by Sameena Khan
We are all here on this planet searching for something, evolving, waking up. In a world where we are trying to survive everyday struggles, wouldn’t it be wonderful for us to have more joy in our lives as we learn our lessons and gather experiences? How would your life change if you were happier? How would you change?
The Book of Joy helps us to understand how to attain joy and teaches us that we are here to thrive, not just survive. It’s an empowering dialogue between the Dalia Lama and Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of South Africa that underscores the concept that our happiness really does lie within ourselves and that we have the power to create a more blissful reality.
Why read yet another book on Joy?
We’ve heard this before but what sets this dialogue apart from much of the existing literature is not only the content, but also the process in which it is presented. The dynamic between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu is instantaneously uplifting as they use respect, authenticity, and humor to interact with one another and impart their wisdom on such topics as the obstacles and pillars of joy. There is a lightness to the heavy subject matter that helps us, the reader, absorb, process, and hopefully incorporate into our every day lives. Not only do they teach us how to create more joy in our lives, they are living examples of it.
The path from suffering to lasting happiness.
This book illustrates is that we have the power to transform our suffering into joy. It is not easy; it requires going into the wounds and feeling those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, and then shifting our perspective to that of forgiveness, or gratitude, or compassion, or love. One might long for a specific formula, one that is directionally linear where we can check off certain boxes along the way, but it’s a squiggly line as we work through the many layers of feelings and looping thought patterns we’ve internalized since childhood.
That being said, if one is committed to the process of replacing destructive thought patterns with ones that are healthier—ones that focus on things such as compassion or love instead of anger or fear, then you are well on your way. The Dalia Lama and the Archbishop refer to this as Mental Immunity, which doesn’t mean we need to be Tibetan Monks to achieve joy, but it does require shifting our perspective, accepting where we are at, and doing the internal work to get to a place of compassion and gratitude in order to reach a more enlightened state.
Find meaning in the experience.
One way to get through our suffering is to find meaning in our experiences, whether it is heartbreaking grief, a physical illness, past trauma, or everyday stress and frustration. When we are consciously committed to finding the lessons in a given hardship we are more likely to feel as though the pain was worth it, which in turn provides us with a sense of purpose for the suffering. Furthermore, we are more likely to not repeat a harmful pattern of thinking or behaving. In doing so we honor ourselves, the experience, and find the higher perspective for it. We can then work it through, and become more aware should the issue arise once again. And it likely will just to test us on our progress, but according to these two men we are now more equipped to remain in the state of Joy.
Drop into your heart.
The Archbishop goes on to say that joy is a not only a state of mind but a state of the heart as well. The authors highlight compassion as a wonderful way to stay in our hearts. Sometimes humanity can be in so much fear and anger that this leads to a disconnection from one another and ourselves. This is highly destructive to our well-being. Many psychologists posit that disconnection is even the leading cause of addictions. If we tend to focus solely on our own pain and struggles and lose the space to have compassion for others we run the risk of interacting with others in harmful ways. By understanding that we are all connected and that we all experience the spectrum of human emotions and hardships, we can better relate to one another and form more authentic and healing relationships. It is important to note here that having compassion for others and for ourselves and what we are experiencing is very healing, and leads us to a more joyful state of being.
There’s even more.
These are just a few concepts that The Book of Joy asks us to consider. It also highlights the importance of forgiveness, generosity, humility and humor and demonstrates how we can get to make the changes to be in these states of being. The psychological and spiritual content of this book are presented in a, well, joyful way, and one that does not come off as blaming or shaming. or preachy. The dialogue is easy to read and inspires the reader to do the internal exploration or self and make positive changes in our hearts and minds as we learn how to transcend our suffering.
Book Source: Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu & Douglas Carlton Abrams. “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/WDXkbb.l
About the author:
Sameena Khan is a Clinical Psychologist, Writer, Holistic Lifestyle Consultant, and Alchemist. Her intuitive psycho-spiritual work helps others explore and work through their psychological, emotional, physical, and overall energetic blockages in order to live a healthier and more joyful life. You can visit her at HolisticSoulPsychology. Sameena is also a Content Manager at Instaread, a genius app that provides key takeaways and summaries of best-selling books. “Learn something new today!”