The Art of Happiness

Tenzin Gyatso , Howard C. Cutler

The Art of Happiness



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The Art of Happiness is the fruit of conversations that took place in Arizona and in India during the nineties between the Dalai Lama and the psychiatrist Howard Cutler, about the meaning of life and what human beings need to do to be happy. When the book came out, in 1998, it enjoyed unforeseen success during a time when most editors said that people weren't interested in the subject of happiness. The fourteenth Dalai Lama tells us that it is possible for us all to be happy, and that we can practice happiness in the same way we would practice any other discipline. 

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Analysis and key concepts


The purpose of our lives is to be happy, an objective that we can achieve by training our minds


Fulfilment is that feeling we feel when we appreciate what we have, and it is very important in the pursuit of happiness


Happiness is not the same as pleasure: it is a longer lasting state which derives from a calm mind and from being open to the world


Human warmth, kindness, and compassion: by living according to these feelings, we can be happy


If we live our lives with compassion, we will never feel alone; if we practice empathy, we will be able to understand the suffering of others


Recognising that suffering is a normal part of the human experience helps to ease its burden


To free ourselves from suffering we need to accept the impermanence of life


Changing your point of view is one of the most effective ways to pursue happiness


Viewing enemies as an opportunity to grow and improve, to practice patience and tolerance


Develop a strong and firm conviction to undertake the necessary effort for change




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Appreciate the importance of kindness, tolerance, and forgiveness as sources of happiness.
  • Help recognise that suffering is part of life, therefore we need to learn to accept it.
  • Learn to cultivate a calm and serene state of mind, to help feel fulfilled each and every day.

Tibetan Buddhist monk Tenzin Gyatso is the fourteenth Dalai Lama. Born in 1935 into a peasant family in a small village in Tibet, at the age of two he was recognised as the reincarnation of the thirteenth Dalai Lama. He began his monastic and political education at the age of six, and then at the age of 23 he was awarded the equivalent of a doctorate in the philosophy of Buddhism. Political and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, the current Dalai Lama is an authoritative voice of world pacifism, and he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Since 1959 he has lived in India, in Dharamsala, the seat of the exiled Tibetan government. In 2011, he relinquished temporal power in favour of a democratically elected leader.

Howard C. Cutler is an American psychiatrist based in Phoenix, Arizona. He met the Dalai Lama during a stay in India where he went to study Tibetan medicine. A long-time scholar of Tibetan Buddhism and expert in the science of human happiness, he joined forces with the Dalai Lama to help him write several books. Cutler has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs, and has been interviewed by Time and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Publishing house:

Riverhead Books