Day 325 Question 325:
If you could choose one book as a mandatory read for all high school students, which book would you choose?
I have referred to The Art of Happiness and abundant amount of times throughout this blog. If I had the power not only would I make this a mandatory read for all high school students….I would make it mandatory for every adult in the world to read. The premise of this book is so simple but the lives and journeys of people every day make it seem so complicated. Happiness (like any other emotion) is a choice and this is something we need to remind ourselves of every single day. The reason I choose this book above all others is because I think as humans living in the Western world (and some in the Eastern) we get lost….we get lost in the chaos and get wrapped up in the superficial aspects of life because this has become the norm. I have become a spectator as opposed to the one seeking attention in the center of the circle and what I have found is quite dismal. I wish all of the time that people could embrace the happiness inside of them…even through some of the hardest of times. So many people have become accustomed to complaining and seeing all of the negatives that they have blocked out all of the good that is happening within them and all around them.
The reason I would choose this as a mandatory read for high school students is because it took me until I was 33 years old to truly get a grasp of myself. I never embraced my happiness and I lived believing the hurtful words of others and under a spell that made me believe I was never good enough. When we are teenagers we are so unaware of the big world around us and how much we allow others to determine our happiness. We live in a time where bullies are becoming part of the social norm and kids/tweens/teens are not being reminded every single day of their value…they are not reminding themselves of their value. This book is a guide (for lack of a better word) that does not force anyone to be something in particular but instead to find them happiness in who and how they are. This book found me when I was completely lost and my life has been completely changed because of it. My individual copy is old and highlighted on several dozen pages and I admit that this is my one book that I will never lend out. I want this book to travel with me throughout life and be my guide when I feel it is most needed. I want to share what I have learned and hopefully introduce complete strangers to the simplicity of happiness that they have been seeking for a very long time.
Excerpt of The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…”
With these words, spoken before a large audience in Arizona, the Dalai Lama cut to the heart of his message. But his claim that the purpose of life was happiness raised a question in my mind. Later, when we were alone, I asked, “Are you happy?”
“Yes,” he said. He paused, then added, “Yes…definitely.” There was a quiet sincerity in his voice that left no doubt – a sincerity that was reflected in his expression and in his eyes.
“But is happiness a reasonable goal for most of us?” I asked. “Is it really possible?”
“Yes. I believe that happiness can be achieved through training the mind.”
The concept of achieving true happiness has, in the West, always seemed ill defined, elusive, ungraspable. Even the word “happy” is derived from the Icelandic word happ, meaning luck or chance. Most of us, it seems, share this view of the mysterious nature of happiness. In those moments of joy that life brings, happiness feels like something that comes out of the blue. To my Western mind, it didn’t seem the sort of thing that one could develop, and sustain, simply by “training the mind.”
When I raised that objection, the Dalai Lama was quick to explain. “When I say ‘training the mind,’ in this context I’m not referring to ‘mind’ merely as one’s cognitive ability or intellect. Rather, I’m using the term in the sense of the Tibetan word Sem, which has a much broader meaning, closer to ‘psyche’ or ‘spirit’; it includes intellect and feeling, heart and mind. By bringing about a certain inner discipline, we can undergo a transformation of our attitude, our entire outlook and approach to living.
“When we speak of this inner discipline, it can of course involve many things, many methods. But generally speaking, one begins by identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness. That is the way.”