I’m shaking things up a bit this week with a Wednesday blog (no name alliteration this week, sorry!). I decided to wait until tonight to blog because I had the amazing opportunity to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama speak at Syracuse University. Last night, I attended the One World Concert, a celebration of peace and music featuring a talk by the Dalai Lama. Attending this concert was a once in a lifetime opportunity and hearing what the Dalai Lama had to say was truly inspiring.
I’ve been thinking a lot about personal happiness lately. What does it mean to be happy? What makes me happy? I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the “simpler” things in life make me happy: spending time chatting with friends and family, laughing with my fiance, curling up with some green tea and getting lost in a good book. I always thought success–financial, academic and career–was the key to happiness. And while it feels good to achieve a goal that I’ve worked hard on, being “the best” at everything isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve spent nights crying over class projects and final grades. I’ve worried myself sick–literally–letting my anxiety affect my physical health. Is “success” worth my health and happiness?
The Dalai Lama talked a lot about happiness and peace last night. “Warm-heartedness is the key to happiness. Not through power, not through money, not through knowledge.” While the Dalai Lama acknowledged the worth of education, he did mention that intelligence is not the key to inner happiness. He told the story of his mother, a poor, illiterate farmer, who cared for His Holiness with such compassion, it inspired him to live a life full of kindness. Even though she wasn’t the most financially successful woman, she was still able to live a life of happiness. I found this to be so touching and true. You don’t need to be a millionaire, a Ph.D., own a huge house, or have an incredibly successful career to be happy. Happiness is not dependent on the material–it is dependent on inner-peace.
“We should not see tolerance and compassion as a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a sign of strength,” the Dalai Lama said. I couldn’t agree with him more. Hate is easy. It is based in fear and the inability to understand others. But love is so much more difficult. It requires patience, understanding, and tenderness. Self-love is sometimes the most difficult of all. But it is important to take care of ourselves and find what really matters to us. For me, I’m realizing more and more that good grades, a high-profile career, and all the money in the world won’t make me happy. I can find happiness in my cup of tea or sharing dinner with my family.