Just finished reading “The art of happiness” , a book I bought after reading Joi’s post about it. It’s a book written by psychiatrist( Howard C.Cutler) and Dalai Lama. I liked it a lot because it’s not only talking about happiness but also about ethics and how to live in harmony within this world. It’s also interesting how it contrasts and compares western thinking and Buddhist thinking.
Dalai Lama states that compassion and altruism are two of the main pillars where you can start building happiness. Humans are innately greedy, and those who doesn’t know how to control it are not really happy and their lives are full of suffering. Those who are better controlling their greedy instincts are happier. In order to achieve it, it’s necessary to develop your self-control and your compassion.
Dalai Lama says that he doesn’t have any enemies, even though China destroyed his culture and he had to live his homeland, he doesn’t blame China. Learning to how build compassion (instead of hatred) to those people, events or things that or causing you some kind of uneasy feeling is very important in order to keep happiness in your soul.
Another important thing to remember is that we don’t have to confuse pleasure with happiness. A crazy party, sex or eating a chocolate ice cream can give you some kind of “pleasure” in that moment, but those pleasures are not necessarily elements that are giving you “long term happiness”. Having friends you can trust, a job that you enjoy everyday and a family who loves you are elements that could be considered to increase your “happiness” even though they don’t give you any kind of “pleasure”. That’s why drinking too much alcohol, paying for sex or consuming drugs is not effective to deal with depressing feelings. “Pleasures” are not bad in general, but you have to know how to control yourself and learn when pleasures are gonna cause you more unhappiness than happiness in the long term.
Reading this book I also learned a lot about Dalai Lama, I found very interesting that even he is spiritual leader he doesn’t have absolute values and he is very open to listen to new ideas and accept them. Another interesting fact is that in the book they talk a lot about science, sometimes even more than religion. In fact, Dalai Lama loves reading non fiction books, and specially science books, one of his favorite books is Cosmos (Carl Sagan). It is also one of my favorite books 🙂
After reading “The art of happiness” I watched a documentary called 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama where it explains more about Dalai Lama’s life and how his people and culture was killed/destroyed by the Chinese. I recommend both, the book and the documentary.