When you think of people who are never involved in doing something positive—offering service for others, having compassion—you can see how their whole life is wasted, and how much they will suffer. Even their future is wasted. If they spent their life pursuing only this life’s happiness, such as being a famous singer, actor, president, or king, in reality, their life is totally wasted. It is without meaning, and there is nothing positive at all in their life.
If you are not able to renounce life one hundred percent, which means to renounce desire and clinging to this life in your daily life, and if you are not able to perform social service (working for others) or practice the lam-rim, then your life has no meaning. Your life is totally empty and wasted. Not only that, but it also becomes negative, and creates all the future sufferings, one after the other. You will have to experience them by yourself. It only comes back to you.
However much peace and happiness there is depends on your attitude. If you have attachment and your main goal is to obtain freedom for yourself, then you are creating negativity all the time, and you are not creating positive emotions, like compassion and loving kindness. If your main goal is desire, attachment, and clinging to this life, and if other sentient beings are not important to you, then that means you are creating more negativity and a more unhappy life. However, if your Dharma practice is to benefit others, then there will be more peace and happiness, even if you are not completely renounced. If others are the most important thing in your life, then you will have happiness. If others come first, in your heart, then there will be so much peace and happiness, and so many less emotional problems.
Basically, it all depends on how much you are able to guard your mind—guard it from attachment, and also from the thought of self-cherishing. How many positive attainments and positive actions you have depends on how much you are able to guard yourself from following these negative thoughts, and how much you keep the mind in a positive attitude. With this, there is a big difference in enjoying your life, even enjoying sex. There is a difference if it is done with the thought of benefiting others, even that one other person that you are with, rather than enjoying just for your own pleasure, just for yourself.
So these two attitudes make an unbelievably huge difference in your life. With one, the sun is shining; with the other it is dark, and obscured. Life is dark because of attachment, and you have a dark, obscured attitude, a negative attitude.
The difference is like sky and earth, like black and white.
Excerpted from Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book
Emotions : Desire & Attachment