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Change Your Life with Love

hands forming a heart shape in front of the sun

In the conventional world, we are bombarded with messages that suggest that the secret

of happiness is to lavish attention on ourselves, to “look out for number one,” to spend extra

money on ourselves because we’re worth it. In utter contradiction to this idea, the great Buddhist sage from the 8 th century, Shantideva, said, “Whatever happiness there is in the world comes from wishing others to be happy. Whatever unhappiness there is in the world comes from wishing ourselves to be happy.” So which of these opposing prescriptions for happiness actually works? Which path should we follow if we want to change the quality of our lives for the better?

Initially, it might seem counterintuitive that our love for others would be the source of happiness for ourselves, but if we investigate, we can see that our love for others solves our

problems, cures our loneliness, and makes our heart light and buoyant. Almost everybody loves at least one other being, whether person or animal, and enjoys benefitting that being. Indeed, as we analyze our own experience, we can see that when we are feeling pure love for someone, we are very very happy! Parents enjoy nothing more than bringing delight to their beloved children, people with pets enthusiastically pore over the Chewy inventory in search of new toys to engage their cats and dogs, young lovers relish the opportunity to help one another. How life-changing would it be if we could extend the love we have for one person or a few people to a lot more people? To everyone?

Social scientists note that there is an unprecedented epidemic of loneliness today. Certainly, many people live alone these days, but merely being in the presence of others is not sufficient to mitigate unhappy feelings of disconnection—no doubt, at some point, we have all felt alienated and isolated, despite being surrounded by others. In fact, Buddha tells that the cure for loneliness is love, for when we love others, we are always connected to them, and wherever we go, we are among friends.

People tend to think that whether or not they love others is a feature of chance: either Cupid hits you with his arrow or he doesn’t, and you have no say in the matter. But Buddha teaches us that we can cultivate love for others — and indeed, that if we wish to be happy, it is essential that we do so.


We have two classes that are currently exploring this topic, through meditation and practical wisdom. Check out our Sunday morning classes in Oak Park and Wicker Park to learn how to change your life with love.

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