TC343: Cafe Book Club presents The Book of Joy – Pillar 1: Perspective
In this episode host Robin Masiewicz and co-host Amy Frost discuss the Pillar of Perspective, the first of the Eight Pillars of Joy.
Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama discuss having a mental immunity that helps us about filling our minds and hearts with positive thoughts and feelings. There are so many times we get caught up in our fear, things that are going on when we experience challenging circumstances.
“A healthy perspective really is the foundation of joy and happiness, because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world. Changing the way we see the world in turn changes the way we feel and the way we act, which changes the world itself.”
The Dalai Lama used the terms wider perspective and larger perspective. They involve stepping back, within our own mind, to look at the bigger picture and to move beyond our limited self-awareness, and our limited self interest.
“We must look at any given situation or problem from the front and from the back, from the sides, and from top to bottom, so from at least six different angles. This allows us to take a more complete and holistic view or reality, and if we do, our response will be more constructive.”
One thing that they say in this chapter is that if we come from compassion and generosity that these two qualities are perhaps the most pivotal in everlasting happiness.
“As the Dali Lama and the Archbishop explained, the wider perspective leads to serenity and equanimity. It does not mean we don’t have the strength to confront a problem, but we can confront it with creativity and compassion rather than rigidity and reactivity. When we take the perspective of others, we can empathize with them. One starts to see the interdependence that envelops us all, which reveals that how we treat others is ultimately how we treat ourselves. We also are able to recognize that we do not control all aspects of any situation. This leads to a greater sense of humility, humor, and acceptance.”
Narrow vs. World-wide Perspective
The Dalai Lama uses the approach of taking a wider perspective when dealing with the situation in Tibet. He explains that if he were to look at the situation in Tibet from a narrow perspective, then the situation looks almost hopeless. However, if he looks at it from a wider worldwide perspective, then he sees an international situation in which communist and totalitarian regimes are collapsing, and even in China there’s a move toward democracy. So he doesn’t give up.
In addition, researchers have conducted a number of experiments which demonstrate that one’s level of life satisfaction can be enhanced simply by shifting one’s perspective and contemplating how things could be worse. How we feel at any given moment has little to do with the conditions themselves, but is rather a function of how we perceive the situation and how satisfied we are with what we have.
When a situation is causing negative emotions, spend some time seriously searching for a different perspective on the situation. A key component to happiness is adopting a flexible, malleable approach to life.
Joy Practice for Perspective
- Think about a problem or situation that you are facing.
- Describe your problem as it were happening to someone else–using your name rather than the words I, me, or mine.
- Imagine the problem from the perspective or a week, a year, or even a decade from now. Will this issue or event still have an impact on you? Will you even remember it? What will you have learned from the experience?
- Witness your life from a God’s-eye, or universal, perspective. See your fears and your frustrations from this point of view. Now see all of the other people who are involved as having equal value and being worthy of love and respect. Then ask what will serve the whole.
“Joy is a byproduct of a life well lived. It’s much bigger than happiness.”
Purchase your own copy of the Book of Joy