8 Things You Can Learn From the Dalai Lama
Want to be more like the Dalai Lama? You can be!
But first, why would you want to be more like the Dalai Lama?
In his lifelong efforts in the practice of Dharma, the Dalai Lama teaches the importance of engaging in positive thoughts over negative ones, something he believes should be a lifelong activity for us all. He is a leading example of what it means to transcend any situation we might find ourselves in, to refuse to fall victim to ourselves and to work to achieve an inner peace and happiness.
He is the pinnacle of presence and emotional mastery. The Dalai Lama’s life is a continual striving toward the ultimate nirvana; inner peace to achieve peace for all. His philosophy – kindness.
‘My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.’ – Dalai Lama
If there is anything that we should all want to strive for or to improve on, it’s having an attitude of compassion and kindness.
However, having such an aptitude for kindness is not something that can be developed overnight, even for the Dalai Lama. It is a lifelong journey; it is an everyday, conscious effort to be that little bit better than we were the day before. But it is possible, especially with the right help.
To get started, here are 8 things each of us can learn from the Dalai Lama:
1. Think of everyone you meet as a young child.
When you imagine every person that you meet as a small child in your care, it becomes easier to be a lot of things – patient, understanding, compassionate. Suddenly, you are able to want the best for everyone, even the most difficult of people. It might sound a bit far-fetched, but thinking about others in this way can transform the entire way that you relate to others, especially those you might find it hard to empathize with or understand.
2. When you’ve got nothing nice to say, learn to say nothing at all.
Feeling angry? Want to vent your frustration at someone? Try being quiet for a while. As opposed to being reactive, try taking some quiet time out to process your feelings and then get proactive about the best course of action.
For example, when you find yourself raising your voice in an argument with a spouse, stop and take a moment to think about what’s really going on here. Is your rage coming from a place of genuine anger? Usually not; anger is just another form of fear. So ask yourself – what am I afraid of right now? That my spouse will no longer like me? That I’m going to let them down? Then consider that their anger is just another form of fear too. A few moments of choosing silence will help to give you the perspective you need to stop fuelling the flames of your anger and to choose an alternative reaction.
3. Remember that everyone you met is fighting their own battle.
Sometimes we can become so wrapped up in our own little world and our own problems, that we forget that other people have their problems too – problems far worse than ours. So before you judge someone, brush them off or call them out on something, get to know their story. Stop making it about you and see what you can learn from the stories of the people around you.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
By the ‘small stuff,’ this largely means money and material things. Too many of us have invested too much of ourselves and our happiness into what we have financially.
Obviously having enough money to pay the bills, put food in your stomach and keep a roof over your head can be incredibly stressful, but if you’re someone who stresses about these things most of the time, ask yourself – out of the past 100 times that you’ve stressed over losing everything, how many times has it actually come true?
And if you have lost everything in the past, then how has worrying about it ever helped you to solve anything? Take action in the present, not anxiety for your future, preoccupy your energies.
So, keep a clear, logical mind with the necessary stuff, but as for everything else – the expensive cars, the big houses, the designer labels, the ‘more, more, more’ mentality – give it a miss. Invest your energies into the things that will bring you real, lasting happiness – relationships, the relationship you have with yourself, a sense of purpose and freedom.
5. Choose the thoughts that serve you. Disregard those that don’t.
Happiness is said to be nothing more than a matter of focus. You can choose to focus on the thoughts, people, events, and situations that serve your happiness, or you can choose to focus on the ones that do not.
Is this easy? Not at all, otherwise, we’d all already be experts at it. But with practice and awareness, we can all learn how to separate the not-so-useful thoughts from the more useful ones.
For example, there could be one or two people in your group of friends who have let you down. You can choose to focus on these few individuals and get upset about it, maybe have an argument with them, gossip about them behind their backs and feel sorry for yourself.
Or you could choose to focus on the friends who are always there for you, the ones who you can enjoy your time with and who you do feel good around.
We think we know what is good for us, except for when it comes to what we give our attention to. So practice becoming more mindful of what you are feeding your mind.
The Dalai Lama is known for using meditation to practice improved mindfulness. Why not follow suit?
6. Be yourself (the best version).
You might struggle to use any of the above tips, but there is one thing you can do, no matter who you are, and that is to be yourself.
We can all look up to people like the Dalai Lama and learn from the ways in which we can improve on ourselves, but it is important to remember that you are not trying to be them. Always be yourself, never pretend to be someone that you aren’t, and that is the most important step you can take towards a happier you and a happier world.
The thing about life is that as long as you are always moving forward – forward, forward – ANYTHING is possible for you.
We are all just a work in progress, the Dalai Lama included, and he embraces this. Look at your life as an opportunity to grow, expand out and into life, and know that all you can ever do is keep striving to be the very best version of yourself that you can be.
7. In the middle of each difficulty is an opportunity to grow.
Every difficulty that we face or mistake that we make, offers us an opportunity for growth. We can learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves. The Dalai Lama says that when we face these challenges, it is a chance for us to find out inner strength and use it.
Through these difficulties, we can practice patience and tolerance.
8. The best way to solve a problem is to sit down and talk.
Violence and anger is never the answer to solving problems you have. The Dalai Lama says that we need to respect each other and listen to other people.
Talk through your problems and resolve the issue peacefully.