When we speak of trade, we’re usually discussing economics. But there’s a more primal meaning – trading words, as in dialogue. This is where philosophy began, and even in our world suffused by science, it turns out that dialogue is a powerful tool to examine what it means to be human. Doug Abrams, once an editor at HarperCollins, had come to the decision that the one thing he wanted out of life was to work with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. At an event with the Archbishop (charmingly, he likes to be called “Arch”), Abrams found himself speaking with a representative of the Dalai Lama. It took years to bring about, but that meeting did happen. Nobody should be surprised that the book is The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.
Science and spiritualism have been on a collision course for more than a century, and Abrams architects this book to examine the crossroads without the crash. But before I even got to the joy, I did have to ask Abrams how he set this all up, and that story in itself is both amazing – and joyful. But that’s outside of the book. Inside, what you find are series of Socratic dialogues concerning joy by two men who Abrams describes as “…the two most joyful people on the planet. In addition to their question for one another, and those posed by Abrams, the two asked for questions from the public. Out of the 1,000 or so questions they received, the most common, Abrams told me was not, “How can I get more joy for me?” but instead, “How can joy co-exist in this world so full of suffering?” The question itself implies exactly the sort of compassion required to make life not just worth living, but joyfully so.
I spoke with Abrams about the power of the very situation itself, and also about his very wise decision, embraced by his co-authors, to include the latest cutting-edge neuroscience that underpins and support much of their philosophical discussion. The two men wanted a common ground upon which the book would function –and they found in our latest understanding of how our brains work on a physical level. That said, they also give readers and listeners lots of great advice for creating joy in your life by transforming your perspective.
As it happens, Perspective is one of the Eight Pillars Of Joy discussed in-depth in the book. I took Abrams through each of them – Perspective, Humility, Humor, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Compassion and Generosity to get a deeper understanding of how each is understood. We also discussed the Joy Practices that are given to the reader begin a personal transformation.
From science to spiritualism, from philosophy to physics, the means by which we understand ourselves are growing deeper and more powerful every day. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World offers readers (and listeners to the podcast!) an array of powerful tools for changing the way we both see and feel the world.
You can hear a report I did for KAZU by following this link. Please leave a comment!