Phew. I’m just back from a wonderful week in Stockholm visiting my dear daughter, Grace, who’s studying at the Stockholm School of Economics this semester.
It’s a long trip from Washington, DC to Stockholm – almost nine hours by air – so I loaded my Kindle with a couple of books and a Great Courses program on Herodotus (which seemed really appealing when I bought it…).
The book I devoured on the plane and while Grace was in class was the new book by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness In A Changing World.
If you haven’t read this one yet, put it on your list. You won’t regret it.
The idea is simple – put these two spiritual leaders in a room for a week and have them talk about joy. What is it? What gets between humans and joy? What can we do to get more joy in our lives? Writer Douglas Abrams asked the questions and compiled the answers into an engaging and provoking book. I highlighted so many wonderful passages I nearly wore out my index finger. Here are a couple that might resonate for you:
“‘We are meant to live in joy,’ the Archbishop explained. ‘This does not mean that life will be easy or painless. It means that we can turn our faces to the wind and accept that this is the storm we must pass through.'”
“As the Dalai Lama has described it, if we see a person who is being crushed by a rock, the goal is not to get under the rock and feel what they are feeling; it is to help to remove the rock.”
“The only thing that will bring happiness is affection and warmheartedness.”
“If you have genuine kindess or compassion, then when someone gets something or has more success you are able to rejoice in their good fortune.”
“Deep down we grow in kindness when our kindness is tested.”
“God uses each of us in our own way, and even if you are not the best one, you may be the one who is needed or the one who is there.”
And, “When we accept what is happening now, we can be curious about what might happen next.”
My trip to Stockholm was pure joy, my friends. Being with my daughter, seeing the city through her eyes, learning about a new culture – it was a delight of discovery and connection. And with the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and The Dalai Lama frontmost in my mind, I was open to the light of joyfulness that was right there for me.
Which is precisely what these two Nobel Peace Prize winners – and dear friends to each other – are teaching through their new book.
Joy is found by being present where you are. By coming to terms with how life is. By showing kindness and compassion. By being open to other perspectives, and to changing your own mind.
They say, “True joy is a way of being, not a fleeting emotion.” To which I say, “Yes. Wholeheartedly, unreservedly, yes.”
If you worry that your life has too little joy, read this book.
If you can’t figure out how to be more joyful, read this book.
If you fret that our world is becoming a joyless place, read this book.
If you want to change your way of being to become more joyful, read this book.
If you want to nourish your soul, well, you will find a soulfeast when you read this book.