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Exploring the Pillars of Joy - Humility

In The Book of Joy, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama discuss how to find inner joy during a week-long meeting in Dharamshala, India. They break down eight pillars of joy; four of the mind, and four of the heart. Mind--perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance. Heart--forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, generosity. Over the next eight blog posts, I will break down these pillars for you into something tangible. I want you to read along and really consider how you are applying these principles in your life so that you can feel greater inner joy.


In the Book of Joy, Archbishop Tutu speaks of the Zulu word "Ubuntu", which translates roughly to "I am, because we are." This cultural understanding is that we are dependent on others; we can never have a life where we are completely independent. We rely on others when we are sick, young, old, hungry, or hurt. We rely on others for our businesses to succeed and we rely on others to teach our children. If we truly lived an independent life we would be lonely.

Ubuntu also reminds us that if one is hurting, we all hurt, and if one succeeds, we all succeed. We are intimately connected to one another and we cannot turn away from suffering or conflict because we need each other to thrive. No one being is better than another--no one being is that different from another.


The notion of radical compassion comes from the understanding of universal suffering--because I know what it is like to suffer, I will offer aid whenever I can and I will not judge others who are in their suffering. Joy is found when we acknowledge in heart and in action that we are part of something bigger than us and that our deserving of well-being does not surpass anyones else's deserving of well-being. I am grateful because I have perspective. I forgive because I know what it is like to need forgiveness. I stay connected because I know that we need each other.


If this is not making sense yet, let us think of the reverse scenario.

If I believe myself to be more important than others, I will lack compassion and gratitude. Why would I be grateful if I am entitled to success, happiness, and freedom? If I believe myself to be more deserving of others, then I will easily look the other way when I see suffering and I most certainly will not share my resources. If this selfishness goes to the extreme, I may even knowingly harm others for my benefit. All of this leads to darkness, sadness, and disconnection.


Humility is a modest perspective of your own importance. It calls us to remember Ubuntu and that we are one part of a whole. It is not that we lack any importance, it is just that the whole is the most important.

Practices to support cultivating humility:

-daily gratitude

-giving (time, talent, or treasure)

-get out of your bubble and learn about different cultures and the different ways that families/people live

-reflect on where you have placed yourself as more important, consciously or subconsciously

-meditate on a star or a grain of sand or a buzzing bee

-continue to learn and grow, even when you think you can't learn anymore







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