The Art of Happiness – Words From His Holiness The Dalai Lama

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At a fundamental level, all humans are the same – we aspire happiness. Evidence shows, that happy people are more likely to find a mate, enjoy good health, live longer, and have greater resilience and capacity to deal with adversity and trauma. They are far more likely to be creative, perform better at work and earn higher wages, and have a stronger sense of self-worth.  Cultivating happiness brings tremendous personal rewards, but it also benefits one’s family, community and society, so the question is, how can we be happy?

In this article, I would like to share with you some suggestions from his Holiness the Dalai Lama, on how to be happy.

How Compassion Opens Doors To Happiness:

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Science has identified that the home of happiness is in the left prefrontal cortex. This is the area that lights up when a person is happy. Surprisingly (or not), of all the participants studied, the happiest are Tibetan Buddhist monks. This has led to the understanding of the inextricable link – between personal happiness, and kindness and compassion for others.  So it seems the practice of kindness and compassion is a powerful strategy to increase personal happiness. The very act of concern for others’ well-being creates a greater sense of well-being in oneself. This is something the Dalai Lama practices and recommends.

The Mind Must Be Disciplined:

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The Dalai Lama says happiness can be achieved by training the mind. By bringing about a certain inner discipline, we can undergo a transformation in our attitude, outlook, and approach to living. Happiness is determined more by the state of mind than by external events.  Identify and cultivate positive mental states, while identifying and eliminating negative ones.

The Path To Happiness Is Not Easy:

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You need a variety of approaches and methods to deal with and overcome the varied and complex negative mental states. You need a toolkit of techniques to practice that will gradually build up positive patterns, so the negative behaviors slowly diminish. Systematic training of the mind – the cultivation of happiness – changes the very structure and function of the brain.

By practicing new ways of thinking, we can reshape our nerve cells and change the way our brains work. This is known as plasticity.

Doing wholesome deeds may not come naturally, but we have to consciously train ourselves towards it. The Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of sustained effort and determination as the real secret to happiness.

How Comparison Is Linked To Satisfaction And Happiness:

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Feelings of contentment seem to be strongly influenced by comparisons.  We tend to compare our current situation to our past to decide if we are happy or not. We also compare ourselves to others. Thus, we can increase our feelings of life satisfaction by comparing ourselves to those who are less fortunate than us and by reflecting on all the things that we do have. To achieve inner contentment you must develop an appreciation for what you have. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Self-Centered or Socially-Concerned?

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Is seeking happiness a self-centered, self-indulgent goal? The Dalai Lama says it is not!  Research shows that unhappy people are most self-focused and often socially withdrawn or even antagonistic. Happy people are found to be more loving and forgiving, more flexible and creative, more sociable.

It’s easy for the lines to get blurred when your quest for happiness is misguided with material pursuits and pleasures. The quest for true happiness however is free of such worldly desires. In this context, looking inward and seeking personal happiness can actually help to alleviate the suffering of others, as you develop greater empathy.

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