The Book of Joy Review 2021

Who wouldn’t love to find joy? The Dalai Lama, an internationally renowned spiritual teacher, and Desmond Tutu have published a book on how to find joy in the midst of all kinds of sorrow. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness In a Changing World was their joint effort to share teachings about joy and love, humility, inner peace, and self-control.

It could use a strong edit to remove some of the unnecessary details that slow down the reading of this book. The Book of Joy provides a beautiful insight into the friendship between the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Tutu, and the amazing depth of their experience in finding peace in the most difficult circumstances.

Douglas Abrams interviewed His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu in their book of joy. They spent a week together in Dharamsala (India), deepening their friendship, and celebrating their birthdays. They share the lessons they have learned about joy from two very different people over their long lives.

The Book Of Joy

They remind us that happiness is not our birthright, but joy is. They share their wisdom on how to find joy in the face of life’s inevitable sadness. They explore together how joy can be more than a temporary feeling one day a week and become a permanent way of being. This book is not a Buddhist or Christian book. It is a universal Book of Joy that supports science and tradition as well as opinion.

The authors share their insights about the nature of true joy and how to overcome them. According to research from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow, Scotland, there are only four basic emotions: fear and anger. Sadness and joy or happiness are the other. Joy is about exploring the human experience that makes it satisfying.

The Dalai Lama explains that creating joy is dependent on how we react to situations and our relationships with others. There will be events that cause fear, anger, or sadness. They are part and parcel of life’s woof. They do not have to be the only determinants of our identity. These seemingly negative things can be used to our advantage.

Nelson Mandela’s 27-year stint in prison was one example. It helped him to be more compassionate and magnanimous, which allowed him to become the first black president of South Africa.

Another example is the way the Dalai Lama has grown in spirituality and empathy after being forced into exile by the Chinese invasion in Tibet in the 1950s. He says, “We heal our pain by looking at the pain of others.” “The more we are open to others, the more joy and joy we feel, the better we can be. . . A reservoir of joy, peace, and serenity that can be shared with others.

Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

Lynn Smith-Lovin, the sociologist, found that close friends have dropped from three to two. Although we may have hundreds of Facebook friends to our credit, the number of close friends that we actually have is decreasing. One in ten people stated that they have no close friends.

Archbishop Tutu said that he hopes the Book of Joy will help us see how wired we are for cooperation and togetherness. To be human, you need to have other people. They put you in isolation confinement when they want you to be punished. Because you cannot thrive without the company of other humans. You can’t give them what you don’t have, no matter how rich you are.”

He says that joy is the reward of giving joy to others. If we love others and do the right thing for them, we’ll feel a deep joy we can’t get any other way.

The book’s first section is filled with eight joy pillars, which are the authors’ honest reflections. Four of these are mental qualities: perspective, humility, and humor; and four relate to the heart: compassion, forgiveness, generosity, compassion, and kindness.

Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu present simple practices that can be used to overcome joy’s obstacles and support the eight pillars. These practices can be used on a daily basis or as needed.

The book’s contents are rich, simple, humorous, and easy to read. Its purpose is to encourage us to practice more joy in our daily lives.

It is important to start with the basics. What is joy?

Joy is not happiness. It’s the happy feeling you get from unexpected people or a compliment. Joy is a steady inner calm that helps people maintain their equilibrium in the face of any situation. According to the authors, joy is a subset of happiness. Joy is, in its most profound sense, the exploration and experience of things that make life “satisfying.”

These men are fluent in their language. The Dalai Lama fled China’s invasion of Tibet and lived most of his adult life in exile. Tutu, a champion of human rights whose efforts led to the collapse of South Africa’s apartheid regime, was also part of the truth-telling and reconciliation efforts in the country. These men have experienced personal and public pain. They are determined to live happy lives. They challenge us all to do the exact same.

How can we live joyously? Living with humility is one way to live joyfully. The Book of Joy reveals that neither Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu sees themselves as exceptional individuals. These men live simple lives, mainly devoted to meditation and prayer. They are men who, despite having immense influence, recognize their humanity and that of others. Living joyfully requires that we have true humility in our lives, and not try to be better than the Joneses.

Death, illness, and other unfavorable experiences in life take up much of the book’s space. These are all issues that we will all experience in some way. However, these problems can be dealt with with integrity and grace. No one escapes suffering. It is part of the human experience.

These men show us how to not have to go through these same traumas again and again, as they speak clearly. It hurts when we stub our feet, but it doesn’t mean that we have to carry the pain with us. Just think about how it hurt last week. Carrying our suffering is a choice. It prevents us from experiencing the most profound moments of joy.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

We also discuss forgiveness and gratitude. There is always a solution to every problem. Compassion can help you forgive. Archbishop Tutu was a victim of an abusive and alcohol-dependent father. The Dalai Lama said that the man was a good person when he was sober and not when he was drunk. This is not a reason for the man’s bad behavior. It is a way to show compassion for him and his family and take the blame out of a horrible situation.

The same applies to gratitude. Tutu is battling cancer. He will soon be dead. He is not discouraged. He expresses gratitude for the life that he has lived and the time he spends with his family and close friends. He prefers to reflect on a well-lived life. He doesn’t dwell on regrets. Although it seems difficult to follow his path, Tutu’s joy is derived from the choices he makes regarding the thoughts he dwells on and those that he moves away from. Perspective is the key to joy.

Some parts of the book are a bit long. The Book of Joydocuments a multiday visit by the monk to the Dalai Lama’s residence, India. It describes every detail about the Dalai Lama’s laughter and the mischievous expression on Tutu’s face. These details are wonderful the first few times, but overall it is too much.

Douglas Abrams, the book’s author, has added a lot of scientific information. This important information corroborates clergymen’s teachings but it would have been more useful to include in appendices, or in a section dedicated to the science of joy, instead of just the descriptions of interactions between holy men.

An excellent appendix is found at the end of this book, titled Joy Practices. These exercises can be done by anyone who wants to feel joy, live with humility, and face life with grace and wisdom.

Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu, both are old men. They will likely never meet again, as the reader and the rest of the world know. Book of Joy is unique teaching that is a delight for people who wish to live more fully. It is an opportunity to see adversity with a different eye, and to find your first reaction to it is to smile and breathe deeply.

About the Author

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. He is the spiritual leader for the Tibetan People as well as Tibetan Buddhism. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and in 2007, the US Congressional Gold Medal. He was born in 1935 to a poor family of farmers in northeastern Tibet. At the age of two, he was identified as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama. He is a passionate advocate of a secular universal approach to cultivating human fundamental values. The Dalai Lama has been in constant contact with scientists from many disciplines for over 30 years. He co-founded the Mind and Life Institute. The Dalai Lama is an international traveler who promotes kindness, compassion, interfaith understanding, and respect for the environment. He currently lives in exile in Dharamsala in India. Visit for more information.

Authors The Book Of Joy

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was a prominent leader in South Africa’s struggle for justice and racial reconciliation. In 1984, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and in 2009 the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Nelson Mandela appointed Tutu as the chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1994. He pioneered a new approach for countries that had suffered civil conflict and oppression. The Elders is a global group of leaders who work together for peace, human rights and the preservation of natural resources. Archbishop Tutu has been praised as an inspiration and a leader in morality. He has been deeply concerned about the well-being of all people throughout his life. He lives in Cape Town South Africa. Visit for more information.

Douglas Abrams, an author, editor, and literary agent, is a writer. Idea Architects is his creative book and media agency that helps visionaries create a better, healthier, and more just world. Doug worked for Desmond Tutu for over a decade as his editor and co-writer. Prior to founding his literary agency, Doug was a senior editor at HarperCollins, as well as serving nine years as the University of California Press religion editor. He strongly believes in the power and potential of media and books to help catalyze the next phase of global evolutionary culture. He lives in Santa Cruz (California).

What the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu wanted to say

The Book of Joy was based on a week-long conversation between His Holiness Archbishop Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They explored the concept of Joy.

They were not only talking about it but they also lived it. The book’s cover photo shows them smiling at each other. Even better is the back cover photo (shown above). Here they are, two holy men shakin’ their groove. Although the Dalai Lama may be a little out of practice, Archbishop Tutu makes up for it.

The name of religion can cause so much division in the world, but this was not the case. They found great common ground, rather than religion being a divide.

Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

They have shared many hardships. What is truly amazing about their lives is their compassion, forgiveness, and joy, not because of their hardships but because of the lessons they have learned.

The distinction they made between happiness and joy was very appealing to me. While happiness is a temporary emotion, they saw joy as something deeper and more permanent than that. It is not dependent on external circumstances. The Dalai Lama recognized kindness and compassion as key sources of joy.

Three simple methods were identified by the Dalai Lama to deal with much of the turmoil in the world today by the Dalai Lama:

  • Education
  • Contact us for more information
  • Love

It’s simple, but not easy in a world where willful ignorance seems all the more common.

The following quote was from Archbishop Tutu, which I found especially powerful:

Resignation and cynicism can be easier and more soothing than the vulnerable and dangerous position of hope. You can choose to choose hope by standing tall in the wind and exposing your chest to the elements. Knowing that the storm will pass, you can be confident.

The book also addresses the power to forgive, which is directed towards the person rather than the action. Archbishop Tutu said that:

“We remain tied to the person who hurt us without forgiveness.” We cannot forgive them until we do. That person will be our jailor. We can forgive and take back control over our fates and feelings when we forgive. We are our own liberators.”

Eight pillars of joy were identified by Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. These are rooted in the heart, mind, and soul and can be practiced and cultivated by people.

  • Mind: Perspective, humility, humor, acceptance
  • heart: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, generosity

The concepts covered in this book will not be difficult or new to most people. The passion of the authors for the subject matter is what makes this book special. It is light-hearted and uplifting. It is also a great reminder of our shared humanity.

BothDalai Lama and Desmond Tutu are examples of how two religious traditions can be brought together to create harmony, rather than divide. This book is a beacon of light in a world that seems to be heading to hell in its handbasket.

Douglas Abrams wrote that “The Book of Joy” contains a dialogue between Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It has been eight weeks since the book’s introduction. It’s currently at No. 14. Abrams, who helped to write and conceived the book, is taking some liberties in the name comedy. He actually identifies himself as secular despite having Jewish roots. The participants met in Dharamsala (India) at the Dalai Lama’s residence over the course of one week last year. A little humor is okay when the topic is joy. The book suggests that you try to have a good time laughing at your problems, your flaws, and your weaknesses. There is always humor, even if the situation is very serious or grave. Humor is often the saving grace in human drama. Don’t believe what they say.

Dalai Lama and Archbishop

All in all, the book’s recommendations are sound, even if not surprising: Be humble, help others and practice gratitude and forgiveness. The Dalai Lama says that everyone seeks happiness and joy, but it comes from the outside. “From money, power, big car, big house, or from money,” he said. People don’t pay enough attention to the source of happiness, which is inside. The source of your physical health is within, not outside.

He continues on in this vein for a few moments more, until Tutu interrupts. “It’s very hard to follow your very deep pronouncements,” he states.

This suggests that archbishop Desmond Tutu is the gentler and more mischievous of them both. For example, Tutu recalls a joint appearance in Seattle by the Dalai Lama. And Desmond Tutu laughs, the Dalai Lama adds, “It’s really quite not nice.” It is a good idea to ask for my popularity to increase.


Primarily, people think joy is something that can only be understood in abstract terms. It is easy to see that the writers are stating it clearly: To understand what joy is and how to achieve it, you must first understand what joy looks like overcome the Obstacles of Joy to build the eight joy pillars. Each section is covered at a high level of conceptual understanding. This is why I don’t think you can read it in a hurry. It is important to take time to read the book in a relaxed and comfortable environment where you can fully be aware of your surroundings and reflect on them. They can also provide more technical instruction in the classroom. Joy Practices part, where you can learn and practice them every day. It is a delight to see the authors include the perspectives of neuroscientists and psychologists, along with their latest findings of how the brain, mind, and body work. The theory is confirmed and matches the evidence, leaving us unable to doubt the idea.

Cons: You might feel that the story is repetitive in certain parts. To be understood by the brain properly, good advice may need to be repeated many times. The writings may seem dull to some people, but the teachings of kindness, compassion, and other virtues can be found all over (bibles, school books, etc.). This is not a list of new teachings but a complete one.

Side note: I learned a lot about Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, Tibetan Buddhism, and was excited to visit the world’s historical section.


As the book is written by two great spiritual masters, and Archbishop of Monks and an Archbishop, I was initially concerned that it would be filled with religious terms or holy verses. Joy is an essential and universal language for all living beings. This would be true regardless of your faith, so even non-believers could gain new perspectives. You can be a spiritual leader or regular employee, a mother, or a child. This book is a must-read for anyone who seeks joy, whether they are believers or not. His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, has been exiled for approximately fifty years. Archbishop Tutu was imprisoned in his youth and had fought apartheidism. These two men of honor have shared their experiences with humanity and the ugly side of history in this book. It might have taught you something about true joy.

Readers Reviews


If I could, I would give Book of Joy more stars. It is currently my third time reading it and I still find new ideas and ways to think. It is very informative about Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. But the majority of the book challenges one’s thinking and way of living. This Book of Joy was purchased because I have anxiety and depression, and sometimes struggle to find joy in my life. Although I don’t claim that this book will cure you, it has helped me. After experiencing some difficulties at work, with negative coworkers, and having to choose joy, I decided to read this book again. This Book of Joy is a must-read (even if your religion doesn’t matter, even if it’s not about the men mentioned, you will still benefit from its insights). I will definitely be purchasing copies to give as Christmas gifts.


Book of Joy is by two of the happiest and genuine people alive. Both have experienced great pain and terrible sorrow but they are still happy. Is that possible? How is that possible? Although the format is informal and slightly different from what most of us are used to, the words…

“I believe that everyone is responsible for creating a better world. It is essential to show more concern for the well-being of others. In other words, kindness and compassion …” (HH, the Dalai Lama). This book shows how to create a happier world. Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31 Holy Bible). You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself. “The ultimate source for happiness is within ourselves.” (HH)

Meditations and prayers are included in the back of the book to aid us on our daily quest to find true joy, the ultimate source of our happiness. Once we have found it, we will be able to share it with everyone.

There is no index, which is my only complaint. Book of Joy is highly recommended to all spiritual seekers, regardless of where they are at this point in their journey. You should also consider buying a hard copy that you can take notes in so you can quickly find what you need. Although I do know that writing in books is not allowed, it makes me happy.


Book of Joy of passion and love, which I found difficult to match today’s expectations due to marketing hype, exceeded my expectations. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu shared and created a work that was joyous, liberating, and free. It was also a work full of compassion, commitment, and eye-opening for all those who share this time and place. This Book Of Joy, which draws on their personal experiences and knowledge of both faiths, as well as knowledge of applied biosciences, points to a life of joy and shared love through the commonality and diversity of two faith traditions. The Book of Joy then discusses current research that supports the practices of both religions and the positive, measurable benefits they have on the human body as a whole. It would be easy to conclude there, but it does not. Instead, it ends with the sharing of the joy and living of two faithful brothers and a celebration of a dispersed but joy-filled community. In my sixty years of life, I have never seen anything like it. I hope it will bring the same experience to everyone. All involved, thank you.


Book of Joy is a pleasure to read. “The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are not only two of the greatest spiritual masters of our age, but they are also moral leaders who transcend traditional traditions and speak with a concern for humanity as an entire …”. JOY is more than happy. Joy is independent of external circumstances. Happiness is often seen as dependent on them. The Book of Joy is the product of a week spent talking with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop about the “purpose” of life, the goal to avoid suffering and find happiness. The Archbishop expressed concern about “crossing wits” with the Dalai Lama. “He is more cerebral,” refers to the Dalai Lama’s love of intellectual inquiry, debate, and scientific exploration. “I’m more intuitive” – his deep visceral knowledge and prayerful surrender were the keys to all major turning points in his personal and professional lives and in his mission to end apartheid. This is the beginning of the conversation about the nature and purpose of true joy.

When they started the project, most people asked them not how to find their own joy but how they could live with joy in a world full of suffering.


What happens when Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu are seated to discuss Joy? There will be laughter, chuckles and chortles as well as deep, unbridled belly laughs. These spiritual giants would be proud of their good-natured ribbing. They’ve suffered tremendously with the Dalai Lama forced to exile and the Archbishop living through Apartheid. They believe that they are peaceful peacemakers today because of these terrible events, and not because of them. It is truly amazing. Doug Abrams, their co-author, weaves scientific studies with religions to show that joy doesn’t require being religious.

There are so many wonderful moments in this book, I cannot wait to share my synopsis.

So I won’t.

Here’s a list of quotes that made my mind stop and think.

“Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we forget,” the Dalai Lama said. While you should not forget the negative, the Archbishop said that forgiveness doesn’t mean that we forget. You should not forgive someone if they have wronged you.

Doug Abrams and the Dalai Lama

“I tell people that I’m not an optimist because it depends more on my feelings than reality. We feel optimistic, or we feel pessimistic. Hope is different because it is not based on the fleeting feelings of emotions but rather on the solid ground of conviction.

The Archbishop Tutu

“Ubuntu” [says] that a person can be a person through another person.

The Archbishop Tutu

“I discovered that courage is not the absence or triumph over fear. Fear was something I experienced more than I can recall, but I kept it under a shield of bravery. The brave woman is not one who doesn’t feel afraid; it is the one who overcomes fear.

~Nelson Mandela

“There’s nothing wrong with having faiths. The problem is with the faithful.

~Archbishop Tutu

I could go on…in actuality, there’s one more!

“The goal is to not only create joy for ourselves but to be a reservoir, an oasis, peace, and a pool that can radiate out to all around you.

Doug Abrams and The Archbishop Tutu

Okay. Ok. This book is a must-read, especially after the most egregious presidential campaign of my life, which has been filled with outrage, superciliousness, and sexism.

buddha monk

buddha monk