Skip to main content

Everyone Can Benefit from The Book Of Joy

December 31, 2020
Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW

A few years ago when I was going through a difficult time with Crohn's disease, a friend gave me The Book Of Joy. Initially, I didn't think this was "my type" of book---but the story is so much more than a memoir. The pages are filled with self-help wisdom and ways to inspire and build resilience. I marked pages in bright colors according to various topics that I felt were areas for growth in my life. When I need a dose of strength or my thoughts get the best of me, I turn to those pages and immediately get a boost of energy and perspective. Here are some of my favorite take-aways.

Remembering Your Purpose

Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama obviously have very different life experiences and cultures. However, they come together with a shared purpose: A love for humanity, kindness, self-love, and making a difference in the world. They transcend their interpersonal and cultural barriers and remind us that we all strive for the same things---love, acceptance, and peace. They remind us that regardless of our backgrounds everyone is trying to figure out how to be their best selves, and we all experience pain, grief, heart break, and feelings of "not good enough" from time-to-time.

Casey reading Book of Joy 1smphoto credit Scott Hersch

Mental Immunity

Until I read this book I had not thought about mental immunity. Since I have an autoimmune illness, I focus on physical immunity. Over time I have learned to appreciate the importance of my thoughts and how the words I choose, and the thoughts I allow to infiltrate my mind, have a profound impact on my physical health and well-being. The Book of Joy reminds me that I must tend to my thoughts as much as my physical body in order to live the life I want and to achieve healthy balance. In fact, one of the most important interventions I focus on for living with Crohn's disease and a history of trauma is how to shift toward positive thoughts and move away from fear. 

Turning Adversity into Resilience

Without question Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama have endured adversity. However, they remind us that no matter the obstacle, we can always shift our perspective and find a blessing in the worst circumstances. Our adversity makes us who we are, and part of overcoming trauma is remembering we are all suffering to some degree but it is what we do with our suffering that makes the difference.