Positive Emotions

In his 2009 book, the Dalai Lama outlines methods to achieve happiness in a troubled world. Key are the cultivation of positive emotions to combat the effects of negative aspects of modern life. He recommends contemplation of our social nature, interdependence and essential humanity as essential steps in the cultivation of positive emotions. The positive emotions that stand out to me are empathy, compassion and altruism. Developing these 3 emotions leads to happiness in others around us as well as in our own hearts. Or to quote His Holiness:

And considering the contagious effect of positive emotions and the interdependent nature of our world today, any positive impact we have on our immediate environment will eventually have broader effects, like the ripples spreading out on the surface of a pond. Fortunately, the effect of compassion on one’s behavior goes beyond simply passively neutralizing any personal tendencies toward prejudice, racism, conflict, or violence. Compassion tends to create the motivation to take more active steps to help others, to reduce others’ suffering, and take action to promote the welfare of others. Of course, people differ in their resources, abilities, talents, and capabilities to help others and promote social change. People must decide for themselves the best and most effective way that they can make a contribution to building a better world. But cultivating a state of mind that motivates a person to make a contribution to a better world is clearly the first step.

Cutler M.D., Howard; Dalai Lama (2009-10-05). The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World (p. 328). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.


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