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  1. In a busy, noisy and unsettling world, in can be difficult to find inner (and outer) peace. Dee Marques explores key techniques that can help – such as mindfulness and shadow work – and shares ten top tips on easy ways you can promote peace within your community and beyond. It’s true that human history has always been marked by unsavoury events, but perhaps you share the feeling that these days, conflict, hatred, and violence suddenly seem to be all around us. Feeling you don’t really know what’s happening to the world is deeply unsettling and can threaten your inner peace and happiness. Yet, there are things you can do to counteract these emotions. Here are some ideas on how you can promote peace within yourself – and with others – regardless of how uncertain the world around us may be. Promoting peace within yourself When dealing with hatred and violence, finding ways to promote peace requires mindful action. Basically, you’ll need to disarm the inner world first in order to disarm the outer world. Our first suggestion is practice mindfulness, not just because of its ability to transform your inner self, but because it can change your perception of the world. Indeed, scientific studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice appears to shrink the amygdala (the part of the brain that controls feelings of fear), while at the same time activating the pre-frontal cortex, which is associated with decision-making and awareness. “When dealing with hatred and violence, finding ways to promote peace requires mindful action. Basically, you’ll need to disarm the inner world first in order to disarm the outer world.” All this means that mindfulness can help us regulate our emotions instead of simply reacting to triggers, and can also help make more balanced judgements about what’s going on around us, as well as inside us. In a previous article, we discussed seven ways of practising mindfulness in your daily life, including mindful eating and drinking, gratitude walks and creating a start-of-the-day ritual. Promote inner peace: mindfulness, in the form of gratitude walks, can make a difference Promoting peace through shadow work You may also find it useful to engage in shadow work. This transformational practice is based on the idea that our feelings and perceptions about ourselves dominate the way we feel and act towards others. The shadow is the “negative you” or “your dark side”, and instead of pushing it to the back of your mind or repressing it (as most of us feel tempted to do), you should explore it, to learn more about your own prejudices and misconceptions. The basic outline of shadow work looks like this: Acknowledge the negative emotions triggered by some people, news or events Connect with your shadow and establish a conversation with it. What is it trying to achieve? Is its overall intention positive or negative? In most cases, your shadow holds onto negative emotions to protect you from harm. Can you find other ways of achieving the same without getting caught in a negative circle or without blaming others? Last but not least, remember that peace is not a goal that can be reached through certain mediums, but rather peace is the medium itself. In other words, use peace to bring inner peace by showing kindness and consideration towards your body and mind. For example, loving-kindness meditation has been proven to reduce self-criticism, promote peace with ourselves and others, and generate positive feelings towards strangers. Finding peace in the outside world Of course, we should all do our best not only to promote peace in our minds, but also in the outside world. To do that, you don’t need to make grand gestures. As Buddhist author and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh said: “Learn the art of making one person happy, and you will learn to express your love for the whole of humanity and all beings.” Here are 10 easy-to-put-into-action gestures of peace and kindness: Send a heart-felt handwritten card to a friend or relative Compliment a colleague and express how much you appreciate them Offer a small gift (e.g. fruit, biscuits) to the person who delivers your post Donate to a charity shop Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen Offer your place in the queue to the person behind you Track down your teacher or university lecturer, and send them a note of appreciation for their work and what it meant to you Bake some treats and take them to work to share with colleagues Let another driver into your lane Strike up a conversation with a homeless person Yoga can be the perfect opportunity to cultivate equanimity, another way of promoting peace Cultivating equanimity Cultivating equanimity can also help promote peace with the outside world. Equanimity is one of the Four Sublime States in the Buddhist tradition, and the word derives from Sanskrit expression that means “to see without interference”. Equanimity is also defined as even-mindedness, a balanced reaction to both positive and negative events or thoughts, and the ability to achieve a state of mind that cannot be affected by bias and prejudice, but that is driven by compassion instead. Cultivating equanimity involves re-wiring your brain through conscious practice, and yoga provides the ideal conditions to work on this. Find your equanimity mantra (something that reminds you of the need to stay unbiased), start your yoga session, and take note of any negative reactions triggered by thoughts or people you dislike. Keep referring to your equanimity mantra while acknowledging that you are responsible for your own happiness and peace of mind. When it comes to finding peace in troubled times, it’s important to resist isolation even if this seems to go against our most basic instincts. For example, you could get involved in community-building initiatives, as this can help establish meaningful conversations with those who hold different views. You can also join non-violence organisations, or learn more about how prejudice and stereotypes affect us by signing up to prejudice reduction workshops or seminars in your local area or online. Recap and suggestions for further reading Finding kindness and peace within yourself and in the world won’t happen overnight, but mindfulness practice, shadow work, cultivating equanimity, and resisting isolation are all in the path to hope and joy. To cope with the troubled times we live in, you’ll need to be persistent and willing to challenge your inner self. Here's happiness.com's recommended resources and books to help you do just that: On mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness Daily On loving-kindness meditation: On equanimity practice: This e-book On shadow work: The Little Book Of The Human Shadow, by Robert Bly and Owning Your Own Shadow, by Robert A. Johnson On fighting prejudice: Human Relations: A Game Plan for Improving Personal Adjustment, by Loren Ford and Moving Beyond Prejudice Reduction: Pathways to Positive Intergroup Relations, by Linda R. Troop and Robyn K. Mallett On nourishing your mind with inspirational stories: the award-wining short movie The Man Who Planted Trees, or Jonathan Foust’s podcast What Can Happen When You Look For The Good On finding peace: Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy, by Alli Worthington and The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace and Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies, both by John Paul Lederach ● Main photo: Colourbox.com Written by Dee Marques A social sciences graduate with a keen interest in languages, communication, and personal development strategies. Dee loves exercising, being out in nature, and discovering warm and sunny places where she can escape the winter.
  2. Daaji: The best you can be

    Telling your teenagers or kids 'no' will only make them rebel more. So, what's the best way to deal with curious children when problems arise? Indian spiritual leader KAMLESH D. PATEL aka Daaji says it's time to stop nagging and start guiding: letting teens make their own mistakes is an important life lesson... Q: Can we speak about the relationship between parents and teenagers? I have two children, and during their adolescence, they always felt, “We are right, mummy and papa are wrong. We are being curbed.” And this is the age when they are rebellious. For everything, the answer is, “No, I will not do it. My friend’s parents let them do this, you don’t let me do it, you are wrong.” And this is also the age when there is a little separation or distance developing between adolescent children and parents. What is your advice on this, and how do you mend this relationship? Daaji: You cannot manhandle children at that age. If you are too strong they will break. If you are too weak they will become spoilt. The most important thing is how you prepare them for the future from day one. You cannot expect to see a change in them when they have turned 12 or 13. There is no easy solution. We have to support them to a certain extent, for example, “I don’t mind you going out, but by this time you should come back.” Does that mean they will postpone or pre-pone the activities which are not so good? We don’t know. We have to trust them also. Have confidence that they will not do anything wrong. Be careful, but not too careful If you constantly nag them and warn them, it frustrates them. Over carefulness from the parents’ side destroys the relationship. Be careful, but don’t show it. Be very subtle, and share stories with them – beautiful stories, inspiring stories. The problem is that we have stopped reading stories to them at bedtime. Even when they are 13, 14, 15 or 18 – why not even when they are at 30 – share a nice story with them. Share a nice joke with them. That will make them think. This rhythm has to be placed in their hearts from a young age. When they are teenagers, an inner awakening is there in them, and they are slowly shifting mentally and emotionally from their dependence on their parents to their own self. When children are awake, we can intensify their observational capacity, starting with how a flower blooms, how the stars shine – keep them busy with inspiring things. Let them count the stars. It is a beautiful moment actually. Let them see the leaves changing colors every day. Take the child every day to the same tree or plant and say, “Look at this tree. We’ll come back tomorrow and we will see the color.” Continuously keep at these activities. Bring a coffee cup, fill it with soil, put some seeds in the soil, and see how new life sprouts. This training in observation that we give right from the beginning is very important. Use nature and plants to train your children in the powers of observation. Image: Colourbox.com Guide them in the right direction Now, all this is up to a certain age. Afterwards we can teach them regularity in life: to wake up early in the morning, how to sit, how to talk, the kind of music to listen to, etc. This rhythm has to be placed in their hearts from a young age. When they are teenagers, an inner awakening is there in them, and they are slowly shifting mentally and emotionally from their dependence on their parents to their own self. They are searching, and they are discovering things. Our job is to guide them in the right direction. Don’t be bossy. Don’t lecture them. If your child says, “I want to try this out,” you can say, “Okay, go ahead. Let’s see what happens.” Don’t always be so negative. Don’t always question, “What were you doing?” You are putting your child on the defensive. You are teaching him how to lie. You could say instead, “I wish I had known; I would have picked you up, my son or my daughter.” Conversation is important, and communication is very important. Joking is the most important thing. Jokes that you used to share with little children do not need to stop as they become teenagers. Story sharing can continue. When you read a profound philosophical message from any source, share it with them with a lot of joy: “My child, listen to this, how wonderful it is.” Mistakes happen: don't worry about them And when they do something wrong, it is not the end of the world. Children are not stupid. They know that they have made a mistake, but we make it worse by reminding them, “You see what you have done? I knew you were going to do this.” Then they rebel. They already know that they have made a mistake and feel bad about it; now you are rubbing salt into the wound. Conversation is important, and communication is very important. Joking is the most important thing. You have to be sympathetic in a very indirect way also. Behave as though you don’t know anything, because their pride is riding high at that time. They don’t want to show their mistakes to the parents whom they adore so much. Indeed, “I don’t want to let my parents down” is also there. Even though a child may be going haywire, this inner sense is always prevailing. That is why they lie. That is why they hide. Otherwise, if they were so proud of their actions they would do it right in front of you. Their conscience is still active, still alive. But there are many parents these days who rear their children according to their desire and passion. So what is your desire, what is your passion, what do you want to create in your child? How are you going to design the destiny of your child? As your children grow, at every age, your approach to them must change. Once those children become adults and marry, they have their own lives, so why interfere? When they come to you, be the best you can be. Give the best you can, but there is no point interfering. Nagging them does not work: “You must do this; you must not do that.” Don’t give them the chance to say you are stupid. Educate yourself and embrace change Also, be ahead of your children at the technological level, at the knowledge level. We stop learning things, and that is why our children are able to say, “Oh! You don’t even know this!” At least have some idea about certain advancements, and the changes happening in the world. You cannot insulate yourself from the things that are happening. Changes and trends need not be bad. They can be very ennobling. Now it has become a much freer society I would say, but we are paying a price for it: we are having a war! I mean there is so much boiling and mixing happening, like never before. I don’t think there was ever a period in the history of the human race like today. It is extremely unique. Extremely intense changes are taking place. At a good level there are intense changes, and at a bad level also there are intense changes. And we must help our children to go in the right direction. Sometimes they make mistakes, and you are watching. Don’t let them go too far. Keep on showing them sensitively and sensibly about the perils, but not by becoming negative. Then they realise, “My mom or my papa told me that, but I didn’t listen.” And when such things happen a few times they will have the confidence that, “They are more experienced than me. Now it is time to listen.” Advise your children but always be prepared to let them make mistakes too. Image: Colourbox.com This can happen only when you give them the freedom to do certain things. Let them make mistakes. Let them understand on their own that you advised them correctly. Slowly they will have more confidence that, “My parents are wise.” Of course, it is not always universal, as exceptions are always there in life situations, but by and large, respect will be greater when you don’t interfere. You have to be very indirect. You have to play your role in such a way that children don’t feel that you are influencing them in any way. Always be guided by your heart. When you meditate, you will receive the guidance: “This is what I should be doing or not doing.” Q: Some parents I know were distraught because they found out that their teenage son had started smoking and drinking a glass of beer with his friends. And there was a showdown in the house. How does one handle that situation? Daaji: Give some level of liberty to your child. Smoking is not the end of the world. Drinking is also not the end of the world. It's not that you are giving them freedom to do all these things, but at times you have to let children learn certain lessons on their own by making mistakes. When you see that he or she is smoking, find some funny stories or movies depicting the negative effects of such a bad habit and share it with them. There is a lot of information available on drugs, drinking etc. Provide it to them. Help your children face peer pressure in doing or not doing certain things with their friends. Peer pressure kills them. We have to help them remove the guilt that develops because of such peer pressure. We have to give them the confidence that, “You have the ability to say ‘no’ to certain things. Use your wisdom; guide your friends. They can be foolish but you are wiser. If you go ahead and do it, see the impact of it on your physical system and mental system.” If they still insist, go ahead and give them the freedom. Tell them, “I will buy you a carton of cigarettes, but see for yourself how it affects your studies and your physical well-being.” Show them all the negative things that can happen because of such indulgence. We have to give them the confidence that, “You have the ability to say ‘no’ to certain things. Use your wisdom; guide your friends. They can be foolish but you are wiser.” I remember in the 80s, when my boys were born one after the other, I used to get a newsletter on how to raise children. The number one suggestion was, “Never say, ‘Do this’ directly.” It is a beautiful suggestion, beautiful advice. Never force a child and say, “You must sleep now.” Instead, say something like, “Let’s make a rule: it is nine o’clock. When this hand comes to this number you must sleep because the clock says so.” Children understand all that. Afterwards, as they grow, they argue differently, and that is a different matter, but when they are young it is a matter of training. Don’t teach them the art of rebelling from an early age. Let them blame the clock! ● Interviewed by ANURADHA BHATIA This article was first published in Heartfulness magazine. The copyright is owned by Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation and it is reproduced here with permission. Other articles by the author and similar articles can be accessed at http://www.heartfulnessmagazine.com Written by Kamlesh Patel Kamlesh Patel is the world teacher of Heartfulness, and the fourth spiritual Guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga. He oversees Heartfulness centers and ashrams in over 150 countries, and guides the thousands of certified Heartfulness trainers who are permitted to impart Yogic Transmission under his care. Known to many as Daaji, he is also an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the inner world of spirituality and the outer world of science, blending the two into transcendental research on the evolution of consciousness. Building on the insights of his first Guide, Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur, he is expanding our understanding of the purpose of human existence to a new level, so necessary at this pivotal time in human history.
  3. We chat with Corey Harnish, co-founder of The Good Cards project, which is hoping to change the world one little act of kindness at a time. This fun and interactive initiative is spreading happiness and touching lives all around the world, and you can take part, too... In the grander scheme of things, we might – at times – feel insignificant, and yet if we look closely, little things are so important. That grumpy person on the Metro or the friendly smile in the line at the bakery can significantly influence our mood and therefore the rest of our day. Indeed, our reaction to the next person we meet and whether we're annoyed or react with kindness and a smile might then influence their subsequent interaction, and so on. Making use of this so-called 'butterfly effect' and spreading kindness playfully is a mission The Good Cards has set out to achieve. Corey Harnish, CEO of Better World International, and one of the co-founders of The Good Cards project has made the time to answer some of our questions. Learn more about The Good Cards and how to change the world one card and one act of kindness at a time! Hi Corey! So, tell us, what is The Good Cards project exactly? “The Good Cards has been described as the Pokemon Go for doing good! The Good Cards is a digital platform and mobile app that motivates and empowers people to perform real-life acts of kindness and good deeds in a fun and meaningful way.” And how does The Good Cards work? “The Good Cards uses a physical card and a mobile app to engage people in performing acts of kindness - in a way that is easy and fun! Here's how: You start with a physical Good Card. Scan it in The Good Cards app. You receive a mission to do something good for someone else and share the story about your mission. Pass your Good Card on to the next person. Get notified of your ripple effect of kindness! As your Good Card travels from person to person around the globe, you can track it in your Good Card app and get notified of the ripple effect of the kindness and good deeds you’ve inspired around the world. “Right now, The Good Cards is in its early stage, and missions are focused on acts of kindness to ourselves, our social circle, as well as anonymous good deeds. As it continues to grow and develop, it will expand beyond just acts of kindness. There will be missions focused on Sustainable Development Goals and social impact at large. Over time, we will incorporate a model for corporations to easily engage employees and consumers in their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.” Sounds great! And what are Dreamers? “Dreamers are those people who want to make a difference in this world and most likely are taking action to make it happen. Our tribe is a community of Dreamers who are active in doing good deeds. We've learned that a lot of Dreamers want to do good but either don't know what to do, or they lose motivation for doing good because they don't believe their small actions have an impact.” So, how do you cater to their needs? “We've created a fun and meaningful experience to solve these concerns! With The Good Cards, Dreamers can get guidance in doing good deeds while seeing the ripple effect of kindness their actions make on others.” The Good Card successfully spreads happiness through fun interactions Do you think you can transform any person to become a Dreamer? “We believe anyone can become a Dreamer if they personally experience the positive impact of doing good to others. Positive psychologists have proven that altruism and giving have as strong of an impact on the giver as they do on the recipient of kindness. C.H. - Dreamers are those people who want to make a difference in this world and most likely are taking action to make it happen. “Our goal is to empower people to feel the power of kindness individually because then they will experience transformation on their own, and thus make the world a kinder, happier place.” Why are kindness, love and happiness important, and why gamify it? “In today's world, with the political climate, the amount of negativity, and divide across cultures, people have lost faith in humanity. Something needs to be done to change this. In my opinion, the way to do so is to "kill them with kindness." Rather than fighting back or criticizing others for their wrongdoing, we believe the answer is to give people what they need - kindness, love, and happiness. These are so important because when we experience kindness, love, or happiness, we want to share it with others. When we look at the research, we see a tremendous social benefit to people and communities when these emotions are common.” But does kindness need to be cool and trendy? “For us, there was no other way than to make doing good fun and meaningful. The intention behind 'gamifying' kindness is to create a space and framework that motivates and empowers people to do good. “By doing this, kindness becomes a fun experience to share with others, and something people might be inspired to join and be a part of. Now, when you do a good deed, you literally watch as your Good Card travels the world creating a ripple effect of kindness.” Can you share with us any success stories? “The success stories range from self-care days were people finally are taking time to treat themselves, to fundraising €1,000 to give holiday gifts to a Polish family, to thoughtful anonymous care packages to friends and family.” And what is the global impact up till now? “For us, it's important to recognise each act of kindness rather than get caught up in the global impact, as the global impact will happen from the chain reaction of smaller individual actions. When you focus your attention on the individual lives you touch you begin to truly see and feel the real impact. In less than a year, Good Cards have touched lives in 33 countries, and it's only the beginning; as the project grows and develops, it will continue to expand.” Acts of kindness: with a mobile app and a real Good Card, you can spread the love! What is your envisioned role of companies and brands in the project? “We envision a time when corporations join in the activity. Using our project as a Happiness-as-a-ServiceTM (HaaSTM) platform where they can easily engage their customers and employees in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. “Research significantly shows that millennials, Y & Z Generations buy specifically from brands that are socially responsible and actually participate in giving back to the community. We are developing a new and innovative platform where corporations can increase their social impact, and communicate their social responsibility efforts to consumers in a fun way.” Can your game actually “build and restore faith in humanity and society?” “Since The Good Cards is still in its first version, it doesn't have the ability to 'restore faith in humanity,' just yet. However, as we continuously develop the platform, it will have the capacity to make a large scale impact. Just think about some of these big brands like Coca-Cola, Nike, or Pokemon Go, and the millions and millions of people all over the world who have interacted with them. “We envision a day when our platform grows this large and millions of people join us in doing good; restoring faith in humanity. Once something like this happens, yes, we totally believe it will 'play' a big role in restoring faith in humanity and society.” ● Main photo: Evan Kirby Written by Arlo Laibowitz Arlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.
  4. HOW TO: Practice Forgiveness

    Practicing forgiveness is a key way that you can lead a more meaningful life and cultivate deeper happiness. However, forgiving someone – or yourself – isn't always easy. Here, Arlo Laibowitz shares some great steps that can help make the process easier, enabling you to let go of suffering and move on with your life. To live is to get hurt. We've all been in the situation that we feel that others have done us wrong: by their words, their actions, or even worse, their indifference. And then there are the things we regret doing or saying ourselves. The saying goes, 'to forgive and forget', but in practice, we tend to hold on to our feelings of hurt and resentment. Forgiveness: what exactly is it? How can we forgive others, and ourselves, for good? What is genuine forgiveness? And how does forgiving help us to lead happier and more peaceful lives? “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~Gandhi~ Forgiveness is defined as a conscious, deliberate decision to let go of resentment or vengeance towards a person or group who has harmed you. Forgiveness is not forgetting, or condoning or excusing offences. It is what we do for ourselves to get well and move on. Essential steps to practice forgiveness According to author and Buddhist practitioner Jack Kornfield, we can forgive by following these 12 steps: Understand what forgiveness is and what it is not. Feel the suffering in yourself of holding on to your lack of forgiveness. Reflect on the benefits of a loving heart. Discover that it is not necessary to be loyal to your suffering. Understand that forgiveness is a process. Set your intention for forgiveness. Learn the inner and outer forms of forgiveness. Start the easiest way, by forgiving an ‘easy’ individual. Be willing to grieve. Forgiveness includes all dimensions of life, including the body, mind, emotions, and interpersonal. Forgiveness involves a shift of identity, to our capacity for love, freedom and good. Forgiveness involves perspective. “It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~Maya Angelou~ Forgive and forget in nine simple steps The nine-steps forgiveness program On a more practical level, there are clear steps to be followed, as outlined by Fred Luskin of Stanford University. He outlined a forgiveness program that helps us to take things less personally, blaming others less, and offering more understanding and compassion to others, and to ourselves: Know how you feel and be able to express what you do not consider acceptable about the situation or behaviour. Commit yourself to feel better. Forgiveness is a personal process. Forgiveness does not have to mean reconciliation or condoning the actions of the person that has grieved you. Forgiveness is about peace and understanding and taking things less personally. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Practice stress management to soothe flight or fight, by doing mindful breathing exercises, taking a walk, or whatever else works. Give up expecting things from your life or other people that they do not give you. Put your energy into looking for ways to get your positive goals met, instead of focusing on the experience that has hurt you. Remember that a well-lived life is an ultimate revenge: look for love, beauty, and kindness. Put energy into appreciating what you have instead of what you don’t have. Amend the way you look at your past; cherish your forgiveness. “Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~Marianne Williamson~ Research has shown that as we forgive, we are less susceptible to stress, anger and hurt. Once we have started the practice of forgiveness, it becomes easier to do that in new situations and induces more optimism. Practicing forgiveness is one of the essentials to leading more meaningful lives. By gifting ourselves the gift of forgiveness, we can live more loving, more compassionate, and ultimately, happier lives. ● Written by Arlo Laibowitz Arlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.
  5. Economic life may be something that seems out of our control. The forces of macroeconomics can appear akin to a tsunami that individuals can do little about. And yet, even an enormous wave is made up of constituent drops of water. Individuals can decide how they spend, save and deal with the world from a financial point of view. Essentially, Buddhist economics looks at finances from a spiritual and ethical angle. Economics is studied from the standpoint of human psychology and how natural emotive reactions can direct a range of economic activities.  What Is Buddhist Economics? One Sri Lankan economist has described a Buddhist economic system as something that “has its foundations in the development of a co-operative and harmonious effort”. [1] Writing in 1976, Neville Karunatilake said that the ideal place to operate in this way was within a “group living” setting. Perhaps building on the ashram idea of communal living espoused by Gandhi, Tolstoy and others, this approach would lead to a diminished level of “selfishness and acquisitive pursuits” which might have been seen in the days the Buddhist king Ashoka's rule.[2]  Referring back to a pre-industrial time, many classically trained economists might easily miss the point of what Buddhist economics can mean for the twenty-first-century world. However, as we shall see, Buddhist ideas about economics have developed throughout the world over the last few decades. This is partly because people are increasingly aware of the fragility of the global financial system and because of the destructive nature of many industrial processes which harm the planet.  In an attempt to address these issues, some economists have tried to look at the principles behind Buddhist ethical teachings and apply them to areas like work, productivity, commerce and even concepts such as ownership. After all, it was the ethical nature of Buddhism that led Ashoka to invest in public works programmes such as those which built hospitals, hostels and parks. Building interest in the ethical dimension of Buddhist economics, the first international conference of its type was held in the city of Budapest in 2007. [3] Further such conventions, which look into all aspects of Buddhist economic thought, from increasing happiness to facing up to the economic challenges of Western economies, have since taken place. How did Buddhist economics get to this level of acceptance among modern academics?  The Development of Buddhist Economics According to the Buddhist writer, P A Payutto, the traditional study of economics has avoided vital questions about human morality and ethical considerations. [4] However, as ecological concerns have become more critical in the eyes of many people around the globe, so ever-increasing growth – something that most capitalist economies rely upon – has become seen as negative. Therefore, alternatives economic views have become increasingly mainstream. Both right and left wing economic views have, according to the zero-growth economic models espoused by certain green politicians, got little to offer regarding preserving the world's resources. Buddhist economics fits into that tradition and has been gaining more significant attention since Payutto started publishing in the 1990s.  The idea of Buddhist economics was first espoused in the twentieth century by E F Schumacher, a German statistician, who came up with his ideas while travelling through Southeast Asia. Schumacher ended up being an economic advisor to Prime Minister U Nu of what was then called Burma. His idea was to reject the economic theories of both Karl Marx and Adam Smith, both of whom focussed on units of labour as being the primary economic drivers in any economic model. Instead, Schumacher espoused a view of economics from a Buddhist point of view.  Essentially, Schumacher opted to redefine work from something that could be sold, for example to employers, or exploited, through slavery or unpaid labour, as well as choosing to view work as something that did not necessarily need to be conducted most efficiently. In other words, his view of work was one that was there to enrich the basic happiness of the person doing it from a spiritual standpoint, not from an economic one. Let's look at what Schumacher means by taking an example. In a factory, the most efficient way of making an item for sale into the wider economy might be to divide the labour up so that each worker does a repetitive task over and over. This simplifies their job function, makes the production method more predictable and lowers costs, especially if production is speeded up significantly. The outcome might be that the factory owner makes more money with such a system. Henry Ford, the American car maker, is often cited as a pioneer of these sorts of workplace practices which were developed for economic reasons. Schumacher turns that idea on its head. He put forward the idea that work should not be measured by economic output. [5]  According to his Buddhist principle, work is there to offer a worker the chance to utilise and develop all of his faculties, not just one or two key skills. Also, this will enable a worker to overcome ego-centric ideas, mainly when work is conducted with other people in a common task, for example building a house together. Crucially, Schumacher stated that work should “bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence”. In other words, work ought to create enough economic output to sustain life but no more. Working just to accumulate more and more wealth is pointless from a spiritual perspective. Being rich is, in other words, counterproductive.  What Economic Problems Do We Face and Which Solutions Do Buddhist Teachings Offer? Since the global financial crisis, many people have woken up to the idea that the economic system that has sustained the West, in particular, may not be the be-all-and-end-all. If the system could crash and the money supply seize up once, then could it do so again? In addition, the rise of China as a global economic force – a country that does not run on liberal economic models – has caused some people to think that the way things have been done does not mean that is the way they must continue. The world becomes more global in its inter-connectedness, so goods move more rapidly and resources are used up.  Some see the emergence of nationalism in recent years as a direct result of global economic trends over which local communities have little control. [6] Global economic challenges like these can be met by Buddhist teachings. Not only do they convey the idea that man is interdependent on his fellow man, but that overproduction for the sake of economic growth is undesirable.  According to Clair Brown, an economics professor at UC Berkeley and the director of the Center for Work, Technology and Society, students she teaches are focussed on the tremendous economic inequalities that globalisation has produced. In a world where the richest one percent of the population own half of all the wealth, it is fair to say that inequality – and abject poverty – is rife. [7]  Brown teaches that happiness, founded on less inequality, and the simple act of helping each other compassionately is the answer to these undeniable economic challenges. She puts forward the idea that economists must let go of the principle that people are fundamentally selfish, that they will always choose the best economic outcome for themselves. By studying cities in the so-called Rust Belt of America, she points out that economists must work in a way that is “compatible with what neuroscientists are finding out about people’s well-being and the way minds work.” [8]  How Can Mankind and Our Planet Benefit? The economic challenges of poverty, inequality, globalisation and ecology can all be met by adopting a Buddhist approach to economics, so its proponents claim. On ecology, for example, Professor Brown cites the withdrawal by the US from the Paris Accords as something that does not ascribe to Buddhist teachings of being mindful of others. Man can benefit from adopting Buddhist economics because of self-interest, so inherent in Western economic models, is illusory. Instead of bartering for the best deal, the approach should be to adopt an economic model of mutual reciprocity.  Why? Because we feel negative about ourselves and others in the former model and a higher degree of happiness and inner peace with the latter. Imagine what could be achieved by humans if everyone just got on better with one another because they felt less pressured to make a few pounds. From a global point of view, this would bring about a deceleration in the exploitation of the Earth's valuable resources, helping to make economic life sustainable not just for today but for future generations.  -  [1] http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110320/BusinessTimes/bt24.html [2] https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/ashoka-6226.php [3] http://laszlo-zsolnai.net/sites/default/files/3/documents/Buddhist-Economics-szorolap-4-oldalas.pdf [4] http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/Buddhist_Economics.pdf [5] http://www.centerforneweconomics.org/Buddhist-economics [6] https://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/02/22/twelve-reasons-why-globalization-is-a-huge-problem/ [7] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/14/richest-1-percent-now-own-half-the-worlds-wealth.html [8] https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_would_buddha_do_about_the_economy    Modelphoto: Colourbox.com  Written by Ed GouldEd Gould is a UK-based journalist and freelance writer. He is a practitioner of Reiki.
  6. Most of us have faced an assessment of our abilities and behaviour during our lives, sometimes negative, but, hopefully, more often than not, we have received constructive criticism. Knowing how to give and take constructive criticism in a way that is helpful can be a minefield, however, according to Gregg Walker from Oregon State University, by learning how to rebuke kindly, it becomes much easier. According to the author, Leo Babauto, we should consider, “Would I like to hear that about myself and, if so, what would be the nicest way to say it?”  How we can benefit from and be more responsive to kind criticism Whether at work or in one’s personal life, having someone criticise with kindness will have a much more positive effect and result on us. According to a study by the consultant Marcial Losada and academic Emily Heaphy, effectiveness within a business is measured by financial performance, customer satisfaction and feedback ratings of the team members. The related question is whether positive feedback actually and truthfully, informs us that we are on track, or is constructive criticism and comments a better way to help us when we are perhaps digressing in a non-positive way?  Heaphy and Losada discovered that positive comments, such as, “That’s a great idea”, is a better way to begin offering constructive criticism, rather than negative comments like, “We shouldn’t even consider doing that”, however, negative feedback can also act as a wake-up call, in that it will grab the person’s attention. According to “The Joy of Criticism”, by Peter Fisk, a Ph.D scientist, criticism is actually information, which, when used in the right way, will help us to improve. He uses the “spinach-on-the-teeth” example, where, at a function, you notice that someone you know has got some spinach stuck in their teeth. The dilemma is should you tell them or should you pretend you haven’t seen it? If you don’t tell them, then they will spend the rest of the evening looking ridiculous, so it must be better to criticise with kindness, as they will surely be grateful and remove it immediately.  Dealing with negative criticism Peter Fiske goes on to explain that, when giving constructive criticism, it is important to be careful as being offensive can be hurtful, damage self-esteem and can make the person defensive rather than open to suggestion. Think about the words that are being used: , for example, to tell someone that they are lazy gives no room for manoeuvre, as do negative statements such as, “you could” or “you should”. The critic intends only to help and, if the negative criticism seems unpalatable, then think about why it is being said, as, according to Peter Fisk, not all constructive criticism can be given in a supportive and encouraging manner.  Zen Habits states that criticism can sometimes, even when given for the right reasons, make us angry; instead, we have to learn to use it as a way to improve. However, sometimes it can be given for the wrong reasons, such as in a mean-spirited way, using unacceptable language or very personal criticism like, ”you are useless at your job” or “the way you dress is not suitable”.  Try not to get angry - instead ask the person why they are saying these things rather than taking it as a personal attack. It may be that they will point out a piece of work that you did or will explain the necessary dress code, allowing you to then take it as constructive criticism rather than negative. Some people find it very difficult to criticise kindly; being tactful, as pointed out in this article by Mind Tools is something that we have to learn as we go through life.  When criticism is given, it can be upsetting, as some people will find it distressing and it can even lead to tears. This is why it is important to always criticise with kindness, no matter how serious the problem might be. It can make us feel that we have failed and are not living up to expectations, whether it be in our personal or working life; either way, the effect can be traumatising when not given in the correct way.  Criticise with kindness Be impersonal - talk about actions rather than the individual Do not be on the attack - take a more subtle approach Offer positive and specific suggestions Instead of telling the person that they are wrong, talk about a better approach or solution Criticise in a way that will lead to a meaningful discussion Whilst it is best to criticise kindly, it should also be specific and without reducing self-esteem. Think about what you are saying and how you are saying it, as is cleverly summed up in a quote from Frank Clark, an American lawyer and politician who died in 1936.  Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots. Know how to portray kindness when being critical The philosopher, Daniel Dennett, wrote very pragmatically about “just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticising the views of an opponent?”. Dennett considered the relevancy of this in today’s culture of “everyone is a critic”. He is the author of ‘Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking’ which includes ‘ the dignity and art-science of making mistakes’, where he provides an insight into how to avoid making a fool out of one’s opponent.  These rules were originally written by the well-known social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport - discover more about the man here: . Daniel Dennett has summarised these rules to describe how to compose a successful commentary using constructive criticism:  Try to explain your target’s position in such a way that it is clear and fairly said. This way, the response can be, “Thanks, I wish I had thought of putting it that way” List all the points that you agree with, especially if they are not a part of the general, overall consensus of opinion Mention anything that you have learned from your target, thus offering encouragement By following these pointers, you will then be in a better position to offer a rebuttal followed by constructive criticism. This brings us to the next point of understanding the importance of knowing how to criticise constructively. The Science Mag recommends that, as the critic, we should be aware of the type of person we are criticising, helping us to take into account their feelings, actions and emotions. It is also important to analyse, with subjectivity, your observations, as this will help you to criticise with kindness and to add a solid and fair criteria to your sympathetic, well-meaning constructive criticism.  Written by Guest AuthorWe are happy to publish articles by guest authors that will broaden the perspective and bring new insights. If you are interested in publishing an article here on happiness.org please contact us.
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