Happiness: Social Skills or Compassion?

In one large survey, one fourth of U.S. adults reported that they had felt extremely lonely at least once within the previous two weeks.


This quote’s from the Dalai Lama’s book The Art of Happiness (p.70).  Talking about causes of loneliness, co-author Howard C. Cutler cites studies that show that loneliness can arise from several sources, one of which is the inability to pick up conversational cues:  knowing when to nod, to respond appropriately, or to remain silent.

Cutler says this research suggests improving social skills should therefore be a good strategy for overcoming loneliness.  However, the Dalai Lama suggests a different approach.

Develop Compassion, is the simple message of this sage.  Recognize your interconnectedness with the world and you will be grateful for all that you have and do and are.

Cutler states he had always felt pride in his independence, in not needing anyone’s help to sustain him.  But when he thought about how many people were involved in providing an article as simple as his shirt, he began to see a new world vision.

He thought of the farmer who grew the cotton.  The person who sold the farmer his tractor.  The many people involved in the manufacture of the tractor, the repair and maintenance of it, even the people who mined the ore that made the metal parts on the tractor, and the designers of the tractor.  He thought about the weavers of the cloth, the people who cut and sewed the fabric, who colored it.  The cargo workers and truck drivers who got the shirt to the store.  The many clerks and administrators in the store.

Cutler realized then that “virtually every aspect of my life came about as the results of others’ efforts.  My precious self-reliance was a complete illusion.”

Something I’m sure, for every Aspie to think deeply about.  Would this be a good exercise?   When you are feeling isolated?  Just take a simple object and spend a few minutes considering how many people it took to put it in your hand.

Karl Marx said that one of the tragedies of modern society was the distancing of the producer from the product.  How isolated it made both the producer and the consumer feel.  It seems the Dalai Lama would agree.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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