Ramblings Part II: The Gift of Joy

I am continuing to listen to the Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama XIV. I like how the two men express ideas from a Christian and a Buddhist perspectives. Sometimes they are in total agreement, sometimes not. They also bring in brain research and it was nice to see both men believed in science.

I could write a long review and article, but I’m trying to cut these shorter. In a synopsis, if you have one take away, that Joy (as I mentioned last time) is the one positive human emotion. The book goes into details of the brain networks work to create the sensation of joy. But the bottom line is that the more we focus on the needs of other people, the more we can experience joy ourselves. The more we focus on our own needs, the more joy evades us. Desmond drew from scripture to support this and the Dalai Lama did from some of the teachings of The Buddha.

One of the ways that cancer can rob someone of joy relates to this idea. When you are fighting cancer, it takes so much of your thoughts and attention that it is very hard to look to others, their suffering, and their needs. I discussed this same thing in this posting.

I said before, I think the happiest I’ve ever been was when I was doing something to save others. It may have been overseas or even in my own practice. I wish I could do that now.

Santa Cruz's Doug Abrams Crafts The Book of Joy | 90.3 KAZU
Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, and Doug Abrams (the editor and narrator of The Book of Joy)

I have a friend Jerry who does an excellent job of focusing on other people. He volunteers for many programs to help people and just his attitude as a friend is to focus on whoever he is talking to.

For me, I pray that despite my constant attention that I must give my cancer (like I’ve been fighting for weeks not to have my insurance throw me off my chemo, which is about to happen this week), so that I can focus more on others. I wish so much that I could give time to serving refugees from wars. My present novel, Retribution, which I’m working on, takes place in war-torn Yemen and the protagonist is a PA like me. So, I can live out this dream in my imagination, but it does nothing to help the refugees. At least I hope the novel tickles the imagination of the readers.

I’m off now to the lab once again, on that serpentine journey to see if I’m in the process of living . . . or dying.


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