Review: “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams

Author: Dalai Lama XIVDesmond TutuDouglas Carlton Abrams
Publication Date: October 18th, 2016
Genre: Nonfiction, Spirituality, Self-help, Philosophy, Religion
Format: Hardcover
Find it on: Goodreads, Book Depository


Two great spiritual masters share their own hard-won wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity.

The occasion was a big birthday. And it inspired two close friends to get together in Dharamsala for a talk about something very important to them. The friends were His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The subject was joy. Both winners of the Nobel Prize, both great spiritual masters and moral leaders of our time, they are also known for being among the most infectiously happy people on the planet.

From the beginning the book was envisioned as a three-layer birthday cake: their own stories and teachings about joy, the most recent findings in the science of deep happiness, and the daily practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives. Both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu have been tested by great personal and national adversity, and here they share their personal stories of struggle and renewal. Now that they are both in their eighties, they especially want to spread the core message that to have joy yourself, you must bring joy to others.

Most of all, during that landmark week in Dharamsala, they demonstrated by their own exuberance, compassion, and humor how joy can be transformed from a fleeting emotion into an enduring way of life. 

From Goodreads


TLDR; incredible book on joy and living from powerful spiritual leaders, can’t recommend highly enough!

This is a story of two beautiful human souls meeting and sharing their thoughts on living with joy. The author writes of their historical few days together reverently, imparting a shared sense of awe and an eagerness to learn. Reading this book felt like sitting alongside Douglas Abrams as a fellow spiritual child, looking up and listening intently to the wisdom of ones grandparents. There is no lecturing in this book. Only humble sharing of experiences, recommendations for enhancing our shared lives together, and above all respect for fellow humans on their journey.

This book is easily my favorite of 2019.

There are so many fantastic lessons and reminders covered in these pages. Reminders to carry gratitude, compassion and kindness. Clarification on what joy means at the deeper mental level compared to surface physical pleasure. Discussion on how moving beyond our own pain and suffering allows us to make ourselves more available to/for others. A gentle reminder that self-compassion has become increasingly rare these days and needs to be re-learned in our productivity-obsessed world. And sharing that being grateful is not ignoring and denying the negative aspects of life, but choosing to appreciate what is positive in our lives alongside the negative.

Reading the book through this holiday season, so many of the lessons were incredible but a select few were even more special. Two of those many especially poignant learnings were remembering that basic human nature is compassionate and that “we receive when we give.” These stuck with me over the holidays, and somehow everything seemed brighter.

Although I’ve gone through quite a few lessons from the book, this doesn’t begin to cover the half of it. You’ll have to read the book yourself to receive the full weight of the interviews, which I strongly recommend. For this holiday season I actually purchased a few copies to give to friends and family, which speaks to how much I enjoyed this book. This was an easy read with well-facilitated Q&A containing insightful questions and answers, interactions described between the two spiritual leaders were sweet, funny, and unforgettable, and after each reading session I found myself practicing more gratitude and appreciating a fresh, more positive perspective on life. If that doesn’t sell the impact of this book I don’t know what will. I recommend this book to everyone, and hope to carry the learnings in my heart for some time to come.

Wishing you happy holidays and a fantastic New Year! 🎊


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