The quote below is by the Dalai Lama, and it is on the back cover of the book I am reading. ‘The Book of Joy’ by Douglas Abrams focuses on recent conversations between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  It is the most enlightening book I have ever read, and is definitely a 5 star read:

‘The ultimate source of happiness is within us.’

I can only agree that we are all responsible for our own happiness in life. Of course, whether we are a worrier and full of anxieties and stress, or whether we have had a miserable childhood are probably two factors which would mar our inner joy, but as the Dalai Lama says, forgiveness is the key to being able to put the past behind us and move on.  He has lived in exile since he was a young man, and says that if he had not spent most of his life in India he would have been killed, and so considers his years in exile as a positive experience whereby he has met new people and learned of different cultures.  He has long since forgiven the perpetrators.

In my own life, for 70 years my mother has not been able to forgive her long-deceased father for his treatment of her during her childhood.  The hatred she bears has caused her untold misery throughout her adult life.  Many times I have urged her to try to keep the memories on a back burner and move on from the hurt and grief, but she cannot or will not do this.

Stress due to unrealistic expectations is another problem marring happiness.  When I first started out in the writing business 3 years ago I was expecting to land an agent straight away.  When this didn’t happen I was sorely disappointed, but when I was forced to take early retirement in 2015 due to side effects from thyroid cancer treatment  I came to realise that actually I was unaccountably happy tapping away at home at my own pace, with no deadlines to meet, and selling a modest amount of books every month into the bargain to augment my occupational pension.  I can promote my books as much or as little as I like.  I am mistress of my own destiny.  I have my own little empire in my front room to manage just exactly how I please.

By reading The Book of Joy I have learned that it’s better to do the following if you want to be happy:

  • To rejoice in somebody else’s happiness instead of feeling envious.
  • To have realistic expectations, and not strive for something that is out of reach.
  • To change something for the better if it can be changed, but not to worry and fret if it cannot.  To worry about something that cannot be changed is fruitless and leads to unhappiness.
  • To use reasoning to solve a problem instead of anger and frustration, as the latter two destroy a calm mind.
  • To reach out to another person for support in difficult times, instead of keeping problems bottled up.  I read that we are all dependent on somebody else during our birth and death, and we as humans still need somebody to turn to if we need help in the intervening years.
  • To try and discover why the other person did what he/she did to you, instead of hitting back.
  • To look for a positive side to any suffering.
  • To forgive and move on, but to not forget.
  • To be patient, accepting, forgiving, tolerant, loving and kind.

Some of these are very difficult to do.  However, if we all tried our best to carry these out, what a better and happier place the world would be!