The Dalai Lama describes himself as a “simple Buddhist monk” yet somehow within his life’s simplicity he has been able to find personal fulfillment and share that fulfillment with others. How can we follow his example?

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1. Believe you can make a difference

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

Often in my life the things that made the greatest difference were not big. Someone wrote an encouraging note, dropped off a pint of ice cream, gave a hug. Those who performed these acts will likely never know the difference they made. Yet, the world was made better because of them. Your talents and unique viewpoints are needed. You can make a difference. The trick is figuring out how.

2. Choose positivity

“Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, ‘I am of no value’, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.”

How much power do we believe we have over our own happiness? According to the Dalai Lama we can determine how we view our situations, accomplishments, and attributes. Optimism is a choice. This agentic freedom means that although we can’t control what happens to us, we can control how we react. Circumstances do not determine our happiness. Decide today what kind of day it will be.

3. Face death, celebrate life

“You must ask yourself how is it you want to live your life. We live and we die, this is the truth that we can only face alone. No one can help us, not even the Buddha. So consider carefully, what prevents you from living the way you want to live your life?”

Our modern world with its hospitals, hospice care, and funeral homes separates most of us from death. This protective wall provides a comfortable cocoon of false security. Only through escaping this cocoon and facing the fragility of life can we truly learn to live. In understanding death, each day becomes more precious. Insecurities and inadequacies which previously held us back become trivial. Life is too short to let the small stuff hold us back.

4. Serve others

“Eating, working, and making money are meaningless in themselves. However, even a small act of compassion grants meaning and purpose to our lives.”

Who do you know that is struggling? What can you do to help? Thinking of others rather than our own worries helps us realize how blessed we are and the difference we can make. What is more fulfilling than that?

5. Be patient

“Neither a space station nor an enlightened mind can be realized in a day.”

Discouragement often takes its strongest hold when we are faced with disappointing results to our efforts. Sometime we try so hard, only to have it blow up in our face. However, we do not know how things will develop in the long run. Often what seems like failure one day can be a stepping stone the next. Remember we are running a marathon not a sprint. Things will work out. Keep going!

Erin Facer is a graduate of Brigham Young University and proud southerner. Contact her at