Skip to main content
His holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama
5, Nov 2020

Book Review: The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness Book Review

Steven C Hughes, Psychology 2301


Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV; Cutler, Howard. (1998) The Art of Happiness. New York: Riverhead Books.

Information about the authors

His holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama is recognized as the spiritual and former political leader of Tibet. He is considered the living incarnation of the Buddha.  At age two he was chosen as the Dalai Lama and since age six has trained as a Buddhist monk. In 1950, he became the political leader of Tibet and in 1959 was forced into exile.  Over the past six decades, he has been the face of Buddhism. He has received a Congressional Gold Medal and in 1989, received the Nobel Peace prize.  The book’s co-author, Howard C. Cutler is a licensed Psychiatrist based in Phoenix Arizona.  He has co-authored three books with the Dalai Lama.

Main points (thesis) of the book

The Art of Happiness is a book that aims to highlight the Tibetan leader’s teachings that relate to what he believes is our purpose in life, to live our lives in ways that brings forth happiness.

The authors’ main points include:

  • Our purpose on earth as humans, is to seek happiness.
  • According to Buddhist teachings, the primary factors for a happier life are wealth, worldly satisfaction, spirituality and enlightenment.
  • Suffering is a natural part of life.
  • Research shows that compassion can increase life expectancy.
  • Education is beneficial to achieve compassion.
  • A person’s mind is a powerful tool when shaping our lives towards happiness.
  • You must actively work to achieve serenity.

Evaluation (how the author supports the thesis)

The book is a culmination of several private interviews between the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler held in Arizona and India. The aim of these interviews is to look at the teachings of Buddhism that suggest how one can become a happier person and to contrast those with that of Psychiatry. This book is decidedly void of Buddhist scriptures in an effort to make this book easy to read for those not well versed in Buddhism.

In an effort to live a healthy life, the Dalai Lama suggests that we have to be happy. In illustrating this, he touches on the sources of our unhappiness, such as the suffering caused by as anger and hatred. Thus, anger and hatred serve no benefit to people. The Dalai Lama lays out a process in which we can combat suffering. One method he suggests, is to be compassionate, living a compassionate existence. The author points to research studies that indicate that acts of service to others lead to an increase in life expectancy. 

The authors provide a blueprint for the reader to achieve happiness and remind us that with anything we wish to achieve, it is up to us to put forth the effort.



Steven Hughes is based in Austin, TX and is currently a student at Austin Community College.

Featured Posts