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The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

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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.

354 pages, Hardcover

First published September 20, 2016

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About the author

Dalai Lama XIV

1,109 books5,546 followers
Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub), the 14th Dalai Lama, is a practicing member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the world's most famous Buddhist monk, and the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

Tenzin Gyatso was the fifth of sixteen children born to a farming family. He was proclaimed the tulku (an Enlightened lama who has consciously decided to take rebirth) of the 13th Dalai Lama at the age of two.

On 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, he was enthroned as Tibet's ruler. Thus he became Tibet's most important political ruler just one month after the People's Republic of China's invasion of Tibet on 7 October 1950. In 1954, he went to Beijing to attempt peace talks with Mao Zedong and other leaders of the PRC. These talks ultimately failed.

After a failed uprising and the collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement in 1959, the Dalai Lama left for India, where he was active in establishing the Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan Government in Exile) and in seeking to preserve Tibetan culture and education among the thousands of refugees who accompanied him.

Tenzin Gyatso is a charismatic figure and noted public speaker. This Dalai Lama is the first to travel to the West. There, he has helped to spread Buddhism and to promote the concepts of universal responsibility, secular ethics, and religious harmony.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006, and the United States Congressional Gold Medal on 17 October 2007.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,180 reviews
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,653 followers
December 21, 2016
I simply loved this book. The Book of Joy is a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu about finding joy and happiness in the face of suffering and grief. The two old friends met in India for the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday, and they had long discussions over several days.

Writer Douglas Abrams helped facilitate the dialogue, asking questions and taking detailed notes. The reader gets the benefit of both the wisdom of the spiritual leaders and an outside perspective on how the two friends interacted and behaved. It was joyous to read about how the men would tease each other, and then drop some fantastic bit of knowledge. Abrams commented that it's a sign of how much the two love each other that they can be mischievous together. Because the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop are getting older and have more difficulty traveling, this was likely their last meeting, and their goodbye was a tearful moment for this reader.

I am not a practicing Buddhist or Christian, but I found great comfort and inspiration in this book. There are several helpful meditation practices included at the end. I would highly recommend The Book of Joy to anyone seeking more happiness and peace in a troubled world.

Favorite Quotes
"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. Often people ask me for the quickest and best solution to a problem. Again, this is impossible. You can have quickest or you can have best solution, but not both. The best solution to our suffering is mental immunity, but it takes time to develop." -- Dalai Lama

"We suffer from a perspectival myopia. As a result, we are left nearsighted, unable to see our experience in a larger way. When we confront a challenge, we often react to the situation with fear and anger. The stress can make it hard for us to step back and see other perspectives and solutions ... But if we try, we can become less fixated, or attached, to use the Buddhist term, to one outcome and can use more skillful means to handle the situation. We can see that in the most seemingly limiting circumstance we have choice and freedom."

"We are social animals. Even for kings or queens or spiritual leaders, their survival depends on the rest of the community. So therefore, if you want a happy life and fewer problems, you have to develop a serious concern for the well-being of others. So then when someone is passing through a difficult period or difficult circumstances, then automatically will become a sense of concern for their well-being. And if there is the possibility to help, then you can help. If there is no possibility to help, you can just pray or wish them well ... This concern for others is something very precious. We humans have a very special brain, but this brain causes a lot of suffering because it is always thinking me, me, me, me. The more time you spend thinking about yourself, the more suffering you will experience. The incredible thing is that when we think of alleviating other people's suffering, our own suffering is reduced. This is the true secret to happiness." -- Dalai Lama
Profile Image for Antigone.
500 reviews741 followers
November 2, 2016
Oh, they are rascals! Impish spirits, the both of them, who giggle and joust and tease their way through this late-in-life meeting; evincing in almost every moment the very joy they've gathered to discuss.

The friendship of these illustrious men, who've met a mere half dozen times and then only briefly, calls to mind that deep and instantaneous bond so frequently formed by children - back when our hearts were filled with trust and our world with potential companions in adventure. Clearly kindred spirits, the Dalai Lama has been known to swipe the Archbishop's signature sailing cap right off his head, and Desmond Tutu, in turn, to demand recompense for every compliment he tenders. Pay me, he says, extending his arm and rubbing his fingers together. The best way to measure a love is to gauge its flexibility to antics of this nature, and you can tell this is, indeed, a magnificent affection. It's a pleasure to witness. Even on the page it has power enough to produce a string of smiles...and resurrect a dream or two.

Which is not to say their wisdom is in any way overshadowed, or their keenness underplayed.

The occasion is the Dalai Lama's eightieth birthday. Archbishop Tutu has flown to India for a visit of several days during which these scamps will settle in as best they can and address, between them, how to introduce joy into life. You might imagine this would be a lofty enterprise but it is very much like the friendship; sincere and down-to-earth. Though they agree on a lot, their approaches have individual distinctions. In the arena of emotion, for example, the Dalai Lama promotes learning how to objectively examine our feelings while the Archbishop is more concerned with putting an end to the shame we have over what we feel. (One is a course of mindfulness, the other of self-compassion.) Their interlocutor, Douglas Abrams, has some difficulty with this development as he places the positions in opposition. I did not have that difficulty, finding them complimentary strategies.

But I'm doing the material a disservice to elevate it in this manner. It's not an esoteric exchange. These are solid conclusions about grief, compassion, humility, loneliness and despair, extended simply as the product of a lifetime's careful and conscientious thought. In fact, one of the principal benefits I drew from my first reading had to do with the news media. I've been having a tough time with the news lately. It's not so much the content as it is the way it's presented to me. Everything seems tailored to make me anxious; to scare me enough to keep me tuning in. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu spent a moment discussing this.

The Archbishop introduces the subject:

"Yes, there are many, many things that can depress us. But there also are very many things that are fantastic about our world. Unfortunately, the media do not report on these because they are not seen as news."

"I think you are right," the Dalai Lama said. "When bad things happen they become news, and it is easy to feel like our basic human nature is to kill or to rape or to be corrupt. Then we can feel that there is not much hope for our future.

"All these things happen, but they are unusual, which is why they become news. There are millions and millions of children who are loved by their parents every day. Then in school their teachers care for them. Okay, maybe there are some bad teachers, but most of them really are kind and caring. Then in the hospital, every day millions of people receive immense caring. But this is so common that none of it becomes news. We take it for granted."

And they're right. The kind acts and fruitful accomplishments that happen every day? They're not news because they are the common experience. Goodness and productivity are the norm. Cruelty and catastrophe are what is deemed exceptional enough to merit airtime. This broadened my perspective, and helped me out.

The work is filled with insight and numerous, moving personal experiences culled from the lives of both men. Rascals they may be, it is still quite easy to see how they've become two of the most esteemed spiritual figures of our generation.

For me, this was less a book than a privilege. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,742 reviews2,267 followers
February 3, 2018

“Wherever you have friends that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

When two people, both Nobel Peace Laureates, are as world-renowned as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu it takes an event for them to travel. In this case, the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday offered them a chance to gather together and discuss their lives, their beliefs and to enjoy each other’s company in Dharamsala, India for a week. For these two longtime friends, this was an occasion of joy, brought together to discuss the topic of joy.

I’ve seen them for brief moments of time, seen photographs, heard snippets of speeches before, but I had never spent so much time “in the company of” these two spiritual leaders, so I was expecting a more quiet representation of joy, more ‘inner’ joy. I wasn’t expecting the gentle teasing, their playfulness, the boisterous laughter, and while I expected a high level of respect, I wasn’t expecting the overwhelming sense of gratitude and love they had for one another. It was very enlightening and moving.

This was narrated by the author, Douglas Carlton Abrams, and the narrator for Dalai Lama was Francois Chau, with Desmond Tutu’s words were narrated by Peter Francis James. Chau and James both seemed to me to do an excellent job of narrating and capturing the voices of both Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

I really enjoyed listening to this, although there was a bit of repetition that seemed to be noticeable, but I’d notice it, and then quickly return to paying attention to each spoken word.

To hear them talk about the years in the past, the trials they’ve faced, and their views on these was something that reminded me a lot of a woman who lived two houses away from me when I was growing up. In the years before I moved away, I saw her go from a vibrant healthy young mother of four to being wheelchair bound from polio. Then her second oldest began having seizures that took too long to diagnose properly and find the right treatment for. Not long after that, her husband, a pilot like my father, was cleaning out the yard at their new home they’d just moved to, inhaled whatever weed killer / toxic chemical and came running into the kitchen. Rushed to the hospital, he survived, although he was in the hospital for a while. He was cleared to fly again, and died upon reaching altitude on his first flight out. The next year, it was only that her oldest, attending Kent State, had been involved in the riots. The thing is, I never saw her lose a sense of joy, even in those moments where the world was falling apart, she had this aura - yes, this moment in my life really sucks, but it is a moment, only. She was always so full of joy. Hearing the Dalai Lama speak about his exile, reminded me of her ability to see the things she’d gained through her losses, and not just the losses themselves.

“So, personally, I prefer the last five decades of refugee life. It’s more useful, more opportunity to learn, to experience life. Therefore, if you look from one angle, you feel, oh how bad, how sad. But if you look from another angle at that same tragedy, that same event, you see that it gives me new opportunities."
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

There really are people out there who have endured incredible hardships and cling to joy, and they have a lesson to share with the rest of us. If these two men, after all they’ve suffered, all they’ve endured, are so filled with joy, can they show us the way to find our own joy, to appreciate and increase the joy in our lives?

“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.”
—Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

Maybe lesson sounds too much like school, they have wisdom to share with us, and what a wonderful way to receive it. I listened to the audio, so I don’t own the book – yet – but I intend to buy a copy, so I can refer to the meditation practices at the end of the book, and the pictures!

One of my favourite quotes from this book that covered a multiple of topics from joy, fear, despair, suffering, adversity, loneliness, as well as the Eight Pillars of Joy, surprisingly wasn’t from either the Dalai Lama or Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but from Douglas Abrams, the author, himself. I think every parent will relate to his thought:

“It probably takes many years of monastic practice to equal the spiritual growth generated by one sleepless night with a sick child.”
—Douglas Abrams, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

The ‘preface’ – “The Invitation to Joy” speaks of the beginnings of this book, how they wished to give all a “birthday” gift to all – an “invitation to more joy and more happiness” , and ends with the following.

“Every day is a new opportunity to begin again. Every day is your birthday.

“May this book be a blessing for all sentient beings, and for all of God’s children—including you.”

Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of South Africa

Happy Birthday!
Profile Image for Gerri Leen.
Author 126 books25 followers
November 16, 2016
I expected to like this more than I did. There is an old writing rule of "Show, don't tell" and this book, with it's third person narrator describing everything and very much inserted into the thing, is pretty much all tell. And there's a lot of repetition. The overall message is good but frankly a bit light on content.
Profile Image for Brandice.
857 reviews
November 8, 2018
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World provides countless insight from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, two spiritual masters and moral leaders, as the book synopsis appropriately characterizes them. These two well-known and highly respected men are friends, and their interaction throughout the book had a playful tone while still showing great admiration and respect for one another.

I enjoyed the book overall as a whole, yet found the greatest enjoyment and takeaways in the chapters focused on each of the 8 Pillars of Joy: perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity.

There were so many interesting points, perspectives, and stories shared throughout the book that ultimately focus on how to reframe one’s mindset, and reconsider situations. This is the type of book you can revisit often, learning something new each time. Different sections of the book will likely resonate each time too, depending on what’s going on in your life at the moment. For me in particular, this time around it was Acceptance.

While there is a plethora of great information to be found (and of course, ultimately implemented) in this wonderful read, The Book of Joy, I leave you with the following few favorites:

“We are meant to live in joy,” the Archbishop explained. “This does not mean that life will be easy or painless. It means that we can turn our faces to the wind and accept that this is the storm we must pass through. We cannot succeed by denying what exists. The acceptance of reality is the only place from which change can begin.”

“The two leaders had told us over the course of the week that there is no joy without sorrow, that in fact it is the pain, the suffering that allows us to experience and appreciate the joy. Indeed, the more we turn toward the suffering, our own and others, the more we can turn toward the joy. We accept them both, turning the volume of life up, or we turn our backs on life itself, becoming deaf to its music. They had also told us and demonstrated that true joy is a way of being, not a fleeting emotion. What they had cultivated in their long lives was that enduring trait of joyfulness. They had warned us that we cannot pursue joy as an end in itself, or we will miss the bus. Joy comes, rather, from daily thoughts, feelings, and actions. And they had told us repeatedly the action that gets us on the bus: bringing joy to others.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,124 reviews30.2k followers
April 14, 2017
Powerful, exquisite, full of love and friendship between Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama. I listened to this on audio; incredible to hear the different voices (narrators were actors, very good actors) and quotes from these two enlightened friends. I will refer back to with frequency the helpful practice chapters at the end on meditation/thought changes. This is the premier "book of joy" I've read thus far. Empowering and thought provoking with humor and love for self and others.
153 reviews
February 21, 2017
Enjoyed multiple parts of this book, but spent more time frustrated with the collaborator who just couldn't seem to get out of the way. For a book that multiple times stressed that people who use the word, "I," more often die earlier, he certainly seemed to get a lot in. If you skim for quotation marks so you can focus on the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop's discussion, as well as where you see some discussion of the psychology and neuro-science, there's a good book in there.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,727 reviews6,663 followers
September 11, 2018
Read this book.

I so desperately needed to read this book but I didn't know it until tears were running down my face. Not from sadness, but from the opportunity it presents. Suffering is unavoidable. But practicing joy is a choice that we can control when so much is out of our control. It's a simple concept but potentially life changing nonetheless. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World is self-help in nature with elements of documentary, spiritualism, and world culture. It teaches how to practice joy through redirecting our thoughts, showing compassion, choosing gratitude, and by purposefully giving joy to others. There is a manual at the end that goes into greater detail/instruction for interested readers. Highly recommend!

My favorite quote:
“There are going to be frustrations in life. The question is not: How do I escape? It is: How can I use this as something positive?”
Profile Image for Victoria.
412 reviews318 followers
June 22, 2017
‘Wherever you have friends that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.’” --Tibetan Proverb

Two Nobel Peace laureates meet for a week in Dharamsala, India and engage in a spiritual dialogue and these talks will become the basis for a book. Sounds a bit lofty and just a smidge dull except that the two men at the heart of these discussions are his Holiness the Dalai Lama, he of the beatific smile, and the Honorable Archbishop Desmond Tutu, himself a bit mischievous. The result of these far-ranging discussions is this book filled with insights and laughter in equal measure and I was filled with joy just listening to it.

Structured on the Eight Pillars of Joy--perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity--these principles provide the basis for finding joy in every moment and in every encounter. And while these precepts seem simple enough, how hard is it for all of us to live with these thoughts top of mind every day? Certainly not I when the fifth driver of the day cuts me off, but this is why I listen to books like this, so that I can keep drumming the message into my head. All issues big and small can be overcome with a modicum of compassion, reconciliation and perspective.

What resonated most and why I’m most grateful to have listened to this book is the perspective the Dalai Lama brought to his own predicament. How the tragedy of his exile when seen from a different angle brought the plight of the Tibetan people and the teachings of Buddhism to a larger audience that might not have been cast in the limelight had he remained in Lhasa. In his own words:

There are different aspects to any event. For example, we lost our own country and became refugees, but that same experience gave us new opportunities to see more things. For me personally, I had more opportunities to meet with different people, different spiritual practitioners, like you, and also scientists. This new opportunity arrived because I became a refugee. If I remained in the Potala in Lhasa, I would have stayed in what has often been described as a golden cage: the Lama, holy Dalai Lama.” He was now sitting up stiffly as he once had to when he was the cloistered spiritual head of the Forbidden Kingdom.

“So, personally, I prefer the last five decades of refugee life. It’s more useful, more opportunity to learn, to experience life. Therefore, if you look from one angle, you feel, oh how bad, how sad. But if you look from another angle at that same tragedy, that same event, you see that it gives me new opportunities.’

I think this is the most difficult of the concepts to accept and adopt from this book, but it can be the most significant in terms of how we view the misfortunes in our own lives. It has certainly changed the way I am viewing my own tragedies. How can these two men who’ve endured such adversity and losses still find their way to joy? This is the ultimate lesson in how to make lemonade out of lemons.

I can’t say I’ll become a better person overnight and I won’t guarantee that if you cut me off in traffic I won’t yell a few expletives (yes, I have been known to use 'colorful' language in the privacy of my car), but I have been thinking about this book for two months since listening to it and I do find myself squashing more of the negative feelings and replacing them with more kind and productive thoughts. And while I still despair some days at the state of our world, I focus instead on what I can do in my little corner. How can I be there for my family? How do I support my friends? What charities can I lend my talents to that will make a difference in my neighbors' lives?

It’s not a perfect book, it does get a bit repetitive in parts and the author (moderator) injects himself into the narrative ‘mansplaining’ sometimes, but overall these are small criticisms in the overall message. And who is going to dock two holy men stars? Who needs that kind of bad karma?

So take a step back, practice humility, laugh often, accept things as they are, forgive when necessary, be grateful, be kind and help others. And if you fail at one or any of these today, remember that every day is an opportunity to begin again. I will step off the soapbox now, I’m sure someone needs the wood.
Profile Image for Elsa.
60 reviews34 followers
February 11, 2017
Five Stars because there are just 5.
I said it before but I mention it again: this was THE most beautiful book I have read the last years. So touching, sometimes so funny, and so deeply true.
It took me a while to finish it because every time I would read some pages I just wanted to stop and think about it or it would take me to think about situations that I lived.

I have this urge now to talk about it to everyone I know and I care, kind of trying to make them read it and take it serious. It would be so good if people would read this book and believe that we, each one of us, can really make the difference. That we can really forgive one another, that one can spread love just by giving a smile to a stranger on the streets.

Compassion... isn't it a beautiful word?


All wonderful feelings.

If you want to read this book, take time and grab a pencil because I am sure you will stop thousands of times to write something on the side... or to underline some sentences.

Thank you so much Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,867 reviews16.5k followers
March 3, 2022
A Christian, a Buddhist and a Jew walk into a bar …

Actually there was not a bar, but that’s how many good jokes begin.

A Christian – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Buddhist – His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and their Jewish but secular co-author – Douglas Abrams, all collaborated to make this very special book.

The context is that this was the Dalai Lama’s birthday and the two great spiritual leaders, each the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, met in India, the site of the Dalai Lama’s exile, to celebrate and to discuss the spiritual but very real concept of joy.

Not happiness necessarily or laugh out loud funny (though there are some humorous anecdotes) but joy – the joyful life.

Life is suffering, but how we deal with it is what’s important.

I don’t usually go for self-help books, and this is really not one either, but it is an enjoyable visit with two very spiritual men who have become leaders teaching peace and understanding in spite of tragic obstacles – for the Dalai Lama, the forceful takeover of Tibet and his decades of exile and for the Archbishop, living through the decades of apartheid.


Profile Image for Mijanur Rahman.
54 reviews32 followers
February 13, 2017
Buddhism always fascinates me. Not as a religion but as philosophy. Perhaps, of all religions (philosophical view) collectively, Buddhism effectively reaches the core of human nature, and thus promote its fellow believer to nurture their soul. This book is not about Buddhism or Christianity, though it features two topmost representatives of those religions/views. It talks about human nature, about joy, and obviously, it’s worth reading.
Profile Image for Susan.
249 reviews23 followers
December 23, 2017
This audiobook is life-changing. I know that sounds like a dramatization but it’s really not. This audiobook covers a week long conversation between dear friends His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. What a wonderful conversation to listen in on! These two men, from different religious backgrounds, come together and show the world that spirituality is universal and not defined by a specific religious context. Their messages are simple and straightforward which makes it even more shocking that we all need to be reminded of them. They propose eight pillars of joy and discuss each one from their different perspectives and life experiences to teach us to ground ourselves in compassion for others. I listened to this book straight through then listened to it again and then bought the hardcover so that I could have a reference. What wonderful and inspirational thoughts from two men who have suffered from extreme hardships and still remain joyful, hopeful and caring about humanity, even those who have hurt them personally. It’s a triumph of goodness and selflessness in a world laden with self-righteousness and self-absorption. Pick this up and listen to their peaceful and enthusiastic voices. It will bring you JOY!
Profile Image for Kacey Kells.
Author 3 books98 followers
February 13, 2018
Everyone (well, almost!) agrees that we should do our best to make this world a safer and better world… i.e.: “a happier, kinder, more compassionate world”. Sadly however, most people think it’s a beautiful but unattainable dream. In this book however, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that it is in our Human Nature to seek happiness and joy; hence, since we are social animals, the only way to be happy and joyful is to look at others, to be compassionate. Indeed, if you focus on yourself, you will feel lonely and sad: “Everybody wants a happy life, and our individual happy life depends on a happy humanity. So we have to think about humanity” said the Dalai Lama. Hence, joy depends on our ability to go beyond ‘self-centeredness’.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu added: “We are most joyful when we focus on others, not on ourselves. In short, bringing joy to others is the fastest way to experience joy oneself”. “The people we admire are those who have been other-regarding”… And, citing Martin Luther King: “We must learn to live together as sisters and brothers, or we will perish together as fools”. “A person is a person through other persons”.
However, if “we are meant to live in Joy, this doesn’t mean that life will be easy or painless. It means that we can turn our faces to the wind and accept that this is the storm we must pass through. We cannot succeed by denying what exists. The acceptance of reality is the only place from which change can begin” (Desmond Tutu). Later, His Holiness stated: “Religion is not sufficient. I think the only way really is, as we have said, through education. Education is universal. We must teach people, especially our youth, the source of happiness and satisfaction”.

After several days of discussion, the two Nobel laureates concluded that there are eight pillars of Joy: a wider perspective (rejecting self-centeredness), humility, sense of humor and ability to laugh at ourselves, acceptance of life, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity: in other words, sense of otherness and acceptation of reality. "Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy if it can't be remedied?" asked the Dalai Lama.
Yes, ‘The book of Joy’ is enthralling. Written with a dash of humor, it radiates happiness. More importantly, it enabled me to share a fabulous, a beautiful and enriching experience; it brings hope and lightens the path. I really loved it! Kacey Kells.
Profile Image for Alli Lubin.
157 reviews
April 2, 2017
I am savoring this book. "The Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu are two of the great spiritual masters of our time, but they are also moral leaders who transcend their own traditions and speak always from a concern for humanity as a whole..."JOY is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstances, joy is not." This book is the result of a week they spent together talking about the "purpose of life -- the goal of avoiding suffering and discovering happiness."
The Archbishop expressed concerns "about crossing wits with the Dalai Lama. "He is much more cerebral," referring to the Dalai Lama's great love of debate, intellectual inquiry, and scientific exploration. "I am more instinctual," as deep visceral knowing and prayerful surrender had guided all of the major turning points in his life and his mission in the struggle to end apartheid. Thus begins the dialogue on the nature of true joy.
The question most asked of them when they began the project was not about how we could discover our own joy but how we could possibly live with joy in a world filled with so much suffering.
Profile Image for Ann L..
580 reviews26 followers
January 28, 2017
Definitely a must read in cultivating a peaceful, joyful and compassionate life. The world needs this book of wisdom, especially now with so much political division going on.

These two spiritual teachers, the Dalai Lama XIV and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have wonderful words of wisdom in how to deal with everyday struggles, especially in regards to our personal relationships and the world around us.

It doesn't matter what your religious beliefs are or where you are in the world, this book and the exercises in the back of the book are a great teaching tool in how to have a joyful, peaceful existence and I paid special attention to the parts of the book on how not to be judgmental of myself and others, because we are all human. Learning to be more compassionate is definitely the road to a more loving life that I personally want to have.

I especially loved the banter between these two compassionate souls. Their conversations made me laugh and made me realize too that we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously and to laugh at ourselves more. Of all the spiritual books I've read, the ones by the Dalai Lama or written about him and what he is all about are all my favorite. He is the most loving, peaceful person I know. And now I have a new profound respect for an additional compassionate soul: Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Definitely a must read.
227 reviews
August 25, 2017
This is really a book by a fan of Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama. If you take out the author's gushing praise and his comments on what the holy men mean, it's a 100 page work, maybe less.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,878 reviews31.2k followers
December 6, 2017
I love the Dalai Lama and everything he has to say. I feel so fortunate to have his words in todays age. He has seen many horrors and tragedies in his long life and he has this wonderful perspective. I admire him and I want to have his views on life.

I wish I could quote adequately from this book. There were so many quotes form the book that rang true for me. This book really made me think and exam my life. It was a joy to read a savor. Both of these men have lived amazing lives and they really are filled with joy. I want to radiate that kind of joy.

This book came at the perfect time for me and I would like to read it again sometime. It also makes me want to read more of the Dalai Lama's works. The meditations at the end of the book are nice. I want to own the book so I have them to practice.
Profile Image for Natalie.
2,801 reviews136 followers
March 20, 2022
Lasting happiness cannot be found in pursuit of any goal or achievement. It does not reside in fortune or fame. It resides only in the human mind and heart, and it is here that we hope you will find it.

One of my friends mentioned this book and I thought "That is exactly what I need right now." I took my time and read it slowly and I loved every minute of it. Truly beautiful and full of hope.

For those fearing that it's religious, it really isn't. Obviously religion is mentioned as these are two well-known leaders in two of the largest religions. They are also admirable men who have survived difficult trials. I loved reading their humble, knowledgeable words about finding joy in life.

I don't buy a lot of physical books these days, preferring the ease of carrying my library on my Kindle, but I sometimes make exceptions for books I want to annotate and refer back to easily. (It's much easier to skim a physical book.) I'm glad I made that choice with this book, as I know I'll be referring to it again and again.

The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu meet for one week to discuss what it means to live a joyful life. It is during the Dalai Lama's birthday and was very tender. Abrams mentioned that these impressive leaders realized it was probably the last time they would meet in this lifetime. I loved the glimpses Abrams shared into their friendship.

Together they explored how we can transform joy from an ephemeral state into an enduring trait, from a feeling feeling into a long lasting way of being.

There were so many beautiful thoughts and stories threaded through the narrative. The author ends with a summary of all the teachings.

One of my favorite lessons from the book that I've thought about a lot was spoken by the Dalai Lama and comes from an 8th century Buddhist master, Shantideva.

If something can be done about the situation, what need is there for dejection? And if nothing can be done about it, what use is there for being dejected?

I tend to be something of a worrier and this really struck a chord with me. It was put so simply and made such perfect sense it's actually brought me a lot of peace over the past couple of months.

I loved the focus on compassion and generosity - a happy life is one filled with gratitude and giving. Just imagine if the whole world lived that way? On the same note, the Dalai Lama often spoke of how we are all the same. Every person you meet is just like you, someone seeking happiness. I think that's a lovely way to look at the world and something I should practice more often

Too much self-centered thinking is the source of suffering. A compassionate concern for others’ well-being is the source of happiness. - Dalai Lama (pg 47)

I have pages of quotes marked. I loved going back through them as I wrote this review. I thought of adding a bunch more on here, but this is the type of book that it's best to read on your own and find your own beautiful thoughts. It's one I'll be returning to again and again.
Profile Image for George.
60 reviews43 followers
June 27, 2017
"The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World" by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams is a book about the important things in life. The Dalai Lama (a Buddhist), Tutu (a Christian), and Abrams (a Secular Jew) spent a week together in dialogue - discussing the principles and values they considered most important. This book is the result of that week.

In their dialogue, they discussed principles and values such as compassion, generosity, forgiveness, acceptance, righteous anger, and courage. And they devoted significant time to discussing suffering and joy. To the cynic (and I can be cynical at times), these values might seem quaint or simplistic. However, I have to admit that, several times, they were able to pierce my cynical armor.

Tutu shared incidents from his life and his experiences in the South African anti-Apartheid movement (of which he was a leader). The Dalai Lama shared incidents from his own life and about the Tibetan people’s refugee experiences. And Abrams discussed insights of modern science and a few of his own life experiences.

The dialogue was held at the Dalai Lama's home in India. The high point of the week was the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday celebration at the Tibet children's school.

This is the kind of book you can either read straight through or you can read a couple of paragraphs or pages each day and then reflect on it throughout the day. Also, at the end of the book, there are a dozen or so stand-alone meditation exercises.

Since listening to this book I have endeavored to be more compassionate in my daily life.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to reflect on the important things in life and to those seeking encouragement in life.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Narration credits:
Douglas Carlton Abrams, read by the author
Dalai Lama, read by Francois Chau
Desmond Tutu, read by Peter Francis James

Length: 10 hours and 12 minutes
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date: 2016-09-20
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Profile Image for Laney.
501 reviews
September 4, 2017
This low 2 star rating is purely based on my enjoyment of this book, not the content itself. The content was wonderful, just so boring because I feel like I've heard it all 500 times at church throughout my life. Nothing new or revelatory here. It felt like one big church lesson review and I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Here are a few random notes:

Meditate, particularly on compassion.

Be generous.

Pain and suffering will come. It's how we respond that matters. We control our response.

No envy. Practice sympathetic joy. Good for them. Happy for them. And count your own blessings.

Joy received after coming thru adversity. So joy because of adversity. Not in spite of.

Suffering can embitter or ennoble. Depending on if you can find meaning in the suffering.

Try to gain the ability to pause, and then respond -- rather than react.

Pillars of joy:

Perspective. Reminds me of two sayings my in-laws love to quote repeatedly. "In 6 months, no one will remember or care." (Bob) "No good phrase and no bad phrase lasts forever." (Kris)


Ends with meditation practices. Suggests reading "short inspirational passages" (scriptures or whatever).

Think of your intentions (basically, set goals).

Exercise without distractions (meditative walk, etc)

Laugh at yourself. Laugh at life.

Profile Image for Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob).
979 reviews11 followers
July 7, 2017
Finished 75% of this book and then decided I didn't need to finish the rest.

Unfortunately, this book ends up pretty repetitive which is probably great if you have a memory that doesn't work overly well. If you tend to pick up things on the first or second repetition, this book can start to feel a bit long. I kept double checking myself because it seemed like I had already read the part I was reading.

This is really good as an audiobook though, as the recording are the actual people reading the lines. So, that's pretty neat.

I think I'm just not in the right place in my life to enjoy this the way I should. Maybe another time.
Profile Image for Ita.
512 reviews2 followers
February 7, 2017
I was reading this book at the hairdressers and when I was paying, one of the hairdressers came to me to tell me she enjoyed watching me read as she saw me chuckling while reading it. Then I showed her the title and said that it must be working already! I like this quote "Wherever you have friends that's your country, and wherever you receive love, that's your home". And I like the concept of "mudita" which means "the practice of rejoicing in others' good fortune". I got a lot out of this book and I liked that this book is a week-long conversation between two good friends who happen to be spiritual leaders in Buddhism and Christianity. I didn't always agree with what they were saying, but that is probably because I am not a holy man! It certainly made me think and reflect, definitely worth the time to read this gem of a book.
Profile Image for Emiliya Bozhilova.
1,259 reviews185 followers
April 2, 2022
Две старчета се срещат на далечно индийско летище. Единият тъкмо е преборил рак, тъй както преди години се е борил срещу апартейда в ЮАР. Другият е изживял живота си като изгнаник, бягайки в нощта в униформа на китайски войник, и твърди, че това е най-хубавото, което е можело да му се случи. И е последният от вида си.

Събират се да се посмеят, да потъгуват, да медитират, да си припомнят, да поспорят. И да обменят много радост с читателя. Радвах се, докато четох книгата.

Това беше радост от някакви простички неща, без сложни философии, практики и завъртулки. Но не са ли всички философии в основата си прости? Това не е книга за “позитивизъм”. И двете старчета, с цялата си мъдрост, са поели своя дял скръб в този свят. Но все още се усмихват, борят се, обичат хората и себе си...и ни го казват без сложни фрази.
Profile Image for Lubinka Dimitrova.
254 reviews150 followers
January 3, 2022
I'll be never too cynical to be able to enjoy, appreciate and cherish the words of these two men which might seem syrupy and nonsensically naive, but are in fact utterly cheerful, lighten our load and help us put a smile on our face each and every day. I myself grew up as an agnostic, and it's difficult for me to grasp the deeper beliefs of their respective religions, but for me, they are two of the finest human beings on the planet and a model not only for any spiritual, political, or any other type of leader, but also a model for the kind of life we all should strive to live.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,903 reviews20 followers
March 12, 2020
Genres: Nonfiction, Philosophy, Spirituality

When I use the word "SWEET" it is usually a veiled dislike. But with this book.... it was truly sweet in a good way. The interaction between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu was so innocent and kind....I can't think of a better word to describe it......So SWEET it is.

Together they talk about having and obtaining joy. I really liked this. Now I will say the first half was a little slow. The info wasn't new, but I felt it was a nice reminder...especially for "mean" people who struggle with thinking about others (you know who you are). In the second half, when they started talking about the 8 pillars of Joy, is when I thought this was worth the read. It went from being 4 stars to 5 because I would read this again. It was insightful and need I say it again....it was sweetly done. The world needs more joy....true joy.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
3,122 reviews29 followers
February 24, 2017
What an absolutely wonderful book. It does not matter what your spiritual beliefs are you cannot help but glean something from reading this book. These two men have the most touching and magnificent friendship. They laugh and tease each other. They enjoy each others thoughts and their ability to understand each other is what makes for such good reading. The book is filled with quotes. One of my favorites is:

Gratitude helps us catalog, celebrate and rejoice in each day and each moment before they slip through the vanishing hourglass of experience.

Profile Image for Book Princess (Anastasia).
312 reviews53 followers
February 15, 2020
Пречудова маленька книжка, яка випромінює і несе в собі дуже багато радості, недарма має таку назву.

Для мене особисто вона виявилася дуже корисною. По-перше, нагадала собі багато відомого, але успішно забутого. По-друге, почала використовувати це на практиці, і воно працює! Я дуже здивована, бо зазвичай поради у книжках такі, що геть не можу собі уявити їх виконувати аби виконання має геть інший ефект, ніж описано у книзі. А тут все прямо склалося.

З мінусів: багато повторів, але загалом це нормально, деякі речі треба повторювати щодня, аби запам‘ятати. Довгий вступ. Цілий розділ у ледь не 50 сторінок про початок зустрічі Далай-лами і архієпископа Туту. Подекуди дивні історії, наприклад, про знайомого науковця, який завжди страждав вибухами гніву. І ось він зустрівся з Далай-ламою, той до нього доторкнувся - і все, той вже ледь не зцілився. Але таких історій у цій книжечці дуже мало.

З плюсів: книга універсальна. Як для буддистів, так і для християн, так і для невіруючих. Сподобалося, що нема дуже сильного акценту на релігію, навіть навпаки якось Далай-лама зазначає, що її недостатньо, якою чудовою вона не була б. Бо радість стосується всіх людей незалежно від духовної приналежності до якоїсь релігії. В кінці книжки можна знайти дуже багато (50 сторінок) різних практик радості. І це крутизна! Бо у книзі духовні лідери повсякчас кажуть: тре вчитися і працювати над собою, але ��к, ніхто не каже. То я вже думала: фсьо, але дочитала до практик - і яка ж я щаслива! Перечитуватиму їх щодня і практикуватимуся.

Раджу читати всім, кому хочеться жити щасливішим, наповненішим життям, кому хочеться відчувати радість попри біди та інші жахливі речі, що кояться у світі. Раджу читати тим, хто багато бідкається. Можливо тут ви знайдете стимул подивитися на світ «іншими очима», під іншим кутом зору.

Я дуже рада, що ця книга є в мене на книжковій поличці!!!
Profile Image for Brad McKenna.
1,135 reviews
November 12, 2016
What happens when you put The Dalai Lama and The Archbishop Tutu in a room together to talk about Joy? Laughter, chuckles, chortles, and deep unbridled belly laughs. Not to mention good natured ribbing that would make any pair of siblings proud.

According to these two spiritual giants, joy is more than just plain happiness, it’s a state of being. They have suffered tremendously, the Dalai Lama being forced into exile and the Archbishop lived through Apartheid. They think that because of, not in spite of, these horrid happenings they are the joyful peacemakers they are today. It’s truly astounding. Their co-author Doug Abrams weaves both religions together with scientific studies to provide proof one needn’t be religious to find joy.

This is so many uplifting moments in this book that I can’t hope to do it justice by continuing my synopsis.

So I won’t.

Here is a list, in no particular order, of quotes that made me stop and think.

“‘Forgiveness,’ the Dalai Lama continued, ‘does not mean we forget. You should remember the negative thing, but because there is a possibility to develop hatred, we mustn't allow ourselves to be lead in that direction- we choose forgiveness.’ The Archbishop was also clear about this: forgiveness does not mean you forget what someone has done, contrary to the saying ‘forgive and forget.’ Not reacting with negativity, or giving in to the negative emotions, does not mean you do not respond to the acts or that you allow yourself to be harmed again. Forgiveness does not mean that you do not seek justice or that the perpetrator is not punished.”
~The Dalai Lama and Doug Abrams

“I say to people that I am not an optimist, because that, in a sense, is something that depends on feelings more than actual reality. We feel optimistic, or we feel pessimistic. Now, hope is different in that it is based not on the ephemerality of feelings but on the firm ground of conviction.”
~The Archbishop Tutu

“Ubuntu [says] a person is a person through other persons.”
~The Archbishop Tutu

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. I felt fear more times than I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness. The brave [woman] is not she who does not feel afraid, but [s]he who conquers that fear.”
~Nelson Mandela

“There is nothing wrong with faiths. The problem is the faithful.”
~Archbishop Tutu

I could go on...in fact, one more!

“The goal is not just to create joy for ourselves but, as the Archbishop poetically phrased it, ‘to be a reservoir of joy, an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that can ripple out to all those around you.’”
~Doug Abrams & The Archbishop Tutu

Ok. I hope I’ve enticed you enough to pick up a copy from your friendly neighborhood librarian. On the heels of the most rancorous presidential campaign in my lifetime, and what is shaping up to be a first 100 days filled with outrage and superciliousness, this book should be required reading.
Profile Image for Chris.
48 reviews18 followers
May 25, 2018
How beautiful and true, evoking, and expanding on, ideas which I notice are appearing in many other things I read!

“The real secret of freedom may simply be extending this brief space between stimulus and response” (179). As mentioned in ‘Shantaram’ - we always have the freedom of choice; of choosing our response based on our attitude. This freedom cannot be taken away from us as it is dictated by our mind and the perspective we take. That’s why in ‘Into the Magic Shop’ so much stress is put on perspective. The virtue is in the process of elongating the space between stimulus and reaction - the freedom lays in our ability to achieve wider perspective and control our primitive reaction. A by-product of such control can be happiness, but it is more important to concentrate on the process of control; of freedom of choice, in order to feel joyful. By shifting perspective, creating the right paradigm for ourselves and, thus, actively engaging with our daily life, we stand the best chance of reaching joy - remembering that the virtue is in the process of such living and not in the end destination.

“One of the key paradoxes in Buddhism is that we need goals to be inspired, to grow, and to develop, even to become enlightened, but at the same time we must not get overly fixated or attached to these aspirations. If the goal is noble, your commitment to the goal should not be contingent on your ability to attain it, and in pursuit of our goal, we must release or rigid assumptions about how we must achieve it. Peace and equanimity come from letting go of our attachment to the goal and the method. This is the essence of acceptance.” (226-227)

This book was truly inspirational and I simply had to stay up all night to finish it. It has the power to awaken and ignite a certain passion due to advocating for virtues so innate that they provoke life-long reflection. Hopefully this reflection motivates us and brings us closer to joy.
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