The Dalai Lama’s Eight Pillars of Joy

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.

Acceptance Is the Key to Contentment

Recently I read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth in the space of about 24 hours. It’s a book that gave me a lot of joy, peace and aliveness. It gave me awareness of my ego, and in times it has cropped up in life. His wisdom and the way he brings it to the reader is very impressive and incredibly useful for anyone.

One of the stand-out topics for me was the idea of acceptance. I think it’s a concept that is so hard for most people to grasp and live out, and that’s why I see a lot of unhappiness in the world today.

Here are a few quotes on acceptance:

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”

“The gap between ‘I want’ and ‘what is’ is a constant source of anguish.”

“Right now, this is how it is. I can either accept it, or let it make me miserable.”

“The primary source of unhappiness is never the situation but the thoughts about it. Situations are always neutral.”

“Instead of making up a story, stick to the facts.”

“Seeking happiness leads to the antithesis of happiness.”

“If you can be absolutely comfortable with not knowing who you are, then what’s left is who you are.”

“Let go of story and return to the present moment. If the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?”

“If you don’t mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness?”

“You cannot be happy without an unhappy story.”

“Be what you already are. You can’t argue with what is.”

“Nonresistance, nonjudgement and nonattachement are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.”

Want to read more? Here are articles on the mind and on the need to be right.