Review of 'A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision for Our World'

A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision for Our World by Daniel Goleman

a_force_for_good.jpg This book by Daniel Goleman is based on a series of interviews he had with the Dalai Lama as well as his experience as a psychologist and interest in emotional intelligence. Both of these aspects are critical to the thesis expressed in this book: That we can all be a “force for good”. It is divided into four parts: “A World Citizen”, “Looking Inward”, “Looking Outward”, and “Looking Back, Looking Ahead” with an introduction by the Dalia Lama and a rather extensive “notes” section at the back. Throughout the book there are quotes from the Dalai Lama along with anecdotes from his life to illustrate the points made. Indeed, at the beginning of the book it seems more about the Dalai Lama than about the philosophical core of the book but Goleman quickly settles down to talk about some of the Dalai Lama's thoughts about how we can make the world a better place.

To be a force for good, Goleman first suggests we need to “Look Inwards”, calmly recognizing our emotions and dealing with them in a rational way. Perhaps easier said than done at least taking note of our responses is a good first step. Listening more is a good second step. Once this is done we can move onto seeing how we can be a generally “nice” person as, after all, this is much more natural than not being nice. Nice here is being focused on others, listening to them and being aware of them, rather than focusing on ourselves. The suggestion is that this is the default behaviour of children but as they are exposed to modern society's materialistic leanings they become much more selfish. The call to protect the environment is also very much in evidence here as is the idea of “humane economics” that focus on helping rather than rewarding the wealthy. The last chapters are a familiar call to action with the idea that we should stand up for what is right and that an individual can make a difference while acknowledging that solving the problems of the world will take time but with slow, patient, steps, one at a time, one person at a time, eventually things will change.

I think the most powerful thing about this book is that the ideas are so simple and the discussions are so compelling that you have to wonder how anyone could argue against them. An interesting read that, if anything, perhaps belabours it's points a bit too much but, at the end of the day, hopefully, will help us all to be a “force for good”.

The book has an accompanying web site at

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2024-03-01

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 2015

ISBN: 9781408863497