Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and a hugely sought-after speaker and statesman. Why is he so popular? Even after spending only a few minutes in his presence you can’t help feeling happier.
If you ask him if he’s happy, even though he’s suffered the loss of his country, the Dalai Lama will give you an unconditional yes. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that the very motion of our life is toward happiness. How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand.
The Art of Happiness is the book that started the genre of happiness books, and it remains the cornerstone of the field of positive psychology.
Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Howard Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace. Based on 2,500 years of Buddhist meditations mixed with a healthy dose of common sense, The Art of Happiness is a book that crosses the boundaries of traditions to help readers with difficulties common to all human beings. After being in print for ten years, this book has touched countless lives and uplifted spirits around the world.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit down with the Dalai Lama and really press him about life’s persistent questions? Why are so many people unhappy? How can I abjure loneliness? How can we reduce conflict? Is romantic love true love? Why do we suffer? How should we deal with unfairness and anger? How do you handle the death of a loved one? These are the conundrums that psychiatrist Howard Cutler poses to the Dalai Lama during an extended period of interviews in The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living.
At first, the Dalai Lama’s answers seem simplistic, like a surface reading of Robert Fulghum: Ask yourself if you really need something; our enemies can be our teachers; compassion brings peace of mind. Cutler pushes: But some people do seem happy with lots of possessions; but “suffering is life” is so pessimistic; but going to extremes provides the zest in life; but what if I don’t believe in karma? As the Dalai Lama’s responses become more involved, a coherent philosophy takes shape. Cutler then develops the Dalai Lama’s answers in the context of scientific studies and cases from his own practice, substantiating and elaborating on what he finds to be a revolutionary psychology. Like any art, the art of happiness requires study and practice–and the talent for it, the Dalai Lama assures us, is in our nature. –Brian Bruya