaneously experience a feeling of not being able to bear its pain.

“In fact, in one sense one could define compassion as the feeling of unbearableness at the sight of other people’s suffering, other sentient being’s suffering.

And in order to generate that feeling one must first have an appreciation of the seriousness or intensity of another’s suffering.

So, I think that the more fully one understands suffering, and the various kinds of suffering that we are subject to, the deeper will be one’s level of compassion.”

David McClelland, a psychologist at Harvard University, showed a group of students a film of Mother Teresa working among Calcutta’s sick and poor. The students reported that the film stimulated feelings of compassion.

Afterward, he analyzed the students’ saliva and found an increase in immunoglobulin-A, an antibody that can help fight respiratory infections. .

In another study done by James House at the University of Michigan Research Center, investigators found that doing regular volunteer work, interacting with others in a warm and compassionate way, dramatically increased life expectancy, and probably overall vitality as well.

Many other researchers in the new field of mind-body medicine have demonstrated similar findings, documenting that positive states of mind can improve our physical health

In addition to the beneficial effects on one’s physical health, there is evidence that compassion and caring behavior contribute to good emotional health. Studies have shown that reaching out to help others can induce a feeling of happiness, a calmer mind, and less depression.

In a thirty-year study of a group of Harvard graduates, researcher George Vaillant concluded, in fact, that adopting an altruistic lifestyle is a critical component of good mental health.

While the scientific evidence clearly backs up the Dalai Lama’s position on the very real and practical value of compassion, one needn’t rely solely on experiments and surveys to confirm the truth of this view.

We can discover the close links between caring, compassion, and personal happiness in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.

If you are in a battle, as long as you remain ignorant of the status and combat capability of your enemy, you will be totally unprepared and paralyzed by fear.

However, if you know the fighting capability of your opponents, what sort of weapons they have and so on, then you’re in a much better position when you engage in the war.

In the same way, if you confront your problems rather than avoid them, you will be in a better position to deal with them.

if you spend some time thinking about old age, death, and these other unfortunate things, your mind will be much more stable when these things happen as you have already become acquainted with these problems and kinds of suffering and have anticipated that they will occur.

it can be useful to prepare yourself ahead of time by familiarizing yourself with the kinds of suffering you might encounter. To use the battle analogy again, reflecting on suffering could be seen as a military exercise.

People who never heard of war, guns, bombing, and so on might faint if they had to go into battle. But through military drills you could familiarize your mind with what might occur, so if a war erupted, it would not be so hard on you.

“I mean on your birthday people usually say, ‘Happy Birthday!,’ when actually the day of your birth was the birth of your suffering. But nobody says, ‘Happy Birth-of-Sufferingday!” he joked.

In accepting that suffering is part of your daily existence, you could begin by examining the factors that normally give rise to feelings of discontent and mental unhappiness.

Generally speaking, for instance, you feel happy if you or people close to you receive praise, fame, fortune, and other pleasant things. And you feel unhappy and discontent if you don’t achieve these things or if your rival is receiving them.

If you look at your normal day-to day life, however, you often find that there are so many factors and conditions that cause pain, suffering, and feelings of dissatisfaction, whereas the conditions that give rise to joy and happiness are comparatively rare.

This is something that we have to undergo, whether we like it or not. And since this is the reality of our existence, our attitude towards suffering may need to be modified.

Our attitude towards suffering becomes very important because it can affect how we cope with suffering when it arises.

If your basic outlook accepts that suffering is a natural part of your existence, this will undoubtedly make you more tolerant towards the adversities of life.

And without a certain degree of tolerance towards your suffering, your life becomes miserable; then it’s like having a very bad night. That night seems eternal; it never seems to end.

According to Buddhist thought, the root causes of suffering are ignorance, craving, and hatred. These are called the ‘three poisons of the mind.’

‘ignorance’ doesn’t refer to a lack of information as it is used in an everyday sense but rather refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena.

By generating insight into the true nature of reality and eliminating afflictive states of mind such as craving and hatred, one can achieve a completely purified state of mind, free from suffering.

the risk of continuing to focus on assigning blame and maintaining a victim stance, is the perpetuation of our suffering—with persistent feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment.

Of course, the wish to get free of suffering is the legitimate goal of every human being. It is the corollary of our wish to be happy.

Thus it is entirely appropriate that we seek out the causes of our unhappiness and do whatever we can to alleviate our problems, searching for solutions on all levels—global, societal, familial, and individual.

But as long as we view suffering as an unnatural state, an abnormal condition that we fear, avoid, and reject, we will never uproot the causes of suffering and begin to live a happier life.

if we think about the projected injustices done to us, the ways in which we have been unfairly treated, and we keep on thinking about them over and over, then that feeds the hatred. It makes the hatred very powerful and intense.

Of course, the same can apply to when we have an attachment towards a particular person; we can feed that by thinking about how beautiful he or she is, and as we keep thinking about the projected qualities that we see in the person, the attachment becomes more and more intense.

But this shows how through constant familiarity and thinking, we ourselves can make our emotions more intense and powerful.

"We also often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, overreacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally …"

With these words, the Dalai Lama recognizes the origin of many of the day-to-day aggravations that can add up to be a major source of suffering.

Therapists sometimes call this process personalizing our pain—the tendency to narrow our psychological field of vision by interpreting or misinterpreting everything that occurs in terms of its impact on us.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” And while it is natural to recoil from suffering, suffering can also challenge us and at times even bring out the best in us.

The vulnerability we experience in the midst of our suffering can open us and deepen our connection with others. The poet William Wordsworth once claimed, “A deep distress hath humanized my soul.”

In the book, Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants, Dr. Paul Brand explores the purpose and value of physical pain. Dr. Brand, a world-renowned hand surgeon and leprosy specialist, spent his early years in India where, as the son of missionaries

he was surrounded by people living under conditions of extreme hardship and suffering. Noticing that physical pain seemed to be expected and tolerated much more than in the West, Dr. Brand became interested in the pain system in the human body.

Eventually, he began working with leprosy patients in India and made a remarkable discovery. He found that the ravages of leprosy and the horrible disfigurements were not due to the disease organism directly causing the rotting of the flesh.

But rather it was because the disease caused loss of pain sensation in the limbs. Without the protection of pain, the leprosy patients lacked the system to warn them of tissue damage.

Thus, Dr. Brand observed patients walking or running on limbs with broken skin or even exposed bones; this caused continuous deterioration. Without pain, sometimes they would even stick their hands in a fire to retrieve something.

He noticed an utter nonchalance toward self-destruction. In his book, Dr. Brand recounted story after story of the devastating effects of living without pain sensation—of the repetitive injuries, of cases of rats gnawing off fingers and toes while the patient slept peacefully.

After a lifetime of working with patients suffering from pain and those suffering from lack of pain, Dr. Brand gradually came to view pain not as the universal enemy as seen in the West but as a remarkable, elegant, and sophisticated biological system that warns us of damage to our body and thus protects us.

We convert pain into suffering in the mind. To lessen the suffering of pain, we need to make a crucial distinction between the pain of pain and the pain we create by our thoughts about the pain.

Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness, and helplessness are all mental and emotional responses that can intensify pain.

So, in developing an approach to dealing with pain, we can of course work at the lower levels of pain perception, using the tools of modern medicine such as medications and other procedures, but we can also work at the higher levels by modifying our outlook and attitude.

We are reminded that one day, we may no longer be here. That awareness of impermanence is encouraged, so that when it is coupled with our appreciation of the enormous potential of our human existence, it will give us a sense of urgency that we must use every precious moment.

Psychologists have identified three principle types of motives. The first type, primary motives, are drives based on biological needs that must be met for survival. This would include, for example, needs for food, water, and air.

Another category of motives involves a human being’s need for stimulation and information. Investigators hypothesize that this is an innate need, required for proper maturation, development, and functioning of the nervous system.

The final category, called secondary motives, are motives based on learned needs and drives. Many secondary motives are related to acquired needs for success, power, status, or achievement.

At this level of motivation, one’s behavior and drives can be influenced by social forces and shaped by learning. It is at this stage that the theories of modern psychology meet with the Dalai Lama’s conception of developing “determination and enthusiasm.”

It takes a long time to develop the behavior and habits of mind that contribute to our problems. It takes an equally long time to establish the new habits that bring happiness. There is no getting around these essential ingredients: determination, effort, and time.

These are the real secrets to happiness.

"the human mind is of course very complex. But it is also very skillful. It can find many ways in which it can deal with a variety of situations and conditions. For one thing, the mind has the ability to adopt different perspectives through which it can address various problems."

The first premise is that all ‘deluded’ states of mind,all afflictive emotions and thoughts, are essentially distorted,in that they are rooted in misperceiving the actual reality of the situation. No matter how powerful, deep down these negative emotions have no valid foundation.

They are based on ignorance. On the other hand, all the positive emotions or states of mind, such as love, compassion, insight, and so on have a solid basis. When the mind is experiencing these positive states, there is no distortion.

In addition, these positive factors are grounded in reality. They can be verified by our own experience. There is a kind of grounding and rootedness in reason and understanding; this is not the case with afflictive emotions like anger and hatred.

On top of that, all these positive states of mind have the quality that you can enhance their capacity and increase their potential to a limitless degree, if you regularly practice them through training and constant familiarity …

“So, within the Buddhist tradition, we not only have specific antidotes for specific states of mind, for example, patience and tolerance act as specific antidotes to anger and hatred,

but we also have a general antidote—insight into the ultimate nature of reality—that acts as an antidote to all of the negative states of mind.

It is similar to getting rid of a poisonous plant: you can eliminate the harmful effects by cutting off the specific branches and leaves, or you can eliminate the entire plant by going to the root and uprooting it.”

DEALING WITH ANGER AND HATRED If one comes across a person who has been shot by an arrow, one does not spend time wondering about where the arrow came from, or the caste of the individual who shot it, or analyzing what type of wood the shaft is made of,

or the manner in which the arrowhead was fashioned. Rather, one should focus on immediately pulling out the arrow. —Shakyamuni, the Buddha

We turn now to some of the “arrows,” the negative states of mind that destroy our happiness, and their corresponding antidotes. All negative mental states act as obstacles to our happiness, but we begin with anger, which seems to be one of the biggest blocks.

It is described by the Stoic philosopher Seneca as “the most hideous and frenzied of all the emotions.” The destructive effects of anger and hatred have been well documented by recent scientific studies.

Of course, one doesn’t need scientific evidence to realize how these emotions can cloud our judgment, cause feelings of extreme discomfort, or wreak havoc in our personal relationships.

Dozens of studies have shown these emotions to be a significant cause of disease and premature death.

Investigators such as Dr. Redford Williams at Duke University and Dr. Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University have conducted studies that demonstrate that anger, rage, and hostility are particularly damaging to the cardiovascular system.

So much evidence has mounted about the harmful effects of hostility, in fact, that it is now considered a major risk factor in heart disease, at least equal to, or perhaps greater than, the traditionally recognized risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

In thinking about anger, there can be two types. One type of anger can be positive. This would be mainly due to one’s motivation. There can be some anger that is motivated by compassion or a sense of responsibility.

Where anger is motivated by compassion, it can be used as an impetus or a catalyst for a positive action. Under these circumstances, a human emotion like anger can act as a force to bring about swift action.

It creates a kind of energy that enables an individual to act quickly and decisively. It can be a powerful motivating factor.

We cannot overcome anger and hatred simply by suppressing them. We need to actively cultivate the antidotes to hatred: patience and tolerance.

Following the model that we spoke of earlier, in order for you to be able to successfully cultivate patience and tolerance you need to generate enthusiasm, a strong desire to seek it.

The stronger your enthusiasm, the greater your ability to withstand the hardships that you encounter in the process. When you are engaged in the practice of patience and tolerance, in reality, what is happening is you are engaged in a combat with hatred and anger.

When such intense anger and hatred arises, it obliterates the best part of your brain, which is the ability to judge between right and wrong, and the long-term and short-term consequences of your actions.

Your power of judgment becomes totally inoperable; it can no longer function. It is almost like you have become insane. So, this anger and hatred tends to throw you into a state of confusion, which just serves to make your problems and difficulties so much worse.

On a mental level, chronic anxiety can impair judgment, increase irritability, and hinder one’s overall effectiveness. It can also lead to physical problems including depressed immune function, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, fatigue, and muscle tension and pain.

Scientists have recently discovered a gene that is linked to people who are prone to anxiety and negative thinking.

Not all cases of toxic worry are genetic in origin, however, and there is little doubt that learning and conditioning play a major role in its etiology.

But, regardless of whether our anxiety is predominantly physical or psychological in origin, the good news is that there is something we can do about it.

In searching for practical strategies to overcome anxiety, however, there is one technique that stands out as particularly effective: cognitive intervention. This is one of the main methods used by the Dalai Lama to overcome daily worries and anxiety.

Applying the same procedure used with anger and hatred, this technique involves actively challenging the anxiety-generating thoughts and replacing them with well-reasoned positive thoughts and attitudes.

In discussing the antidotes to anxiety, the Dalai Lama offers two remedies, each working on a different level. The first involves actively combating chronic rumination and worry by applying a counteractive thought: reminding oneself, If there is a solution to the problem, there is no need to worry. If there is no solution, there is no sense in worrying either.

The second antidote is a more broad-spectrum remedy. It involves the transformation of one’s underlying motivation. At this level, the Dalai Lama has focused on developing and using learned drives to enhance one’s “enthusiasm and determination.”

In the Dalai Lama’s system of training the mind and achieving happiness, the closer one gets to being motivated by altruism, the more fearless one becomes in the face of even extremely anxiety-provoking circumstances.


“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. So, I think that the more honest you are, the more self-confident you will be …”

Mark Twain said, “No man, deep down in the privacy of his own heart, has any considerable respect for himself.”

And taking this pessimistic view of humanity and incorporating it into his psychological theories, the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers once claimed, “Most people despise themselves, regard themselves as worthless and unlovable.”

Love is difficult to define, and there may be different definitions. But one definition of love, and perhaps the most pure and exalted kind of love, is an utter, absolute, and unqualified wish for the happiness of another individual.

It is a heartfelt wish for the other’s happiness regardless of whether he does something to injure us or even whether we like him. Now, deep in our hearts, there’s no question that every one of us wants to be happy.

So, if our definition of love is based on a genuine wish for someone’s happiness, then each of us does in fact love himself or herself—every one of us sincerely wishes for his or her own happiness.

Reminding ourselves that no matter how much we may dislike some of our characteristics, underneath it all we wish ourselves to be happy, and that is a profound kind of love.

I have learnt a lot from the 14th Dalai Lama, known as Gyalwa Rinpoche about life, happiness, and mind through his book The Art of Happiness.


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