Get Real The 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life

The 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life
Get Real
Why happiness?
Life would be so wonderful
if we only knew what to do with it
(Greta Garbo, USA)
Everyone wants to be happy and to avoid suffering – it’s the basic driver behind
just about everything we think, say and do. It’s also one of the hottest topics in the
media, and has spawned a global industry of books and research projects.
For many people, the more they chase after happiness, the more it seems to elude
them. Why is it that there is so little understanding of what causes us to be happy
and to suffer? Despite decades of economic progress, scientific studies show that
there has been no corresponding improvement in our happiness.
The 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life – Get Real is a call to action, both personally
and in our working lives.
What are the 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life?
The 16 Guidelines are inspired by a set of timeless advice for everyday life that was introduced into
seventh century Tibet by King Songtsen Gampo. They are suitable for people of any culture or faith
If you find them challenging, remember that Thomas Edison said he invented the light bulb because he’d
previously invented 99 things that weren’t a light bulb. We all have more power and capacity for change
than we realise.
The Guidelines are being brought alive for the 21st century by Universal Compassion and Wisdom for
Peace, an educational charity whose aim is to help people to be kind and wise. A full scale book is being
launched at the 1st European Conference on Happiness and its Causes in London in October 2007. They
are also being piloted around the world in the form of study groups, school programmes, arts projects and
a yoga programme. A parent’s kit is underway
How can you get involved?
Feedback and suggestions for the future development of the Guidelines are extremely welcome:
• Have they been helpful to you?
• Do you have any great stories or interesting links to add?
• Can you help us to share them with more people?
Contact: [email protected] •
The 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life
Transform your mind, transform your life
Every skilful action makes a better world
4. delight
5. kindness
3. contentment
6. honesty
2. tolerance
7. skilful speech
1. humility
16. responsibility
8. generosity
15. love
9. respect
14. aspiration
10. forgiveness
13. principles
11. gratitude
12. loyalty
If everything is changing, anything is possible
Cherish others: Independence is a myth
How we think – transform your mind: tr
1 humility
I never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t
learn something from him
(Galileo Galilei, Italy)
In 1978 the Russian virtuouso pianist Vladimir
Horowitz was invited to play Rachmaninov’s
third piano concerto to a select audience at
Carnegie Hall, New York. The concerto was
one of his favourite pieces of music - he had
been playing it for nearly thirty years – and the
performance was phenomenal. The virtuosity
and technical skill of the master pianist left the
audience spellbound. After the performance,
a young piano student nervously came up to
ask a question. “Sir, how long have you taken
to prepare this piece?” Horowitz replied “I am
still working on it!”
Is there an area of your life where you can integrate excellence and humility?
The Christian priest Thomas Merton said “Pride makes us artificial: humility makes us real.”
Find out more about Level 5 Leadership – a paradoxical blend of fierce will and personal humility… google
‘Humility – The most beautiful word in the English Language’ … try saying “you are right” more often…
Humility is inseparable from gratitude
ansform your life
2 tolerance
We must learn to live together as brothers,
or perish together as fools.
(Martin Luther King, USA)
Do you have days when you are really bad tempered, for example
over breakfast or in the car, bus or train to work? When you snap at
someone quite unnecessarily and pass on your mood to the next
person as if it was a contagious illness? I snap at the conductor,
who then gets angry with the next passenger and who then upsets
the receptionist as they walk into work…it happens every day. We
are so interconnected that it’s possible that the person who jostles
me on the train tonight could be part of the same chain of anger
that I set in motion when I didn’t have the right change for the ticket
machine this morning. Somewhere in our individual and collective
psyches, we must have been conned into thinking that it’s ok to
respond to anger with more anger.
Is there anyone you know who really irritates you?
Can you take five minutes out, in a quiet spot, to think about what it is that gets on your nerves?
Is there a quality in that person which you have a hard time accepting within yourself?
Can you use this insight to bring some space into the situation?
There are 101 Tools for Tolerance on divided into the five sections:
yourself, your home, your school, your workplace and your community
Tolerance is the gateway to kindness, respect and love.
How we think – transform your mind: tra
3 contentment
There is more to life than
increasing its speed.
(Mahatma Gandhi, India)
In the early 1980s the bestselling author Robert Kayosaki
helped high level executives explore how addiction to
excitement and drama isn’t always the key to business
success. He created a ring toss game in which each
team was paid 1 dollar for getting the ring over a peg
just 3 feet away, graduating up to 20 dollars for scoring
a hit at 20 feet. The bigger the risk, the bigger the
potential payback. It took the winning team nearly 20
minutes to work out their strategy: for one of the team
to repeatedly score at a modest 3 feet, while everybody
else physically kept her from falling over. The message
was that being too greedy, and stretching too far, can be
the biggest saboteur of business success. Sometimes
we need to do less, not more.
When Mick Jagger sang “I can’t get no satisfaction,”
he struck a chord with our modern addiction to more: speed, activity, possessions and reputation.
When do restlessness and dissatisfaction set in for you? Where do they lead?
Is there anything you can do to shift your response?
Take a look at “In Praise of Slowness” (Carl Honore) … if you’ve got a strong stomach,
watch Supersize Me …
Contentment with what you have yourself will enable you to take
delight in the good fortune of others
ansform your life
4 delight
All animals except man know that the
ultimate of life is to enjoy it.
(Samuel Butler, UK)
Whenever something good happens to someone we know, we
have a choice: either to feel envious, or to take delight. The latest
discoveries of neuroscience suggest that through exercising that
choice, we are actually wiring our brains for the future. Professor
Richard Davidson from the University of Madison, Wisconsin, has
spent the last few years measuring the high-frequency brain activity
of people who are meditating on compassion. His findings are that
activity in the left prefrontal cortex, the seat of positive emotions
such as happiness, can swamp any activity in the right prefrontal
– the site of negative emotions and anxiety. Just as aerobics sculpt
the muscles, what you do with your mind is sculpting the very fabric
of your brain.
When a colleague gets a pay rise or a promotion, what’s your first response?
Can you turn the coldness of envy into the warmth of delight, through sincerely celebrating their success?
More offers daily bulletins with inspiring good news stories
Delight is a form of love – wishing happiness for someone else
How we act – every skilful action make
5 kindness
The basic attribute of mankind
is to look after each other.
(Fred Hollows, New Zealand/Australia)
Do you ever feel a thrill when you see someone act
with kindness or courage? In his book The Happiness
Hypothesis, Professor Jonathan Haidt from the
University of Virginia calls this ‘elevation’ – the
emotional response triggered by pure or virtuous
behaviour. His experiments indicate that the most
common response to seeing someone do something
good is to want to be with, love and help other people
yourself. It is like a mental ‘reset’ button that replaces
cynicism with hope and inspiration. In contrast, seeing
an act that triggers the negative emotion of disgust
will strengthen your ego boundaries and defences.
The implications are enormous.
The Dalai Lama says: “If you can, help others. If you can’t, at least try not to harm them.”
Can you try to put this into practice for a whole day, both at work and at home?
Watch a film like Groundhog Day, It’s a Wonderful Life or Life is Beautiful to remind yourself
of the 360 degree benefits that kindness will bring … encourages
people to do a favour for someone else with no expectation of reward
Kindness is the short cut to every other Guideline
s a better world
6 honesty
Money doesn’t talk:
it swears.
(Bob Dylan, USA)
Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for a scheme that
started with a simple loan of USD 27. As a trained economist, Yunus
was puzzled about why the people of Bangladesh were still so poor
despite decades of grants and foreign investment. The solution that
he found was to lend money to the poorest of people, usually women,
without asking for any guarantee or collateral. More than 7 million
people have now benefited from the Grameen Bank that he founded,
which is entirely based on honesty and trust. His efforts to transform
the vicious circle of “low-income, low saving and low investment” into
a virtuous circle of “low income, injection of credit, investment, more
income, more savings, more investment, more income” have resulted in
even beggars being able to borrow money from the bank that he set up.
His model is now being used all around the world.
Is there an area of your life where you’re not as honest as you’d like to be?
What are you invested in that traps you in that ongoing discomfort?
What do you need to make the shift – and can you do it?
See for more info on the Grameen Bank…get hold of a DVD of the film The Corporation ...
join the Oxfam campaign
Lack of honesty is often the result of lack of contentment - the feeling
that what we already have is never enough
How we act – every skilful action make
7 skilful speech
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will
make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours.
(Eric Idle, UK)
A Christmas letter that gives you more information
– about babies, pets or holiday adventures - than
you ever cared to know? An email that orders you to
forward a message of love to ten people – or else? The
irony is that if we want to communicate effectively,
or help someone to change, quiet and gentle usually
works best. The people with the most power are often
those who take up the least airspace.
Mark Twain said: “Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she
had laid an asteroid.” What can you do to improve the quality of listening and speaking in your office?
Speak Peace in a World of Conflict by Marshall Rosenberg and his website offer
practical tools on the art of peaceful and creative communication…
how much do you know about netiquette?...
go to to support a campaign for more quiet in public places …
How you speak is a direct expression of how you think about others – whether
you feel respect or gratitude, or want to show kindness or love. Your colleagues,
friends and family probably pick up more of the meaning behind your
words than you realise.
s a better world
8 generosity
You make a living by what you get.
You make a life by what you give.
(Winston Churchill, UK)
In 1994, when the footwear manufacturer Timberland was losing
money and facing a liquidity crisis, the investors ordered its CEO Jeff
Schwarz to curtail its long-established ‘Path of Service’ programme.
“None of this painting fences and hugging trees: it stops” was the
message. At that time, every Timberland employee was entitled to
20 hours of community service. The same afternoon, Jeff changed
that to 40 hours. In a time of difficulty, his priority was to strengthen
the culture and commitment of the company. Timberland now makes
around USD 1.5 billion revenue per year, with earnings per share at
about 19%. For the past five years it’s been on the Forbes Magazine
‘Platinum Index’ and voted one of the best companies to work for in the
USA. Looking back at the turnaround, Jeff said: “It was all about asking
for the greatness in people.”
Is generosity simply about giving away something that we don’t really want or need, or is it more than that?
Can you find a way of sharing your time, skills or resources that would be a stretch for you?
Look up gift economy on Wikipedia …
the film Babette’s Feast shows how generosity can take unexpectedly creative forms…
google volunteering and find one thing that you can do …
Generosity and responsibility reinforce each other.
How we relate to others – cherish othe
9 respect
Let every man be respected as an individual
and no man idolised.
(Albert Einstein, Germany/Switzerland)
A man walked into an interview in the City of London, for a
job that he particularly wanted to get. There was a flipchart
in one corner of the room and, without saying anything, he
stuck a photo of a famous artist up on it. He was the outside
candidate, so it was a tough interview. Not surprisingly, the
first question was: “Who is that photograph, and why did you
put it there?” He replied that all his life he’d been inspired
by this particular artist, because of his genius and creativity,
and that the photo was a reminder that he was committed to
developing the same qualities in himself. When the interview
panel came to make a decision, it was easy to remember the
candidate with the photo. His personal vision and capacity to
respect the qualities of others got him the job.
Take an honest look at the last five years of your life.
What people have you admired and copied?
Are they taking you where you want to go?
Check out the term ubuntu…
get inspired at…
get thinking on
Developing principles and aspiration will enable us to
choose effective role models.
ers: independence is a myth
10 forgiveness
To forgive is not just to be altruistic.
It is the best form of self-interest.
(Desmond Tutu, South Africa)
When the young academic Fred Luskin was just starting out
on what was to become the Stanford Forgiveness Project,
he needed some people to participate in a research study.
He didn’t have any success in recruiting students from the
university campus, so he turned to the local newspaper
for help. The editor gave him a flat ‘no’ – “this isn’t of
interest, and it won’t sell my paper.” Fred asked if he would
be prepared to take 5 minutes, and ask the staff in the
newspaper office whether any of them felt they carried a
grudge. Half an hour later the editor rang him back, offering
to take the advertisement. “It’s incredible! They all said they
carried a grudge!”
What grudges do you carry at the moment?
How does this affect your health and well-being?
What do you need to do to regain your peace of mind?
for inspiring real-life stories of forgiveness … find out more on the work of
Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.
Forgiveness is only possible when we have the humility to appreciate
that we’re not always right.
How we relate to others – cherish othe
11 gratitude
The highest appreciation is not to utter words,
but to live by them.
(John F Kennedy, USA)
In Toronto’s financial district, a man recently threw his firstever Nice Party, a glitzy gig to celebrate all the people in his
life who he said were the key to his success. As a partner
in a nationwide lumber supply company, he had noticed a
relationship between the rise in his corporate clout and the
fact that people were being nicer to him. So he decided to
honour those who were nice to him for no reason – who
had nothing obvious to gain. The invitation list included the
doorman from his condo unit, the manager at his favourite
restaurant, and some of his oldest friends and close family.
“Nice is underrated” read the invitation. “And because you
deserve to be celebrated, this invitation goes out to the
nicest people we know.”
Is there someone who has changed your life for the better, but may not be aware of it?
Can you find an appropriate way to say ‘thank you?’
More provides resources for living ‘in the gentle power of gratefulness’… outlines a model for meetings and appraisals based on
what is positive rather than on what is lacking in a person or a situation.
Gratitude is intrinsically linked to the humility which realises that from the
moment we were conceived, we haven’t achieved anything on our own.
ers: independence is a myth
12 loyalty
It’s the friends you can call up
at 4am that matter.
(Marlene Dietrich, Germany)
At the Special Olympics in Seattle, nine
contestants, all physically or mentally disabled,
assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard
dash. At the gun, one little boy stumbled on
the asphalt, tumbled over, and started to cry.
The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed
down and looked back. Then they all turned
around and went back…every one of them. One
girl with Down Syndrome bent down and kissed
him, saying “This will make it better.” Then all
nine linked arms and walked together to the
finish line. They got a standing ovation. Loyalty
is remembered long after a race is won.
What does loyalty mean to you?
Is it a force for good in your life and relationships?
Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
proposes that ‘EQ’ skills such as loyalty and teamwork can matter more than IQ.
Loyalty is part of taking responsibility for the welfare of others.
With close friends and family, it often demands forgiveness.
How we find meaning in life – If everyt
13 principles
An uneasy conscience is a
hair in the mouth
(Mark Twain, USA)
Do you ever get your goals and principles mixed up? A
famous experiment was conducted at Princeton University
in 1973, in which a group of theology students was asked
to walk across campus to deliver a sermon on the topic
of the Good Samaritan. As part of the research, some of
the students were told that they were late and needed to
hurry. Along the route, the researchers Darley and Batson
had placed an actor, who was lying on the ground in pain
and in need of help. In their haste to give a sermon on
compassion, 90% of the “late” students from Princeton
Theology Seminary completely ignored the needs of the
suffering person. Some of them literally stepped over him.
In 2002, the Industrial Society (UK) found that 65% of businesses would change their policies if pushed by
their employees. What can you do to ensure that your workplace aligns more closely with your principles?
Change starts with the power of one.
Read The Triple Bottom Line (ed. Henriques & Richardson) on how businesses can simultaneously
deliver financial, social and environmental benefits…look up and ... buy Change the World 9-5 from, a non-profit that
inspires people to use their everyday actions to change the world.
Your principles are the bedrock for your aspirations.
hing is changing, anything is possible
14 aspiration
I’ve often said, the only thing standing between
me and greatness is myself.
(Woody Allen, USA)
In 1982, a major USA company created a
staff contest to find energy-saving projects
with a high Return On Investment (ROI).
In the 1st year there were 27 winners, whose
projects led to capital investments of USD 1.7 million and
generated an average ROI of 173%. However the most
surprising aspect of the scheme was that instead of tailing
off after the initial enthusiasm, it went from strength to
strength. Ten years on, their employees are continuing to
generate imaginative energy-saving products and the ROI
has risen to an extraordinary 300%.
Peter F Drucker says“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
Is there something that you’d love to see happen which is so big that it would take more than one lifetime?
Are you willing to start it now?
Look at The Business Guide to Sustainability by Darcy Hitchcok and Marsha Willard
for more stories and advice on energy-saving… offers personal tools
for developing focus and aspiration…have you heard about - a stimulating
thesis about human and social development…
Aspiration is the fuel for how we think, act and relate to others.
How we find meaning in life – If everyt
15 love
If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have
the worst kind of heart trouble.
(Bob Hope, USA)
“Only the paranoid survive” is a frequent comment in
business. However in 1999 Helena Cronin surprised
the heads of industry who were meeting at Davos with
her proposal that the survival of the fittest is not about
paranoia but about pronoia: loving and supporting each
other. After more than twenty years of study the London
School of Economics professor has come up with a radical
re-interpretation of Darwinism, based on his lesser-known
studies of how mammals can give up their time, food,
mate and even life for the sake of others.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” was Mother Teresa’s advice.
Can you do just one thing, in the next week, that demonstrates love?
Choose someone who you don’t easily relate to.
More is dedicated to the exploration and promotion of love for humanity,
bringing together both spiritual and scientific viewpoints…research love your neighbour as yourself,
the golden rule behind all religions … look at The Art of Happiness at Work – Dr Howard Cutler
in dialogue with The Dalai Lama…
It’s love that lubricates all the rest of the Guidelines.
It leads effortlessly to tolerance, kindness, gentle speech, loyalty and forgiveness.
hing is changing, anything is possible
16 responsibility
There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for
a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
(Nelson Mandela, South Africa)
In 2000, the employees of Epson in Portland,
Oregon, succeeded in reducing to zero their
waste to landfill. They purchased a compactor to
compress their packaging, which is now passed on
as recycled input to another manufacturer. Excess
ink is sent away to be re-used as pigment for
paints. The final 10% waste, which can’t be re-used
or re-cycled in any way, goes to a facility where it is
burned to generate electricity. In the process they
saved USD 300,000.
Charles Dunstone, CEO of Carphone Warehouse, recently said
“Climate change isn’t someone else’s problem. We all have to play our part. It’s time for us all to go on a carbon diet.”
Are you doing anything about this?
More for the Zero Waste Alliance… on carbon dieting…
take Nelson Mandela’s The Road to Freedom on holiday with you this summer…and buyYou Can Save the Planet
(Buster Books 2007) for your kids…
Being responsible starts with being honest with ourselves as well as with others.
Love the turtle
Level 14, 111 Pacific
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NSW 2060
Tel: +61 2 9021 8888
Fax: +61 2 9281 3950
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Total Telecom
Universal Compassion and Wisdom for Peace is a
non-profit organisation whose aim is to create a more
peaceful world by helping people everywhere to be
kind and wise. It provides resources, training and
support for a network of over 1000 people worldwide
working in schools, family camps, health and social
care, prisons and the workplace.
Universal Compassion and Wisdom for Peace is
grateful to Terrapinn. for their generous support and
Nearly everyone involved with Universal Compassion
and Wisdom for Peace is contributing their time and
skills as volunteers. We are grateful to Honorary
President Lama Zopa, the inspiration behind the
16 Guidelines for a Happy Life, and to the many
people around the world who have supported their
development. Special thanks go to: Venerable Connie
Miller, Federica Cardelli, Anna Cherry, Anna Colao,
Jane Morton and Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw.
© Universal Compassion and Wisdom for Peace
April 2007
[email protected]
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