In preparation of hosting His Holiness Dalai Lama, the Honors Student Association (HSA) held an educational event based on the teachings from his book, “The Art of Happiness.” The event was led by Rekha Datta, Ph.D., a Professor of the Political Science and Sociology Department, who guided students through the discussion of Buddhism.
When students arrived, they were offered a balloon, a bag of flour, and a funnel to make a DIY stress ball. HSA co-president, Dárika Lara-Rodríguez, explained why the club chose to include this hands-on craft. “We wanted to have a fun yet beneficial activity. Everyone is stressed out; first week of school can be chaotic for everyone.”
After the activity, Datta began the event by providing background information about the Dalai Lama and His Holiness’ book. The interview-like nature of the piece provides information on how to overcome real life challenges.
During the event, Datta emphasized that one must practice mindfulness daily in order for it to take effect. She explained that mindfulness could consist of anything that brings joy and that allows you to be present. This enables the mind to process both positive and negative emotions.
Datta also reinforced how important it is to realize that suffering is a normal aspect of life, and that it is not always a negative emotion unless it is self-created. Suffering allows problems to be confronted and acknowledged, which is important for solutions to be found. “Suffering is temporary, which is important to remember as students facing stressful and challenging times,” reasoned Datta.
After her discussion, Datta provided insight on how college students can begin pursuing their own happiness amid their hectic lives and schedules. “Keep your eyes on the future but focus on the now,” she said. She told students to remember that they are not alone, and there are people available to help manage their stress and anxiety. She recommended that students participate in some form of service to bring true happiness. “When you are helping others, the kind of impact you have on another person’s life is a great way to ease your anxieties and feelings of loneliness,” Datta said.
Sophomore Raluchkwu Molokwu is one student in particular who was impacted by the Dalai Lama’s teachings. “You have to remind yourself why you really want to make those changes in the first place and then take action,” observed Molokwu.
Second year honors Medical Laboratory Science student, Lyndsey Buren, was so empowered by Datta’s gathering that she decided to take her path to happiness one step further. “I’ve always wanted to get into yoga and meditation. I think this is another big sign in my life to start doing short, five-minute daily activities to center myself,” Buren said.