The last couple of months have been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster this side. There came a point in the middle of the year where I seriously sat back and started to re-evaluate where I was going with my life.

It was perhaps a combination of stress and work-pressure, end-of-the-year fatigue and a general lack of balance between work and my social life, but I also had the feeling that something big had to move. Something in my mind and heart was searching for more meaning, a bigger purpose, for a path that would bring me true joy.

I started to go back to some of my favourite inspirational authors to tap back into a source of creativity and positive thinking. Then, as if in answer to all this, I heard about The Book of Joy. 

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have co-authored The Book of Joy in the hopes of bringing a positive message of shared humanity, compassion and forgiveness to a world that is plagued with anger, fear and violence. The hope is that this book will turn into a global movement that can bring people together.

The book documents a week in Dharamsala, the city home of the Dalai Lama where he and the Tibetan people have been living in exile since they were forced to flee their country in 1959. It was an historic moment when the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama could finally meet again; two friends who have been kept apart by governments, health issues and hectic schedules, and so even though they were there to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, the rare occasion to have them in one place needed to be used in full. These two men, both nearing the end of their lives, have faced incredible hardships and yet they are known as two of the most inspirational, joyful figures in the world. How?

That is exactly what this book sets out to ask. How do you find joy when there is so much pain? When you see people around you suffer? When you suffer? When your loved ones pass on? When you are angry? Tired? Dissapointed? When life just keeps handing you lemons.

The book consists mainly of conversations between the two world leaders, each weighing in on these important and difficult topics with wisdom they’ve gained in their lives, from their struggles, and from their religions. These conversations are weaved into a type of diary by the author, Douglas Carlton Abrams’ as well as pieces of research he has compiled. Then you’ll also find a section giving you practical exercises to train your mind against negative thought patterns and towards a point of strength.

There are so many significant things I have learned since I started reading this book. At pretty much every page I stopped to take down a quote or paragraph. The first thing that hit home is that you won’t find joy by seeking joy. Instead you find joy by bringing joy to others. However, and just as important, is cultivating an inner joy and love for yourself because you can only be a source of joy to others if you are filled with light.

You won’t find joy by seeking joy. Instead you find joy by bringing joy to others

Another incredibly important message is that of compassion and shared humanity. If we see people as strange, other, different, we create a barrier between us and them. But if you see people as people, as similar to yourself, with a shared humanity, your compassion grows.

Of course things are not that simple. I get it. The book, luckilly, gets it too and it talks about the most difficult scenarios. What it all comes down to is that you need to change your mind – you need to train it, transform it, work at it everyday to fight base emotions like anger, envy, irrational fear and hatred, and to see good instead of bad. It is not easy. It is hard. But I believe it is worth the effort. I believe it is crucial.

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The strangest thing has happened since I started reading this book. I have started to see things differently. A couple of weeks ago I was convinced that I needed to make big changes in my life if I were to find joy. Now I have started to realise that the change has to happen in myself first. And when I started to turn myself away from myself, to focus less on my own joy and more on how I could bring joy to others, it was as though a light switched on. As though somebody took my overloaded backpack off my shoulders and reminded me that I’m not alone, that we’re all in this together, and if we share the burden we can make it a whole lot lighter.

I think this is an important read for everyone, and anyone who is looking to enrich their lives (aren’t we all in some way or another?) These are without a doubt two of the wisest men in the world right now, who have managed to overcome, who can preach love and forgiveness despite seeing the worst sides of people. If anyone can offer an opinion on the matter it is them.

Giveaway!

9Lives and Penguin Random House SA is giving away one brilliant book hamper worth R1000! Get The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, Quiet Power by Susan Cain and Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett.

To enter, tell me what brings you joy. Post in the comments below or email me at sayhello@9lives.co.za. Competition closes 15 November.

You can also join the conversation online with #ShareTheJoy

Author

I am a lifestyle blogger from Cape Town trying to find the best ways to spend my time, take care of my body and express myself. I am slightly obsessed with fragrances, sneakers, Jamie Oliver and Masterchef Australia. Oh, and I probably drink way too much wine.

14 Comments

  1. Ah wow what an amazing post – so happy that you found this book and that you’ve gone on a journey of self-discovery and self-love! YAY!
    This book sounds amazing and I would LOVE to read it! I’m needing some of their wisom in my life too at the moment – hectic with work and stress and the year is coming to an end and I feel like everything is spinnninnggg and, most importantly, my levels of happiness and of others close to me is fluctuating constantly.
    Thanks for the advice you gave in this post though – it’s so good to be reminded to not focus on yourself but to give others’ joy and happiness and through that experience joy. But also to love yourself and focus on self-care and self-enrichment and -development. It’s a tricky balance and one that needs constant attention and love.
    xx PS awesome giveaway! Quiet Power and Feminist Fight Club have been on my wish list for a while! *fingers crossed*

    • Malherbe Liezel Reply

      I hear you Anel! I think this time of the year really gets to most of us. I am still having a tough time but I found that books like these help to recharge your batteries in a way, to actually just shift your perspective. I think you would love this book, and the others! Fingers crossed, and thanks for entering!

      PS: Loving your site!

      • Awesome – so good to hear they helped.
        Good luck with the rest of the year – one of these days we’ll be relaxing over Christmas with a glass of bubbly and yummy food and clear headspace for days 😉

        PS: thank you!! 🙂 🙂 Appreciate it! <3 <3 <3

  2. abigail Moodley Reply

    Two of the greatest men that has walked the earth, this book will surely change everyone’s perspective on life, love & joy. Would love to read and take in their wisedom

  3. Being healthy gives me tremendous joy. Have so many friends diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses that has a major influence on their quality of life! I am thankful every day!

    • Malherbe Liezel Reply

      So true! I think it is so important to start each day by practicing gratitude. We often forget how lucky we are to be healthy and to have people who love us. Thank you for entering!

  4. Meditating and spending as much time as I can with my family brings me much joy. Been going through some testing times myself and these joys keep me grounded.

    • Malherbe Liezel Reply

      I think starting the day with meditation is a great way to refocus and set positive intentions. It really influences the way we go into a day. And yes, family and friends are so crucial! Thanks for sharing and good luck 🙂

  5. What brings me joy is gratitude. I believe it unlocks our fullness to life. It changes the way we see the day to day. It never leaves you wanting, as it grows a willingness to give generously and a depth to truly appreciate what you have. Joy is spontaneous dinners with close friends and seeing how a bare fridge can fill everyone and leave all feeling the connectedness of a shared lives around a dinner table.

    • Malherbe Liezel Reply

      I completely agree Abi! Gratitude is such an important practice and it really influences the way we look at the world around us. It’s actually one of the points they touch on in the book as well. I must say, seeing all my favourite people around a dinner table is pure joy for me too! Thanks so much for sharing. Good luck!

  6. I am so excited about this book. Thank you for the great review. What brings me joy? The warm breath of my 4 year old daughter when she wakes up in the morning and whispers in my ear “I love you Mommy” That is just one of the things that bring me joy. I think it is truly important to find an aspect of joy in everything, even if you think you can’t.

    • Malherbe Liezel Reply

      That is so special Celeste! More and more I’m realising that people and family are the most important things in our lives. Thanks for entering!

  7. Nicole Jansen van Vuuren Reply

    I really do believe the universe has brought me to this post, yes I totally believe in the universe and ever since I started practising The Law of Attraction 7 months ago my life has changed significantly! I have never felt more happy, positive and grateful for my life! I also started practising Buddhism that’s why this book would be such a great blessing to me! Thank You Thank You Thank You ?

  8. Megan Hartwig Reply

    What brings me joy are all the life opportunities that have been given to me through the years. I’m thankful for my family…for having siblings, who I am very close to and two very loving parents who have supported me right from the start. My friends all through primary school and high school (and university) are all people who bring me joy whenever I feel depressed and when I feel like the whole world is crashing down on my shoulders. I am just thankful for being able to live my life as it is…despite all the stress and barriers that I encounter everyday! #ShareTheJoy

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