Home » Self Help Books » The Art of Happiness Summary

The Art of Happiness Summary

The art of happiness summary

A psychiatrist, Howard Cutler interviews Tenzin Gyatso who is a spiritual teacher, Nobel prize winner, popular speaker, and 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Simple Short Summary: In this book, Dalai Lama explains many aspects of everyday life, including relationship, loss, and wealth. Dalai Lama says that instead of comparing yourself with others, you should focus on core condition for happiness which is self-worth, and to find self-worth, one should start with the desire to learn and grow one’s thoughts and emotions.

Here are the three lessons I learn from the Book The Art of Happiness:

Lesson: A – Suffering is natural and everyone has to suffer at some point in its life

Lesson: B – Deliberately shift your view point to look circumstance with fresh eyes

Lesson: C – Anger and hate are the obstacle of happiness and impact your health

The Art of Happiness Summary

(Reading time: 5 minutes)

Lesson: A – Suffering is natural and everyone has to suffer at some point in its life

In Buddha’s time, there was a woman named Kisa Gotami who suffered from the death of her child. Her mother was unable to accept it.

She carried the body of her son and ran towards the village asking from person to person if there was someone who could bring her son back to life.

The villagers saw the son; the son was already passed away, and there was nothing they could do. They advised her to accept the fact that her son was dead. She fell on her knees, in grief, and clutched her son’s body close to her heart.

She kept uttering for her son to wake up, by seeing this an elder took pity on her. He suggested her to meet with Buddha. Maybe Buddha has such medicine which can restore the child’s life.

She promptly went to the Buddha’s residence and pleaded with him to bring her son back to life. Buddha said, “I’ve a way to restore your son’s life, but you need to bring me an ingredient to make the medicine”. Kisa said, “I’ll do anything to bring my son back”.

“Kisa”, Buddha said “you need to bring me a mustard seed, but it must be taken from the house where no residing has ever lost a family member. Bring this seed, and I will restore your son’s life. ”

In search of the seed, Kisa went from one house to another. At each house, the people agreed to give the mustard seed, but when she asked them if anyone had died in the family, the answer was always yes.

In one house, grandmother died a month ago, in another a husband, or a sister. Kisa wasn’t able to find any home where people were free from suffering, and death hasn’t visited. Seeing this, she concludes that she wasn’t alone in her grief.

Kisa understood that there was no one in the world who has never lost their loved ones. Death is inevitable and a natural part of life. Then putting her grief aside, she buried her son in the forest and went back to Buddha.

Buddha said, “you thought that you were alone who has lost loved ones.”

The law of death is the same for every living creatures. No one, in this world, is free from suffering. It doesn’t matter how bad things may get, but everyone, at some point, is going to feel the pain.

Instead of thinking, why me! You must understand that suffering is a part of life. It’s a natural phenomenon and something you can’t avoid.

READ: The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind Summary

Lesson: B – Deliberately shift your view point to look circumstance with fresh eyes

When stuck in a negative situation, you should change your view. Rather than viewing something as 100 percent negative, view it as somewhat negative and somewhat positive. Possibly, most situation contains both positive and negative elements and can be view and solve from a different approach.

A positive approach helps in finding meaning of pain and suffering. With this, you can encounter events and look through the solutions in the problems. Negative vision, however, comes from your perception rather than true nature. Thus, choosing your viewpoints either positive or negative depends on your supple mind.

But, what is supple mind?

It gives you a certain mental flexibility and can shift your viewpoint. You can develop this flexibility by deliberating shifting your perspective while you face unpleasant situations in your life.

For example, once there was a Greek Philosopher, he was guided by his master to give money for the consecutive three years to everyone who insulted him. As the period over, the master allowed him to go to Athens and learned wisdom.

Just as the disciple reached Athens and about to enter, he met a man, sitting at the gate, who insulted him. The disciple burst out of laugh instead of anger.

The wise man said you laughed even I insulted you.

But why?

“Because”, the disciple said, “for the past three years, I’ve been paying to whoever insulted me”.

Enter the city, “The man said”.

The story shows the value of suffering because for the past three years the disciple has been paying for such things. During this time, he learns to change his viewpoints.

Now, it no longer matters to him what the world says. He would always perceive things differently because his willingness helps him to flourish clam mind and spirit.

Even enemies can also help you to develop a calm mind as they provide you an opportunity to strengthen your patience and tolerance.

READ: 12 Rules for Life Summary

Lesson: C – Anger and hate are the obstacle of happiness and impact your health

The Dalai Lama declares that the anger and hate are obstacles for happiness. When you think about one negative event, it generates a negative emotion which calls others negative emotions to come in. As an anger or hate comes in, it’ll destroy your peace of mind and unbalance your thought process.

At the mental level, you need to understand what kind of emotions are destructive, and how you will overcome these emotions. This will train your mind and overcome destructive with constructive emotions such as compassion and patience.

Overcoming destructive emotions are essential as these can effect your mental and physical health issues. In a research, scientists show that the anger can cause negative effects on health such as anxiety, digestion problems, depression, headaches, high blood pressure, immune system dysfunction, loss of self-esteem, and self-injury.

Expressing your negative emotions, to overcome destructive emotions, through raging and shouting may also increase the influence of these emotions. It’s also not possible to overcome negative emotions by suppressing them. Therefore, the appropriate approach is to embrace patience and tolerance rather than anger.

Since, an anger arises from the mind that is disconnected. To deal with anger, you need to create an inner contentment’s mindset because it reduces the stress you experience, which in turn reduce the angers’ impact. You can cultivate this mindset through meditation and anger won’t be your natural response.

For conquering anger, Dalai Lama and western scientific studies illustrate that you must take a pause and think logically to analyze the situation. Discovering where the anger comes from — will help you to know the origin of anger. Then only, you can replace negative feelings with the thought of patience and tolerance.

The Art of Happiness Review

Happiness is a tricky subject because some people spend their whole lives trying to chase it while others simply smile. The book The Art of Happiness isn’t a self-help book but tells you how to attain happiness in your life.

In this, a leading expert on the science of happiness, Dr. Howard C. Cutler spends time interviewing the 14th Dalai Lama to compare Eastern ideas to a Western way of thinking and understand the human quests for happiness.

Favorite Quote From The Book:

Quote from the Book The Art of Happiness

You may also like:

The Happiness Equation Summary

Awaken the Giant Within Summary

The 5 AM Club Summary