I’ve read this book several times trying to take in all the wisdom from these two friends. There is so much similarity with what this book is trying to say and what the Law of Attraction teaches – that the ultimate goal is Joy, that gratitude will help us gain a helpful perspective, and that what we think and how we train our mind is imperative to living a better life.
Douglas Abrams says, “The Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama are truly two of the most inclusive figures in the world…their teachings are about transcending our narrow definitions and finding love and compassion for all of humanity. With a wider perspective, we can see our situation and all those involved in a larger context and from a neutral position – we can recognize that our limited perspective is not the truth.”
“Sadly, many of the things that undermine our joy and happiness we create ourselves. Often it comes from negative tendencies of the mind, emotional reactivity, or from our inability to appreciate and utilize the resources that exist within us. The suffering from a natural disaster we cannot control, but the suffering from our daily disasters we can. We create most of our suffering from our daily suffering, so it should be logical that we can also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.”
Joy subsumes happiness. Joy is a far greater thing. Lasting joy – joy as a way of being – is born from deep well-being and benevolence, not just from reacting to what’s happening at the moment. So how can people cultivate that sense of joy as a way of being, and not just a temporary feeling?
A wider and healthy perspective really is the foundation of joy and happiness, because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world. Changing the way we see the world in turn changes the way we feel and the way we act, which changes the world itself. When we recognize others’ suffering and realize that we are not alone, our pain is lessened. I found this to be true when I would sit in an ALS support group meeting and I was consumed with grief about my dying mother, Wanda. In the room were parents who had lost their son to ALS, a father who had ALS and was with his two grown children, and other husbands and wives sitting next to their spouses supporting them through this terminal disease. I left the support group not in tears anymore but in gratitude that I was able to go home and take care of my mom who was living with me and that I was in servitude to my best friend. The archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “The question is not: How do I escape? It is: How can I use this as something positive.” Caring for Wanda was my way of saying, Thank You for taking such good care of me as you raised me.
The Dali Lama says, “Too much self-centered thinking is the source of suffering. A compassionate concern for others’ well being is the source of happiness…a self-centered 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 than foolish selfishness. Foolish selfishness means you just think of yourself, you don’t care about others, bully others, exploit others. In fact, taking care of others, helping others, ultimately is the way to discover your own joy and to have a happy life.”
Three factors seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness:
1) Ability to reframe our situation more positively
2) our ability to experience gratitude
3) and our choice to be kind and generous.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “I mean simply to say that ultimately our greatest joy is when we seek to do good for others…to be a reservoir of joy, an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that can ripple out to all those around you.” This book mentions several times that we cannot bring peace if we do not have inner peace. We cannot hope to make the world a better, happier place if we do not also aspire for this in our own lives. One must develop the mind over time and cultivate mental immunity…our mind is the axle that often determines whether we experience the ride as bumpy or smooth. The book also points out that stress and anxiety often come from too much expectation and too much ambition. What are our priorities? What should we be pursuing? What do we really need? Are we fully present?
In a time where it seems everyone is experiencing political conflict in their lives let us remember that the path of Joy is connection – we cannot see others as separate. When others are a part of us, interdependent, then there is no challenge we cannot face – together. Dahli Lama says, “When you are irritated or angry with someone, you should remember that they are made in the image of God. When you look at the news, we must keep a holistic view. No doubt, there are very negative things, but at the same time there are many more positive things happening….we must have a sense of proportion and a wider perspective. Love thy neighbor as you love yourself…put yourself in the shoes of another.” The book would go on to say that this is one of the biggest challenges that humanity faces: removing the barriers between who we see as “us” and who we see as “other.” How we treat others is ultimately how we treat ourselves.
“So many people,” the Dahli Lama said, “seem to struggle with being kind to themselves. This is really sad. You see, if you don’t have genuine love and kindness towards yourself, how can you extend these to others? We must remind people, as the Archbishop has said, that basic human nature is good, is positive, so this can give us some courage and self-confidence. As we said, too much focus on yourself leads to fear, insecurity, and anxiety. Remember, you are not alone. You are part of a whole generation that is the future of humanity. Then you will get a sense of courage and purpose in life.”
Every day let us work together on the eight pillars of joy: perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity. The Law of Attraction will bring you what you focus on. Focus on these eight pillars and you will have more joy! You can learn more about these two great spiritual leaders at http://www.dalailama.com and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Tutu.