8 Profound Lessons From the Dalai Lama That Will Change Your Perspective on Life

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It’s not often that Oprah Winfrey is lost for words.

But when she asked The Dalai Lama “Have you ever had to forgive yourself for something?” The Dalai Lama replied, “My attitude towards mosquitoes is not very favorable, not very peaceful. Bed bugs also.”

Oprah was amazed that in a life spanning 78 years that there was nothing to be forgiven for.

Compassion and forgiveness are at the cornerstone of the Dalai Lama’s teachings. Below, we go over some of the Dalai Lama’s most inspiring life lessons, in what has been a remarkable and influential life.

1) Be compassionate

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama XIV

Not only is showing compassion good for the person you’re being compassionate with, but research has shown that it also results in “giver’s high”.

Research by Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, leading researchers in positive psychology, suggests that showing compassion to others helps us enjoy better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease; furthermore, research by Stephanie Brown, at Stony Brook University, and Sara Konrath, at the University of Michigan, has shown that it may even lengthen our lifespan.

Why?

Because acting compassionately reduces stress, leads to a more regular heart beat and also improves our immune system.

The good news?

We’re ALL capable of compassion. A growing body of evidence suggests that, at our core, both and animals and human beings have a “compassionate instinct”.

2) Be Kind

“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.”  – The Dalai Lama

I think we can all agree that we would prefer to live in a society where people are kind to each other.

Two recent studies suggest that giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. What’s more, our kindness might create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

3) Find Happiness

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

In western society, we’re taught that if we obtain expensive material objects, we will be happy.

But according to The Dalai Lama, this won’t lead to happiness. Instead, compassion, kindness, patience and tolerance will lead to inner peace.

The Dalai Lama explains his philosophy here:

“In this world, all qualities spring from preferring the wellbeing of others to our own, whereas frustrations, confusion, and pain result from selfish attitudes. By adopting an altruistic outlook and by treating others in the way they deserve, our own happiness is assured as a byproduct. We should realize that self-centeredness is the source of all suffering, and that thinking of others is the source of all happiness.”

4) Discover Inner Peace.

“Spend some time alone everyday.” – The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama believes that we must spend time alone each day. It’s important to get know yourself and be comfortable with who you are.

Seeking solitude offers many benefits. It allows your brain to unwind, so you can discover yourself and listen to your own inner peace. This is why meditation is seen as so powerful.

A calm mind is your source of happiness.

5) Do No Harm

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama

Start thinking about how you’re treating other people. No one deserves to be intentionally put down. A good rule of thumb is to aim to make someone happier from the time they met you.

Dalai Lama says that this is where we can learn from children:

“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.”

6) Nurture your friendships.

“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.” – The Dalai Lama

Your close relationships are one of the most important sources of happiness, so make sure you give them the time they deserve. In fact, a 68 year Harvard study found that relationships are the most important factor when it comes to happiness.

Keep in mind that real friendships never depend on money or material objects, but instead thrive on trust, love and openness.

7) 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.” – The Dalai Lama

Whether it’s a disagreement with your boss, or a family member, getting angry and acting rashly won’t help anyone.

Instead, let’s take a step back and consider each other’s points of view so we come to a compromise and achieve real progress.

8) You can do whatever you put your mind to

“Every human being has the same potential. Whatever makes you feel “I am worthless” is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought, so what could you possibly be lacking? If you have the willpower, then you can do anything.” ― Dalai Lama

You can’t really put it better than that. If you have the motivation and willpower, you can do anything.

Originally published on Ideapod’s blog, The Power of Ideas.