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The 8 pillars of joy


Meet a Buddha and a Christian. Together, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have recorded their life wisdom and insights for a fulfilled and joyful life in a book called “The 8 Pillars of Joy.” Here you can learn about the 8 pillars and what they mean.


As humans, we often tend to pay attention to negative events rather than positive ones. When dealing with difficulties, our view narrows and we thereby miss an alternative view of things. In most moments there is also a positive side, and above all a perspectivistic short-sightedness tempts us to give them too much importance. We should learn to look at events in a larger framework instead of getting caught up in individual moments.


The term humulity which is derived from the word “humus” and thus means to have remained grounded and on the ground. Whatever one has accomplished and achieved in life was never necessary without outside help. On the path of life, one encounters a wide variety of people, such as parents, friends, colleagues or mentors, who have made one what one is. As part of the big picture, it is advisable not to place yourself above other people and to maintain contact with the ground.


Don’t take life so seriously. Humor helps us smile even in the bleakest of times, takes the tension out and makes difficult situations more bearable. Whether affecting others or oneself, every moment holds the potential for a humorous perspective. And humor is the best response to a significant part of being human: flaws & weaknesses. Those who can laugh about their own shortcomings go through life much more lightheartedly.


Challenges as well as defeats are part of every existence. Those who always react to them with inner rejection, anger or resentment lose their strength in the inevitable. Humility and humor are a good basis for accepting the difficult sides of life. This acceptance of the unchangeable and being able to let go releases the inner tension and thus gives us the possibility to go through the world resiliently.


No human being is infallible – not even oneself. This insight helps to forgive others. It is not a matter of letting the other person get away with everything. Forgiveness means above all relief for one’s own person and protects us from sinking into resentment and hatred. Deeds are not to be identified with their perpetrators, because otherwise one dehumanizes the latter. Having an open criticism culture is the basis for further development and insights from erroneous behavior.


Gratitude is closely linked to a change of perspective, as one’s focus is on the credit side and the half-full glass. It is not about the great achievements, but about the small joys and self-evident things of everyday life. Whoever finds an occasion for joy in moments, however small, will be helped to a higher sense of well-being by many happy impressions and feelings.


Genuine compassion differs significantly from pity. Compassion in the sense of empathy means to be able to understand the suffering of the other person and consequently to stand by him, because one understands his feelings. However, the suffering of the other person should not become one’s own, because otherwise one is no longer able to stand by others with full strength. A sincere sympathy usually already helps so that people do not feel alone with their problems.


Those who feel part of the big picture and connected to their fellow human beings find that selfishness makes no sense. A generosity that comes from within enriches not only the lives of others, but especially one’s own. What one radiates into the world, one also gets back and thus experiences even more joy. Being with and for one another is much more fulfilling than considering oneself a lone warrior.

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