At Tuesday’s Heart-Mind Summit the 14th Dalai Lama showed his humour by cracking jokes about his interpreter, the life of buddhist monks — and by balancing a towel on his head for the better part of the panel discussion.
Most of his conversations with the four other panelists, however, took on a more serious tone, with the question guiding the event being: How do we create a compassionate society? Or as the Dalai Lama puts it, how can we be more “warm hearted”?
The two main messages underlying the Dalai Lama’s answers can be summarized as follows:
- Compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and contentment pave the way to a happy life.
- Change starts with teaching our children. Showing them love and educating the hearts of children is crucial in making this world a more compassionate place.
The Key to a Happy Life
According to His Holiness, the purpose of life is to be happy. And the best way to find that happiness we’re inherently longing for is by developing love and compassion.
“The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes,” the Dalai Lama writes in a public message.
Current research suggests that there is truth to his theory. Kindness in the form of giving, for example, improves people’s quality of life. Numerous studies support this claim, including this one by researchers from Harvard University and UBC.
The study discovered that “people around the world, both rich and poor, experience emotional rewards when using their money to benefit others.”
In other words: Giving feels good! And this rule seems to apply not just to adults, but also to children.
Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, one of the panelists at the Heart-Mind Summit, believes that kindness is key for children’s happiness. A renowned researcher in the area of child development, many of her studies show that performing acts of kindness boosts children’s sense of well-being and connectedness with their community.
Educating the Hearts of Children
If happiness and kindness are key in creating a compassionate society, how do we make people more compassionate?
What is Heart-Mind Education?
Heart-Mind education focuses on developing the cognitive aspects (our minds), but also all the qualities that make us human (our hearts) and ultimately give us meaning in our lives.
Go to heartmindonline.org to learn more.
The Dalai Lama believes that “educating the hearts of children” plays an important role. And he gets help in his mission by Vancouver’s Dalai Lama Center for Peace & Education, the organization to host the Heart-Mind Summit.
The center focuses on the development of social and emotional strengths that help children in British Columbia to be responsible, collaborative, confident and caring.
One of its latest projects includes the Heart-Mind Index, a community map that shines a light on the social and emotional development of young children by measuring the strengths of five positive human qualities in communities and neighbourhoods across BC.
The main purpose of this one-of-its-kind tool is to be able to help communities and all of their agencies take steps to strengthen those specific skills.
“Be The Village”
Mirroring the idea underlying the Heart-Mind Index — to take action as a community — the motto of this year’s Heart-Mind Summit was “Be the Village”.
The motto speaks to the importance of collaboration, taking initiative and watching out for each other, another key message the Dalai Lama emphasized on Tuesday’s event:
“If we broaden our vision a little we will see that the long-term solution is to all work together and to be compassionate. Aggressiveness only works in the moment, but nothing comes out of it.”
You can support the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education through Chimp! Stand up for the social and emotional well-being of children in our province by making a small donation.
Header image courtesy of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. Photo by Cindy Hughes.