Sunday, 6 June 2010

BOOKS - The Art of Happiness

Few minutes ago, I finished to read the Dalai Lama book: “The Art of Happiness”.

I truly think this is a valuable book to understand the real value of the human life. This is a book that force you to reflect deeply about yourself and your relations with all human beings.

The book is divided in 5 sections.

I report some sentences that, for me, are the most significant:
    • The very purpose of life is to seek happiness.
    • Happy people are generally found to be more sociable, flexible, and creative and are able to tolerate life’s daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people. And, most important, they are found to be more loving and forgiving than unhappy people.
    • Happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.
    • Happiness can be achieved through training the mind.
    • Our feelings of contentment are strongly influenced by our tendency to compare. We can increase our feeling of life satisfaction by comparing ourselves to those who are less fortunate than us and by reflecting on all things we have.
    • The greater the level of calmness of our mind, the greater our peace of mind, the greater our ability to enjoy and joyful life
    • The demarcation between a positive and a negative desire or action is not whether it gives you a immediate feeling of satisfaction but whether it ultimately results in positive or negative consequences.
    • Is not to have what we want but rather to want and appreciate what we have.
    • Sometimes people confuse happiness with pleasure. True happiness relates more to the mind and heart. Happiness that depends mainly on physical pleasure is unstable.
    • Framing any decision we face by asking ourselves: “Will it bring me happiness?
    • The first step in seeking happiness is learning. We first have to learn how negative emotions and behaviours are harmful to us and how positive emotions are helpful.
    • The proper utilization of our intelligence and knowledge is to effect changes from within to develop a good heart.
    • It is still my firm conviction that human nature is essentially compassionate, gentle. That is the predominant feature of human nature.
    • When we combine a warm heart with knowledge and education, we can learn to respect other’s views and other’s rights.
    • Scientists are discovering that those who lack close social ties seem to suffer from poor health, higher levels of unhappiness, and a greater vulnerability to stress

    • Once you accept the fact that compassion is not something childish or sentimental, once you realize that compassion is something really worthwhile, realize it’s deeper value, then you immediate develop an attraction towards it, a willingness to cultivate it.
    • There is a widespread notion in our culture that deep intimacy is best achieved within the context of a passionate romantic relationship. This can be a profoundly limiting viewpoint, cutting us off from other potential sources of intimacy, and the cause of much misery and unhappiness when that Special Someone isn’t there.
    • Intimacy is based on a willingness to open ourselves to many others, to family, friends, and even strangers, forming a genuine and deep bonds based on our common humanity.
    • Empathy is an important factor. The ability to appreciate another’s suffering.
    • If you are having some difficulties, it’s extremely helpful to be able to try to put yourself in the other person’s place and see how you would react to the situation.
    • We are all born in the same way, and we all die. All of us want happiness and do not want to suffer. Relating to others on that level makes it much easier to exchange and communicate with one another.
    • Married people are happier and more satisfied with life than single or widowed people, or especially compared to divorced or separated people.
    • Compassion can be roughly defined in terms of a state of mind that is nonviolent, non harming, and nonaggressive. It is a mental attitude based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and is associated with a sense of commitment, responsibility, and respect towards the other.
    • Positive states of mind can improve our physical health.

    • As long as we view suffering as an unnatural state, an abnormal condition that we fear, avoid, and reject, we will never uproot the causes of suffering and begin to live a happier life.
    • We tend to take small things too seriously, and blow them up out of proportion, while at the same time we often remain indifferent to the really important things.
    • As a product of an imperfect world, all of us are imperfect. Every one of us has one some wrong.
    • The acceptance of change can be an important factor in reducing a large measure of our self-created suffering.
    • One must understand that every phenomena, every event, has different aspects. Everything is of a relative nature.
    • You might reflect on the fact that when you are really angry at someone you tend to perceive them as having 100 percent negative qualities. The tendency to see someone as completely negative is due to your own perception based on your own mental projection, rather than the true nature of that individual.
    • The enemy is the necessary condition for practicing patience.
    • A balanced and skilful approach to life, taking care to avoid extremes, becomes a very important factor in conducting one’s everyday existence.
    • The vulnerability we experience in the midst of our suffering can open us and deepen our connection with others
    • We convert pain into suffering in the mind. It is our suffering that is the most basic element that we share with others, the factor that unifies us with all living creatures.

    • Learning and education are important because they help one develop conviction of the need to change and help increase one’s commitment. This conviction to change than develops into determination. Next, one transforms determination into action – the strong determination to change enables one to make a sustained effort to implement the actual changes. The final factor of effort is critical.
    • You have to be always aware of the destructive effects of the negative behaviour.
    • Genuine change does not happen overnight.
    • Numerous surveys have conclusively found that higher levels of education have a positive correlation with better health and a longer life, and even protect an individual from depression.
    • Through proper training we can gradually reduce our negative emotions and increase positive states of mind such as love, compassion, and forgiveness.
    • We need to actively cultivate the antidotes to hatred: patience and tolerance.
    • An end result, or a product of patience and tolerance, is forgiveness. When you are truly patient and tolerant, then forgiveness comes naturally.
    • Working on improving our physical health through proper diet and exercise can be useful to reduce anxiety and stress.
    • If the situation or problem is such that it can be remedied, then there is no need to worry about it. Alternatively, if there is no way out, no solution, no possibility of resolution, then there is also no point in being worried about it, because you can’t do anything about it anyway.
    • Sincere motivation acts as an antidote to reduce fear and anxiety.
    • A healthy sense of self-confidence is a critical factor in achieving our goals.
    • The more honest you are, the more self-confident you will be.
    • Love is a genuine wish for someone’s happiness.

    • In helping us understand the true meaning of spirituality is important to distinguish between spirituality and religion.
    • True spirituality is a mental attitude that you can practice at any time.
    • Independent researchers have found that religious people report feeling happy and satisfied with life more often than non-religious people.
    • It is important to respect the rights of others. We must to learn to respect all there major religion traditions.

I strongly recommend to read this book.

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