dalai lama's influence on seeking happiness

Dedicated to everyone looking to have more happiness in their life. #OutsideWork

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

Throughout my whole life, I have been fascinated with the Dalai Lama. His presence is unlike anything (or anyone) I have ever experienced. I remember the first time I met him and I was beside myself. The only other time I could recall feeling this overwhelmed with joy was my first time walking into Disney World. Clearly there is an aura that surrounds this man and one which people for years have been drawn to.

At the young age of eighty years old, the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and Nobel Peace Prize winner bestows upon those he encounters a simple but profound message of love, compassion and enlightenment. Let’s take a moment to focus on the compassion piece – as this is critical in developing more happiness both for yourself and your life.

According to research from Stanford’s School Of Medicine and The Center For Compassion & Altruism Research:

  • Dalai Lama has said that the problems of the world — social, economic, environmental, and so on — are best understood and viewed through the lens of compassion. With compassion, our empathy for the suffering of others can give rise to altruism — bringing immediate and long-term happiness and tranquillity to our lives.

Compassion can be defined as:

  • An emotion that is a sense of shared suffering, most often combined with a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another; to show special kindness to those who suffer. Compassion essentially arises through empathy, and is often characterized through actions, wherein a person acting with compassion will seek to aid those they feel compassionate for.

The benefits are great and range across a wide spectrum but here are some highlights:

  • It makes you happy and I mean really, really happy
  • It (can) make you more attractive
  • It uplifts those around you
  • It’s contagious (in a great way)
  • It boosts health and longevity
  • It improves your mood
  • It provides you more time

So how do you go about doing that?

I researched and compiled an excellent list of beliefs and teachings the Dalai Lama practices so that you can begin to incorporate them into your every day life and start cultivating more happiness.

  • Be compassionate
    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 a friend who is ill, someone who lost their job, a family member suffering something painful or even a complete stranger who you may never meet again.
  • Be kind and help others.
    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.
  • Seek happiness through prioritizing your values.
    The Dalai Lama said that we are bombarded with messages about material possessions every day – all day. 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. Start to collect evidence of the good that is out there everyday through witnessing others actions as well as being mindful of the company you keep.
  • Stand up against injustice.
    The Dalai Lama draws a clear distinction between being compassionate and being passive. His three pillars of an “equitable society” include fairness, transparency and accountability, and when dealing with injustice, these values often require action. We don’t accomplish change by simply offering our sympathy to victims — we have to step up and prepare to be their voices, offer aid in a way that they find helpful, and search for the root of corruption so that it can be addressed and transformed. He considers it the “muscular” side of compassion.
  • 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 friendships can lead to loneliness. This is one of the risk factors which can contribute to depression.

  • 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 believes that the truly calm mind is the source of happiness and good health.

  • Make humanity the bottom line of business.
    Science tells us money isn’t the key to happiness, so why should we live by an economic structure that enables that idea? The Dalai Lama takes this truth a bit further to explain that in order for businesses to accomplish effective social good, they must consider the well-being of every citizen of the world as opposed to a small group of stakeholders. He believes that we need to reframe how we perceive profits, wealth and success to include this sense of global altruism. Businesses can only become a force for good when they trade self-interest for compassion and use their talents and impact to reduce financial inequality rather than make it worse.

  • Don’t allow technology to run (or ruin) your life.
    Although the Dalai Lama has millions followers on social media and he admires the advances in technology in helping us to communicate, he nevertheless warns against its overuse as it can control your life. He goes on to comment about people in restaurants using their cell phones while sitting across from each other dismissing the opportunity to connect. He continued with asking, “who is in charge? You or the technology?” – something worth considering the next time you whip out your phone while speaking to another individual. In the end, it’s a poor substitute for real friendship and cannot help you to be compassionate.
  • Always lend a helping hand.
    Oftentimes the best way to employ your intelligence, compassion and talent is to invest it in someone who really needs your help. The Dalai Lama explains how this task will likely be an uncomfortable one, pushing you to limits you’ve never experienced before, but that’s one of the ways you know you’re making a true impact. For us to act as a cohesive, unified body, we must stand up for those who are defenseless, disabled, impoverished or disadvantaged in ways beyond their control.

Final thoughts:
These beliefs and practices can be done anywhere, any time. It may not be easy at first and require intentionality on your part but once you can shift your attitude with practice, you will start to see a change. The most important thing is to connect with the aspiration to become more compassionate, and to nurture that aspiration within yourself, again and again. This is truly all about the journey and daily practice versus a final destination. He went on to say:

Happiness isn’t something you “have” or “haven’t,” but rather a state of being that can actually be practiced and conditioned, like any hobby or sport.

In the end, true compassion knows no boundaries, and that’s why the Dalai Lama believes it is the one component within every human being that can change the world if acted upon.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below: 

What brings you happiness?

With leadership,


Not-your-typical Personal and Executive Master Certified Coach.
Joshua Miller is a creative and impactful leader. His career experience has spanned both the advertising world and the world of leadership and organizational development. To learn more about Joshua, please visit www.JoshHMiller.com

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