The purpose of our lives is to be happy, an objective that we can achieve by training our minds
In the 1990’s, the Dalai Lama stood before a large crowd in Arizona and told them that “pursuing happiness is the very purpose of life”. And he added that happiness could be achieved by “training the mind”.
At that time, to the Western world, this idea was still far beyond the mainstream, especially in the field of psychology, where happiness was not even among the goals of people in therapy. There was talk of depression, anxiety, relationship struggles and how to alleviate these problems, but happiness was not even discussed.
The word happy has its root in the Icelandic word happ, which means fate or fortune. It is as if happiness was more a matter of chance, something unexpected that happens to us, and not something we can learn to cultivate ourselves.
In short, when the Dalai Lama spoke to the Western world in the 90’s about the fact that people can train their minds to be happy, this idea was as far removed from reality as one could possibly imagine.
It should be noted that in Tibetan, when we speak of mind, we use the word “sem” which has a broader meaning because it includes feeling and intellect, heart, and brain.
According to the Dalai Lama, by developing an inner discipline, we can change our world view and our approach to life. Everything is based on a very simple starting point: identifying the factors that lead to happiness and those that lead to suffering. Once we are clear about these factors, the next step is to cultivate and strengthen the ones which lead to happiness and gradually weaken and get rid of the ones that lead to suffering.
In fact, according to Buddhism, happiness is determined more by our mental state than by external events. Great success can produce temporary euphoria, just as serious tragedy can plunge us into a gloomy depression. Sooner or later, though, our mood tends to return to our personal “normal”, because daily happiness is determined by the way we choose to view things and situations, and by how much we are able to appreciate what we have.
The key ideas of "The Art of Happiness"
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