Featured in the Lakeshore Weekly News
I’m convinced more than ever that how we choose to view a situation affects the outcome. There is the cliche question of do you see the glass half empty or do you see the glass half full?
When you see the glass as half full, you are grateful for what is there. When you see the glass half empty, you are resentful over what is not there. Gratitude has a way of turning what we have into enough. Interestingly, showing gratitude toward a person or behavior encourages more of that behavior.
Showing anger or resentment tends to get you nothing but high blood pressure and other people upset with you. It does not encourage cooperation. I’ve seen this play out many times with myself, and others.
Recently I attended my very first book club. It was at the Excelsior Library and the book we read was “The Book of Joy” written by Douglas Abrams with the Dalai Lama and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu.
“The Book of Joy” is a fascinating look at not just what brings us joy, but also how we find lasting happiness in a changing world. The author shared the views of the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu.
It was a true eye-opener, and one of my favorite books to date. I started reading the book before I learned that it would be the topic of an upcoming Excelsior Library book club. For me, I was looking for tools I could use to find joy that didn’t come from a wine glass.
I’ve been sober for 10 months with dramatic improvements to my health. I’ve been successfully learning how to have fun and experience joy without the help of Sauvignon Blanc or vodka.
At the same time, I realized I could also use more tools in dealing with stress. Within the first 50 pages of “The Book of Joy” I realized I picked a good one. One that was perfect for my first book club visit.
Discussing the book with others who read it was fascinating. I knew how I related to the book and what I took away from it. Hearing how others saw it was as enlightening as reading the book itself.
My friend Georgia introduced me to “The Book of Joy” and attended the book club with me. Other than Georgia I knew no one else there but was able to engage in and experience a wonderful conversation about a topic that eludes many of us.
One of my biggest takeaways from the book was realizing that happiness and joy is not about never experiencing pain or sorrow. Archbishop Des mond Tutu said, “Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.”
My friend Georgia had recently lost her husband not long before we attended the book club. These words rang true to her as well. She was, and still is, heartbroken, but she is not broken.
In “The Book of Joy,” the Dalai Lama said, “Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied?”
This applies to so many different situations. For me, I was seeking tools for dealing with difficult situations where in the past I would have had a drink to take the edge off of it.
It’s so simple, but so powerful. If I can remedy the situation, then remedy it. Don’t sit there being unhappy about it. And if it is truly out of my control, being unhappy about it won’t change it. Sometimes things are out of our control. We can’t control how other people act or interact with us. We can control with how we respond to them, if we respond at all.
Joy is not about perfection and a utopian existence. It has more to do with helping other people than I realized. There is a theme throughout the book of unity and community. Like many of you, I’ve volunteered with different groups and organizations. I’ve done different things to give back. What I’ve come to realize is the most impactful way to find joy is by contributing to the joy of others in the most simple ways.
A kind word and a smile given to a stranger creates joy. My grandson Oliver is a wonderful example of that. He smiles at strangers all the time, and they light up! Stopping to let someone merge onto a busy street is a kindness that can help a stranger start their day off right.
There are so many little things we can do to create joy for others, that in turn creates joy for ourselves. Seeing each other as one community. Speaking to each other with a kind tone. These things are simple yet powerful. When we focus on this, we get more of it.
You can contact the Excelsior Library for more information on when the next book club is, as well as a list of the upcoming books they are discussing.
My adventures in living life perfectly imperfect are featured in the Sun Sailor, The Lakeshore Weekly News and South Lake Neighbors Magazine.