The Book of JOY February 27, 2017Posted 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.”
That’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.
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!