The Book of Joy is the work of two world spiritual teachers: the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The two spiritual leaders met to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday and, for seven days, talked about life and joy. Specifically, how to find joy in spite of suffering.
- Suffering is inevitable and that’s OK
- We can always choose what things mean to us and how we react to our circumstances
- There are many ways with which we can cultivate joy in our lives, and the authors are the embodiment of that
About the Authors: Lhamo Thondup is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are Tibetan Buddhist monks and are considered among the most important and prominent leaders of the Buddhist religion.
Desmond Tutu is a South African Anglican cleric, formerly Archbishop of Cape Town. He is also known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist.
Suffering Is Part of Life
Suffering is an integral part of life.
Sometimes suffering is inherently connected to joy. Think of birth-giving. Or even think of Nelson Mandela who tempered his spirit in his long years in prison.
Mental State Determines What You Do With Suffering
How you deal with suffering, fear, and frustration depends heavily on how you trained your mind.
If your mental state is weak, suffering will be drawn out for much longer. If you enjoy a healthy mental state, you will be much better poised to recover sooner.
In some situations, you can find joy in spite of the issues that you are facing.
Frustration and fear particularly are not reality but facets of the mind. And you don’t have to let them control your life.
Practice Patience When You Can’t Act
There are some situations you have little control over.
A canceled flight, or a traffic jam.
Those are perfect situations to meditate, pray, enjoy time alone or practice a virtue like patience.
Sadness Can Motivate Us
The authors say that sadness can help people connect better.
Sad people are more willing to share, and it can be used as motivation to achieve ambitious dreams.
Avoid Loneliness With Open Heart
Focusing too heavily on ourselves leads to poor health.
Indeed people who used most often pronouns such as “I”, “me” and “mine” were much more likely to be victims of heart attacks.
The authors say that the antidote to loneliness is to trust others and open yourself up.
Accept Death to Experience Joy
The authors say that the acceptance of death is central to experiencing joy.
The Eight Pillars of Joy
The authors list eight pillars to experience joy:
- Perspective: realize that no moment will last forever and learn to savor the now
- Humility: if you feel you’re better than others you can’t experience joy
- Humor: being able to smile in difficult times can provide you with that break that you need to change direction
- Acceptance: accept life has difficult moments
- Forgiveness: you need to be able to forgive to move on and enjoy life
- Gratitude: you will see gratitude in almost all work on happiness and mental healthy
- Compassionate concern: giving and helping others makes us joyful
Don’t Like the Idea of Being Grateful for What Others Don’t Have
When someone tells me I should be grateful for running water because not everyone has it… I don’t feel too good about it.
It’s as if I was going to feel good about someone else’s misfortune. I know people don’t necessarily mean it that way, but that’s how I feel about it.
Powerful Message of Love and Acceptance
The deep message of love that emanates from this encounter is a beacon of hope and acceptance to the world.
I must be frank: The Book of Joy hasn’t resonated with me as deeply as I hoped.
I am still a guy who’s looking for research, facts, and applicable wisdom. That’s not to say there is none in this book, there is, but not as much as in some other available books on happiness.
Also, admittedly, I meditate but I’m not very spiritual as of now.
However, The Book of Joy isn’t bad.
Most of all of I appreciated the message of this meeting even more than the message coming out of this meeting.
A Buddhist leader meeting a Christian leader. And having a wonderful time together discussing how to empower people.
Now that’s the spirit.