“If you have a basic concern for others, even failure cannot disturb your mind.”- The 14th Dalai Lama
His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama needs no introduction. Widely loved and respected, The 14th Dalai Lama is a beacon of shining light and compassion.
Over the years, I felt moved, influenced, and inspired by the timeless wisdom of The 14th Dalai Lama.
It would be an understatement to say that he is one of my beloved teachers. A long time ago, I found myself irresistibly drawn to The Dalai Lama’s Books including The Art of Happiness.
It was refreshing to find a different perspective on happiness and life from The Dalai Lama. His perspective centered on love and compassion and not just success and material acquisitions.
His teaching made me aware of the need of service, compassion and hope. It made me aware of the power of inner peace and the transience of the current moment.
Let us get going:
1. The Power Of Inner Peace
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves” – The 14th Dalai Lama
I love the idea that we need inner peace before we can see lasting change on the outside.
If our inside is in turmoil and conflict, it becomes challenging to not project the inner chaos to the outside.
“Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
Of course, some inner chaos is essential as a creative springboard into greater personal excellence.
The key here is how we use our inner conflict. Do we resolve it to become more peaceful or do we allow it to pull us down?
I love the idea from The Dalai Lama that developing a deep sense of inner tranquility is key to happiness and a peaceful life.
Become an island of tranquility and peace in the midst of storms and chaos.
Take that deep sense of peace in your deepest core and carry it with you into the world.
“Inner peace is the key: if you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquility…without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially, you may still be worried, disturbed, or unhappy because of circumstances.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
2. Realizing The Full Potential Of Love And Compassion
“Love is the absence of judgment.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is clear on his opinion on love and compassion. He places the utmost importance of cultivating compassion and developing a loving nature.
I learned from him that when you love yourself and others, you allow judgment to fall away.
As humans, I believe that we will always have the judging and the discerning mind. But how far we are going to carry forth the unfavorable judgment state is our choice.
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
I believe that The Dalai Lama is an example of love in action. He reflects universal love, understanding and respect for all people.
He says that unless you love yourself and are able to be compassionate to the self, it is difficult to share the love.
I can say that this has been personally true for me in my life.
Whenever I judged myself harshly or could not feel compassion for my situation, I found it challenging to extend the courtesy to others.
“If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.”- The 14th Dalai Lama
And finally, The Dalai Lama says that your motivation should be love and compassion. When you come from love, you become fearless.
You free yourself and your actions to speak for themselves. You will experience an inner joy and power that is like nothing else.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness
I remember a story of the famous composer A. R Rahman when he was accepting his Grammy for his “Jai ho” composition. He said that he was always given a choice in life, to choose love or to choose hate and he chose love.
“The more you are motivated by Love, The more fearless and free your action will be.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
3. The Art of Making Life Meaningful
“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
What does meaning mean to your life? I would imagine that each of us have to answer the question in our lives about what makes our life more meaningful.
I found The Dalai Lama’s advice on making life meaningful to be useful in my own life.
I ask the simple question on how can I make my life more meaningful? I ask who can I make life meaningful with?
“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.”- The 14th Dalai Lama
I am able to refocus my priorities with these simple yet powerful questions on meaning.
I am able to switch from autopilot to a life lived with enhanced awareness.
“What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.”- The 14th Dalai Lama
4. Unconditional Service
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is clear and emphatic on his insistence on service. Service is important for happiness and living a life that makes us thrive.
Science has shown the exceptional value in prosocial sharing and giving to others. You receive a boost in well-being, and happiness when you make giving an important part of your life.
“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
To give to others and feel happiness, we have to develop compassion and a deep sense of understanding as The Dalai Lama points out.
Have empathy with others and make an attempt to connect with their unique situation.
You do not have to give resources or money if you are struggling yourself.
You can offer your support, a kind word, a smile and a word of encouragement.
Everything done in the frame of mind of giving has a positive impact on the life of others. And some of the goodness rubs off on you too.
“Given the scale of life in the cosmos, one human life is no more than a tiny blip. Each one of us is a just visitor to this planet, a guest, who will only stay for a limited time. What greater folly could there be than to spend this short time alone, unhappy or in conflict with our companions? Far better, surely, to use our short time here in living a meaningful life, enriched by our sense of connection with others and being of service to them.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
5. When You Do Not Have Hope
“So, therefore, I believe the very purpose of life is happy life – happiness. For the simple reason – our existence is very much based upon hope. No guarantee that our future is something good, but we simply exist on hope. Hope means something good, something better. Therefore, once lost hope and completely demoralized, that mental attitude itself shortens your life, hurts your physical life, and then things become difficult. Despite difficulties, always keep optimism. ‘I can overcome these difficulties.’ That mental attitude itself will bring inner strength and self-confidence.” -The 14th Dalai Lama, Tulane Commencement speech
This message of hope that the Dalai Lama reflected in his Tulane commencement speech resonated well with me.
When you think about this, it becomes clear that a lot hinges on hope in our lives. You can never be completely sure of the outcome of your actions or the future. But you still hold a beacon of hope in your heart.
The Dalai Lama is spot on when he says that the loss of hope is a huge demoralizer. Loss of hope effects us in many ways, including mental, emotional, and physical.
The remedy that The Dalai Lama suggests is a powerful one.
He says that we should always keep our inner optimism close at hand. When you become optimistic instead of losing hope, you can harness your inner strength.
Hope allows you to develop great reserves of self-confidence.
“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
Having hope and optimism really works. It is not the sunshine and lollipops attitude of looking away when the situation is unfavorable.
But instead, it is keeping things real by holding hope and being optimistic for outcomes.
“No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
And when there are inevitable setbacks, the hope and optimism make you deal with them a lot better.
You are better equipped to pivot and do something else.
“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
6. Worry is Optional
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
I love the idea from The Dalai Lama that worrying is unnecessary. If there is nothing that you can do to fix the problem, worrying about it is not going to make it any better.
If it is within your realm of influence, then you are better served by taking action and trying to make it better.
If it is beyond your realm of influence, then there is no point worrying about the outcome.
This message resonates with me because I have realized over the years that incessant worry erodes from the quality of our life. We spend a lot of precious energy, time and mental resources while engaging in worry.
Ask yourself if there is any benefit in worrying about the problem? Will it get solved by worry alone?
Some amount of worry is natural but become aware of worry patterns and long-term and chronic worry in your life.
“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
7. The Power of Connection
“But also that way you can carry your conduct more honestly, more truthfully, more trustworthily. That brings trust. Trust brings friendship. We are social animals. We need friends. And also in the world, many problems – one individual cannot solve these things. Cooperation not only in your community, but on the global level. Like global warming – these problems – we need worldwide cooperation and effort. For that, trust and friendship are essential. I think that if two people are distant from one another, it’s difficult to expect some type of cooperation. The basis of cooperation is trust, friendship, so I appreciate that you have already started the work of serving others. That’s wonderful.”- The 14th Dalai Lama, Tulane Commencement speech
The Dalai Lama assesses that many of the global problems need unified connection, collaboration and effort.
Research has also shown the immense power and happiness benefits of deep and meaningful connections.
In fact, the Harvard study, one of the largest and longest longitudinal studies on happiness comes to a startling conclusion. It concludes that the bottom line for happiness is love and connection.
Many of us hesitate to form connections and make new friends. We may have been burned by friendships and connections before. We hesitate to delegate at work and ask for assistance so that we do not appear weak.
But for great work to happen, cooperation and collective action is essential. Having a great TEAM can make all the difference.
8. Grateful Compassion
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
Over the years, I have seen The Dalai Lama as a great example of gratitude and compassion in action. I remember a story that particularly inspired me.
The Dalai Lama was on a walk and he saw a tiny little flower on the side of a road. He stopped to look at it and spent a few quality moments with the flower, absorbing its beauty.
If The Dalai Lama has a few moments from his busy schedule to appreciate the small things of life, so do we. I believe that this story is an example of gratitude and appreciation in action.
I believe many people forget how fortunate it is that they have this precious moment.
Let us use this moment, this day and this precious life for the pursuit of service to others.
Let us use it to develop our lives as The Dalai Lama so compassionately teaches us.
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.”- The Dalai Lama
Let us all embrace grateful compassion, for the self, and for all other sentient beings.
Let us feel deep and heartfelt gratitude and compassion and dedicate some time in service to others.
9. Valuing The Self
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
I agree with The Dalai Lama that everyone has intrinsic and extrinsic value.
Sometimes, we forget that we are unique individuals capable of bringing a lot to the table. We focus on our deficiencies and wallow in our shortcomings.
This is one of the most pervasive attitudes that humans suffer from. It is an all pervading propensity towards negativity.
This is the negativity bias in psychology.
When we were hunter gatherers on the Serengeti, negative experiences built up the collective knowledge. They may have given us the edge to survive.
But that ancient programming should not translate into negativity and lack of value of the self.
The Dalai Lama reminds us that we are not too small to make a difference. We are deceiving the self when we proclaim that we have no value.
When you embrace, affirm, and realize that you too can provide great value in your own unique way to others, you have opened yourself to a great gift.
“As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all Beings.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
You have become aware that we are all unique and we can all make a difference in our own little or big ways.
Do not get bogged down in trying to solve huge problems. Try with small problems in your immediate vicinity and then overcome them.
Soon you will develop the value and confidence to take bigger and more challenging things.
“Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
10. What is Happiness?
“The ultimate source of happiness is not money and power, but warm-heartedness” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is clear about what creates lasting happiness. The pursuit of happiness is one of the greatest goals of humans.
We are often programmed from an early age that success and happiness are achieved through material acquisitions and conquests.
“What unites all beings is their desire for happiness.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
So, we trade warmth for busyness and we trade stress and criticism for compassion. But this hurried life that wants to make more wealth and acquire more possessions is not what will make us happy.
Being compassionate towards others and having a warm and kind heart is not a sign of weakness, but it is great strength.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ― Dalai Lama
Let us take a page from the wisdom of the Dalai Lama and practice warmth and compassion today.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ― Dalai Lama
11. Suffer Less with Difficult Situations and People
“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.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness
The Dalai Lama advises us that it is not possible to avoid setbacks and failures and difficult times in our lives. But we have the power inside to respond to those stresses and situations.
It is a great moment of awareness that suffering exists in part by our response to a situation. When we choose to respond unfavorably to a setback, we are prolonging our state of suffering.
When we respond different from the usual way, we open the doors to better understanding and learning opportunities.
“If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding.” ― The 14th Dalai Lama
For this opening to happen, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of the right attitude.
Choose to respond with an attitude that asks the question of how to learn from a situation.
I love the idea that your enemies and your difficulties are great spiritual teachers. Through them, you are able to learn more and develop more compassion and more tolerance.
Are you using your setbacks as teachers to guide you to find your inner strengths or do you allow them to pull you down?
“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways- either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenges to find our inner strength.”- The 14th Dalai Lama
12. The Inevitability of Time
“Neither a space station nor an enlightened mind can be realized in a day.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
Over the years, The Dalai Lama taught me that patience is essential for mastery.
If you are going for excellence in your field, it does not happen overnight.
I remember a talk where The Dalai Lama was addressing the question of enlightenment and deeper states of meditation.
He answered that contrary to what people usually want, it takes a long time and great practice to achieve deeper states of meditation.
Give up on getting to excellence in a short period of time and begin immersing yourself in the practice.
13. On Changing Perspectives
“It is very rare or almost impossible that an event can be negative from all points of view.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
I agree that seeing things from different perspectives is a great gift.
We like to color something completely negative or without merit. This is because we assume blinders to the lessons that it brings.
We ask what is the value in something that we do not see immediately.
We need to remember as The Dalai Lama says that there are different roads to take to go to the same destination. Also, we need to remember and allow others to take the paths that they have chosen to get to where they want to get to.
Even though this means the humility of acceptance of another perspective and another path.
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
14. Have a Sense Of Your Potential and Confidence
“With realization of one’s own potential & self confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
Realize who you are. Realize that you have great potential inside of you.
Realize that with your own self-confidence and your potential, you can build a better world as The Dalai Lama says.
Often, you may get bogged by what others think of you. You look on social media for likes and approval and get little love.
You look at the actions and the behavior for approval and base your responses on those external conditions.
The Dalai Lama reminds us that someone else’s actions should not serve as a basis for how you choose to respond.
The folly of this method of automatic response is that you never get to choose your actions.
You are always taking the lead from the actions and the behaviors of others. And before long you wonder what happened to your plans and your actions.
“Someone else’s action should not determine your response.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
15. On Letting Go
“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
One of the biggest life lessons that I have learnt from the Dalai Lama is the art of letting go of resentment and ill feelings.
Sure we are all human and there will be contentious situations in our lives. But the choice to hold on to that resentment, anger and negativity is yours to make.
When possible, I have learnt from The Dalai Lama that it is best to unburden the self with unresolved resentment.
All you need to do is to have the intention of letting things go and letting things be.
This does not mean that we let everyone walk all over us and neither does it mean that we stay quiet when others are being unfair.
It means allowing to let things go for the sake of one’s emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health and well-being.
Lighten yourself today by choosing to let go of resentment that you are able to release.
“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
16. Living in the Moment and Awareness
“Let us try to recognize the precious nature of each day.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is proof in action that a gentle moment by moment awareness and presence is a wonderful way to live your life.
He advises you to seize the current moment and become aware of the value of the moment and this day.
Enjoy the present moment and shine the light of awareness on the sleep walk that life can become.
Reconnect with the wonder and amazement of this current moment and look around you and see how precious life can be.
“What surprises me most is “Man”, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present; The result being he doesn’t live in the present or the future; He lives as if he’s never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
17. Choose Kindness
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama gently reminds us that we have a choice to choose kindness in our lives.
When confronted with difficult situations and hard choices, be kind to yourself.
You can often be the harshest critic that you will get to know. From this well spring of self-kindness, you can be kind to others.
And as The Dalai Lama declares that it is always possible to be kind.
Even if you are not feeling the compassion, you can still try to be a little kind.
You can choose to speak kindly, and move gently.
You can choose kindness and as the song goes “in the end only kindness matters.” You will always remember people who have been kind to you and it is the same with others.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
“A genuine, affectionate smile is very important in our day-to-day lives.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
Smiling and lighting up is beneficial for all spheres of our lives and science also agrees.
And The Dalai Lama sums up the great wisdom of relationships by his simple words on the need to smile.
And I could not agree more that if you want smiles, smile at others.
Be friendly with others and smile at them. If you give out angry energy, you will get back anger. If you give out smiles, you will get back smiles.
“Smile if you want a smile from another face.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
19. On Change
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”- The 14th Dalai Lama
Change can be a wonderful opportunity or something to dread. When we are faced with challenges, we have the incentive to change something in our life. When you are in your comfort zone, change becomes more difficult.
The only problem is that change is inevitable.
I love the idea from The Dalai Lama that sometimes it is better to change the self than trying to change a situation.
The Dalai Lama also advises us that if you want to influence others and have them see your point of view, affection is the best way. I cannot agree more.
“The only way to change other people’s minds is with affection, and not anger.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
20. Practice Contentment
“When you practice contentment you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes I already have everything that I really need’.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
Practicing contentment is a powerful and timeless lesson that becomes even more relevant in our time and age.
Contentment is the antidote for a lot of self-inflicted suffering and the hedonic treadmill.
As humans, it is perfectly fine to want more and reach for better and better.
But somehow over the ages, we have been ingrained to believe that if we become content with what we have, we lose the competitive edge.
“One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not: what is the purpose of life? . . . From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. . . Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama advises you to practice contentment.
When you become content with what you have and where you are at, it actually frees you up to reach for greater adventures.
Never underestimate the power of contentment and associate it with stagnation and lack of change.
Become happy and content now.
Science research is suggesting that we need to become happy and develop contentment for what we have and where we are at first.
Then from that powerful state of happy contentment, you are free to reach for excellence and greater horizons of success.
“We are visitors on this planet. We are here for one hundred years at the very most. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. if you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.” – The 14th Dalai Lama
Now over to you dear readers! I hope that this post resonated with you. Let me know on social media and in the comments below.