I recently read an interesting book called The Book of Joy, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Douglas Abrams. It was a collaboration between His Holiness ,the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Both men have been through extraordinary hardship themselves and with their people. Yet through faith and an extraordinary view on life they have found ways to not only survive but inspire millions to have love, forgiveness and faith.
They talked about 8 pillars of happiness, 4 of the mind and 4 of the heart. The mind consisted of: perspective, humility, humor and acceptance. The heart qualities are forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity. I thought it would be interesting to highlight each point, I mean who does not want more Joy in their life.
Our perspective shapes our reaction to every situation. If we take a different perspective we get a different view. They challenge us to take a wider perspective when faced with a conflict. Try not focus on yourself but on others, which is not an easy thing to do. When we look at things from the other parties perspective we have a chance at understanding instead of anger or victimizing ourselves. Remember people are innately good and most conflicts are a misunderstanding.
They also referenced an interesting study done by Larry Scherwitz. This study found people who think or talk with self-involvement; “I” and “me” and “mine” instead of the wider perspective of “we” and “us” and “ours” actually had a greater risk for a heart attack. Self-involved thinking leads to an increase in blood pressure, stress levels, depression and anxiety. When they looked further they found subjects had a higher rate of coronary artery disease, high risk of a second heart attack and higher chance of not surviving either heart attack. Now if that is not a scary thought, I don’t what is. Thinking about yourself and talking about yourself constantly to others actually physiologically increases your risk of heart disease and on top of that makes you less happy.
“That car cut me off!!” you probably weren’t the only one and who knows why they are driving like a jerk maybe they are late to work or rushing to the hospital…maybe they are jerk.
“why is this person yelling at me I didn’t do anything” maybe they lost their job or are having trouble at home leading to having a bad day. I am sure that person did wake up and think, “you know what today I am going to get super angry and yell at someone.”
They say having a wider perspective does not mean you let bad things happen to you or you do not work to your fix problems. It means that when you approach the situation or before you react, you take a moment to think why it may be happening. So much easier said than done, I can’t count the times I react to something and then a moment later think it through realizing I have done nothing but make matters worse.
But if we can do this, if we can be more humble, we can experience more joy. Thinking with a wider perspective makes us realize that we are all human. As humans we are a social creature and we are all on this planet together. Don’t you think we should work together?
Next pillar is humility…
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