How to Lead a Meaningful Life

The Dalai Lama shows how an open mind and a warm heart
can solve our problems.
By His Holiness the Dalai Lama

There are two ways to create happiness. The first is
external. By obtaining better shelter, better clothes,
and better friends, we can find a certain measure of
happiness and satisfaction.

The second is through mental development, which yields
inner happiness. However, these two approaches are not
equally viable. External happiness cannot last long
without its counterpart. If something is missing in
your heart--then despite the most luxurious
surroundings, you cannot be happy. However, if you
have peace of mind, you can find happiness even under
the most difficult circumstances.
[There are] valuable techniques from the Tibetan
traditions which, if implemented in daily practice,
lead to mental peace. As you calm your mind and heart,
your agitation and worry will naturally subside, and
you will enjoy more happiness. Your relationships with
others will reflect these changes. And as a better
human being, you will be a better citizen of your
country, and ultimately a better citizen of the world.

We are all born helpless. Without a parent’s kindness
we could not survive, much less prosper. When children
grow up in constant fear, with no one to rely on, they
suffer their whole lives. Because the minds of small
children are very delicate, their need for kindness is
particularly obvious.

Adult human beings need kindness too. If someone
greets me with a nice smile, and expresses a genuinely
friendly attitude, I appreciate it very much. Though I
might not know that person or understand their
language, they instantly gladden my heart. On the
other hand, if kindness is lacking, even in someone
from my own culture whom I have known for many years,
I feel it. Kindness and love, a real sense of
brotherhood and sisterhood, these are very precious.
They make community possible and thus are crucial to

Each of us has a valid sense of self, of "I." We also
share fundamental goals. We want happiness and do not
want suffering. Animals and insects also want
happiness and do not want suffering, but they have no
special ability to achieve deeper happiness or
overcome suffering. As human beings, endowed with this
power of thought, we have this potential, and we must
use it.
On every level--as individuals, and as members of a
family, a community, a nation and a planet--the most
mischievous troublemakers we face are anger and
egoism. The kind of egoism I refer to here is not just
a sense of I, but an exaggerated self-centeredness. No
one claims to feel happy while being angry. As long as
anger dominates our disposition, there is no
possibility of lasting happiness. In order to achieve
peace, tranquility, and real friendship, we must
minimize anger and cultivate kindness and a warm

Developing a warm heart ourselves can also transform
others. As we become nicer human beings, our
neighbors, friends, parents, spouses, and children
experience less anger. They will become warm-hearted,
compassionate, and harmonious. The very atmosphere
becomes happier, which promotes good health, perhaps
even a longer life.

The central method for achieving a happier life is to
train your mind in a daily practice that weakens
negative attitudes and strengthens positive ones. The
big question is whether or not we can practice
kindness and peace. Many of our problems stem from
attitudes like putting ourselves first at all costs. I
know from my own experience that it is possible to
change these attitudes and improve the human mind.

Though it is colorless, shapeless, and sometimes weak,
the human mind can become stronger than steel. To
train the mind, you must exercise the patience and
determination it takes to shape the steel. If you
practice improving your mind with a strong will and
forbearance by trying, no matter how many difficulties
you may encounter at the beginning, then you will
succeed. With patience, practice, and time, change
will come.

Do not give up. If you are pessimistic from the
beginning, you cannot possibly succeed. If you are
hopeful and determined, you will always find some
measure of success. Winning the gold medal does not
matter. You have tried your best.
The harmony and friendship that we need in our
families, nations, and the world can be achieved only
through compassion and kindness. By helping one
another, with concern and respect, we can solve many
problems easily. Harmony cannot thrive in a climate of
mistrust, cheating, bullying, and mean-spirited
competition. Success through intimidation and violence
is temporary at best; its trifling gains only create
new problems. This is why just a couple of decades
after the First World War, the Second World War was
fought, and millions more people were killed. If we
examine our long history of hatred and anger, we see
the obvious need to find a better way. We can only
solve our problems through truly peaceful means--not
just peaceful words but a peaceful mind and heart.

Is this possible? Fighting, cheating, and bullying
have trapped us in our present situation; now we need
training in new practices to find a way out. It may
seem impractical and idealistic, but we have no
alternative to compassion, recognizing human value and
the oneness of humanity: This is the only way to
achieve lasting happiness.

I travel from country to country with this sense of
oneness. I have trained my mind for decades, so when I
meet people from different cultures there are no
barriers. I am convinced that despite different
cultures and different political and economic systems,
we are all basically the same. The more people I meet,
the stronger my conviction becomes that the oneness of
humanity, founded on understanding and respect, is a
realistic and viable basis for our conduct.

Wherever I go, this is what I speak about. I believe
that the practice of compassion and love--a genuine
sense of brotherhood and sisterhood--is the universal
religion. It does not matter whether you are Buddhist
or Christian, Moslem or Hindu, or whether you practice
a religion at all. What matters is your feeling of
oneness with humankind.

Do you agree? Do you think it is nonsense? I am not a
God King, as some call me. I am just a Buddhist monk.
What I am saying comes from my own practice, which is
limited. But I do try to implement these ideas in my
daily life, especially when I face problems. Of
course, I fail sometimes. Sometimes I get irritated.
Occasionally I use a harsh word, but when I do,
immediately I feel "Oh, this is wrong." I feel this
because I have internalized the practices of wisdom
and compassion.

I call compassion the global staple. Human beings want
happiness and do not want suffering. Mental peace is a
basic need for all humankind. For politicians,
engineers, scientists, homemakers, doctors, teachers,
lawyers--for all people in every endeavor--a healthy,
compassionate motivation is the foundation of
spiritual growth.

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Comment by Allincalm on November 25, 2010 at 9:06pm
If we could feel this way. Happy Thanksgiving all

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