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10 Lessons From Dalai Lama That Will Change Your Life

10 Lessons From Dalai Lama That Will Change Your Life

It is not often that Oprah Winfrey is lost for words! Yet this was exactly what happened when she asked the Dalai Lama a very pertinent question, which is recounted in the book by Victor Chan entitled The Wisdom of Forgiveness.

She asked him, “Have you ever had to forgive yourself for something?” His Holiness replied, “My attitude towards mosquitoes is not very favorable, not very peaceful. Bed bugs also.”

Oprah was astounded that there was nothing else to be forgiven for in a life spanning 78 years.  Forgiveness and compassion for all living creatures are the two pillars of the Dalai Lama’s teachings. Let’s discover together how his teachings will change your life.

1. Be compassionate.

“The topic of compassion is not at all religious business; it is important to know it is human business, it is a question of human survival.”

Dalai Lama

Research now shows that when you are compassionate, you experience a similar feeling of pleasure as when you have sex, good food or a relaxing holiday. Basically, showing compassion is good for your health. Take compassionate action and get the “giver’s high.” Benefits are reduced stress, more regular heart beat and improved immune system.

You can show compassion by understanding the person’s feelings and emotions. That means talking to them and trying to share what they are going through. It is more demanding than a mere act of kindness. If you are compassionate, you are going to get emotionally involved. You also ask what help is needed. You could apply this to:

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  • A friend who is ill
  • Someone who has lost their job
  • A relative who has been bereaved
  • Someone going through a separation
  • A homeless person

2.  Be kind and help others.

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Dalai Lama

Being kind and generous costs little and the benefits you gain in happiness are considerable. That was the conclusion that Michael Norton and colleagues at the Harvard Business School came to, after doing some very interesting research. The volunteers who gave away some money were happier than those who had spent it on themselves.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Dalai Lama

3. Find happiness.

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”

Dalai Lama

In the rat race, the one thing you really want at the end of the day is the capacity to find happiness.

When he was interviewed about this, the Dalai Lama said that we are bombarded with messages about material possessions. There are very few messages about forgiving, being compassionate, patient, tolerant, and kind. You really have to give those values top priority in order to be happy.

“Happiness is not ready made—it comes from our own actions.”

Dalai Lama

4. Discover inner peace.

The Dalai Lama advises everybody to spend a little time alone each day. Time to reflect and chase away the negative thoughts such as anger, resentment, jealousy, and tiredness. Try to replace those with positive emotions such as optimism, gratitude, love, and peace. He rightly says that the truly calm mind is the source of happiness and good health.

5. Do not harm others.

“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”

Dalai Lama

If you start telling lies, gossiping and spreading nasty rumors, bullying, and taking advantage of others, then the negative fallout from them will come back to haunt you. These are just a few of the actions that can harm others.

6. Nurture your friendships.

Friendships should never be undervalued. They need tender loving care because they can generate trust and affection. Real friendships will never depend on money or political clout.  It is a sad fact that neglected or stillborn friendships lead to loneliness. This is one of the risk factors which probably contributes to depression in our society.

7. Don’t let technology rule your life.

Did you know that the Dalai Lama has over 8 million followers on Twitter?  While he admires the advances in social media in helping us to communicate, he nevertheless warns against its overuse for the following reasons:

  • It can control your life—look at people in restaurants using their cell phones.
  • Who is in charge? You or the technology?
  • It is a poor substitute for real friendship.
  • It cannot help you to be compassionate.
  • Real human interaction will suffer.

“We are the controller of the technology. If we become a slave of technology, then that’s not good.”

Dalai Lama

 8. Don’t argue or fight; just negotiate.

“Non-violence means dialogue, using our language, the human language. Dialogue means compromise; respecting each other’s rights; in the spirit of reconciliation there is a real solution to conflict and disagreement. There is no hundred percent winner, no hundred percent loser—not that way but half-and-half. That is the practical way, the only way.”

Dalai Lama

Whether it is an international crisis or an argument with your partner or boss, the key to a peaceful, non-violent outcome is dialogue. In this way, you learn the art of compromise and negotiation. His Holiness recommends that you should never bring up the past but concentrate on what is causing the present problem.

9. Be gentle with the earth.

In order to survive, we have a duty to preserve this planet as best we can. Learning how to recycle, looking at ways to create alternative energy, and learning about the current issues are all ways that can help to delay the tipping point.

 10. Learn from your failures.

“When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”

Dalai Lama

When you screw up, it is important to examine what went wrong. Maybe you sad the wrong thing or maybe you haven’t thought the whole process through. Perhaps there was a problem in planning the project and maybe you did not think about worst-case scenarios. Reflection can help you learn every time you fail.

Could these ten lessons really change your life? Try to apply them to your life and work. You will soon discover that truth, honesty, warm-heartedness and compassion will be the driving forces in your life and will help you to gain real happiness.

Tell us in the comments what teachings or quotes from the Dalai Lama have inspired you and how they have changed your life. 

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Featured photo credit: Dalai Lama/Kris Krug via Photo Pin

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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