5 Teachings to Nurture Happiness from Thich Nhat Hanh

Copyright: Robert Felker

Thich Nhat Hanh is an expatriate Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, and peace activist revered around the world for his pioneering teachings on mindfulness, global ethics and peace.

In the 1960s, he advocated for peace during the Vietnam war, created organisations (The Order of Interbeing), became friend with the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr., was exiled from Vietnam, started a slam community called Plum Village in France which grew into a worldwide movement, wrote over 100 books and became one of the most well-known Buddhist monks in the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh is considered the father of “engaged Buddhism,” a movement linking mindfulness practise with social action. He offers a practice of mindfulness adapted to Western sensibilities and has provided us with a version of the Five Precepts (common to all Buddhist traditions) called the Five Mindfulness Trainings, that is a list of ethical guidelines (not commandments) to bring true happiness into our lives.


The Five Mindfulness Trainings

In his book entitled “For a Future to be Possible”, Thich Nhat Hanh describes in detail how the Five Mindfulness Trainings can be used by anyone in today’s world to create a more harmonious and peaceful life.

1. Reverence for life

Be committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to respect the lives of people, animals and plants. To reject violence, anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, try to promote openness and non-discrimination.

2. True happiness

A good way to contrast the suffering caused by social injustice and oppression is practising generosity in thinking, speaking, and acting. True happiness depends on our mental attitude and it is only possible with understanding and compassion. Find happiness in what we have in the present moment.

3. True love

The four basics of true love are kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness. We must cultivate them by taking care of our body and energy.

4. Loving speech and deep listening

Loving speech and compassionate listening are great tools to promote reconciliation and peace in ourselves and among other people. Always speak truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope.

5. Nourishment and healing

Good physical and mental health can be achieved by practising mindful eating, drinking, and consuming in general. Come back to the present moment to be in touch with the healing and nourishing elements in and around us.