The Book of Joy (Book Summary)


Are you looking to get down to the nitty-gritty of “The Book of Joy”? Keep reading because you’ll find what you’re looking for in this book summary! 

Have you ever got a chance to dive deep to understand the true essence of life? Imagine the two highly spiritual leaders sharing their wisdom on life and joy. Wouldn’t it be once in a lifetime opportunity to get a chance to know those valuable insights? 

What if you are on the verge of losing your mental peace amidst daily life hassles? How would you find ways to be happy in the face of adversities? Would you dive in the sea of distress, or choose the path of joy? 

Alright, let’s buckle up, this post will answer all your questions.

Why This Book

“The Book of Joy,” written by Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu, is a self-help book that will help you Find The Secret Sauce Of Long-Lasting Joy and how to overcome adversities in life. 

This work is the result of a meeting between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, who talked about their life and joys.

Anyway, is it really true that life is full of hardships with happiness being a state of mind, not a destination? Hi, Success Titan reader, I’m Aishwarya Jain, and the answers to all these questions are what you’ll find out in this book summary.

Who’s It For

  • All those who are facing existential crises and trying to find that meaning or purpose in their lives;
  • People who are looking to find joy despite suffering and pain;
  • Everyone who is trying to chase happiness.

What You’ll Learn

  • Adversity is inevitable, but that’s okay. Don’t fret over it; rather, try to maintain the attitude of compassion and forgiveness.
  • Fear, anger, and hatred exist internally as much as they exist in the external world. You can always decide what things mean to us and how to react under different circumstances.
  • Suffering is an integral part of life, and how you deal with it depends heavily on how well you have trained your mind.
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In a Nutshell

The Book of Joy has been envisioned as a three-layer birthday cake – stories and teachings about the joy of both the spiritual leaders’, recent findings in the science of deep happiness, and the daily practices that anchor their emotional and spiritual lives. Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu were tested by great personal and national adversity. Through this book, they have shared their personal stories of struggle and renewal, and with this medium, they want to spread the vital message that “to have joy yourself, you must bring joy to others.”

3 Sentence Summary

  • The book has three parts – “The Nature of True Joy,” “The Obstacles of Joy,” and “The Eight Pillars of Joy.” The first part describes the real essence of joy as Joy is all about focusing less on yourselves, then only you will begin to find joy in others. 
  • The second part talks about how vices and frustrations refrain us from joy. Anger, arrogance, jealousy, greed, frustration, fear, anxiety rob your joys. You need to fight those impediments to remain strong in joy.
  • The third part talks about the “Eight Pillars of Joy,” the eight actions and ideas that will yield joy in your lives. Perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion are the pillars with which you can find joy and shower world with love.

Big Ideas

The big ideas we’ll explore together:

  1. Suffering is a part of life, but there is a catch.
  2. Patience is the key when you can’t act.
  3. Your mental state can help you conquer adversities.
  4. Joy is everywhere if you know where to look.
  5. Joy is not happiness.

Let’s Go!

Big Idea #1: Suffering is a part of life, but there is a catch.

Sufferings include fear, stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, sadness, grief, despair, loneliness, envy, adversity, illness, fear of death. Tutu and the Dalai Lama claimed that suffering is an essential part of life. Suffering allows you to profoundly cherish the positive moments. 

A Relatable Example

Let’s think of birth-giving, where the pain is a blessing in disguise. Motherhood is an epitome of unconditional love. God has created women on purpose to demonstrate strength through grace, tenderness, and beauty. Giving birth to a child involves suffering, but the moments that come afterward are precious and heavenly.

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Big Idea #2: Patience is the key when you can’t act.

There are a plethora of situations in your life where you tend to feel helpless, or when you have little control over something. Patience is a weapon to keep your cool in difficult situations as it cultivates the peace of mind that can help you become emotionally and mentally strong.

A Relatable Example

Let’s think of a canceled flight, a delayed meeting, or a traffic jam, these scenarios give you a hard time and test your patience. Patience will allow you to overcome that momentary lapse of judgment in order to make informed decisions. Rather than getting emotionally hijacked and reacting quickly in a situation, if you wait till the situation normalizes, you will be in a better position to make decisions.

Big Idea #3: Your mental state can help you conquer adversities.

The way you deal with adversities indicates how trained your mind is. The first step is understanding the nature of adversities as they are not rooted in reality; in fact, they are the facets of your mind. Train your mind to be strong.

A Relatable Example

Let’s think of a case if your mental state is weak, then sufferings can make you weak, you will think about giving up or simply quit to escape the situation. And, If you are level-headed and your mental state is strong, you will be much better poised to recover sooner and face the hardships boldly. You can find joy despite the problems that you are facing as you don’t let them control your life anymore.

Big Idea #4: Joy is everywhere if you know where to look.

When you proactively bring joy to others, you absorb some of that joy yourselves. Joy, as both the spiritual leaders have explained, is a by-product of compassionate living, happiness and joy are omnipresent.

A Relatable Example

Let’s think of selfless acts like charity and donations. The ability to give back to those in need can help you get joy, achieve a greater sense of personal satisfaction. With the joy of giving comes positive self-esteem and more optimism towards life. Always try to make this world a better place to become the best version of yourself.

Big Idea #5: Joy is not happiness.

Joy is not equivalent to happiness. Rather, it is the steadfast inner calm that helps a person to maintain equilibrium through anything. The authors explained, Joy as the experience of those things that make life satisfying or worth living. In fact, Joy subsumes happiness.

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A Relatable Example

Let’s think of internal and external triggers. Joy and happiness both are amazing feelings to experience but are extremely different. Joy is consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes from within when you make peace with yourself. Happiness is usually externally triggered and is often dependent on other people, materialistic things, places, thoughts, and whatnot. 

Your Takeaway

“The Book of Joy” provides an opportunity to experience the wisdom shared by two spiritual leaders. While Perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion are the eight pillars of joy, you can always find a way to discover the peace and compassion that can inspire you in your life.

If You Were My Best Friend

I would have been happy to recommend a book like “The Book of Joy” that unravels the wisdom shared by spiritual masters about living with joy even in the face of adversity. I would definitely want you to read something that would be truly uplifting and, hopefully, enlightening. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu embody kindness, courage, compassion, and humility to inspire you to be your best selves.

About the Author

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World is a book written by 14th Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Lhamo Thondup, aka 14th Dalai Lama, is the current Dalai Lama, who is the spiritual leader of Tibet. The Dalai Lama travels extensively to promote kindness and compassion, interfaith understanding, awareness about the environment, and most importantly, world peace.

Desmond Tutu is a South African Anglican cleric and theologian, who worked as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. During his entire life, he cared deeply about the needs of people across the globe and taught the real essence of love, peace, and compassion to everyone.

Both of them excellently demonstrated exuberance, love, and humor and taught everyone how to transform joy from a fleeting emotion into an enduring way of life.

Reading Suggestions

  • “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” – Eckhart Tolle
  • “Eat, Pray, Love” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” – Travis Bradberry
  • “Man’s Search for Meaning” – Viktor E. Frankl
  • “The Secret” – Rhonda Byrne

How would you improve this book summary? Comment below and let us know so that we can serve you better!

P.S. If you want to share your own life experiences related to this, let everybody know!

A strong believer in “Love what you do & Do what you Love”. A content person by passion and profession!
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