10 Things Buddhism Can Teach Us is written by Dharmachari Nagaraja. He is the author of The Calm Buddha At Bedtime (Watkins) released on 16th November 2017 and is available on Amazon and in all good book stores along with his other books Buddha at Bedtime and The Buddha's Apprentice at Bedtime.
Today, approximately 350 million people worldwide follow the way of the Buddha. As well as providing guidance on mindful, compassionate ways to live, the underlying philosophies of Buddhism can offer useful reminders of how to cope with some of the worries of daily life, skills that can help both us and our children to flourish, no matter what life throws at us.
ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES Our actions affect not just ourselves but the world around us too, so it’s important to take care when it comes to our choices and to consider whether they are leading to positive outcomes. We cannot change what has already happened but what we do now can change the course of our future.
SUFFERING WILL PASS Everything comes into being and then passes, so try to enjoy what there is to enjoy, accept that some suffering is inevitable along the way and surrender to the fact that everything is impermanent. Try to trust that, like everything else, pain and troubles will pass, so try not to waste energy resisting them too much.
THE VALUE OF WHAT WE HAVE We often suffer because we want things we do not or cannot have. Whether that’s fame and fortune, or simply to be free from negative emotions, such as jealousy or anger, it’s easy to become unhappy when life fails to live up to our expectations. Choosing and practising gratitude for what we already have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have, can change everything.
THE POWER OF MINDFULNESS When we are feeling tense, slapdash or impatient, we are more likely to make mistakes, and our efforts may end up being fruitless. Instead, stop, take a breath and try to tap into a sense of treating yourself and the task in hand with patience, care and attention. It will make a positive outcome more likely.
THE ART OF FORGIVENESS Finding it in your heart to truly forgive both yourself and others for the mistakes we all make, as humans, has the power to make everything in life feel lighter. If anyone has hurt you in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly, try to find a place of forgiveness for them. If you have hurt anyone else in any way, both forgive yourself for your mistakes and ask for their forgiveness. If there is a situation where you do not yet feel ready to forgive, try to forgive yourself for that, too. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’re likely to feel not carrying the burden of resentment or guilt around with you.
THE SPIRIT OF COMPASSION The Buddhist view is that we are all interconnected. As such, it’s important to always try to see yourself in others and others in yourself – and to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves: kindly, with gentleness and with compassion (rather than with any hostility, impatience or anger).
LIVING RESPONSIBLY Be awake to the consequences – not just on yourself and others but also on the wider environment – of the way you spend to choose your time, including how you earn your living. This has the potential to be either an authentic, fulfilling expression of your deepest self, or a source of suffering. In the end, no matter how much we earn, we cannot buy happiness; instead, we have the capacity to earn happiness through wise and compassionate living.
THE POWER OF GIVING Buddhism teaches that the act of giving to others has the power to bring great happiness into our lives, as it involves not just the act of being generous, but also the intention to be generous and, subsequently, the memory of being generous. Whether we share our time, our attention, our possessions or our friendship, giving of ourselves reminds us just how fortunate we are that we have so much to give in the first place.
WORDS MATTER How we talk to ourselves, as well as to other people, can have a huge impact not only on our experience of life, but also on our confidence and trust in ourselves and others. Before you speak, THINK to yourself: “Is what I am about to say True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? And is it Kind?” Considerately chosen words can brighten the world like a beautiful blossom.
FOLLOWING OUR OWN PATH We all have to find out for ourselves what makes us really happy. While it’s useful to seek advice, guidance and direction, in the end we have to make our own decisions about how to live our lives. As such, Buddhism encourages us to spend time reflecting on our daily activities and interactions in order to explore what truly brings us most joy and contentment.