I just wanted to share some more information with you that you might like. As many of you know I have been doing a fair amount of research lately on life, consciousness, and things that might be considered more spiritual or metaphysical in nature (I've read that epilepsy does that to some people :) . What I have learned in the last year or so has just fascinated me enough to want to share it with others.
Since I come from an academic background, I have been approaching it all with some hesitation and skepticism, but have been pleasantly surprised at the consistency and coherence I am finding along the way (among scientific discoveries and a variety of spiritual philosophies). There obviously has not been such a major breakthrough that all of the skeptics have to agree, but I think there is always a way to find fault even with truth if you want to badly enough.
The conclusion I've come to so far is that it really doesn't matter if you believe what any of the major religions have said for hundreds of years. What does seem to be clear is that being a good person and taking responsibility for your actions leads to good things. Learning to be compassionate is a fundamental part of it all, no matter what your faith or scientific background, and is said to lead to happiness in your life if it's actively pursued. It also seems to be highly contagious which could have far reaching implications.
The problem is that it's not easy to be kind and compassionate to everyone we know, especially if they are not kind to us. This is where certain ideas come into play to help us out. For example, the quotes below summarize a great deal without going into much detail, but can also serve as potential building blocks to structuring a happier more peaceful existence. There's a lot more information out there that supports these ideas, as well as specific tools for fostering happiness (not all of which are reliant on the common theme illustrated below).
"Internal peace is an essential first step to achieving peace in the world. How do you cultivate it? It's very simple. In the first place by realizing clearly that all mankind is one, that human beings in every country are members of one and the same family."
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
"All mystics, sages, and saints have come to the conclusion that we are all one. The implications of this are profound and far reaching. Now we find that science (quantum physics) also is claiming the same thing - that we are all (at the quantum level) simply energy." - Christopher Westra
"Everything is an aspect of this infinite intelligence, every person, every animal, every tree, every star and every planet, and every micro-organism, however small, is ultimately an equal aspect of the very same energy. There is no separatedness except as an illusion created by the ego and five physical senses; we and the Universe without exception are one." - Adrian Cooper