The Book Of Joy Book Summary By Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

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The Book of Joy (2016) by authors His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu is an essential guide to living a life free from sadness, suffering and stress.

It offers insight into practical ways to cultivate joy in one's own life as well as in the lives of others.

The book covers topics such as developing emotional resilience, learning how to forgive and let go, selecting relationships wisely, managing emotions effectively and having gratitude for everyday blessings.

Each chapter provides actionable steps that readers can take to explore their own ideas about building joy into their lives while overcoming obstacles they may be facing - be it negative thoughts patterns or communication difficulties - that are preventing them from finding happiness on earth.

The Book Of Joy Book

Book Name: The Book of Joy (Lasting Happiness in a Changing World)

Author(s): Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

Rating: 4.6/5

Reading Time: 21 Minutes

Categories: Motivation & Inspiration

Author Bio

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is one of the most renowned spiritual icons of our age.

He is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and has been the leader of the Tibetan people for over 60 years.

He has devoted his life to advocating compassion and Buddhism, and these two teachings are at the core of all his works including The Book of Joy.

This book brings together two great minds, His Holiness and Archbishop Desmond Tutu for a week-long discussion about how we can bring more joy into our lives.

With their collective wisdom we learn how to develop courage in difficult times, build emotional resilience, find clarity when emotions overwhelm us, and cultivate deeper understanding of each other.

How The Dalai Lama And Archbishop Tutu Can Help You Find Joy, Love, And Acceptance In Life

Dalai Lama

For anyone looking to find true happiness, joy and acceptance in life, the best place to start is with spiritual practice.

The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu outlines the foundation for why embracing spirituality will bring you closer to both loving yourself and others.

The pair explain that suffering is an essential part of life; often it can be our suffering which gives us a clearer perspective on what really matters.

They also teach that living peacefully and forgiving others are pivotal aspects of enjoying life wholeheartedly.

With the teachings within this book, you’ll no doubt gain an understanding of how you can discover genuine joy through your own spirituality.

The Power Of Suffering: How Pain And Discomfort Can Lead To Growth And Compassion

Suffering may not sound like something we’d associate with happiness, but it’s actually a core aspect of life itself.

From the morning traffic jam to the bills that pile up each month, suffering is ever-present in our lives – but only if experienced in a particular way.

Shifting your perspective away from yourself and towards others can help turn suffering into an essential ingredient in developing joy and bliss.

Take motherhood for example; childbirth is a painful experience for all mothers, yet they accept this pain knowing that a beautiful baby awaits them at the end of it.

Without the discomfort of childbirth, our entire species would cease to exist!

Similarly, Nelson Mandela endured 27 years in prison where he was made to break rocks as manual labor – however his hardships paid off as it led him to develop kindness and empathy for his opponents which played an important role in him becoming the first president of free South Africa.

The Buddhist practice lojong encourages one to look beyond their own self and obsessing over whether one is good or bad will ultimately lead to sadness.

This can be seen through the Dalai Lama during an incident where he felt a sharp pain in his stomach before delivering a Buddhist teaching at Bodh Gaya – on his way to the hospital, he witnessed a sick old man who was near death and immediately shifted his focus away from himself to empathize with this person’s agony, thus transmuting his own physical pain into something constructive.

So it’s clear that suffering is difficult but essential part of life – such experiences allow us to appreciate joyful moments even more deeply and find compassion for ourselves and others within them!

Build Mental Immunity By Letting Go Of Fear And Frustration And Learning To Find Joy In Unexpected Circumstances

It is important to remember that, while we are not always in control of life’s obstacles and the suffering they sometimes cause, we can choose how we respond to them.

The Dalai Lama and Peggy Callahan provide a great example: when their flight was canceled, rather than let anger or frustration consume them, they chose to enjoy the journey by exchanging funny stories – illustrating that everyday events don’t have to be sources of suffering if we don’t let them.

Likewise, when Desmond Tutu found himself stuck in a traffic jam during a rush hour, his natural instinct was to get angry or frustrated.

However, he came to realize that moments like these could also be opportunities for prayer and used it as an opportunity for exercise patience and mindfulness instead – breaking free from destructive behavior such as teeth grinding.

The bottom line is this; while we may not always have control over our circumstances, we can always choose our responses.

With insight into your thought process and the right tools at hand (like those discussed in the next section), you can rewire your brain to make healthier choices even in stressful situations.

How Sadness And Compassion Can Unlock Us From The Chains Of Fear And Anger

Fear And Anger

It’s easy to understand why anger arises when expectations are not met – and it can be particularly damaging.

Western society emphasizes achievement, perfection and success – all of which can result in fear when reality does not meet these lofty standards.

Fear then evolves into rage and frustration.

Fortunately, we have hope for overcoming these destructive emotions: compassion for others.

This idea comes from the story of scientist Paul Ekman, who became a “rage-aholic” due to his father’s aggression and mother’s suicide.

But luckily enough, he had an encounter with the Dalai Lama that changed his life forever – through empathy and love, the Dalai Lama dissipated Ekman’s long-held frustrations.

The power of sadness should also not be underestimated either!

Psychological researcher Joseph Forgas conducted a study concluding that low levels of sadness can actually enhance social norms as well as judgement and generosity towards others.

The Dalai Lama himself experienced this firsthand when a beloved teacher passed away; instead of drowning in sorrow, he used the pain to fuel ambition and reach new heights in teaching those most impacted by loss.

Anger stems from frustrated expectations but compassion can help us find our way out – even if it means feeling sadness first in order to open up our hearts once again

It’S Important To Avoid Loneliness And Envy To Stay Healthy And Happy

The feeling of loneliness and how it can damage our health has been long established but envy is a more recent discovery.

Because humans are evolutionarily designed to desire what others have, it can lead us down a path of ill feelings and health problems.

Research conducted at Columbia University shows that when people use the first-person pronouns frequently, they’re much more prone to heart attacks due to isolating themselves from stress relief and interactions with other humans.

Additionally, studies from Frans de Waal suggest that primates tend to have strong reactions of rage when faced with unfairness.

More recently, the Tibetans living in India demonstrate how even sincere desires for fairness in wealth sharing can lead to envy amongst their community members.

Unchecked emotions such as these result in negative repercussions which ultimately manifest into physical ailments like high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems.

It’s important to remain mindful of jealousy by bringing attention to yourself and learning how to open up and trust individuals within your circles – all of which lend itself towards curving loneliness and envy while still promoting fairness amongst peers.

We Appreciate What We Have When We Come Close To Losing It

Cheating death can make all the difference in how we value life and in turn find joy in it.

Through powerful examples, such as South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 and China’s Cultural Revolution, we can see what a near-death experience can do to increase appreciation of freedom, language, and culture respectively.

The Dalai Lama himself found joy after confronting his mortality several times when growing up.

After being diagnosed with various illnesses that were expected to be fatal, he was continually surprised by living to tell the stories of those experiences.

Those life-changing events led him closer to joy than ever before.

In the same way Desmond Tutu learned from coming close to death multiple times during his childhood, we can learn that cheating death brings us one step closer to understanding joy in life.

How To Cultivate Happiness: Unlocking Joy With The Eight Pillars

Cultivate Happiness

Having perspective and humility is essential for developing true joy.

As the Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl exemplified in his powerful book Man’s Search for Meaning, having a different perspective while trapped in Auschwitz concentration camp was necessary to survive.

One example of this is when there was a rumor that liberation would come at Christmas, which gave hope to some inmates—but when this rumor failed to pan out on the day of liberation, these inmates’ sense of hope disappeared and many passed away.

On the other hand, The Dalai Lama also came to understand the importance of perspective and humility in terms of finding joy.

He initially had tremendous anxiety as a young man while giving spiritual teachings since he saw himself as above his audience.

However, once he changed his perspective and viewed himself as an equal among them, his feelings of isolation and loneliness dissipated.

Shifting your point of view from negative to positive emotions can be helpful in cultivating happiness.

Developing perspective and humility can bring you closer to true joy; it boosts self-awareness about not seeing yourself as better than others which lets allow for greater connections with people around you.

Using Humor And Acceptance To Discover Joy In Difficult Situations

Humor, combined with acceptance, can be extremely effective in diffusing tense or stressful situations and helping you to feel more at ease.

Desmond Tutu’s humorous anecdotes during his visit to the warring Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda is a testament to this.

By telling a funny story about two groups of people who were discriminated against based on their nose size, he managed to take an incredibly emotional and intense situation, and break the ice.

It allowed for understanding between opposing parties – a difficult feat to achieve!

Acceptance can also play a pivotal role in instances of tension.

For example, if you have problems getting along with your neighbor you could either criticize them, pretend everything is alright or accept that the relationship may not be how you want it to be.

Accepting a situation as it is may enable forward progress and help lead to feelings of joy as opposed to fear or despair.

Acknowledging And Being Grateful For Our Blessings Can Lead To Lasting Joy

Forgiveness and gratitude are essential steps on the road to joy.

That’s something Anthony Ray Hinton knows first-hand, after spending 30 years wrongfully imprisoned on death row in Alabama.

Rather than letting his anger consume him, he chose to forgive the people who locked him up – a decision which has allowed him to experience peace and joy, even in the face of adversity.

Another example can be seen in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Even when those who had taken her son away asked for forgiveness, one mother still had the courage to forgive them- understanding that revenge could never bring her joy.

It is through practicing gratitude and forgiveness that Anthony Ray Hinton and the South African mother were able to find peace and joy again, a lesson we should all keep in mind.

No matter what life throws at us, we each have the power to choose joy over bitterness by being grateful for what we have, and understanding that true happiness comes from forgiving rather than seeking revenge.

The 7th Pillar Of Joy: Discover The Helper’s High By Practicing Compassion And Spending Time On Others’ Happiness


When it comes to finding joy, one of the most important steps is to be compassionate and think of others.

Evolutionary biology has identified that compassion is a core aspect of human self-interest and this concept can be seen even in six month old children.

A study showed that these small children gravitate towards toys that help others, creating a “helper’s high” and feeling of euphoria due to endorphins being released.

James Doty, founder of the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, found out firsthand how true this was for himself.

Although his lawyers suggested he withdraw all his donations made with money he earned as a medical technology entrepreneur after losing all his wealth due to a stock market crash, he decided otherwise.

He realized money clearly couldn’t buy him happiness, but helping others would create an immense amount of joy and satisfaction.

This is supported by research done by Elizabeth Dunn which revealed people are much happier when they spend their money on others than on themselves.

Therefore it can be said with certainty that being compassionate and thinking of others will grow your happiness infinitely more than if you were only looking out for yourself.

Wrap Up

The Book of Joy is a powerful and thought-provoking book about the journey to true joy.

The authors, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, offer actionable advice for finding joy in life, even when faced with tremendous pain and suffering.

At its core, this book encourages readers to reduce their concern for material things and instead focus on the well-being of others through acts of compassion and generosity.

One key takeaway from The Book of Joy is that you should think about your mortality when meditating.

Consider that all things must come to an end and visualize the process of death to face it with joy instead of fear.

All in all, The Book of Joy is a beautiful reminder that our greatest wealth lies in our shared humanity – if we look nostalgically at our past but hope ultimately for the future, then true joy can be found in every moment.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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