The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

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Winner of the 2016 Books for a Better Life Award in Spirituality

“The question may be timeless, but their answer has urgent significance.”
—Time Magazine

Douglas Abrams brought together two titans and spiritual legends, Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, both Nobel Peace Prize holders, to capture their humanity, wisdom and humor, in a one week meeting, to celebrate Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday.

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Archbishop Tutu had been sick before the meeting and Dalai Lama’s visa had been denied to visit him in South Africa due to China’s pressure, so they finally meet in Dalai Lama’s main temple in India.

Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama wanted to give a gift to the world, by exploring their shared philosophy and values. They talk about joy and happiness as the very purpose of our lives, and teach ways to achieve satisfaction and fulfillment.

This book is a dialog about their deep beliefs of the heart and soul, based on the incredible experiences, hardship and suffering in their lives. They articulate and provide the world with their infinite source of wisdom and joy.

About the Authors

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

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Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan People and of Tibetan Buddhism. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and the US Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. He has been a passionate advocate for a secular universal approach to cultivating fundamental human values. He lives in exile in Dharamsala, India.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu

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Archbishop Emeritus of Southern Africa, is a prominent leader in the crusade for justice and racial reconciliation in South Africa. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. In 1994, Tutu was appointed chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission by Nelson Mandela, where he pioneered a new way for countries to move forward after experiencing civil conflict and oppression.

Douglas Abrams

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Douglas is an author, editor, and literary agent. He is the founder and president of Idea Architects, a creative book and media agency helping visionaries to create a wiser, healthier, and more just world. He is also the co-founder with Pam Omidyar and Desmond Tutu of, a public benefit company working to share life-changing and world-changing ideas.

Key points

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  • Explore joy in the face of suffering
  • Understand the key profound difference between joy and pleasure
  • Find joy in the reality of our lives, so often filled with suffering
  • Challenge western view of aversion to pain and suffering
  • Learn about how to metabolize pain into joy
  • Examine the quality of our character and approach to life
  • Explore joy as a byproduct of those qualities we must cultivate
  • Not a Buddhist, not a Christian book
  • Universal book, takes science into account as well
  • Book about universal principles of being human

Book’s structure

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Part I. The nature of true joy

In the first day of the meeting, both icons explore what is joy and the differences from happiness. They also explore the three fundamental negative human emotions: fear, anger and sadness. It’s an exploration of what makes life a positive, exciting and fulfilled experience.

Part II. Obstacles of joy

The second and third days of the one week meeting, they explore everything from fear, frustration, anger, envy, illness, suffering to even fear of death.

Part III. Eight pillars of joy

If the 4th and 5th days they explore the four pillars of the heart and the four pillar of the mind. They get very specific about their ways to sustain joy.

Part IV. Joy and spiritual practices

The end of the book contains about 50 pages of very profound practices they shared with the world, so you can actually do what they do when they are faced with anger, sadness and suffering.


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It’s quite powerful to learn from two titans arguing how people are harming themselves by inflicting harm on others. The book teaches about the power of compassion for those who normally seek revenge; they reconcile the impulse to hit back when we are hit, with the natural impulse to forgive.

During the dialog they do have some disagreements about how to deal with negative emotions, but they share the feel of love for others, that allows joy to take root.

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They conclude that happiness and satisfaction in life is a warm heart in a healthy body. This is really central to their understanding about what leads to a joyful and fulfilled life.

This book captures a remarkable moment in history and immortalizes it by sharing the dialog with everyone, making sure that the spirit of the meeting caries on.

It’s a great looking book, with a beautiful paper cover, with a kind of old school well designed hardcover.

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Disclaimer: is not related to the real public figure Ivanka. This is an independent Amazon Affiliate article. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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