If you could get coaching from anyone in the world about how to create joy in our current stress-filled world, who would you choose?
I’ll give you a moment to think about it….
For me, I think it would be his Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. The man is over 80 years old and has lived through a lot of what we would consider “bad times,” yet still seems to have a child-like appreciation for the wonders of life.
Or perhaps you chose the Reverend Desmond Tutu, the outspoken South African bishop whose activism helped bring an end to apartheid in that country, and who continues to campaign against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other social issues.
If either of these men were on your list, have I got a treat for you!
In 2015, Reverend Tutu traveled to India to spend a week with the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his 80th birthday. They laughed together, prayed together, told each other stories, and had a series of discussions about the nature of joy. “Joy,” said Reverend Tutu, “is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstances, joy is not.” Both men believe that joy is our birthright as human beings, and that it can be our natural state if we cultivate certain qualities of heart and soul and practice some foundational joy practices on a daily basis.
The results of those discussions have recently been publish in a book co-written by these two wise Nobel-peace-prize winners (along with Douglas Abrams). It is entitled simply, The Book of Joy.
I only got the book yesterday, but check back soon for my insights from reading it. It does identify obstacles to joy and what do about them as well as what they consider to be the eight characteristics they call the pillars of joy. It also contains instructions for specific joy practices that the authors do themselves on a daily basis. It even has the information that inspires the Dalai Lama to get out of bed and to meditate, even when he doesn’t want to. (It had never occurred to me that the DALAI LAMA wouldn’t want to meditate! Spiritual masters–they are just like us.)
I’m so excited and filled with gratitude, because for the next week or so, I’m going to end my day by reading a chapter or two of this book on my favorite subject by two of the men I most respect in the world. What a fantastic way to start off my 2017!
And speaking of excitement and gratitude, I have to give a shout out to my son, who turns 18 today (he was born on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s actual birthday, which I think is a pretty auspicious sign). Being his mother has been the greatest source of my bliss for the past 18 years. I give thanks every day for the joy he has brought into my life.
Note: All pictures are from Wikimedia and used under a Creative Commons license