“Book of Joy” notes

Steve Mu
13 min readSep 12, 2022

the world is lacking kindness and compassion. we need to develop joy. many problems are of our creation.

4 fundamental emotions: fear, anger, sadness, happiness or joy

when we shift perspective, think about broader suffering in the world, and know that other people are suffering just like I do, the suffering will lesson

if you cannot change an event, why worry? if you can change an event, why worry?

we can transform the suffering I feel when bad things to positive

without stress and frustration, there won’t be beauty. to become a good writer, you would need to sit down and write, which is frustrating. but it won’t be a good result if you don’t do it.

dalai felt less when he had compassion for others. He saw a dying man lying on the ground without anyone taking care of him.

take care of others, helping others is the way to discover your own joy and have a happy life

3 factors that have greatest influence on happiness: the ability to reframe a situation positively, gratitude, and being generous

obsessing about getting what you want does not result in happiness. Neither does avoiding what we don’t want.

focus on the self-importance result in suffering.

even half an hour of meditation of kindness or compassion can have an effect all day. sensory pleasures are fleeting and limited. If we rely on sensory pleasures, we would get restless and bored when the external stimuli ceases. You can enjoy a meal, just don’t eat it out of greed, just for nourishment, for sustaining the body.

most of us don’t think about helping others all day long. success in our society is measured by money, power, frame and influence.

it is shortsighted to think about money, power and fame. The best way to reach your goals is to help others and make more friends by developing trust. trust is developed through showing genuine concern for others. Friends for money and power are artificial friends.

virtuous cycle: the more we help others, the more joy we feel, that joy heals us and make us able to help others better

when waking up in the morning, set the intention: be helpful to others. at least, not harm others. At least reduce people’s suffering.

never miss an opportunity to express gratitude

education and wider contact is the only solution to intolerance and fanaticism

ultimate source of happiness if a healthy body and a warm heart

approach people with trust, it inspires trust in them as well. do not be afraid of rejection or being scared.

physical touch is essential for a baby’s emotional health, based on biology

people who become bullies have a strong sense of lack, who wants to prove to others they’re somebody

self-centered attitude leads to distancing yourself from others, this leads to distrust, which leads to insecure, which leads to fear, which leads to frustration, which leads to anger, which leads to violence

we need to develop unbiased love, not only love our children, but we need it towards the whole humanity, entire sentient beings. We can resist their actions, but you can still love them.

When your mind is sound and health, some disturbances won’t be a problem, you quickly recover. When it is not sound, even small disturbances cause much anger, despair, sadness and aggravation

don’t be ashamed of your thoughts and emotions. they’re just natural.

When we feel guilt and shame of our negative emotions, we make them worse.

whether life is bumpy or smooth depend on our perception. for example, today I solved a few problems and I am happy I could solve them. We solve our own problems and help solving others’ problems, this is your value and you will get compensated.

attempt to control what cannot be controlled (that are impermanent) creates suffering, stress, anxiety. The things we cannot control are: how much money are coming, whether people will like us or not.

when someone attack or critizes you, think what does it happen? this person is not your enemy from birth. usually it is mostly due to you did something that this person didn’t like. think like this, the intensity of your anger reduces. you also see this person’s action is due to their own destructive emotions, so develop a sense of concern for this person.

we can use frustration and stress to develop positive mental attitude such as being accepting and patient

courage is not the absense of fear, it is to act despite have fear

if we have too much expectation or ambition cannot achieve them, we will feel frustrated. Gauge our effort realistically.

what we really need is love and connection for be happy. So love and connection should have higher priority than ambitions.

feeling of chasing after time is a symptom of stress. We need to give space to a settled, joyful state of mind.

see stress as challenges to help us grow

think others just like you that want happiness, less stress and difficulties in life. Whether one person a many people. This way of thinking creates connection and eliminate loneliness.

when we acknowledgement and express our hurt, fear, feeling of being threatened, we soothe our anger. Being vulnerable help us have compassion towards ourselves, which help us to have compassion towards others.

anger creates more problem

righteous anger is about helping someone who are being wronged

both sad states and so-called happiness states are fastened together and cannot be separated. when we express our emotions, either sadness or happiness, we’re building better relationships with others. When we pretend those emotions don’t exist when we have them, they fester and become a wound.

understanding lost occurs to everyone, it makes easier to us to put down our grief.

Experiencing grief fully helped experience life fully, as it is being ripped and rewoven.

although we may not able to do anything, but it is helpful to keep a calm mind

when you can feel your anger and pain, you can relate and appeal to people who have the same

people fundamentally want to do good

although media report negative things being happened, they’re unusual. there are more good things are happening in the world.

despair sends us inward, hope make us cotinue to help others and do good

we have the responsibility for each other whether we know them or not. whether you know them or not, you can smile and say hello.

we socially, personally depend on others. Independence is a myth.

when you are filled with trust and friendship, you won’t feel lonely

if you always think about 7 billion human beings, you won’t feel lonely

if you feel fear and distrust, people will distance themselves from you. If you cultivate warmheartedness, you see friends everywhere.

all human being are the same mentally, emotionally and physically. thinking like this, you will feel free. thinking you’re special, you will feel nervous.

Envy:

attitude that cause suffering: envy toward the above, competitiveness towards equal, contempt towards the lower

no matter how we address inequality, there will always be people who have more than we do, who are better looking than us, who are smarter than us

rejoice in others’ good fortunes by be happy that the other person has obtained what he or she aspires to obtain. mudita is wish the other person to have more success.

it is easier to take preventive measure before envy occurs, when it is hard to reduce.

adversity:

don’t rob children opportunity to learn. In Auschwitz, children who were spoiled and pampered would die first. They kept waiting for others and no one came.

we can turn challenging interactions with our family members, teachers and enemies into nonattachment, compassion and wisdom

you must long for the best for that other as you would want the best for you

natural response is to hit back when get hit. Refined is to think what impelled the other to hit.

our kindness grow stronger when it get tested, like muscle grow stronger when it is being resisted

sufferings will pass

A monk who suffered extremely cruel treatment by the camp guards faced the danger of “losing compassion for those guards”

illness and fear of death:

accept death is normal and sooner or later it will come

nothing lasts

life is short, so we need to use our time wisely to make our world a little bit better for everyone

if there is a way to overcome a situation, do something about it. If you cannot do anything about it, there is no need for fear, sadness or anger.

if you let your fear run wild, you exacerbate the situation

live your life with purpose, especially through helping others

meditation help us choose our response, instead of just to react

out empathy does not activate when we perceive other and ourselves are not from the same group

positive mental attitude for creating joy

perspective:

seeing from new angle. He was exiled from his own country but he gain new relationships, more freedom.

our perspective is the ultimate source of freedom. it leads to serenity and equanimity.

changing emotion is hard, changing perspective is easy.

Changing perspective unlock the lock that imprisons our happiness

take something bad that happened in the past and consider all the good came out it helps us gain perspective

by seeing many conditions and circumstances that have lead to a bad event, we know our limited perspective is not the truth. We may even see our own role in the conflict and misunderstanding.

thinking in terms of we/us instead of me/I make us happier

when we’re suffering, we can think about all other people who are going through similar situation, this helps lesson our pain.

humility:

when thinking others, think they are human that, just like you, have the potential for constructive emotions and destructive emotions. They want to have a happy life. All have the right to achieve it.

if when helping people or giving talk, we consider ourselves to be special, then the experience we’re sharing won’t be much use

humility is essential to a life of joy

“whenever I see someone, may I never feel superior.”

we’re not created for independence or self-sufficiency but for interdependence and mutual support

all our roles are temporarily, don’t get caught up in roles

humility is not timidity. you don’t have to shrink away using your gifts, even if you’re not the best. you are there, you can use your gifts

laughing at our own foibles is an essential cultivation of joy

humor:

self-denigrating humor is great way to diffuse an intense situation

it is a great help to learn to take ourselves less seriously as it helps us see the ridiculous in us

humor is not about putting others down and put yourself up, it’s about bringing people into common ground

a humor that does not demean is a invitation to everyone to join in the laughter. By allowing ourselves to be laughed at, we make it ok to laugh at the other person as well.

one the ways to get into hearts of people is the capacity to make them laugh. Laughing at yourself is the best way to begin with. Don’t be serious and prompos. You will find humors in life if you try.

acceptance:

why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied?

accept that life or relationship will be difficult, you can work to improve it. you cannot change others’, but you can change your thoughts and feelings. You may not succeed making others less difficult but you will be joyful and happy.

Do your best to achieve your goals but not fixated on the outcome. The outcome may depend on many factors. Or the outcome may turn out to be better than original.

you must not hate those who do harmful things, you can be compassionate towards them and stop them as they’re harming themselves as well

forgiveness:

we can be compassionate to those who are creating conditions for their future suffering

when you create an concern for others’ well-being, anger won’t have place to grow

forgiveness include not reacting with negativity or giving in to others’ negative emotions

you can still respond to the acts, and not allow yourself to be harmed again. you can still seed justice and have the perpetrator punished

what’s the use of hit back, short term or long term?

think about the causes of someone hitting you. Maybe your attitude or even facial expression was involved. Their condition, namely anger, ignorance, short-sightedness, and narrow-mindedness caused them to act this way towards us. By thinking like this, we can feel sorry for those people.

gratitude:

count blessing instead of burdens. difficult situation can be beneficial when perspective is shifted.

whatever life offers to you, you can respond with joy

when you’re happy, people hang wrong you are happy too

it is blessing to be alive, even without money. being alive in itself is happiness.

when you’re grateful, you’re not fearful

we can be grateful for everything that gave to us

the best way to create good karma with least amount of effort is to rejoice in your good deeds and those of others

those who focus on gratitude were more likely to have made progress to their important personal goals

your smiling makes people who see you happier

compassion:

the one thing when you possess, you have all other virtues, according to Buddha

Compassion is a sense of concern when we’re confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to see that suffering relieved.

compassion is a skill that can be developed to extends to more and more people

developing compassion helps you get a happy life and fewer problems. if other suffers, you automatically feel concern for another. If you can help, you can help. if you can’t, wish them well.

when we think of alleviating others’ suffering, our own suffering is reduced

we internalize voices of parents, teachers and society at large. we’re constantly being evaluated and judged and not making the grade. so we’re not compassionate towards ourselves. People tend to be anxious as they expect themselves to have more, be more and achieve more.

when we have compassion towards ourselves, we don’t berate ourselves for our own frailties. We are kind towards ourselves when we’re going through difficult times. When we feel inadequate, we remind ourselves that all people feel the same way. When we face challenge, we know other people would face challenges too. We accept and be curious about our down feeling instead of being self-judgemental.

even 10 minutes of compassion meditation help bring joy to the whole day

bringing joy to others is the best way to bring joy to oneself

generosity:

the strongest predictor of well-being is the quality of relationships. Being generous strengthens social ties.

giving freedom from fear (which can involve protection, counseling, or solace)

caring corporation do very well. they not only give money, but also ask after them, ask after their families

if an employer only thinks about profit, then the employee won’t think about the company

real harmony develops when harmony is shared together

we’re wired for complementarity

start from where you are, you are alone solving massive problems

we don’t have to sacrifice our joy when helping others. when we, as people who care, are attractive and joyful, others will see that caring is not a burden

we could be the one in need, whether it is material, emotional, or spiritual

taking care of others is the ultimate way to finding joy in your own life

you will feel joyful when you raise others up and help someone who is less well off

you will feel joy when you give joy to others such as do things for others

to create a joyful family, one needs to develop inner peace and share with others

the ideal time to change is now

the only way to truly change our world is through teaching compassion

the ultimate source of happiness is within ourselves, not technology and money

the basic human nature is positive

when larger systematic problems are solved, smaller problems will also be solved quite easily

once you connect on the human level, you become close friend

once you develop a close connection, its impact will carry from life to life

there is no joy without sorrow

joy practices

morning attention setting:

sit or lie down comfortably

take a few long breaths

ask yourself: what is my heart’s desire?

state your intention for the day: main all beings attain happiness; may all beings be free from suffering; may all beings never be separated from joy; may all beings abide in equanimity.

breathing:

breathing in and out and feel your belly expand and contract

morning walk meditation:

just walk and pay attention to the bottom of feet

analytic meditation:

responding situations with fear, anger, sadness perpetuate negative energy

see your thoughts and thoughts and learn not to be chained to them, not to identify with them

steps: simply watch your thoughts and feelings and recognize that they are temporary, without judging or identifying with them; ask yourself: is my thought true? how do I know for sure? does it help the situation? is there better way to think about or approach the situation?

fear: think about what’s the worst thing could happen if your fear come true?

anger: think about what’s its use? what was my expectation? can I release it and accept what is or how others are rather than how I think they should be? can I also acknowledge my part in the conflict? If I am angry about what has been said, can I see that these are just words that no longer exist and they’re impermanent? will my anger benefit anyone, including me? contemplate that anger can destroy relationships, alienate others and robe you of your peace of mind

sadness: we can reach out for comfort or count our blessings

prayer for someone who frustrate you:

wish someone who is upsetting you and wish him or her joy and happiness every day for 2 weeks and see how your relationship is transformed.

loneliness-a common humanity practice

think of someone whom you love

imagine their desire to be happiness and to avoid suffering

think of someone whom you feel indifferent to

imagine their life, hopes, dreams, disappointments, fears and sufferings. recognize that that person just like me want to achieve happiness and to avoid suffering. they may be just like lonely as you, and your reaching out to them might be the greatest gift

take this awareness to the world

humility:

reflect all people who are responsible for your life, such as parents who gave you life, teachers, ancestors, other people who made stuff you use everyday, family members and friends

feel the appreciation and recognize the interdependence

laughing at ourselves to develop humor:

think of your limitations

when you act in a funny way, laugh about it

also laugh at less than perfect life situations and be amused about it

path to forgiveness:

recognize that people who hurt you are suffering themselves, wish them be out of the suffering. Then decide whether to renew or release the relationship.

giving freedom of fear:

protection, consel, solace. to whom you can reach out to support?

spiritual giving:

helping others to be more joyful through the generosity of your own spirit, such as smiling as you walk down the street, this improve the quality of human interactions in your community.

vipassana:

don’t push away negative thoughts or chase after positive thoughts

--

--