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Dalai Lama: Behind Our Anxiety, The Fear Of Being Unneeded

Dalai Lama

When we look at the world with a positive attitude, we can definitely say that there is no better time for living than now. Violence still runs its course, and tyranny has not been ruled out of some countries.

Although religion teaches us to be more compassionate and forgiving, major crimes and wars began in the name of religion.

However, looking at the bright side, fewer and fewer people are hungry, poor, and uneducated. Women are not discriminated like in the past – they are recognized as equals and are given the majority of rights.

Of course, there is always room for improvement and many things are yet to be done, but there is always hope.

Keeping this in mind, it is strange to see that people in the most prosperous countries in the world, like Great Britain, United States of America, and other countries among Europe, are unsatisfied with their lives in general.

Migrants and refugees dream of living in these countries as they consider them safe and opulent. However, those living in these promised lands are feeling more lost and anxious than ever.

Why is this so?

One possible explanation is believed to be our inner compulsion to feel ‘needed’. This theory is proved in an experiment in which the results shocked researchers.

They found that citizens, who felt ‘needed’ and who contribute to their society in some way, were less likely to die precipitately. On the other hand, those citizens that feel ‘unneeded’ were three times more at risk to die earlier in life.

However, being ‘needed’ and ‘necessary’ does not involve selfish pride and does not serve as a way for boosting our ego.

Rather, it is a natural and human instinct to help and serve those in need. As the sagas from 13th century teach us, “If one lights a fire for others, it will also brighten one’s own way.

Scientific research proved once again what religion has been teaching us: the more we help others, the happier we will be. In other words, being in service to others leads to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Germans who do social work are five times more likely to say that they live a more content and blissful life. Americans, whose job is connected to helping people, doing good for them, are twice as likely to say they are happy, and satisfied with their lives as opposed to those who do not consider service as significant. Therefore, we can say that selflessness equals happiness.

This explains why people in America or in other major European countries feel disappointment and pain. It has nothing to do with the lack of material possessions and has everything to do with a lack of feeling necessary, needed, and useful.

How can we overcome this situation?

We can start by appreciating others, and asking ourselves every day, “What can I do to show others my appreciation of the gifts they give me?” We need to change our mindset and start thinking of the world as one grand and divine unity and start sharing this idea of oneness.

Leaders need to understand that only by creating a compassionate society with lots of possibilities and opportunities for meaningful contribution can give the result of inner peace and happiness among the population.

Children also need to be included in this type of society and given proper education and practice. This compassionate society must serve mainly to protect the vulnerable, but carefully so as not to make them dependant or miserable.

To build such a society is no easy mission. People of all ages should understand that the key to collaboration and friendship is not having the same political views or being of the same religion.

Rather, it is a shared compassion and understanding of the world; a belief that every person can contribute something meaningful to it which leads to a better world.

Finally, even though many people are pained to see such amount of anger and frustration in the world, there is a silver lining: people’s refusal to be happy and content with material things is actually something admirably beautiful.

Their hunger is not for physical pleasures and material possessions but for a need to be needed. Let us all contribute to have a society that feeds this type of hunger.