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Last Updated on December 28, 2017

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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Last Updated on December 16, 2018

12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

We all look for a better and happier life, but somehow we realize it’s our attitude that makes it hard to lead the life we want. How can we build a positive attitude? Grant Mathews has listed out the things (from the easiest to the hardest) we can do to cultivate this attitude on Quora:

1. Listen to good music.

Music definitely improves your mood, and it’s a really simple thing to do.

2. Don’t watch television passively.

Studies have shown that people who watch TV less are happier, which leads me to my next point…

3. Don’t do anything passively.

Whenever I do something, I like to ask myself if, at the end of the day, I would be content saying that I had spent time doing it. (This is why I block sites I find myself wasting too much time on. I enjoy them, but they’re just not worth it when I could be learning something new, or working on projects I care about.)

Time is incredibly valuable.

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4. Be aware of negativity

A community that considers itself intelligent tends to be negativity because criticizing is seen as a signaling mechanism to indicate that you’re more intelligent than the person you corrected. This was irrationally frustrating for me – it’s one of those things you’ll stay up all night to think about.

5. Make time to be alone.

I initially said “take time just to be alone.” I changed it because if you don’t ensure you can take a break, you’ll surely be interrupted.

Being with other people is something you can do to make you happy, but I don’t include it in this list because nearly everyone finds time to talk with friends. On the other hand, spending time just with yourself is almost considered a taboo.

Take some time to figure out who you are.

6. Exercise.

This is the best way to improve your immediate happiness.

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Exercise probably makes you happy. Try and go on a run. You’ll hate yourself while doing it, but the gratification that you get towards the end vastly outweighs the frustration of the first few attempts. I can’t say enough good things about exercise.

Exercising is also fantastic because it gives you time alone.

7. Have projects.

Having a goal, and moving towards it, is a key to happiness.

You have to realize though that achieving the goal is not necessarily what makes you happy – it’s the process. When I write music, I write it because writing is inherently enjoyable, not because I want to get popular (as if!).

8. Take time to do the things you enjoy.

That’s very general, so let me give you a good example.

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One of the things that has really changed my life was finding small communities centered around activities I enjoy. For instance, I like writing music, so I’m part of a community that meets up to write a song for an hour every week. I love the community. I’ve also written a song every week, 37 weeks in a row, which has gradually moved me towards larger goals and makes me feel very satisfied.

9. Change your definition of happiness.

Another reason I think I’m more happy than other people is because my definition of happiness is a lot more relaxed than most people’s. I don’t seek for some sort of constant euphoria; I don’t think it’s possible to live like that. My happiness is closer to stability.

10. Ignore things that don’t make you happy.

I get varying reactions to this one.

The argument goes “if something is making you unhappy, then you should find out why and improve it, not ignore it.” If you can do that, great. But on the other hand, there’s no reason to mope about a bad score on a test.

There’s another counterargument: perhaps you’re moping because your brain is trying to work out how to improve. In fact, this is the key purpose of depression: Depression’s Upside – NYTimes.com

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I can think of examples that go both ways. I remember, for instance, when I was debating a year or two ago and my partner and I would lose a round, I would mull over what we had done wrong for a long time. In that way, I got immensely better at debate (and public speaking in general – did you know debate has amazing effects on your public speaking ability? But now I really digress).

On the other hand, there’s no way that mulling over how dumb you were for missing that +x term on the left hand side will make you better at math. So stop worrying about it, and go practice math instead.

11. Find a way to measure your progress, and then measure it.

Video games are addictive for a reason: filling up an experience bar and making it to the next level is immensely satisfying. I think that it would be really cool if we could apply this concept to the real world.

I put this near the bottom of the list because, unfortunately, this hasn’t been done too often in the real world – startup idea, anyone? So you would have to do it yourself, which is difficult when you don’t even know how much you’ve progressed.

For a while, I kept a log of the runs I had taken, and my average speed. It was really cool to see my improvement over the weeks. (Also, I was exercising. Combining the two was fantastic for boosting happiness.)

12. Realize that happiness is an evolutionary reward, not an objective truth.

It’s easy to see that this is correct, but this is at the bottom of the list for a reason.

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