"I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear.Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness." ~Dalai Lama in The Art of Happiness
The Dalai Lama talks a lot about happiness and how to achieve it. It’s always a real pleasure to hearhis wisdom as well as his sharp mind speaking. His Guide to Happiness is of course influenced byBuddhism. But it really is not a religious approach but rather a very practical one: We can achievehappiness by developing our mind and applying it, in other words by personal development.
Secret # 1 : Train Your MindHappiness is a mental attitude, a state of mind and not primarily dependent on external conditions.According to the Tibetan word "Sem" for mind it includes intellect, feelings, the heart and the mind.Training an developing the mind starts with learning. And its aim is to set free the inner humanpotential that everybody has. So one could say it is the process of personal development.
Education and knowledge is a crucialpart here. There is an interesting note by the Dalai Lama: knowledge is not primarily there to make us cleverer.The most important use of knowledge is to understand ourselves, to create a mental clearing and make changes from within or as he puts it: to develop a good heart.
Secret # 2 : Develop Calmness of MindBy training the mind we can develop an inner discipline. This training towards a calmness of mind iswhat Buddhists call "The Way" and it is the fundamental method of achieving happiness. The innerdiscipline means confronting our negative states of mind and transforming them into more positivestates. The goal is to develop a calm or peaceful and stable state of mind, regardless of outer events.
A calm mind doesn’t mean to be passive; it is very sensitive andaware and it means to be in control and to respond to situations in the best way possible without thebuildup of heavy negative emotions. A calm mind is a very developed mind and one that has strength and inner space to choose the right reaction.
Secret # 3 : Build up Positive StatesThe idea is to free ourselves from negativity. It works by developing and cultivating positive states andemotions and then living and acting from there. Positive states can act like an antidote to negativity. Bycoming from a state of joy, love or enthusiasm it is almost natural to neutralize anger, hatred or apathy.The goal then is to develop habits out of those positives states to make them our predominant state.
According to the Dalai Lama all negative emotions are based on ignorance, which is the misconception of the true nature of reality. Therefore they have nobasis in reality. On the other hand positive states have a solid basis; they are grounded in reality and are life-supporting.
Secret # 4 : Cultivate Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones)If we really want to be happy we have to identify the factors that lead to happiness and thencultivate them into habits. On the other side we have to identify what leads to the opposite ofhappiness: suffering. Then we have to get rid of those destructive states and habits andreplace them by the positive ones.
Take action. Goals alone have no meaning; youinstance the habit of For need to take actionto make them real. Don’t let fear hold you chaotic"Just do it." can be back. organization replaced by weekly planning. This is inner discipline at work. I think it is a source of real happiness and of inner satisfaction. The motivation to create good habits stays if we just see and experience the benefits and freedom they are giving us. If we keep bad habits then we consciously of unconsciously are ok with being unhappy.
Secret # 5 : Welcome ChangeLearning is only the first step. Necessary follow-ups are conviction, determination, action and effort.A strong determination to change then enables action. The final effort is also critical. To start weneed a strong willingness or wish to start. And we need to develop enthusiasm and a sense ofurgency. Tools to get this are goal-setting, visualization and in general our imagination.
When we resist this change by clinging to something that is changing, we become attached. We can’t be happybecause we resist the change,what is futile. Of course we can direct change up to a certaindegree, but we can’t prevent it.The key is to get into the riverof life and direct the course ofpositive change. Then the fear of change also vanishes.
Secret # 6 : Develop a Long-Term PerspectiveTo develop good habits and to build up positive states we need a certain inner self-discipline.If we are focused on short-term pleasures this is very difficult. If we evaluate the effects of short-term and long-term oriented behavior it becomes clear what is more helpful on the long run.
We need a wider perspective.This long-term perspective helps to build up happiness.
Secret # 7 : Know the Meaning of SufferingSuffering is the opposite of happiness. We have to identify the causes (not only the symptoms)that lead to suffering and then eliminate them. If we suffer it’s not very pleasant of course, butnevertheless it might be a very valuable lesson. We seem to learn the most from our so-calledfailures.
If life shows us that something is wrong – by suffering – we have thatfeedback which we need totrace back to its causes and transform those. There is no reason to give in, it isjust valuable feedback that we needed to change.
Secret # 8 : Develop Deep RelationshipsIt’s clear that the quality of our relationships is very connected with our level of happiness. Deeprelationships are based on openness, truth and respect. That allows meaningful communicationbetween two human beings, not of two humans playing roles. And if the only basis of a relationshipis attraction, the relationship is not based on respect and cannot hold for long.
Often what is spoken of as love is not true love, it is confused with attraction, whichalso includes attachment. True love is non-conditional. So to build a truly satisfying relationship it’s best to get to know another persons deeper nature and relate to her/him on that level, instead of on superficial characteristics.
Secret # 9 : Develop a Sense of CompassionIn the western world the word compassion comes with a flavor of weakness. But what abouta compassion that comes from a very strong and able mind, wouldn’t that be a wonderfulability to possess? Genuine compassion, as the Dalai Lama speaks about, originates fromthe realization that every human being is ultimately the same as every other human being.
Genuine compassion is a state of mind which is non-violent, non-harming and non-aggressive. This attitude is based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and isassociated with a sense of commitment, responsibility and respect for the other. It creates a positive, friendly and secure atmosphere. To develop compassion we can take the wish to be free of suffering for ourselves and then cultivate it to include and embrace others.
Secret # 10 : Release Your Buddha NatureThe nature of our mind is very pure. It has the qualities of clarity and knowing. Buddhists call theBuddha Nature "the mind of clear light" (Enlightenment) where no negative thoughts or emotionsarise. It shines through if we are quieting all abstract concepts and thoughts and become awareof the underlying stillness of the mind directly.
"You can eliminate the harmful effectsby cutting off the specific branches or leaves, or you can eliminate the entire plant by uprooting it" ~Dalai Lama in The Art of Happiness.
Dalai Lama makes clear the obvious: everybody on earth is seeking happiness. I want to makeone point, that is clear to me today: the right to happiness and the ability to achieve it is withineverybody. EVERYBODY. And this guide to happiness as described by the Dalai Lama in his bookis the way that many other people walk to develop and free themselves towards a happy life.
Ultimately all causes of suffering find their root in ignorance. To overcome negativity towards happiness we can apply the antidote to ignorance: the wisdom factor. It is the true nature of reality. Thank You Very Much Sompong Yusoontorn