I just finished reading the Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. In this book, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu explored the nature of joy and the obstacles to attaining it.

A main theme of their conversation was unhappy people tend to focus on themselves whereas happy individuals focus on others. Happy people are more giving, loving and forgiving, a simple concept but difficult in practice.

I reflected on the professionals in medicine and palliative care that I’ve worked with over the years. These people are at the epicenter of hardship and heartache. Yet, there always seems to be a glow, a spark and a sense of happiness that permeates through their work.

As I look to other walks of life the same observation is apparent. The neighbor who always helps others but has very little for himself; the business person who drives a 20 year old car but provides ample benefits to her employees; my friend who helps less fortunates whenever she can.

The path to happiness and joy for these people most definitely comes through helping others.

The surest way to heal our own pain and suffering and experience happiness is through helping others in pain.

Maybe that is the glue that has kept me in palliative care all these years.

The Book of Joy on Amazon