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The Book of JOY February 27, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

I just finished reading The Book of JOY:  Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.

Written by Douglas Abrams, it chronicles a week-long visit between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in April 2015.  The visit centered on discussions about how to find Joy in the midst of obstacles like fear, stress, anger, grief, illness and death.

“Together they explored how we can transform joy from an ephemeral state into an enduring trait, from a fleeting feeling into a lasting way of being.”

In a brief introduction to the topic, these two compassionate leaders emphasize that Joy is an inside job:

“Lasting happiness cannot be found in pursuit of any goal or achievement.  It does not reside in fortune or fame.  It resides only in the human mind and heart, and it is here that we hope you will find it.”

Joy is never in things . . . it is in us.

Likewise, many of the obstacles to joy and happiness are also manifested from within -> obstacles like fear, anxiety, grief, anger, frustration come from “negative tendencies of the mind, emotional reactivity, or from our inability to appreciate and utilize the resources that exist within us.”

We can increase the Joy that surfaces and circulates in our lives by the perspective that we bring to the table.  In fact, perspective is the first of Eight Pillars of Joy which form the foundation of a joyful and happy life:

Perspective ~ How we relate to the issue IS the issue.  By way of example, the Dalai Lama’s exile from Tibet was (in his words) “an opportunity” which provided him with “wider contact and new relationships, less formality and more freedom to discover the world and learn from others.”

Humility ~ Stop taking selfies.  Enough said.  😀

Humor ~ Laughter is a great pain reliever, a de-stressor, and an ice breaker. We do not laugh because we are happy.  We are happy because we laugh.

Acceptance ~ When we accept the “what is,” we stop adding to our suffering by battling with things we cannot change or jousting with imaginings. Acceptance is “the sword that cuts through resistance, allowing us to relax, to see clearly, and to respond appropriately.”

Forgiveness ~ Failure to forgive is akin to watching stale reruns in a furious effort to hang onto feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment.  As a result, we remained trapped by the past and tethered to the person who harmed us. Forgiving the person who harmed us allows us to reclaim the keys to our happiness.

Gratitude ~ “Gratitude helps us catalog, celebrate, and rejoice in each day and each moment before they slip through the vanishing hourglass of experience.” Gratitude magnifies drops of joy.

Compassion ~ When we are kind and compassionate, we experience more joy.  “Even ten minutes of meditation on the well-being of others can help one to feel joyful for the whole day.”

Generosity ~ When we are generous with our time and talents, we experience more joy.  “Giving joy to others is the fastest way to experience joy ourselves.”

No big surprises there, eh?

The book concludes with Joy Practices . . . “Overcoming the Obstacles to Joy” and “Cultivating the Eight Pillars of Joy.”

Tigger-BouncingThat’s right . . . just like the pianist who wants to get to Carnegie Hall, we’ve got to practice!

If we’ve spent a lifetime looking at events through the clouded lens of past experience (relying on habitual attitudes, stale judgments, and outdated opinions) rather than seeing the present moment as it is, that’s not going to change overnight.

If we wish to change our perspective and begin to view the world with alert curiosity and acceptance, then we will need to practice.

Enlightenment is rarely attained by those seeking instant gratification.

That’s OK.  We have a lifetime to get it right.  (More than a lifetime if we plan on reincarnating.)

And in the meantime . . . there’s cake!

During the week these two mischievous men spent together, they celebrated the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday at the Tibetan Children’s Village.

With cake.

Although the cake did not provide lasting happiness, it did offer up some tasty ephemeral satisfaction to the attendees.

And that ain’t peanuts!

Aah . . . that’s better!






1. Jill Weatherholt - February 27, 2017

I’ve got this book loaded on my Kindle. I’m really looking forward to reading it. As for selfies….I just don’t get it.

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

The book is a quick, easy, and calming read ~ great for right before bed.

I found it a bit repetitive in places. Either the main players repeat themselves a lot (using the same examples) . . . or the author inserted their paraphrased comments in multiple chapters for emphasis. And, of course, some repetitiveness is to be expected given the overlap in the 8 Pillars ~> Acceptance and Perspective go hand in hand, as do Compassion and Generosity.

Enjoy the Book of Joy!

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

As for selfies ~> Silly Monkeys!
Or chimps (see above). 😉

2. Ally Bean - February 27, 2017

The book sounds like it’s fascinating. I could use a refresher course in how to be joyful. Once upon a time it seemed so natural, but now it takes more effort. I don’t know if it’s the political climate or my age in life, but joy is more elusive than before– and people around me seem to resent the existence of it. Whine, whine, whine…

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

Yes! Some people do seem annoyed when we focus on “Less Stress, More Joy.” Next time you’re surrounded by a bunch of whiners ~> ROAR!


Ally Bean - February 27, 2017

That’s a wonderful story you wrote there. I can understand why you left the lecture on your broom– in essence the lecture was false advertising! Overall I stay away from the Negative Nellies and Neds, but I can feel their sense of disapproval when I refuse to tip toe down the Whiny Garden Path with them.

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

I’m sure it would have been a different story if the speaker had showed up, but still . . .

Everyone in the room jumped on the opportunity to abandon the topic of joy and hop on the whine, moan, groan, and gripe Express. Choo! Choo!

Negative Nellie doesn’t like it when we say, “I don’t care to discuss that right now. It’s too negative.” 😀

3. Morgan - February 27, 2017

sounds like a fantastic book. I’ll have to add it to my TBRList. Thank you for sharing it 🙂

nrhatch - February 27, 2017


4. L. Marie - February 27, 2017

Ah! This is the book you were talking about! Great list of pillars.
That cake looks good!

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

Yes. This is the book. Not my favorite book by the Dalai Lama, but a good refresher and lots of great practices in the back.

We enJOYed that cake at Stonewood Grill.

5. DaybyDay - February 27, 2017

Reblogged this on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness and commented:
Reposting to keep me focused on these 8 Pillars of Joy! Love your insight.

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

Thanks! Good luck allowing Joy to surface in your life.

6. Tiny - February 27, 2017

I agree – joy is definitely in us and not in things we have. More joy can fit in when we have less…but some cake is always welcome 🙂

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

Exactly! A steady diet of cake-cake-cake would not make us happy for long . . . but as an exclamation point, it’s great.

7. colonialist - February 27, 2017

I knew a lady who had worked closely with Tutu for a while, and she could not sing his praises enough. According to her he really did make daily work a joyful occasion, and she found everything about him admirable.
The humility kick is something I have never been too sure about. Self-doubt is a negative thing, So is put-on humility like that of Uriah Heep.
On the other side of the scale, constant boasting is unpleasant and highly irritating. However, being proud of what one is and has been able to achieve, and being prepared to show that you are, is surely the right way to go?

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

I agree with you about humility . . . and so do they.

For the Dalai Lama, “humility” is about recognizing your common “humanity” (same root) with the other 7 billion residents of the planet. It’s about treating others the way you want to be treated (with kindness and generosity, not condescension) without walking around like some “high-mucky-muck” who is entitled to preferential treatment. Through humility, we gain compassion for the beggar in the street who may not have been offered the same opportunities that we have had.

For Desmond Tutu, humility is about realizing that our gifts come from a divine source ~ we SHOULD use them and NOT hide them under a bushel basket BUT we should also remember to give credit to “the Almighty” for those gifts.

And both emphasized that humility is also recognizing how interwoven our lives are with others. When we eat food ~ it may have been planted by Person A, harvested by Person B, transported by Person C, sold by Person D, etc. So that everything we enjoy in life stems from others.

colonialist - February 28, 2017

Makes a good deal of sense!

nrhatch - February 28, 2017

I agree. Now . . . go SHINE!

8. diannegray - February 27, 2017

I don’t get the selfies thing either Nancy 😉 This sounds like a wonderful book with some awesome and insightful messages xxx

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

It’s a very pleasant, fun, and upbeat read . . . it made me wish that I could have been a fly on the wall that week as they teased each other and enjoyed each other’s company and compassion.

diannegray - February 27, 2017

Oh yes – now there are two people I would definitely invite to dinner 🙂

nrhatch - February 27, 2017

If they accept, Desmond Tutu enjoys wine. The Dalai Lama doesn’t drink alcohol. But . . . they both enjoy DESSERT!

9. Bun Karyudo - February 28, 2017

What a great meeting of minds that must have been. I’ve always had a lot of respect for both of them. Just to prove it, I’ll now stop taking selfies.

nrhatch - February 28, 2017

Haha! I wonder what your selfies look like . . . with that demure paper bag masking your expressions.

Bun Karyudo - February 28, 2017

My selfies always catch my paper bag from the best side (the outside).

nrhatch - March 1, 2017

It’s a good look!

10. Debra - February 28, 2017

I think I would really enjoy this book. I have great respect for both men and think they are fine examples! I do think cultivating joy and happiness is directly tied to practice. And cake would at the very least be a good mood elevator. 🙂

nrhatch - March 1, 2017

It’s a pleasant, calm, and soothing read . . . perfect at bedtime.

And, yes! If we want more joyful neural pathways, it’s up to us to create them with Practice.

11. livelytwist - March 1, 2017

Many fine nuggets in this lovely piece. Here’s what I’m taking with me: gratitude magnifies drops of joy. I believe it and I like the beautiful way it’s expressed. 🙂

nrhatch - March 1, 2017

Thanks, Timi. Focusing on the GOOD in our lives is a wonderful practice . . . and a lovely way to drift off to sleep.

12. anotherday2paradise - March 1, 2017

Sounds like a marvellous handbook, Nancy. Selfies are for the self-absorbed. 🙂

nrhatch - March 1, 2017

We were at Hollywood Studios today and watched a stage show of Beauty & The Beast ~ Gaston preened around the stage, absorbed in his own good looks.

I kept waiting for him to whip out a smart phone and take a selfie! 😀

13. Behind the Story - March 2, 2017

This is a beautiful post, Nancy. Each one of the eight Pillars of Joy is certainly worth meditating on. My sister and I were talking today about the current tendency of some people to feel like a victim. In contrast, I like the Dalai Lama’s perspective on his exile. When things don’t go our way, acceptance, humor, forgiveness and gratitude are a whole lot better than falling into an attitude of victim-hood. For the next forty days, I observe the season of Lent, a time during which compassion for the poor is especially important.

nrhatch - March 2, 2017

Yes. Each pillar provides us with firmer footing ~ we know better what to do and how to act and react. That “knowingness” is calming and less anxiety producing.

And in the midst of the calm, joy often surfaces of its own accord.

14. roughwighting - March 3, 2017

THANK you for sharing this book with us! I’m going to get it – and as a ‘real book, ‘not a Kindle, because I want to display it on my coffee table so all guests can pick it up and find a bon mot that may help them leave my house more joyful. Your review and addition of joyful “points” is wonderful. ❤

nrhatch - March 3, 2017

Good plan! It’s a very relaxing recap of their visit together, with tips, techniques, and practice pointers. Enjoy spreading JOY!

15. thehappychickfindingmyhappy - May 17, 2017

Thanks I was wanting to read this book. Now it is on my must read list. I had picked it up in the bookstore and put it down.

nrhatch - May 17, 2017


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