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The Art of Happiness

A Handbook for Living

By Dalai Lama
15-minute read
Audio available
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama

The Art of Happiness (1998) is based on interviews of His Holiness the Dalai Lama conducted by the psychiatrist Howard C. Cutler. The combination of Tibetan Buddhist spiritual tradition with Dr. Cutler’s knowledge of Western therapeutic methods and scientific studies makes this a very accessible guide to everyday happiness. The book spent 97 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

  • Anyone interested in how they can deal with suffering and find lasting happiness
  • Anyone interested in how the Dalai Lama’s teachings intersect with Western therapeutic methods and scientific studies
  • Anyone struggling with anger, anxiety, guilt or other negative mental states

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He has lived in exile in Dharamsala, India, since Chinese forces invaded and annexed Tibet in 1959, and he acted as the Tibetan head of state until his retirement in 2011.

Dr. Howard C. Cutler is an American psychiatrist who has studied Tibetan medicine and interviewed the Dalai Lama on several occasions.

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The Art of Happiness

A Handbook for Living

By Dalai Lama
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama
Synopsis

The Art of Happiness (1998) is based on interviews of His Holiness the Dalai Lama conducted by the psychiatrist Howard C. Cutler. The combination of Tibetan Buddhist spiritual tradition with Dr. Cutler’s knowledge of Western therapeutic methods and scientific studies makes this a very accessible guide to everyday happiness. The book spent 97 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Key idea 1 of 9

Cultivating universal compassion is a way to a healthier, happier life.

The Dalai Lama places great emphasis on developing and cultivating compassion. It is an important component of not only Buddhist spiritual development but also of robust, lasting happiness.

Compassion can be roughly defined as a state of mind that is nonaggressive: a wish to see others free from suffering. In true compassion, this wish is deep and universal, not related to personal feelings or to attachments to particular people. Rather, it applies to all living creatures, including friends, enemies, and even a fish writhing on a hook.

The mental and physical benefits of a compassionate attitude have been well documented by research. These range from experiencing an emotional “high” after helping others to gaining a longer life expectancy themselves. But the most striking trait of a compassionate person is how widely their warmth to others is spread; they feel a strong affinity with all others, no matter whether they are rich or poor, close friends or total strangers.

To cultivate compassion, you must try to be empathetic toward others and actively try to understand things from their perspective. An effective method for this is to understand their backgrounds and focus on the commonalties you share. Say, for example, your cab driver tries to overcharge you. Instead of getting angry, you could think about what you and the driver have in common, like that you are both tired, hungry and want to get back to your families. Then, try to examine yourself in their shoes: How would you feel? This usually helps you develop empathy and reduce the anger you would feel, leading to more compassion and a happier life.

Cultivating universal compassion is a way to a healthier, happier life.

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