The Book of Joy is a conversation between the Dalai Lama (Buddhist) who is exiled in India but continues to be the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Christian) who lives in South Africa and was a crusader against apartheid and worked for justice and reconciliation in that country. Both men are over 80.
Among other things the book enumerates eight pillars of joy. Four are of the mind: perspective, humility, humor and acceptance, and four are of the heart: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity. At the end of the book are a list of joy practices. A couple of practices that I find helpful are (1) stating my intention for the day and (2) recalling three things for which I’m grateful every day.
Stating my intention for the day does’t mean listing my chores, errands and appointments for that day. It could be something like, “Today is will I will be listen and engage with every person I encounter.” Or “Today I will treat everyone with kindness and genuine interest”. “Today I will be less judgmental and critical”.–You can see what I need help with!
At the end of the day it’s helpful to think of at least three things for which you’re thankful. Those things could include a conversation you had, a meal you enjoyed, a sunset you witnessed, a book you read. The list is endless.
Both the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop agree that the joy killer is “self regard”. Focus on self, self interest, selfishness, self promotion, me,me,me attitude is counterproductive. Attaining, achieving, acquiring as a means of finding joy is pointless and ultimately leaves us feeling empty.
A quote from the book at the end of their time together tells us, “the more we turn away from our self-regard to wipe away the tears from the eyes of another, the more–incredibly–we are able to bear, to heal and to transcend our own suffering. This was their true secret to joy.”