Your Quotidien of Joy… from two Pillars of Wisdom.
How to love yourself, how to spot your Mojo or simply how to find your Joy … in a difficult world.
The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu got together and focused on spending quality time for more than a week together in order to solve the problem of lack of joy, and thus chose to focus on the issue of attaining joy in a sorrowful world…
They sequesterd themselves and spoke candidly as friends, as colleagues and as spiritual elders…
And this is what they discovered and wished to share with the world, as a way of uplifting all of us out of the doldrums of our Existence:
LOVE IS ALL
“For every event in life,” says the Dalai Lama, “there are many different angles.” There is, perhaps, no greater route to joy than this. Taking a “God’s-eye perspective,” as Archbishop Tutu says, allows for the birth of empathy—the trait that creates joy not only in the one, but in the many.
Empathy opens the door to togetherness, and keeps us from building walls around our individual selves—walls that keep out so many potential friends and allies.
Realizing and accepting the validity of different perspectives turns “I” into “we”. The anger and frustration that comes of living a life of “I,” makes sustained joy nearly impossible. Humans are social creatures in an interconnected world—there is no escaping our fellows.
Opening up to the lives and perspectives of others, and being willing to experience their suffering and hardships, reminds us that we, too, are not alone in our own difficulties. In nurturing perspective and allowing ourselves to see the world in a larger way, we open up the door for joy to come into our lives, and for us to open up that door for others unlike ourselves.”
Tutu and Dalai Lama
In 2015, Archbishop Desmond Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate the latter’s 80th birthday, and to engage in one of the most important of conversations: how can we find joy, despite the suffering that is intrinsically bound to life?
These two Nobel prize winners—one, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, the other, the leading spokesperson for the rights of black South Africans who drew national attention to the horrors of apartheid—spent a week together, simply conversing, trading stories, and attending to the issue of finding joy in the context of our contemporary world.
Finding truth in many different fields, from psychology to theology to their own storied personal experiences, these two men agreed on a set of positive qualities that can help people experience joy not as a fleeting emotion, but as an enduring part of their lives.
You can now almost listen in on their conversations, and find out what perspectives of wisdom and which personality traits as well as what mindsets we all ought to cultivate within our own hearts and minds by learning these 8 pillars of joy that will lead us towards the path of true happiness…
“For every event in life,” says the Dali Lama, “there are many different angles.”
There is, perhaps, no greater route to joy than this. Taking a “God’s-eye perspective,” as Archbishop Tutu says, allows for the birth of empathy—the trait that creates joy not only in the one, but in the many. Empathy opens the door to togetherness, and keeps us from building walls around our individual selves—walls that keep out so many potential friends and allies.
Realizing and accepting the validity of different perspectives turns “I” in to “we”. The anger and frustration that comes of living a life of “I,” makes sustained joy nearly impossible. Humans are social creatures in an interconnected world, and therefore, there is no escaping our fellow human beings if we are to be happy…
Opening up to the lives and perspectives of others, and being willing to experience their suffering and hardships, reminds us that we, too, are not alone in our own difficulties. In nurturing perspective and allowing ourselves to see the world in a larger way, we open up the door for joy to come into our lives, and for us to open up that door for others unlike ourselves…
people woman thinking BW
The Dalai Lama speaks of a Tibetan prayer that goes something like this:
“Whenever I see someone, may I never feel superior.”
This is the second pillar of joy.
Considering yourself greater than your fellows only serves to rob you of happiness. It separates you, makes you feel as if you must act a certain way, forces you to strive ever harder to maintain this air of superiority. Both the Dali Lama and Archbishop Tutu feel the same: why bother? They want to be able to truly appreciate the people around them as equals.
When we foster humility within ourselves, we find it easier to be open to the opinions of others, and to realize our own limitations. Without being open in this way, learning and growth stop, both of which are components of a happy life.
Many people confuse humility with timidity, but these two qualities are very different. While timidity is rooted in fear, humility merely means remembering that others are as valuable and wonderfully made as you are.
Allow yourself to be connected with others through humility, and you’ll discover one of the essential pillars of joy.
Friend sticking out tongue
The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu seem to be as much invested in humor, comedy and compassionate merriment, as two venerable spiritual leaders can ever be.
Their humility paves the way for another pillar of joy: humor. Both men have the special ability to laugh, not only at life’s troubles, but at themselves and their very human foibles. They don’t take themselves so seriously that they cannot do this.
Humor that does not mock or belittle brings us closer together, and can diffuse tense situations. Humor shows us our shared ridiculousness—according to Archbishop Tutu, “we then get to see our common humanity in many ways.” Like humility and perspective, humor helps us coexist peacefully with others.
Not only this, but studies on humor are beginning to show that laughter boosts the immune system, relaxes the body, and protects the heart by lowering stress hormones which cause destructive inflammation.
Remember—laughter is a respite from pain, and the ability to find humor in any situation helps us maintain the joy that so many of us crave in life.
As the Dalai Lama says, “Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied?”
Acceptance is “the ability to accept our life in all its pain, imperfection, and beauty, according to Abrams.” It is not resignation. It is not defeat. It is accepting that we must necessarily pass through the storm. It is facing suffering and asking the question, “How can we use this as something positive?”
Acceptance allows us to engage life on its own terms rather than wishing, in vain, that things were different. It enables us to change and adapt, rather than becoming mired in denial, despair, and anxiety.
One of the central practices of Buddhism, one that we can all learn from, is aimed at seeing life accurately, at cutting through our webs of pre-suppositions, expectations, and distortions. When we accept reality, we are better able to see it accurately, and to respond to it in appropriate ways.
And if things don’t go well for us? We can accept that, too, and move on with our lives. This is essential for joy.
people holding hands
Once we attain acceptance of the present, we can release our desire to change the past, as well, through forgiveness.
Holding on to grievances is our way of wishing the past could be different. When he hang on to those negative emotions, that anger and grief and the desire for vengeance, we only hurt ourselves. And if we use those emotions to strike back and cause harm, we only invite a cycle of retribution.
Forgiveness does not mean that we forget. “Not reacting with negativity, or giving in to the negative emotions, does not mean that you do not respond to the acts or that you allow yourself to be harmed again,” says the Dalai Lama. Justice should still be sought, and the perpetrator, punished. Justice can be served without anger, without hatred, and once it is served, we must let go.
Until we forgive a person that has wronged us, we allow that person to hold power over us—they effectively control our emotions. Forgiveness allows past hurts to recede into the distance, where they stop becoming an impediment to a joyful life.
Gratitude is fundamental to joy. It, quite literally, allows us to generate our own happiness.
“Gratitude,” writes Abrams, “is the recognition of all that holds us in the web of life and all that has made it possible to have the life that we have and the moment that we are experiencing.” It allows us to shift our focus from what we lack to what we have. If acceptance is not fighting reality, gratitude means embracing it, counting blessings rather than burdens.
Our minds have a naturally negative bias—after all, being able to point out what is wrong or dangerous is advantageous to survival. But we need to be conscious of this, and purposeful in our gratitude. Our time on Earth is limited. Why waste it by miring ourselves in negativity?
Gratitude also connects us to others. When we are truly grateful, we remember all of those who help make our happiness possible, who bring goodness into our lives. We, then, are able to recognize those people, and enjoy them and their differences.
In this way, we can be made joyful by the world and people around us, instead of finding ourselves filled with anger and despair.
A saying that is often attributed to the Buddha explains compassion well: “What is that one thing, which when you possess, you have all other virtues? It is compassion.”
Compassion is a sense of concern that arises when we see others suffer, and wish to see that suffering relieved. It is the bridge between empathy and kindness.
A large part of being compassionate is realizing our shared humanity. We are social beings, and depend upon one another. When we are compassionate toward others, and they, toward us, the world is a better place.
The Dalai Lama puts it well when he says that, “when we think of alleviating other people’s suffering, our own suffering is reduced. This is the true secret to happiness.”
Compassion should be extended to the self, as well. Contemporary culture measures us constantly, evaluates and judges us based on our achievements. Self-loathing often results when we fail to live up to these expectations, which we internalize. But we must learn to be compassionate toward ourselves, and to recognize our own humanity and needs. To be kind to yourself is an important part of this pillar of joy.
Finally, there is generosity—the eighth pillar of joy.
Giving to others does not truly subtract from ourselves, but adds to us. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn and her colleagues have found that “money can buy happiness, if we spend it on other people.” People who give experience greater long-term life satisfaction, whether that giving is large or small.
There’s a reason why nearly every major religion embraces charity, and why our bodies respond positively to the virtue of generosity. We are complimentary beings in a competitive world. We’re not meant to be so constantly set in opposition to one another. And so when we give to one another and engage others in a spirit of generosity, we thrive.
We can see this in how we regard others. Who are the figures whose names ring out across history, and are still spoken today with love and admiration? Mostly, they’re the names of people who were the most generous, the most caring and compassionate. People look up to men like Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama for a reason—they promote harmony.
Strive to attain a generous spirit, made possible by acknowledging that you are merely a steward of your wealth, possessions, and power—you’ll soon find your joy.
Joy From Community
people group gathering
We see a theme emerge from these pillars—joy comes from togetherness, from realizing that we are all a part of the human community.
No one can exist in isolation.
No one can be happy in isolation, much less find their joy.
No one can because true joy comes from participating in the human story in a positive way, becoming aware of reality, having compassion for others, and acting on that compassion through generosity.
Simple as that.
True to form, humans always and forever knew that real togetherness is the true nature of joy — yet we tend to forget that and our division and upsets with each other — end up hurting us more than the dinosaurs that are always on the periphery of the visual memory of early humans… and of our direct stress responses when the family tribe was confronted by the T-Rex or the rest of the huge man eating Sauropods and all the rest of the Dinosaurs along the regular predators of the early humans living in tight communal caves and relying on family fires to keep predators at bay over the long fearful nights of the past that caused the prevailing human response to stress being the same today as in the distant past — the automatic parasympathetic neurological response of Fight, Fly or Freeze.
And this is the root cause of Trauma that today bedevils most all of us and it results on the huge numbers of suicides that people experience — especially during this last year of pandemic Covid lockdowns and involuntary isolation of each one of us that has caused us to be afraid of our own fellow human beings, immediate community and even family & neighbors.
To repair that damage done — we need strong doses of therapy and that is what community, friendships and family represent, for each and everyone of us.
And that is the only surefire way to regain our Joy…. in togetherness, in love, and in community.
And it is because we have evolved far from that, and thus forgot that this is our daily allowance and modicul of existence — we tend to forget that it is in-community with others, where we find comfort now, same as we did in the earliest days of our Existence when we were threatened by the big beastly predators that would eat us up for breakfast lunch or dinner and any other time in between, since the T-Rex of yore was not a picky eater as far as time of day was concerned…
So best we get some small rations of Joy, in the moments-in-between before eating humans comes back in vogue now that tribalism, civil war and cannibalism have started to be fashionable all over again…
All levity and humor aside this is my way of recommending to you that you can find your Quotidien of JOY in the here and now by allowing your Life and your Pursuits to rest upon these Pillars of Wisdom and thus construct the roof of your existence under this protective awning.
Your Quotidien of Joy… from two Pillars of Wisdom.