The Art of Happiness

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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 an increasingly popular speaker and statesman. What's more, he'll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that "the very motion of our life is towards 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. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. 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.
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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
In recent months, numerous new books have attempted to draw connections between the traditions of East and West, particularly between Buddhist philosophy and spiritual practice and contemporary psychological thought. Most of these books have been written by conventionally educated Western psychologists and psychiatrists who have sought to fill in what are perceived as gaps in their practices — the sense that their scientific and medical knowledge just can't explain everything — by turning to some aspect of Eastern spiritual practice, whether meditation or Zen or other forms of Buddhist philosophy.

Dr. Howard Cutler, an Arizona-based psychiatrist and the author of The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, is no exception to this trend. What makes his book unique, however, is Dr. Cutler's source for the Buddhist thought he explores: his coauthor, Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of the people of Tibet.

Through a series of in-depth conversations with the Dalai Lama, and through a number of the Dalai Lama's public addresses, Dr. Cutler explores what Tibetan Buddhism might have to offer to Western conceptions of happiness. Dr. Cutler begins with the Dalai Lama's words on the subject:

"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 are all seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is toward happiness..."

As their furtherconversationreveals, however, Western notions of happiness have become confused with pleasure and the satisfaction of desire. Only by separating happiness from less durable forms of contentment can we truly achieve the happiness that the Dalai Lama believes is the goal of our lives:

"...from my point of view, the highest happiness is when one reaches the stage of Liberation, at which there is no more suffering. That's genuine, lasting happiness. True happiness relates more to the mind and heart. Happiness that depends mainly on physical pleasure is unstable; one day it's there, the next day it may not be."

Attaining this kind of happiness, according to Buddhist thought, requires training. The Art of Happiness, through sections on intimacy and compassion, on transforming suffering, and on overcoming the obstacles to happiness, attempts to provide the reader with a thoughtful basis for the work of finding a peaceful, happy existence in the world. Through their conversations, Dr. Cutler and the Dalai Lama seek common ground in their understandings of human anger and aggression, of self-esteem, and of love. The book closes with a section on spiritual values, a call to take this pursuit of happiness to a higher and more personal level.

The Art of Happiness provides an ideal introduction to the philosophical and spiritual connections of East and West, while at the same time offering the reader already acquainted with these traditions fresh insight from the wisdom of the Dalai Lama. Dr. Cutler admits in his introduction that he had originally hoped to produce a traditional self-help-style book, but what he has created in The Art of Happiness is something more indeed — it is, as the subtitle claims, truly a handbook for living.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Library Journal
The Art of Happiness is read like an enchanting Indian tale by Howard Cutler and Ernest Abuba. Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritiual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. Cutler helps to blend psychology with the Dalai Lamas Buddhist meditations and stories. Gyatso talks about how to defeat depression, anxiety, anger, and jealousy through meditation. He discusses relationships, health, family, work, and spirituality and how to find inner peace while facing these struggles. His tireless efforts on behalf of human rights and world peace have brought him international recognition. He is the recipient of the Wallenberg Award (conferred by the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Foundation), the Albert Schweitzer Award, and the Nobel Peace Prize. Recommended for world religion collections.Ravonne A. Green, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573221115
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 8.56 (w) x 5.86 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Table of Contents

Author's Note
Introduction 1
Pt. I The Purpose of Life 11
Ch. 1 The Right to Happiness 13
Ch. 2 The Sources of Happiness 19
Ch. 3 Training the Mind for Happiness 37
Ch. 4 Reclaiming Our Innate State of Happiness 52
Pt. II Human Warmth and Compassion 65
Ch. 5 A New Model for Intimacy 67
Ch. 6 Deepening Our Connection to Others 85
Ch. 7 The Value and Benefits of Compassion 113
Pt. III Transforming Suffering 131
Ch. 8 Facing Suffering 133
Ch. 9 Self-Created Suffering 149
Ch. 10 Shifting Perspective 172
Ch. 11 Finding Meaning in Pain and Suffering 199
Pt. IV Overcoming Obstacles 217
Ch. 12 Bringing About Change 219
Ch. 13 Dealing with Anger and Hatred 246
Ch. 14 Dealing with Anxiety and Building Self-Esteem 263
Pt. V Closing Reflections on Living a Spiritual Life 291
Ch. 15 Basic Spiritual Values 293
Acknowledgments 317
Selected titles by His Holiness the Dalai Lama 321
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First Chapter

Chapter 1: The Right To Happiness
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."
On a basic human level, I couldn't help but respond to the idea of happiness as an achievable goal. As a psychiatrist, however, I had been burdened by notions such as Freud's belief that "one feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be 'happy' is not included in the plan of 'Creation.' " This type of training had led many in my profession to the grim conclusion that the most one could hope for was "the transformation of hysteric misery into common unhappiness." From that standpoint, the claim that there was a clearly defined path to happiness seemed like quite a radical idea. As I looked back over my years of psychiatric training, I could rarely recall having heard the word "happiness" even mentioned as a therapeutic objective. Of course, there was plenty of talk about relieving the patient's symptoms of depression or anxiety, of resolving internal conflicts or relationship problems, but never with the expressly stated goal of becoming happy.
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 factors 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."
The Dalai Lama claims to have found some measure of personal happiness. And throughout the week he spent in Arizona, I often witnessed how this personal happiness can manifest as a simple willingness to reach out to others, to create a feeling of affinity and goodwill, even in the briefest of encounters.
One morning after his public lecture the Dalai Lama was walking along an outside patio on the way back to his hotel room, surrounded by his usual retinue. Noticing one of the hotel housekeeping staff standing by the elevators, he paused to ask her, "Where are you from?" For a moment she appeared taken aback by this foreign-looking man in the maroon robes and seemed puzzled by the deference of the entourage. Then she smiled and answered shyly, "Mexico." He paused briefly to chat with her a few moments and then walked on, leaving her with a look of excitement and pleasure on her face. The next morning at the same time, she appeared at the same spot with another of the housekeeping staff, and the two of them greeted him warmly as he got into the elevator. The interaction was brief, but the two of them appeared flushed with happiness as they returned to work. Every day after that, they were joined by a few more of the housekeeping staff at the designated time and place, until by the end of the week there were dozens of maids in their crisp gray-and-white uniforms forming a receiving line that stretched along the length of the path that led to the elevators.
Our days are numbered. At this very moment, many thousands are born into the world, some destined to live only a few days or weeks, and then tragically succumb to illness or other misfortune. Others are destined to push through to the century mark, perhaps even a bit beyond, and savor every taste life has to offer: triumph, despair, joy, hatred, and love. We never know. But whether we live a day or a century, a central question always remains: What is the purpose of our life? What makes our lives meaningful?
The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness. It seems like common sense, and Western thinkers from Aristotle to William James have agreed with this idea. But isn't a life based on seeking personal happiness by nature self-centered, even self-indulgent? Not necessarily. In fact, survey after survey has shown that it is unhappy people who tend to be most self-focused and are often socially withdrawn, brooding, and even antagonistic. Happy people, in contrast, are generally found to be more sociable, flexible, and creative and are able to tolerate life's daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people. And, most important, they are found to be more loving and forgiving than unhappy people.
Researchers have devised some interesting experiments demonstrating that happy people exhibit a certain quality of openness, a willingness to reach out and help others. They man-aged, for instance, to induce a happy mood in a test subject by arranging to have the person unexpectedly find money in a phone booth. Posing as a stranger, one of the experimenters then walked by and "accidentally" dropped a load of papers. The investigators wanted to see whether the subject would stop to help the stranger. In another scenario, the subjects' spirits were lifted by listening to a comedy album, and then they were approached by someone in need (also in cahoots with the experimenter) wanting to borrow money. The investigators discovered that the subjects who were feeling happy were more likely to help someone or to lend money than another "control group" of individuals who were presented with the same opportunity to help but whose mood had not been boosted ahead of time.
While these kinds of experiments contradict the notion that the pursuit and achievement of personal happiness somehow lead to selfishness and self-absorption, we can all conduct our own experiment in the laboratory of our own daily lives. Sup-pose, for instance, we're stuck in traffic. After twenty minutes it finally begins moving again, at around parade speed. We see someone in another car signaling that she wants to pull into our lane ahead of us. If we're in a good mood, we are more likely to slow down and wave them on ahead. If we're feeling miserable, our response may be simply to speed up and close the gap. "Well, I've been stuck here waiting all this time; why shouldn't they?"
We begin, then, with the basic premise that the purpose of our life is to seek happiness. It is a vision of happiness as a real objective, one that we can take positive steps toward achieving. And as we begin to identify the factors that lead to a happier life, we will learn how the search for happiness offers benefits not only for the individual but for the individual's family and for society at large as well.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 82 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 92 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Happiness According to the Dalai Lama

    This book is suppose to represent the Dalai Lama's views on happiness. Readers should know right off the bat that the Dalai Lama didn't actually write this book. Rather, the book is written by a Western psychiatrist who has had extensive converations with His Holiness. To insure that there were no "inadvertant distortions" of the Dalai Lama's ideas as a result of the editorial process, the Dalai Lama's interpreter reviewed the final manuscript. You be the judge as to whether that means this there was nothing "lost in translation". <BR/><BR/>So who is this Dalai Lama, aka "His Holiness" anyway? And, why should we read a book about happiness by him? Well, the Dalai Lama is the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people according to Tibetan Buddhism- which in my book makes him a person I'd want to listen to when he talks, especially when it's on one of my favorite subjects, happiness. And if this all sounds like an interesting topic for a book, you should read it- you won't be disappointed. <BR/><BR/>Now this is the kind of book I could write a long review of- simply because there's just so much wisdom packed into it. But, I think I'll take a short-cut with this one and just hit the highlights. <BR/><BR/>The Dalai Lama believes that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. Other happiness books have also taken this same position. For example, the book "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World" refers to happiness as "the ultimate pursuit". On this most will agree, but what exactly does the Dalai Lama tell us about finding it? <BR/><BR/>As with most of his ideas on things, the concept is clear and simple: happiness can be achieved through training the mind. According to the Dalai Lama, one begins by identifying those factors which lead to happiness, and those factors which lead to suffering. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>To that end, that's exactly what makes up the majority of this book's pages- ways to eliminate factors in your life that lead to suffering, and learning to foster those factors that lead to happiness. Some specific topics include: <BR/><BR/>-facing suffering <BR/>-dealing with anger, hatred, and anxiety <BR/>-building self-esteem <BR/>-deepening your connection to others <BR/><BR/>When all is said and done, I'd have to say that the time you spend mulling over the book's 300-plus pages is going to be well worth it. For most readers, the Dalai Lama's wisdom and views will probably be very beneficial, if not transforming. Happy trails!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2009

    The book of life

    Read it, please.Life is worth living.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    Amazing! Everyone should read this!

    Great ways to to view the negative parts of life and turn them into a positive! Definitely helps change the way I look at life. Great to know that there is another way of life & internal happiness is achievable!

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  • Posted July 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A new way to live one's life

    You do not have to be a Budhist to practice these principles. The Dalai Lama presents a compelling argument that one's happiness is not tied to material wealth but rooted in the service to and the happiness of others.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2009

    Insightful as always

    I read all of the Dalai Lama's books... They genuinely make me realize things about life, and understanding it better... He is a very wise and compassionate man... I would love to meet him someday...

    This is one everyone should read...

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read (or listen)

    The Art of Happiness is one of the most useful and calming self-help books on the market. The concepts, though unusual in light of our western culture, when practiced, bring a sense of peace and contentment desperately needed in our high stress and competitive society. I have read and continue to re-read as needed to keep me focused on what is important in life.

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  • Posted March 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    For those interested in Inner Peace

    This book really hit home. I must have an inner Buddha cause I believe I think like they do, aside from the eternal life stuff. It's the way they deal with suffering that I can identify with. Letting go of what ails you can definitely help you achieve peace of mind. I thought the book was well conceived as well. A western psychologist travels with and conducts a series of interviews with the Dalai Lama. Then interprets the answers from his perspective, but also in an objective way. Looking for the eastern wisdom that can be understood by our western culture. Loved it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2008

    The spiritual guide to the lost me

    I sought out this book after the death of a loved one. Needless to say, I'm still here to write a review. And moreover a better person without the anxiety, insecurity, anger and discouragement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2005


    One of the best books I've ever read, and I read a lot! This book is so helpful to anyone who is seeking a better tomorrow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    happiness has become an optionally constant state of mind.

    This book was so uplifting for me. Inspirational doesn't even cut it, this book changed my outlook, broadened my perspective and made me really think and re-think my daily efforts in general and edit my overall life goal to being happy. and nothing really more. i used to sweat the small stuff. and now it all seems small. in the end, you have yourself and yourself alone, not your rolex or your lamborghini. this is to be kept in mind. bottom line: at the end of the day, you should be able to validate the comfort you have of laying your head on your pillow. i reccomend this book to anyone that is on a quest for truth. as well as anyone that is royally sick of being bombarded with a slur of existentialist thoughts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2005

    Happiness is an art

    Art is defined as the product of human creativity. We create what we think about. Let's think about being joy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2005

    Excellent Book

    I read this book about 5 years ago while going through some hard times in my life and it changed my life. I just read it again and have to say that it's an inspiring book that everyone should read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2004

    art of writing


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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2004

    If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

    Initially disappointed by the fact that the book is based on conversations between the Dalai Lama and the author, Howard C. Cutler, I still read the book objectively. IMHO, there are areas of the book where I feel I've been given a new perspective on happiness. For example, '...the enemy is the necessary condition for practicing patience.' (pg 179), and similar ways of looking at things differently was valuable for me. However, I can't help but think how much truth may have been lost in the translation between the Dalai Lama and the author. Observation is based on how he seems to over simplify the Dalai Lama's teachings using some of his personal experiences. I feel he could've done a better job getting the bigger picture across. Overall, an Ok book, but at the end of the day, you're getting Buddhist ideology translated by a Western mind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2004

    A Wow experience

    This book has touched me like none other. Very practical advice, easy to understand. This has lead to some real breakthroughs for me-the flodgates are open.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2004

    A Terrific Book!

    This is one of the five best books I have ever read. Profound insight that can make the world a better place for the reader and all around him/her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2004

    Just what I needed!

    The Art of Happiness is an outstanding book that teaches you how to cope with anger and not let anger overcome you. We all experience problems and frustrations almost everyday, but with this book you learn to see how 'anger' is just an enemy within ourselves and we have to learn how to defeat it. I love this book, its a slow-learning process to acquire this ability of not letting anger defeat you, but as the day goes by and your new-self evolves, you start feeling better about yourself and your surroundings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2004

    Significant and practical

    I am extremely wary of many self-improvement books, as (like the current Dr. Phil craze) they spend a lot of time (and a lot of reader's money) telling you common sense notions about standing up for yourself and so forth, presenting them in a no-frills, no-explanation manner masquerading as 'down-home honesty,' or in an attitude that insults the reader for not having discovered this common sense stuff already. But 'The Art of Happiness' is something different, and in my home it's a mandatory bedside title - the Dalai Lama's words are deceptively complex, but not in the manner of obfuscation. His discussions of Buddhist introspection, the value of meditation, the necessary levels of selfishness, the universal desire for happiness, and the dangers of many commonly taught forms of 'anger management' are invaluable in life, work, marriage, friendship, parenthood, etc. To the Dalai Lama, these attributes are not an exterior ability you must work hard to incorporate, but rather innate human psychological states of being that you must work hard to release. There is an inimitable value in this work, and its only detriment is that although Howard Cutler, the coauthor, claims to have spent hours recording the Dalai Lama's words for this book, the construction of many conversations seems awkward and forced - its reassuring, though, to know that the Dalai Lama's translator and advisor reviewed the text to ensure the Tibetan spiritual leader's ideas were not distorted. 'The Art of Happiness' is the first in a five-volume series, the second of which, 'The Art of Happiness at Work,' has just been published.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2003

    Improves the quality of your life!

    This is a tremendous book that enables us to understand various states of consciousness and how these states relate to the overall quality of our lives. It is an excellent book that provides us with very useful practical guidelines to be more mindful of our emotions and motivations. If you would like to understand how the process works in addition to knowing the practical things that we can do to improve the overall quality of our lives, I strongly suggest 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato. It is a book that explains things so well and in such a simple way that it makes you think, 'Why didn't I understand that before?' Your life will never be the same and I mean that in the best way possible! Happy Reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2003

    Please also read ' A course in miracles'


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