The Art of Happiness Book Summary - The Art of Happiness Book explained in key points

The Art of Happiness summary

Dalai Lama

A Handbook for Living

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What is The Art of Happiness about?

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.

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents
    Key idea 1 of 9

    External circumstances cannot create lasting happiness – the right state of mind can.

    How can we achieve lasting happiness?

    Most people would readily agree that the purpose of life is to seek happiness. Yet for some reason we often see happiness itself as something mysterious and hard to define, and we have a poor understanding of what makes us happy. According to the Dalai Lama, by training one’s mind it is possible to learn how to be happier.

    External events can affect a person’s happiness in the short-term, but our level of happiness tends to revert back to a certain baseline soon after the event. For example, winning the lottery only produces a short-lived happiness “high,” which usually subsides relatively quickly. Similarly, people who face sudden and tragic health problems like a diagnosis of cancer or paralysis typically – after a period of grieving – recover their previous level of happiness. Hence, it seems no specific external conditions can really affect our happiness in the long run.

    But the mind is a powerful tool; our mental state greatly affects how we perceive the world. Consider, for example, how negative emotions skew our view of other people: when we’re angry, even dear friends can seem annoying, cold and hostile.

    According to the Dalai Lama, it is possible to systematically train your mind so that you identify and cultivate positive mental states while eliminating the negative ones. Though this is a slow, gradual process, it eventually brings a calmness that allows you to live a happy, joyous life no matter what the external situation.

    External circumstances cannot create lasting happiness – the right state of mind can.

    In the next three blinks, you'll learn why compassion, intimacy and spirituality are important for a happier life.

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    Who should read The Art of Happiness

    • 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

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