We grow by losing - and other wise lessons of the Dalai Lama

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The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader to the Tibetans, spreads Buddhist values all over the world. Discover the first nine of his eighteen rules. 

1 Love and success come with risk

The first of the Dalai Lama’s rules is a warning. It doesn’t mean you should avoid love and success, but it encourages you to be realistic about it. Don’t romanticize what you don’t have, but make sure you’re ready when it crosses your path. It will probably bring sorrow, too (like loss, or the fear of loss). 

2 If you lose, don’t lose the lesson 

Losing is more important to personal growth than winning, no matter what it’s about. Don’t let your head down when you lose, and try to discover what the experience may bring: skills, for instance, or knowledge about how you react to the fact that you’ve lost. Do you blame yourself for losing? Why is that? Ask yourself questions and gain knowledge about who you are. 

3 Live with respect to yourself and others and take responsibility for your actions 

This rule may seem obvious, but it isn’t. Think about it: do you really respect yourself? Do you respect how you look, your thoughts, emotions, actions, the way you live your life? As long as you don’t fully respect yourself, you can’t really respect others, nor can you take responsibility for your actions. No matter how hard you try. In others, you see a blow-up of the things about you that you’re not embracing. 

4 Not getting what you want is a powerful life lesson 

You put your mind to something: enrolling in an education, getting a new job, getting pregnant, a new home. And then it doesn’t happen. It hurts, because your desire for this new step has become a part of your life. You’ve made room for it in your mind and your heart, and the fact you’re not getting what you want, means you need to mourn. It’s about letting go something you don’t want to let go. That’s when you know more than ever whether this is really what you want, and why you want it so badly. The more reason to work even harder for it – or not? 

5 Know the rules and bend them

Going against the rules is easy. Breaking them in a careful way is something else. The Dalai Lama doesn’t mean you should do things secretly. He means: rules are there for a reason, so if you break them, do it carefully, take responsibility and don’t cause others damage. 

6 Don’t let small things damage an important friendship 

Having a fight with your best friend? You know each other through and through, go through changes together, but you don’t always follow each other. You’re a mirror to them and they’re a mirror to you. That’s not always pleasant. Think about why you’re feeling hurt or why you don’t understand, and consider how much this connection is worth to you. Don’t be too proud to take the first step to an open, respectful conversation. 

7 Once you realize you’ve made a mistake, make it right

Making mistakes is important, just like losing. It brings so many lessons, at least, if you realize you’re making a mistake and allow yourself to admit it and make it right. Sometimes you realize yourself, sometimes others tell you. Don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong – it’s the most powerful and sincere thing you can do. 

8 Spend time alone daily

Reading, going for a walk, meditating, making music, shopping, being in the sun, visiting a museum or the market: enjoy your time alone. Being busy all the time is not a status symbol. What’s interesting about you is not your agenda or your network, it’s who you are. Being on your own can be both wonderful and painful. On the one hand you experience peace and quiet, on the other hand your inner critic takes its chance to scold you. However, you’ll find that the more time you consciously spend alone, the kinder the critic becomes.

9 Embrace change, but remember your values 

This is a very essential rule, especially in a time when everything is possible and every day may change your life. We all have our own philosophies and opinions, and we can share them whenever we want. Be open to new insight, be curious, but be true to yourself. 

Text: Fabienne Peters - Photo Nichole Tumbaga