When asked what the purpose of life is, His Holiness the Dalai Lama the fourteenth famously replied, ‘To be happy.’
This is a simple but powerful response to a question many people struggle with, especially when faced with personal tragedies or business challenges.
Here are more quotes and lessons from the Dalai Lama on how to manage stress and overcome difficulties:
If a problem is fixable, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying either.
Persistent worry is a major and dangerous source of physical and mental stress. The thing about getting into a habit of worrying is that you tend to break a sweat over the slightest of things and completely lose yourself in it.
In his book, How Risky is It, Really? David Ropeik observes that even a small amount of worry, accumulated over a few weeks can result in adverse mental and physical effects such as depression, low immunity and diabetes.
An effective way to break the habit of chronic worrying is to learn how to let things go easily. This does not mean giving up quickly or living life passively; it means taking a moment to reevaluate what’s really important and needs to be fixed and what cannot be fixed.
The rule of thumb is to let go and stop fretting about what you do not have control over. As the Dalai Lama puts it, if it’s not fixable, there is no need to worry about it at all.
Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.
Difficult situations are often an opportunity for growth. It is obviously tough to see the inherent opportunities when you are in the middle of a challenging situation in your business, at work, or in your personal life.
The Dalai Lama recommends that you adopt a new perspective toward your situation. The truth is:
It requires a certain resilience for you to face your circumstances and determine that this is the best thing that could ever happen to you.
Every challenge offers you a chance to learn, grow and take the necessary steps to ensure that it never happens again. So for example, say your business is losing customers, they are all going to your competitor, you could choose to look at this as a hopeless situation and continue to stress over it. Or, you could decide to look at this as a wakeup call to improve your service and find better ways to attract and retain your customers.
The lesson here is to build enough resilience to always gain a new perspective when faced with challenging situations.
Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively
A common reason why many people tend to fester in stress when faced with a challenge is that they do not know how to manage their emotions—they panic, give in to worry and get stuck in their situation.
Resilience is many things and can be developed using many techniques. But the ability to keep your emotions under control, to keep calm and to create space for a new perspective is at the core of developing a sense of grit and an attitude of never giving up.
The Dalai Lama talks about knowing the rules well and then breaking them. In the context of developing emotional resilience, this means learning to understand your emotions and then letting go of those that do not serve you well when faced with difficult situations.
Building resilience is a journey that takes great practice.
Silence is sometimes the best answer
In a world of yoga, Zen, Pilates and all sorts of popular meditation practices, the word mindfulness tends to be thrown around a lot.
But what does it mean to be mindful? It is a deliberate awareness of what is happening in the present moment. Awareness is perhaps the most important aspect of mindfulness.
Silence and quiet meditation have been proven to help generate a sense of awareness. Studies also show that individuals who are in touch with their thoughts and their feelings are increasingly able to survive hardship. They have the willpower to find solutions to their problems.
As you can see from the video, when the Dalai Lama speaks, whether at a press conference, a peace meeting or at a business convention, he is always in high spirits in spite of living in exile for decades away from his home country, Tibet. The greatest lesson, perhaps, is to proactively practice how to be a master of your mind so you can master life’s most challenging situations.
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