At the end of the day, human beings just want to be happy. So how do we do it? The Dalai Lama tells us how in The Book of Joy.
Perspective: Take a step back and view your situation from a variety of angles. Reframe it positively. Understand that things that may seem difficult now will seem unimportant in a few years’ time. Shift from focusing on I and me and mine to we and us and ours. Move away from self-centeredness into viewing the world as interdependent.
Humility: Lose the labels and simply regard yourself as a fellow human being – one of seven billion. When we view each other as the same, we understand how much we have in common. Just like in nature, growth begins in the low places, and being humble means you are willing to learn. Thinking that you’re special leads to isolation and loneliness. Instead, think of yourself as essential. Humility isn’t the same as timidity – still take responsibility to use your gifts to help others and share with the world.
Humor: Laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. It punctures your own sense of self-importance. Humor is an effective way of dealing with the anxiety and stress of uncertainty in life.
Acceptance: Let go of the expectations of how life should be and just accept what is. Let go of the attachment to a goal or method, because in the end we don’t control the result. Instead focus on doing your best.
Forgiveness: Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we accept or approve of wrongdoing, it’s choosing not to develop anger or hatred and remembering the humanity of the person doing wrong. Forgiveness is the only way to heal ourselves and be free from the past – until then, someone else will hold the keys to our happiness, and that person will be our jailor.
Gratitude: It’s easy to forget how much we can be grateful for, starting with the opportunity of simply being alive right now. Feeling gratitude simply makes us happy. It makes us accept reality and give thanks for everything that has led us to this point.
Compassion: This is probably the core of the Dalai Lama’s teachings. The more time you end up thinking of yourself, the more you suffer. Think of how you can bring joy to others, and as a by-product joy will appear for you. Compassion makes our heart healthy and happy. Wish for the happiness and joy in all sentient beings.
Generosity: They say money doesn’t bring happiness. But spending money on other people does. Being generous makes us happy. In giving, we receive happiness. Sit loosely with your wealth and status – we are simply stewards of these positions and possessions and be generous. But don’t view generosity as a burden, give with joy. That too, is a great gift.