Friday, March 3, 2017

Creating Joy

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

It may sound like a joke what type of a book does a Buddhist, Christian, and a Jew write? Yet, I was more than touched, awed, and challenged when reading, The Book of Joy. There is so much to say about this book and I wish I could touch on the beautiful feelings that this book creates! 

Two spiritual giants. Five days. One timeless question!"


Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.

In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama's home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness's eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life's inevitable suffering?

They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy.

This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecedented week together, from the first embrace to the final good-bye.

We get to listen as they explore the Nature of True Joy and confront each of the Obstacles of Joy—from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science. Finally, they share their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives.

The Archbishop has never claimed sainthood, and the Dalai Lama considers himself a simple monk. In this unique collaboration, they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in our own lives.”

Imagine two very different people both with unique stories of healing, suffering, and joy becoming best friends. Then against all odds and forces have the opportunity to come together and share some time with one another. The Dalia Lama and Archbishop Tutu could have easily enjoyed this opportunity to embrace the moment with only each other. However, they give to others because their message is one to share so that others may understand the true meaning of joy.

This book is an amazing example what joy is and how you can cultivate, and have it no matter what you are facing!

I was impressed with the ability of Douglas Abrams to translate, convey, and create for the reader a window into the experience of this meeting. Moreover, the playful teasing and energetic friendship that The Dalia Lama and Desmond Tutu have. We are so connected to each other and each have a special purpose in life to manifest a joyful life presence. Yet, we all can become slaves to our own suffering. This does not have to be. As these spiritual leaders convey, we each have an opportunity to expand from our limits and reach out to others who are also hurting, living, and want joy. This book teaches how to live joyfully and not become confused with desires. I appreciate the honest and simple explanations to take on any difficulty and turn it into joy. 

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My favorite line was, We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.”

This is so true, how often does one seek out to see what others are doing and compare it to our own life.  When I was on Facebook over a year ago, I would read and look at those post of people that I was hurt by or had broken trust with. Afterwards, I would be miserable. Now, if I didn’t look then I would not suffer. Since I have stopped Facebook and this coping skill to protect myself, I am so much more at peace. So how can you be joyful when you are hurt by others? First you seek to look at their situation. By understanding their suffering and having compassion, it is difficult to have bitterness or hate. Truth is we all suffer. 

I also liked this quote. 

“When you are grateful,' Brother Steindl-Rast explained, 'you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people and respectful to all people. The grateful world is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people. A grateful world is a happy world.”

No matter what our situation is, we have so much to be grateful for! Some might find this book to be a spiritual example of faith. I disagree. This book is about humanity and expanding the world to be filled with love and joy.  I laughed and cried while reading this book. I was filled with an incredible warmth even when reading the goodbye between The Dalia Lama and Desmond Tutu. Imagine having so much joy and love that when we say our final goodbye, we see the face of those that love us and hold us in their heart and soul. I give The Book of Joy my highest recommendation! I will read this book again and purchase it as a gift for others! 

PS.... Yes, I broke my 2017 goal of not purchasing any books until I have caught up! Oh and many of my closest friends will be receiving this book as a gift from me! After all, Joy is for spreading!


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