In life we are constantly searching; for happiness, knowledge, love, wealth or all of the above. This is the point of life right? Having or finding a purpose.
Then I recieved this book as a birthday gift. “It was just meant for me”, I was told. And to be honest, it’s been the ideal book to end off 2016 and start 2017.
I used to think the ideas mentioned in the book were airy-fairy but more and more scientific evidence is being provided which makes it even harder to not believe…and these are mentioned directly in the book.
It’s a reminder of how interconnected we all are; how we appreciate the good even more when we experience the bad and how Love is all there is. We’ve heard it all before but we don’t really believe it: no amount of money, power, status brings joy.
Until that is, you finally have the power, money, status and yet it isn’t enough…there’s still that one thing missing so you go through life numb because you don’t want to face what must be faced in order for you to live life to its fullest. And this is not only damaging to you but to those around you.
The book? “The Book of Joy” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
For 2017, I hope to understand this more:
Joy. Such a different concept to happiness. You can be joyful even when facing adversity even though you might not be happy about what is happening. How? Compassion, Love, Hope. Even in the toughest of situations there are positives. And remembering that none of us are alone is the most important thing to understand. It’s about developing mental immunity so that we are less susceptible to negativity (different to just trying to ignore it, we accept it and learn from it without letting it affect our mental wellbeing)…”people would like to be able to take a pill that makes their fear and anxiety go away and makes them immediately feel peaceful. This is impossible. One must develop the mind over time and cultivate mental immunity.” pg 84. This is hard to do; like physical exercise; because we need to work on it consistently but if we find the right reasons for ourselves and believe in why this needs to be done, then we will push through. The best things may be free but it’s not easy for good reason. If it was easy to obtain we’d have less appreciation for it.
Compassion. By thinking of others and shifting our focus from ourselves to the other it actually lessens our own pain. As the book states, “We fear compassion because we’re afraid of experiencing the suffering, the vulnerability…one of the differences between empathy and compassion is that while empathy is simply experiencing another’s emotion, compassion is a more empowered state where we want what is best for the person…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.” pg 259. Thus by helping others, we help ourselves; we may not physically see how we end up helping ourselves but we sure do feel it emotionally.
Hope. I loved this idea – “…Hope…is quite different from optimism, which is more superficial and liable to become pessimism when the circumstances change. Hope is something much deeper…based not on the ephemerality of feelings but on the firm ground of conviction.” pg 121/122
Courage. Do not ignore the negative things that happen. “You face the facts, the reality…with courage, when in fact real dangers come, you can be more fearless, more realistic.” pg 168
Love. I always find it difficult to grasp this concept of loving oneself to love others. Especially in a world where we were taught that thinking about the “self” is a selfish idea. However it is “hard to love others as you love yourself, if you don’t love yourself.” If we look past the superficial level and truly have self-acceptance then self love and loving others becomes one and the same. It means that everything you do needs to come from this place of compassion – even hard messages will be easier to give because destroying our own souls does not protect others. It does more damage in the long run to them and to ourselves. Always be true and…remember, “a self-centred attitude is the source of the problem. We have to take care of ourselves without selfishly taking care of ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot survive. We need to do that. We should have wise selfishness rather than foolish selfishness.” pg 47-48
So for the year, 2017, I hope to Pause more:
Pause before responding from a place of anger.
Pause to appreciate the good when caught in a bad situation. Pause to feel the Love at all times.
Pause because life is short and there’s a need to appreciate every moment.
“We people who care must be attractive, must be filled with joy, so that others recognize that caring, that helping and being generous are not a burden, they are a joy. Give the world your love, your service, your healing, but you can also give it your joy. This, too, is a great gift.” pg 274.