“The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development and love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.” – Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dali Lama.
In the 6th century, a well educated man named Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was not only imprisoned, but he was also sentenced to death by torture. These rulings were relatively common during this period, however, this situation was not. Boethius was the son of an aristocratic family from the late Roman Empire. He was a highly regarded statesman, a scholar, and a popular figure in Roman society. As far as politics went back then, there were scandals and back room deals. With this new regime, Boethius no longer fit in, and it was decided that he had to go. While Boethius was on what we know as “death row”, he produced a great work which has influenced people for hundreds of years. It is called “Consolation of Philosophy.” He took a good look at what he thought the foundation of happiness and realized that all of the things that he ever had, including status, wealth, and power, was just a false grasping for happiness.
Boethius made the following statement, and it gives a great deal of insight to his thoughts. He stated, “contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at last cease to admire worthless things.” Not only did he realize that worldly possessions would never bring him true happiness deep down, he also realized that there was some kind of oneness with the universe that he could not explain.
He thought a lot and saw through his own life and fate, how free will and God played an important part in the lives of individuals. He saw the correlation between seeing oneself as separate and having a divine and closer relationship with God as paradoxical. After pondering a great while, he began to understand that self-realization, or understanding of our true identity, and our relationship with God is far more important to our happiness than anything else. In his writings, he said, “lack of self-knowledge is natural in other living creatures, but in humans is a moral blemish.
We have it better than Boethius. He had to be on death row to come to this realization. We don’t need to be waiting to be tortured to come understand what it means to be truly happy and free. We have the privilege of learning through other people’s experiences and what they tell us through their writings. Boethius saw that external things are not conductive to true happiness. Also that true happiness and its greater meaning can be found internally and through spiritual awakening.
10 Reminders Which Can Help Us All Live Life More Compassionately and Freely
1. Let go of the need to be right:
It is important to understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. People only act according to the information and knowledge that they had available to them at the time. If someone doesn’t agree with you, let it go.
2. Everything that you feel emotionally is a result of our internal thought process:
It is important that we realize this, in order to move in the direction of true happiness. Sustained happiness will always elude us until we actually take responsibility for our feelings.
3. Let go of any negative thoughts and feeling that you are holding onto:
This may be easier said than done, however, holding onto these negative emotions is just wasted energy. You are the only one who will suffer from holding onto these thoughts.
4. Stop seeking happiness:
The constant pursuit of happiness can be the very thing that prevents you from attaining it. The best thing that you can do is to just live in the moment, and happiness will come naturally.
5. Try putting yourself in other people’s shoes:
In order to have true empathy and compassion for others, it is important that you try to understand what other people are thinking and feeling.
6. Don’t be so hard on yourself:
Often times, we put a great deal of pressure and deadlines on ourselves and on our lives. This can end up hindering fun and creativity. You can end up spending your whole life seeking and achieving, rather than seeing and being. When you continue to live in the future, you can end up spending most of your waking moments trying to attain your goals, and not living for the moment.
7. Stop clinging to things:
Most people cling to things. It could be your material possessions, relationships, or people. Chances are you want these things to make you feel fulfilled and happy. Actually, attachment brings you to a place of wanting, which in turn leads to pain and suffering.
8. Forget about yourself, and think more about helping others:
Studies have shown that people who look out for others rather than putting themselves first live happier lives. When you do so, you can live a happier, healthier, and a more fulfilling and compassionate life.
9. Live without regrets:
Different people have different abilities and circumstances. Because of this, you should live your life, and don’t try to live someone else’s. Make the most of what you have and what you have been given.
10. Accept that things change and everything will come to pass:
Holding on to baggage will only make your arm weak and sore. The best thing that you can do is let things go. Cherish the happy moments when they come, and release the harmful thought process.
People who follow these philosophies will tend to live a happier, more fulfilling life.