Recently, someone gave The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World a big huge wholehearted recommendation, and even encouraged listening to it as an audiobook. In the midst of preparing to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee in March, I haven’t felt like I had the luxury of reading anything that isn’t on the MFC reading list, but an audiobook sounded possible, and in the dreariness of this winter, I could sure use some joy.
So, with a free trial of Audible in hand, I downloaded the book and spent about 2 weeks listening to it in the car, at the gym, and sometimes in the shower. And now I’m giving it a big, huge, wholehearted recommendation to you!
If you’re not familiar with it, the book is largely comprised of the edited transcripts, a retelling if you will, of a days-long conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The substance of their conversation is, as the title suggests, the practice of joy in a world in which joy often feels hard to find, let alone cultivate or sustain.
I won’t spoil it for you, and suggest you check it out yourself, but I will say this – it is one of the few books that is on my list of required reading (or listening), for pretty much everyone I know right now. Their “unpacking” of joy is incredibly helpful, taking it out of the realm of the transitory and saccharine and into our lives as an everyday practice that’s about choosing how we want to meet the world and live our lives.
For these two teachers, joy isn’t just a nice thing to have on the side, a bonus we get for living a comfortable and privileged life, but is instead a state of heart and mind that can, and should, be cultivated to live in this world. Which is to say that for them, joy is a cornerstone of resilience. And as an extra bonus, the final section of the book includes spiritual practices suggested by both that offer us a practical guide to building our capacity to experience joy.
Check it out. Work with the practices. Let me know how it goes. See you at church.