Human happiness depends on taking others into account. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
To me, this quote talks about two things at the same time. First, it addresses our personal happiness. It also addresses the happiness of all human-kind at the same time.
I read this quote to say that our personal happiness, as a human being, depends on taking others into account. By that, I believe we cannot have a true and lasting happiness if we know it came at the expense of another person, or their happiness.
At the same time, I read the quote to say that the happiness of the entirety of humanity depends on the exact same thing. It is hard for us, in large groups, to be happy when we know the happiness we enjoy was taken from others.
To me, the point of the quote is to remind us that while we have the right to pursue that which makes us happy, we have the moral obligation to not harm others, or deprive them of their opportunity to pursue happiness, in the process.
Why is taking others into account important?
When I drive down the highway, I try to take the needs and desires of others into account. There are some who wish to drive faster than I, so I try to give them room to go past. There are others who wish to go slower, so I try to go around them safely.
The opposite is seen on the roads regularly. Slow people in the fast lane is one of my favorites. People who drive without a care for the safety of the others on the road. Those who believe the road belongs to them and will do whatever they can to block anyone who wants to go faster than they decide is proper.
To me, the question is about the whole of humanity, and how things would be better if only we took others into consideration. The traffic would certainly be better, wouldn’t it? What other parts of our lives would be different if only we took a moment to consider others?
For me, it’s a simple decision. I try to take others into consideration when I make decisions. That doesn’t mean they make the decisions for me, but that I try to not make things worse for them, if at all possible. What about you, when do you consider the needs or desires of others?
Where can I apply this in my life?
As usual, I’m going to recommend that we start close to home. Do you consider the other members of your family when decide to do something? When I was a kid, sometimes I would, but not in the way recommended by the quote. Sometimes I would deliberately try to thwart my brother. Not nice.
Fortunately, I have grown slightly since then. I try to be much better than that when I make decisions. There will always be hidden consequences of which I know nothing, but I try to take into consideration the impact my actions may have on others.
Some 0f you are more conscientious than I am, going so far as to consider the impact their choices have on the people and work-forces in other countries, or the impact on the ecology in other countries when they make their decisions.
That is to be lauded, as far as I am concerned, as it shows them to be thinking and examining both their life, and the impact it has on others. If you don’t think that far outside yourself, consider it a challenge to take a little broader view of your impact on the planet.
Going back to your family, take a moment and think about some of the big decisions you have made in the past week, or even month. Did you take any time to consider how the choice you made might impact others members of your family?
Don’t get too upset if you don’t immediately think of any. Were any considerations given which were automatic? By that, I mean if you know someone is allergic to seafood, and you were considering where to go for a meal, if you automatically eliminated all of the sea food places, you’ve already thought of them, right?
Consider for a moment how you might make this kind of thinking a bit more automatic. What can you do to better include the needs and desires of your family members into account when making a decision? Remember, even if the decision is only about you, what happens to you has an impact on them, right?
Now take a moment and consider how to expand your thinking when making a decision. How can you include your friends in your decision making? What about others in your social circles, or in your community? Again, it doesn’t mean that they dictate your choice, only that you do what you can to not cause harm.
The world is full of other people, and they have desires and needs. While it is not your duty or responsibility to provide for those desires or needs, it is nice if we do what we can to not make their lives worse. Start small, and work at getting better. We can all help to improve the world, if we think and consider others.
- Participate Relentlessly In The Pursuit Of Happiness (happyholistichealth.wordpress.com)
- A Quotation About Happiness And Peace From The Dalai Lama (wealthymatters.com)
- What is happiness and do I really need it? (tofarfromeverything.wordpress.com)
- If you want to be happy, be. Leo Tolstoy (dpearl100.wordpress.com)
- Placing all our hope on material development is clearly mistaken; the ultimate source of happiness is within us. (philosiblog.com)