How to be as Happy as the Dalai Lama (6 rules for happiness)

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” the Dalai Lama

Do you think about happiness much?

Like why you’re unhappy all the time? Or why your life is as happy as bottomless Mimosas, advertisement-free television and 3-day weekends?

Or are you like most people out there, having experienced brief periods of bliss, but generally searching for that elusive concept called happiness?

If you’re searching for happiness like a banker searching for sunny tax-shelter islands or the Bachelorette searching for the man of her dreams, then you’ve got to watch this video above.

As you watch this video, you’ll ask yourself a number of questions.

Vishnu, what do you know about happiness?

Very little, my friends. That’s why I followed Gretchen Ruben’s advice to imitate a spiritual master and picked up this book by the Dalai Lama called, The Art of Happiness. I dug into the nitty-gritty details and pulled out the pearls of wisdom the Dalai Lama shares on the subject of happiness.

Yes, you can spend 7 hours reading this book or 7 minutes listening to me tell you what I learned from the Dalai Lama’s handbook on happiness.

What I learned from this book, Eckhart Tolle’s book, and my friend, Galen Pearl’s book on happiness, is that happiness is really an inside job. We can change our mindset and take practical actions to strive towards more happiness in our lives. I share at least 6 of the Dalai Lama’s strategies in this post.

Why in God’s name are you in front of a Christmas tree?

I was going for the Santa Claus look then realized that I had neither the costume, the beard or the hat.

Actually, this video was made during the Christmas holidays — what better backdrop for your viewing pleasure than this decorated Christmas tree?

What’s up with the lighting and why does this video look like some low-budget movie production?

Simply, cause that’s what it is my friends. Me, my flip cam, the bad lighting, the Dalai Lama and you. I’m no professional and this is one of my first videos. Until I get the lighting down or hire Oprah’s cameraman, bear with me.

Watch this video, then please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. I want to hear from you – yes, you! Tell me, what makes you happy? What are your rules for happiness?


    1. Thanks Martha – he’s one happy guy and shows us in the book a few techniques we can all use to have more happiness in our own lives.

  1. These are good principles Vishnu. It’s true that if we think we can get through life without suffering, we’re in for a rude awakening. Same goes for change.
    I’m reading a book today called The Unfettered Soul: and it’s helping me to make changes – on the inside – in my life. I’m three chapters in and last night decided to re-read the first three chapters before going on. Great wisdom in this book.
    Thanks for the share. Good for you – you did a video. That’s on my To Do list but don’t hold your breath, unless Oprah’s camera crew is free!

    1. hey Lori – here’s the interesting thing about happiness – we can’t just sit back and let it happen. We have to continue to practice it. And life will continue to make us unhappy via suffering, changes. and struggles. Only those opportunities will allow us to really challenge ourselves and practice happiness. Happiness is an active practice, not a passive one:) which is what I’ve learned over the last few years! And not under the happiest of circumstances. lol

      Thanks for the book recommendation which I will check out. It must be good if you’re re-reading the initial chapters again. And I can’t wait for your video debut – you’ll be really great at it.

  2. Great video post! I think happiness is a choice a person makes no matter what happens to them. We can chose to be happy (fake it until our actions and attitude re-alines with our thoughts) and in that choice we will become what we want.

    1. Hi Dan, thanks for sharing your thoughts on happiness. The most powerful thing you said there is that happiness is a choice. Yes, we can choose happiness and if we’re not able to – the Dalai Lama gives us some good strategies on how to find happiness in our everyday lives.

  3. Hi Vishnu,

    I really enjoyed your video, my friend. You have an excellent speaking voice.

    The topic of your video was excellent. In particular, I really liked the Dalai Lama’s strategy number 2 and putting ourselves into the shoes of other people. This totally shifts our state from one where we may feel hurt to a position of compassion and understanding of another person and the way he/she may be behaving.

    Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Hiten. I’m hoping to only improve from the video quality and speaking:)

      Yes, putting ourselves in the shoes of others is a good way to feel more empathy and compassion. And ultimately lead to our own happiness.

  4. Yo! V! I really needed to listen to/watch this today – not only because you have a psychedelic Xmas tree and it made me chuckle πŸ˜‰

    The concept of trying to see things from the other person’s perspective is so important, but not always immediately easy. Some difficult conversations I had over the weekend upset me at the time, but after giving it a day or two to revisit the conversations, I can eventually see the perspectives of the other side. It took some time!

    I guess the practice is like a muscle – it strengthens the more you use it. And I intend on using this particular muscle – it’s liberating!

    – Razwana

    1. I’ve gotten more comments about the tree than my book review which speaks volumes about this video hahahah

      I like thinking of shifting perspective, and happiness itself, like a muscle. The more we practice it, the happier we become. And unlike muscle-building, there’s no limit. The more we practice the happiness principles, the happier we become. The more we accept change…the more we see something from someone else’s eyes, the more we we accept suffering, the more happiness comes into our lives. A real win-win.

  5. Great post, Vishnu! Such wonderful truths, articulated with wisdom and simplicity. I’d only add one tip that seems to serve me well, and that’s to realize that happiness isn’t something I have to look for; I already have it. We were hard-wired for it. The trick is to get rid of all the structure, stress and cynicism that get in its way. Many of us try too hard to make happiness happen, when so often what’s required is simply to LET it happen.

    1. Good point Jeffrey. Your point is that there’s not too far of a distance we have to travel for happiness. By getting rid of all the illusion and cynicism around us, we can find happiness. Can you share the short-cut:) ? But the point is taken – let happiness flood over us like a wave instead of swimming to the inner depths of the ocean looking for it:)

  6. Loved it! I agree with Hiten–you do have a great speaking voice, and a wonderful camera presence. And what a great topic. I agree about the Dalai Lama. I can’t look at a photo of him smiling with his eyes twinkling without smiling and feeling happier myself. Thanks for refreshing my memory of this classic book on happiness. (And for mentioning my book, too!)

    1. Thanks Galen – I’m not so sure about my camera presence but will continue making these videos to see how it goes!

      The Dalai Lama is such a happy guy but like all of us, he works on it. As someone on Facebook pointed out to me, he’s so happy and so filled with laughter that he often laughs at himself and his own jokes. He doesn’t need anyone but himself to find joy and happiness in his life.

  7. Hi Vishnu,

    That was a well made video, and I enjoyed listening to you and the Dalai Lamas rules for happiness. πŸ™‚

    While I agree with all the points mentioned, I was wondering about the first rule – about doing things that make you happy or not doing them if they don’t make you happy. While this is how it should be, but living with others in a family, don’t we have to cater to the happiness of others too – beyond ours. I guess if we do that, we really can’t be happy always, unless we try to find our happiness in their happiness, which again isn’t always the case.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Have a nice day ahead πŸ™‚

    1. Harleena, you bring up a good point. I probably oversimplified the point the Dalai Lama was making. We can’t always just make the happy decision because often, there are surrounding circumstances, situations and even family, lol, that might cause us unhappiness. I think the Dalai Lama asks us to consciously start asking ourselves the question before taking actions.

      Sometimes we don’t have a choice like going to fetch a neighbor at 3 am in the morning from the morning. Or your favorite tv show being cancelled out of the blue. I think it is those situations where we can chose, we can try to opt for happiness. And he would probably also say, in those unpleasant and unhappy circumstances in life, there’s a bit of happiness there too πŸ™‚ Maybe just an ounce.

  8. Hi Vishnu,

    Wonderful video Vishnu. Happiness is a state of mind, but I agree with you that it is an inside job. We have to make the decision to be happy, and live our life with acceptance, less judgment and joy. So many feel glide through life so easily. They recover from their setbacks and return to their normal state of happiness quickly. Thanks for sharing. We can all use a dose of happiness.

    1. Thanks Cathy – yes, happiness is there for all of us. We don’t have to wait for it and search for it. We just have to practice it. And nothing else can make us happy on the outside. We are the happiness we’ve been waiting for πŸ™‚

  9. I want to read that book! And yes.. christmas tree wins! πŸ˜€ hahaha. it’s so random that you just now post this.

    What makes me happy? Getting my blog groove. And business groove. haha. I’m not sure if this is my ‘calling’ or ‘purpose’ but I’m making growing a business, in itself, one of my passions! And that’s good enough for me.

    1. It’s a cool book Janet – finally had a chance to read it after a long time. What else to do on Christmas breaks right?

      Glad you’re doing what makes you happy and when you do that, you’re only going to be great at whatever it is you’re doing. Your blog is getting even more sharper and focused as is your business. Keep up the good work.

  10. Hi Vishnu,

    Superb video I have no complaints. All 6 points are really pragmatic and can apply to everyone’s life.

    Regarding point 4 – Finding your contribution to a problem; I think that anyone with a good conscience when they find out their contribution to a problem, their conscience doesn’t allow them to sit back and be sorry instead they focus on finding a solution and take it as a challenge. My opinion!

    Your voice and gestures go hand in hand with the way the message was meant to be given.

    Fantastic post!


    1. Thanks for dropping by Aditya and your positive feedback. I know I have a ways to go to improving these videos:) at least the light and sound! It can only go up in quality from here.

      I know what you mean by finding the solution to the problem and taking action. Many people don’t realize that they are the problem in any way. And finding our contribution can sometimes be a challenge. Of course when we do, we’ll realize, like you say, what we can do to rectify the situation.

  11. I really liked the 6th point. That’s a great strategy that I don’t often think to do. I like to wallow in my misery until the pain overwhelms me and then I change something. Changing perspective sounds like a much better choice. πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks Jammie and kudos for getting through the entire video, lol.

      Shifting our perspective on situations can make us happier but we all can’t be the Dalai Lama and shift perspectives on situations so quickly. Sometimes wallowing til we change might just be the shortcut to getting happier.

  12. Vishnu, first – you’ve got a great voice! I got this book recently and can’t wait to read it. I enjoyed listening to you. I am just convinced that happiness is in our hands, that’s what life has taught me. And if we can identify a problem, yes, we can find the solution too. I have simply learned to create happiness.

    You really should do more video! Hugs!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Vidya. Glad you picked up the book – I can’t wait to read your review which are always complete and insightful:) Yes, happiness is in our hands – once we realize that, we realize we have control over a lot of our own happiness.

  13. I’m not sure if I read any book on how to be happy but this video and the book you’ve just shared are pretty interesting. #6 Shifting perspectives ~ I guess that applies a lot to me. Similar to ‘renewal of the mind’ in the letter to the Romans.

    I guess the best advice that *you gave was imitation of a spiritual master. I follow only one Master πŸ™‚ Meeting people who live what they preach~ testimonies~ this counts a lot.

    Thank you for sharing this πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Melissa.

      YEs, shifting our perspective is always a good way to change our mood and bring more happiness into our lives. As is following a Master and you picked a great one to follow. If we can all live more like or imitate Jesus, we would be be filled with peace and happiness always:)

  14. Awesome video!

    I’ve been working on a shift of perspective lately.

    Have you read the book “DECISIVE How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”?

    It offers a 4 step process that’ll help with the shift.

    1. Glad you liked it Tim. YEah, even the DL suggests we change perspective and reframe to find more happiness in our lives.

      I have not read that book and always looking for good ones. I’ll check it out. Thanks for your visit, comments and suggestion.

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