His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has done more for peace on Earth than just about anyone in recent history. He has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his total commitment to non-violently resisting the Chinese invasion of his country. He has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor as well as receiving countless honorary university degrees for working towards peace. His message has touched millions of people around the world.
The Dalai Lama and Tibet have been in the media again this week due to the riots taking place in the lead up to the Chinese Olympics. With this in mind I thought we might take a look at some of the Dalai Lama’s teachings and apply them to our work lives.
What the Dalai Lama can show you about peace at work
1. Working towards happiness
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – the Dalai Lama
We all want to be happy at work. We all want to work in an environment where we feel at peace with the work and the people. But a situation like this does not just arise out of thin air. We have to work towards it. It is unreasonable to expect everyone around us to be happy and joyful as if we are living in some god realm. Instead we have to work towards happiness by being a living example for others to follow.
How can we have peace at work if our own actions are not peaceful?
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – The Dalai Lama
This quote is very important. Kindness is always possible. Even when we feel like we have been wronged and hard done by we have room to be kind. The Dalai Lama had his country stolen from him and his people murdered but he still continues to promote peace and non violence. Surely we can take a lesson from this and solve our petty work disputes with kindness?
3. Being helpful
“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them” – the Dalai Lama
Quite often at work we are placed in a team where we have to get things done together. Despite this team environment we develop a spirit of competition and one-ups-man-ship where we try to get the promotion or praise ahead of our workmates.
Instead the Dalai Lama often talks about helping others instead of helping yourself. By doing this you will achieve a sense of self satisfaction as well as making someone else feel happy. This leaves both yourself and others feeling a sense of peace. This is especially true if others start to follow your lead.
4. Mindful words
“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.” – the Dalai Lama
Our speech can do a lot of good or a lot of harm. This quote looks at how we need to measure what we say and be very mindful of when we say it. A comment made at the wrong time can hurt someone’s feelings and cause them to develop resentment towards you or your work team. On the other hand, praise can really encourage someone to become a better worker and cause them to develop trust and kind feelings towards you.
Likewise, it is important to know when to stay silent. Sometimes not saying anything is the same as lying. In legal terms it is called a “lie by omission” and is considered just as negative as a regular lie. Always be mindful of what you do or don’t say at work.
5. Thinking for yourself
“The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.” – the Dalai Lama
This is a fundamental aspect of Buddhism and something that separates it from other religions. The Buddha said that you must never take anything he said on “faith” value. Before you have faith in something you must test it for yourself. You must analyze it critically with your own intellect before you believe it.
This is true at work as well. If you are given a task that you feel is unethical or might offend someone else in the office you need to examine for yourself whether you should do it. Don’t just do it because your manager told you to. If you think for yourself you will be able to match your motivations with your actions and this brings about a sense of peace. When our actions do not match our motives we start to feel uneasy.
6. Trusting your own ability
“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – the Dalai Lama
Quite often at work there will be people or tasks that bring you down. Sometimes we are made to feel so small and useless because we do not understand something right away. However, it is important that we trust in our own ability and believe that we can achieve what we set out to achieve.
This quote of the Dalai Lama’s goes very well with the previous one about thinking for yourself because when we think for ourselves and then trust that we can follow through on what we have discovered we can achieve greatness. Do not let anyone or anything belittle you into thinking your potential is less than anyone else’s.
7. Accepting mistakes and hardships
“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” – the Dalai Lama
It is very important that we do not associate peace with just feelings of pleasure. Things can be going badly at work at yet we are still at peace. The thing that allows this to happen is learning from hardships and mistakes; turning them into a lesson so that we never repeat it again.
8. Accepting change
“Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.” – the Dalai Lama
Change causes human beings more suffering than anything else. The reason we suffer is because we think things are going to last forever. We think that our relationships are going to last and then they end. We think joyful feelings are going to last and then they go away. We think health is permanent and then we get sick.
It is important to understand that changes will occur at your work. I remember a man I knew got terribly depressed when his position in the office became redundant. He thought he was going to be there forever and wasn’t ready for the change. Make sure you are.
However, accepting change does not mean forgoing what you believe in. You should stay steadfast with your values while accepting what is going on around you. If everyone else is doing something that you don’t agree with it does not mean that you should join in just to embrace change.
9. Inner peace
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – the Dalai Lama
This is the quote I will leave you with for it is very important to understand. Even when work is going smoothly and there is nothing wrong we can invent problems in our mind. We can be angry even when others are happy.
Similarly, when there are problems at work we can turn them into happiness by seeing the hidden opportunity to become a better person that has just presented itself.
Work will never be peaceful until we ourselves are at peace. If you are fighting and angry on the inside you will never experience the opposite on the outside.