Rarely do you come across books in which you want to emphasize every paragraph, and which you would rather give to everyone close to you. How to be happy despite life’s difficulties? How to deal with feelings of frustration, sadness, and resentment? How to deal with fear and irritability? How is compassion useful? Nobel laureates the 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu met to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Dalai Lama and answer eternal questions about happiness, joy and well-being for five days. Their dialogues became the basis of the Book of Joy, in which two spiritual leaders generously share their knowledge and personal experiences, inspire change and explain the nature of our feelings and emotions. The closest quotes from the book are in this post.
Material prepared by: Nadezhda Nazaryan
Looking for joy
“Pursuit of a goal or striving to achieve something has nothing to do with the ability to enjoy life. Wealth and fame also do not bring joy. Joy lives in a person’s mind and soul, and we hope that there you will find it. “
“Why do spiritual people always get up early and meditate? Apparently, this really greatly affects how their day develops in the future. When I first heard that the Dalai Lama wakes up at three in the morning, I decided that this would be followed by another story about a zealous religiosity, which an ordinary person is not capable of. I thought that he probably slept for two or three hours a day. Imagine my relief when I found out that he just went to bed very early – about seven in the evening! “
About the meaninglessness of our experiences
“One of my meditation practices is described in the writings of an ancient Indian teacher,” the Dalai Lama replied to the archbishop’s question. – He said that, experiencing a tragic situation, it is necessary to analyze it. And if the situation is hopeless, there is no point in worrying. This is my practice. – The Dalai Lama was referring to the 8th century Buddhist teacher Shantideva, who wrote: “Why be sad if everything can still be corrected? And why be sad if nothing can be corrected already? “
Happiness from the mind
“When joy arises at the level of the mind rather than sensory stimuli, a deep sense of satisfaction stays with you much longer. It happens even around the clock! That is why I always say: pay more attention to the joy and happiness of the mind. These are true feelings. When you are happy on the mental level, physical pain fades into the background. But if you do not experience joy and happiness at the level of the mind, if you have too much anxiety, fear, even physical comfort and sensual pleasures will not get rid of the mental inconvenience. “
How to be happy: four principles
“A lasting sense of well-being is made up of four separate brain processes. The first is our ability to stay positive. It is logical that it directly affects whether we feel happy or not. According to two of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time, the shortest path to this state is to cultivate love and compassion.
The second process is responsible for our ability to recover from negative emotional states. What amazed me most was that the first and second processes were completely unrelated to each other. That is, the same person can be able to maintain a positive attitude and at the same time easily fall into gloomy feelings, with difficulty recovering from the experience. I immediately understood a lot about myself.
The third process is the most important, but also proceeds independently of the others: the ability to concentrate and avoid “wandering the mind.” Most meditation practices develop this ability. Whether you choose to observe the breath, concentrate on a mantra, or the analytical meditation that the Dalai Lama practices in the morning, the ability to concentrate remains the cornerstone of a happy brain.
The fourth and last one is responsible for the ability to be generous. I was amazed that a special brain process was allocated for this. It’s no wonder we feel so good when we help people, or when they come to our aid, or when we watch someone do good deeds (Paul Ekman calls this state of awe and is classified as a type of joy). It turns out that scientific research has convincingly proved that in man, by nature, there is a craving for cooperation, compassion and generosity. “
Joy is contagious
“But the amazing thing is that it is empathy that helps us heal our wounds in the first place. It turns out to be a kind of circle of good, where everyone benefits. The more we empathize, the more joy we experience; and the more joy we have, the more opportunities to share it. Our goal is not only to cultivate joy in ourselves, but, as the archbishop poetically put it, “to become a source of joy, an oasis of tranquility, a serene reservoir from which everyone around can draw”. Joy is contagious. Like love, and compassion, and generosity.
So, being joyful doesn’t necessarily mean being fun! It is about a more compassionate, active and spiritual state of mind, not involved in itself, but turned to the world. “
We need love
“Scientists have long ago discovered that without love a person cannot survive. Immediately after birth, the mother surrounds the child with boundless love and care. Many scientists have concluded that within a few weeks after birth, the most important thing for proper brain development is the physical touch of the mother. If from the first days the baby is isolated, if he is left without a mother and her affection, this has the most harmful effect. As you can see, religion has nothing to do with it. This is pure biology. We need love. “
How to beat irritability
“Ask yourself: how real is the cause of your irritation? Even if someone criticizes you or attacks you, consider why? After all, this person has not been your enemy since birth. He was forced to treat you negatively by certain circumstances. There can be many reasons, but as a rule, your attitude becomes an important aggravating factor, and it cannot be ignored. You understand that you are being criticized now because you have done something in the past that your opponent did not like. When you figure out that you yourself had a hand in this person’s negative attitude towards you, irritation and anger will immediately decrease. Then you also realize that by nature a person is kind and inclined to compassion and the opponent does not want to harm you at all. His emotions were born from misunderstanding or ignorance. His actions are the result of destructive experiences. You can develop concern, compassion, even pity at the sight of his pain and suffering: how sad that he cannot control himself and experiences such negative feelings! And instead of being angry and annoyed, you will feel sorry for your opponent and feel genuine concern about him. “
Relax and enjoy the process
“Symptoms of chronic stress include feeling fragmented, feeling like you’re trying to catch up with time and losing your sense of the present. Each person strives for a calm, joyful state of being, but it does not arise in a hurry. “
Both sadness and joy
“We are trying hard to separate joy from sorrow, to lock each of these states in different boxes. But the archbishop and the Dalai Lama claim they are interconnected. Both spiritual leaders are not adherents of fleeting happiness, which is also called hedonistic: happiness of positive states, which does not accept sadness and sends it into emotional link. The happiness they speak of is often called eudemonic. It is characterized by a person’s understanding of his nature, meaningfulness, striving for spiritual development and acceptance of all life manifestations, including inevitable suffering. “
Hope as an antidote to despair
“The optimist starts with premonitions, not reality. It seems to us that everything will be fine, or it seems that everything will be bad. But hope is not based on ephemeral feelings, but on firm conviction. I believe that there are no absolutely hopeless situations. Hope is deeper than optimism, and it is a feeling that is almost impossible to shake. It is not born in the head, but somewhere deep inside. Over there. ”He pointed to his belly.
Despair is caused by intense grief, but despair can also be a defensive reaction when we are in frustration and heartache. To be indifferent and cynical is easier, calmer for our “I”, because unlike hope, indifference and cynicism do not require showing vulnerability and taking risks. Choosing hope, we step forward and expose our bosom to the elements and the howling wind, but we know that over time, the storm will subside.
Hope is the antidote to despair, the archbishop explained. – But it does not exist without faith, even if it is not faith in God, but in the inherent kindness of people, or in the fact that life itself will lead us on the right path. Hope is also fueled by relationships with people and a sense of community – whether with people you know or with those who have suffered for humanity before us – Gandhi, King, Mandela and many others. Despair makes you sink into yourself. Hope embraces people like us. “
Trust Vs. Loneliness
“Only love and kindness bring happiness. Only they give us strength and confidence, tame fears, teach us trust, and only it helps to establish friendships. We are social animals, cooperation is necessary for our survival, but without trust there can be no cooperation. Trust unites individuals and nations. By developing generosity and the ability to empathize, we create a more positive and friendly atmosphere around us, we begin to see friends everywhere. If we are filled with fear and mistrust, people will keep their distance from us. They will also have a desire to be cautious, suspicious and distrustful. And after that, loneliness will come. “
“Spirit is like muscle,” he concluded. – If you want to maintain their tone, you need to give the muscles resistance. Then the physical strength will increase. You cannot strengthen muscles without loading them. It is unrealistic to increase the volume of the chest while sitting motionless: you have to climb a mountain. You always have to go, let’s say, against your nature. The natural desire of a person is to remain in place at rest. But if you indulge in this desire and turn into a sofa dog, it will affect you negatively. What is good for the physical body, surprisingly, is good for spiritual development. When our kindness is tested, we only become kinder. “
Acceptance as a cure for stress
“Acceptance shows all the senselessness of fighting the current of everyday life. The Dalai Lama explained that our expectations are the source of stress and anxiety. We think that life should be this and that. But as soon as we recognize that life is what it is and does not have to meet our expectations, immediately the movement along the path of life becomes smoother. “
Compassion that makes us and the world a better place
“Concern about the fate of others is a very valuable quality. The human brain is uniquely designed, but it causes us a lot of suffering, because we think all the time: me, me, me. The more we think about ourselves, the more we suffer. The most amazing thing is that if we start to think about how to alleviate the suffering of others, it also becomes easier for us. This is the true secret of happiness. Compassion is a very practical skill. In fact, it makes sense to empathize with others. “
“The difference between empathy and compassion is that in the first case, we just experience the same emotions as the object of empathy. Compassion is a much more active attitude; when we are compassionate, we really want the best. The Dalai Lama explained this difference well: if we see that a person is crushed by a stone, then we will not go under the stone to understand the feelings of that person. Our task is to remove the stone. “