Rules for Living Life — the 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama

Rules for Living Life — the 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama

You don’t need religion to have guiding principles or rules for living life. Check out the 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama.  He does it without religious dogma in less than twenty statements, that’s far shorter than any of the sacred texts used by the major religions.

Let’s start this discussion on our topic with a quote to put things into perspective and give us a goal for the analysis.  It provides a picture of a truly universal inclusive religion of the future.

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, we should base it on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description.” — Albert Einstein

Transcending your personal God is another way of saying living life without a God, without an imaginary friend in the sky.  Let’s show you what that looks like because it is unusual for us to think of a religion without a God.

Exploring New Rules For Living Life

Tenzin Gyatso is the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism.  He was chosen for this role when he was only 2 years old.   As you read the 18 statements of his wisdom, you will see they are absent any references to religious dogma. His philosophy transcends religion and theology.  These rules are both practical and spiritual.

The 18 points of this list cover every practical aspect of life, from personal to social concerns to global issues.  These guidelines are a complete and concise philosophy for the future.

The 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama

The 18 excellent rules for living cover everything you need to practice the art of being.   They help the authentic and genuine you to be present and aware.   What is missing is religious dogma talk about God.

When he speaks about values, he uses them concerning everyone and everything.  There is no talk about sectarianism or preferential treatment.  The idea of assessing the risk of love is another way of saying live with courage.

We see many world leaders who refuse to accept responsibility for their decisions.  We need to see leaders show consistency by living honorably.  Wow! It’s a massive contrast to what we see on the world stage.

1. Consider that great love and achievements involve significant risk.

We’ve heard the saying, everything worth achieving takes effort.  If the goal were easy to attain, it would be a result, not an accomplishment.  Many worthwhile goals, a significant investment in time and resources and success isn’t certain there is still the risk of failure. Achieving a goal that is risky and hard to attain is a real accomplishment.

They say the same thing about love.  It is better to love and lose than not love at all.  Love is risky but worth it.  The joy comes, in part, from the risk involved.  The rules for living life often involve inverse relationships like this one.

2. When you lose, don’t miss the lesson.

Risk involves the potential for failure and loss.  We have all failed and lost something that we valued, but the actual loss is failing to grasp the lesson in the experience.  Life is a place that provides you with opportunities to learn lessons that, if understood, can lead to wisdom.  When we fail, stop and ask ourselves, what am I supposed to learn from this?  Learn from the situation and use the insight to improve your life.

3. Follow these three ABCs:

A. Respect for self
B. Respect for others
C. Responsibility for all your actions.

Promoting self-love and self-respect is an essential element of a healthy mindset.  Respect is an anchor for self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-awareness.  It is one of the 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama that can change the trajectory of your life.

Respect for others includes all living things on the planet.  The environment needs our kind attention and care.  Respect for the Earth means ensuring we do our part to safeguard its resources for future generations to enjoy.

Accepting responsibility for your actions is difficult, but when you face the consequences, you bolster your self-respect.  Others will also respect you more for taking responsibility.

4. The Dalai Lama reminds us that not getting what we want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

What we want isn’t always what we need. It is another one of the mysterious rules for living life that we can miss.   We don’t always get what we want and is the best thing that could happen.  However, we do not grasp this as a fortunate turn of events when it’s happening. In retrospect, we see how a loss is a blessing in disguise.  It may take some time, even years, before you discover it was a stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them.

Be careful with this proposition.  If you break a rule, you need to consider the potential consequences.  There are often unintended ramifications that can act like an avalanche.  The moral dilemma of breaking the rules for the right reasons still has effects and consequences.  To learn regulations thoroughly, delve into the reasons behind them, then weigh their justification against the greater moral good.

As you awaken, you will become aware of social and environmental injustices.   Have the courage to do what you can within your circle of influence.  Listen to the calling of your heart and intuition.  Do not ignore your gut instinct.

Some people say that his philosophy advocates anarchy.  The 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama do not promote lawlessness.  Instead, it supports changing unjust systems.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

Don’t throw away years of a great friendship over a dispute. The more you awaken from the culture’s collective sleep, the more you distance yourself from those still asleep.  So, it’s easy to find conflict with old friends, so consider what battles are deal breakers that end a relationship.

First, assess whether it is a great friendship.  Ask yourself, what is the common thread that brought us together?  Do you still share the common thread?  If the common thread no longer exists, it might not be a great friendship.  But if there is still some tiny thread that connects you, find some way to preserve the relationship.  If the differences of opinion are of high moral value, then if they can not be resolved, ending the relationship may be the right choice.

Another option, instead of ending a strained relationship, is to give it space.  Take a time-out. That way, you can plant seeds while maintaining the relationship. It may require minimizing social media contacts or skirting religious and political topics.  Sometimes it’s possible, sometimes not.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

An apology goes a long way. Don’t let pride or selfishness stop you from repairing a relationship.  We are all human, and we all make mistakes.  Make it a personal best practice to admit and apologize.  Taking responsibility for your actions will go a long way toward building a solid reputation — this is one of the 18 excellent rules for living that pays off immediately.

It takes courage, but the benefits outweigh the risk. This is the best way to repair the relationship, which also increases your self-respect.  See rule 3.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

Don’t overlook the importance of this precept.  Taking even a few minutes to meditate will go a long way toward recharging your mind.  Practice simple mindfulness meditation and exercises. They take very little time, making you more effective and efficient in your daily affairs.

Mindfulness meditation is easy to learn.  You can use it at any time and for any length of time. It’s like restarting your computer or handheld device.  Just a minute of silence will benefit your overall health and wellness.  Remember, your brain is a computer and you reset it now and then to make it operate efficiently.  Rules for living life don’t need to be difficult.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

Being open to change is practical because everything changes.  So, learn the proper coping skills to deal with it.

Embracing change is a necessary ability in a world where the rate of change speeds up.  You need to know the difference between accepting change and your values. It is equally important to understand the difference between cultural and personal values.

Cultural values result from programming via religion and other institutions.  Personal values are internal and part of us all.  Sharing and caring are universal.  If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to someone else.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

We have two ears and one mouth.  So, listen more than you talk.  When you speak, you repeat what you already know.  If you listen, you might learn something new.  In any conflict, silence is one of the best strategies.  It gives you time to think.

Silence can make some people uncomfortable because they are used to filling the space with chatter.  It’s one of the 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama that will help to bring truth to the forefront.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then, when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

Don’t forget rule 7.  We all make mistakes.  Doing the best you can in all situations is all you can do.  Magnify your beautiful memories.  Remember the lessons.

Learn to use your memory as a source of inspiration.  Magnify the good and reduce the negative emotions associated with your memories.  When you do this, you can enjoy the pleasant parts of life.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation of your life.

You may not have grown up in a loving atmosphere.  So, you may not have any practical experience you can model.  Start now.

Create an environment for yourself, which is positive.  Surround yourself with things that make you happy and bring peace. Play your favorite music. Read books. Fill your surroundings with plants. Place memorable decorative objects where you can see them.  Create an altar with things that bring you fond memories and ground you.  If possible, make your entire room or home a sanctuary from the world.  Create a place that is restful and rejuvenating.  The 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama are grounded in peace, which is why you need a sanctuary where you can recharge your batteries.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

See rule 7 again. Holding a grudge only hurts you. Don’t let the past hurt you repeatedly. You can’t change the past.  Learn to focus on what you can change in the present.

14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

Sharing is an integral part of your spiritual growth in our blended learning process. We never know when something we share could inspire positive change in someone’s lifeSharing your knowledge helps others and fulfills your need to serve.

15. Be gentle with the Earth.

We would have put this rule higher on the list since Earth is our only habit.  There isn’t a backup planet. It makes no sense to pollute and destroy it for the short-term gain of making money.  We have a responsibility to be good stewards and consider the environment as the property of every living thing.  Reduce your carbon footprint by recycling.  Please help everyone keep it clean.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been to before.

When it is safe to travel and visit new places, especially new cultures, it can expand your perspective.  It broadens our experiences.  Expose yourself to different cultures, people, and ways of life. Exploring and making memories will become your veritable treasures.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need.

There is a difference between wanting to be with someone and needing to be somebody.  Wanting something implies choosing, while need means a lack of volition.  Needs are often signs of unhealthy compulsions that can never be satisfied.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up to get it.

The wisdom here is not giving up all of your time and energy to have things. Many people are used up and burned out by the corporate culture. They have a lot of new things but are depressed and unhealthy.  Sound familiar? Don’t get caught up in the corporate rat race. Don’t give up your life for objects.


The 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama are one source of insightful guiding principles.  By the way, this isn’t the only source for guiding principles without religion. Check out this link.