Right from the beginning, it is crucial to harbour no illusion of a swift and easy path. As a spiritual trainee, you must be prepared to endure the hardships involved in a genuine spiritual pursuit and be determined to sustain your effort and will. You must anticipate the multiple obstacles that you are bound to encounter along the path and understand that the key to a successful practice is never to lose your determination. Such a resolute approach is very important.
It is crucial for a spiritual practitioner constantly to examine his or her attitudes and actions. If we examine ourselves every day with mindfulness and mental alertness, checking our thoughts, motivations and their manifestations in external behaviour, a possibility for change and self-improvement can open within us.
Although I myself cannot claim with confidence to have made any remarkable progress over the years, my desire and determination to change and improve is always firm. From early morning until I go to bed, and in all situations of life, I always try to check my motivation and be mindful and present in the moment. Personally, I find this to be very helpful in my own life.
As soon as you wake up in the morning, if you have any interest in spiritual development, you should examine your own mind and try to develop some kind of proper motivation. Then, make a strong pledge, or determination, that in the future, and especially on this day, you will practice proper behaviour and proper ways of thinking. Think that you will help others in the proper ways, and if that is not possible, at least you will refrain from harming them. Then, from time to time during the day, remind yourself of that determination, that motivation.
— His Holiness the Dalai Lama