How do we live with joy amidst all the suffering? Is the question that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archpishop Desmond Tutu discuss in The Book of Joy. A relevant question in a world filled with so much suffering.  In this blog I would like to share with you what I’ve learned from the book.

All of us wish that we could find a way to be happy and avoid the suffering. Unfortunately that is not how life works. The beautiful things in life usually come from some sort of suffering. In fact it is the suffering that enable (or forces) us to grow and to develop.

“Discovering more joy does also not save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak’’ according to Desmond Tutu. However, we may not be able to control the unavoidable facts of life but we can control whether we want to add ‘chosen suffering’ with what we create in our own minds and heart.

In the book they highlighted that joy is a by-product of deeper qualities of the mind and heart. If we cultivate the following qualities it will allow us to experience joy:

Qualities of the mind

  • Perspective – We can gain a wider perspective if we take a step back, within our own mind, and move beyond our limited self-interest, look at the bigger picture and the perspective of others. This enables us to empathize with others and we start to see the interdependence that surrounds us all.
  • Humility – Comes from the Latin word humus that means earth or soil. Humility “brings us back down to earth” .
  • Humour – The ability to laugh at ourselves and not to be too serious. “If you start looking for the humour in life, you will find it. You will stop asking, Why me? and start recognizing that life happens to all of us. It makes everything easier, including your ability to accept others and accept all that life will bring.”
  • Acceptance – Enables us to stop resisting that life is not as we would wish and allows us to engage with life as it is in a more relaxed and clearer way. ” When we accept the present, we can forgive and release the desire for a different past”

Qualities of the heart

  • Forgiveness – In forgiving others we choose not to develop anger and hatred. If we forgive the person that harmed us we take back control of our happiness and free ourselves. It does not mean that we can’t oppose the action (that what has been done to you).
  • Gratitude – Allows us to see what is good in the world and not just what is bad. It enables us to see the gift in the difficult times and the opportunities that may exist.
  • Compassion – The basic human nature is to be compassionate. The word compassion means ‘suffering with’. “A compassionate concern for others’ well-being is the source of happiness.”
  • Generosity – We are interdependent and need one another. Giving to others (whether it is our time, money, skills, etc.) brings meaning to our lives and is the fastest way to experience joy.

When we choose to heal our own suffering we are more able to turn to others and help them in their suffering. The more we are able to sit with and transcend our own suffering. The more we will be able to live with joy in a world filled with suffering.

Learning: I can choose to cultivate joy in my life no matter the circumstances.

 Healing question: How can I choose joy today

Be grateful for everything


When we start to become grateful to everyone and everything, we begin to make peace with people we dislike and aspects of ourselves that we rejected. We begin to view things differently. We start to view difficult situations as opportunities for growth. In her book ‘Start where you are: A guide to compassionate living’, Pema Chördön writes that once you practise to be grateful you realise that the people you dislike the most are actually your teachers. They mirror hidden aspects of ourselves and give us an opportunity to befriend ourselves.

As I was reflecting on the period in my life when I was about nine and ten years of age, I realised that there were some events that happened that I disliked. I sat with it for a while. If I really wanted to I could dwell in the negative but I chose to look at it through the eyes of gratitude. Once I did that the learning from that event became clearer. Now I can look back at the event and feel grateful for it.

It inspired me to write a gratitude meditation that I would like to share with you:

Gratitude meditation

I am grateful for the learnings that accompanied my birth and life thus far.

I am grateful for my imperfections, as they teach me acceptance.

I am grateful for the wisdom of my body and the vessel that it is for my soul.


I am grateful for the variety of people with me on the journey.

I am grateful for the softness of touch.

I am grateful for moments of beauty and joy.


I am grateful to be in this world of complexity and simplicity.

I am grateful to be here with the confusion and clarity.

I am grateful to be aware that I do not know.


I am grateful that my pain is never more than I can bear.

I am grateful that love can endure suffering.

I am grateful that I can trust the process.


May I learn my lessons with ease.

May I open myself to love with all my heart even if it makes me vulnerable.

May I express my gratitude towards others.


Learning: Be grateful for everything

 Healing question: How can I be and feel more grateful for the struggles in my life?



The beautiful quote about gratitude by Melodie Beattie inspired today’s blog. She said:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

After reading the quote I started to reflect on what I’m grateful for. I realized that I don’t spend enough time being grateful for all that is good in my life. We tend to focus on the obstacles, difficulties and things that are not working out as we planned. Instead of focusing our energy to give thanks.

When we say ‘thank you’ we let the other person know that we appreciate him or her, that what they did was good enough. This gesture connects people. It creates a positive energy that motivates us to be kinder, happier and more forgiving to others (and ourselves).

What are you grateful for? I want to challenge you to take some time this week to write down the things that you are grateful for and to express gratitude to others.