The year 2018 seems to be running out fast, it is hard to believe January was just yesterday. Time, it seems, wants to remind us of that famous Radio (RIP) and Weasel song of yesterday – ‘obudde’. Time is money…don’t play with time…if you doze off you are finished. It is that time of the year when we welcome long lost relatives and give gifts to loved ones. It is the season when we show kindness and reflect on our disappointments, achievements and the abrasions that mean we are alive.
The mood of the season for me was pleasantly brought into sharp focus when a dear one gifted me with ‘The Book of Joy’ by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. Seeing that we have been preoccupied with politics and economics for most of the year, perhaps it is ‘obudde’ to share some positive thoughts form this lovely book.
Reading in ‘The Book of Joy’ I have learnt that life is filled with challenges and adversity. That fear is inevitable, as is pain and eventually death. But, as we discover joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters us. We can face hardship without becoming hard. We can endure heartbreak without being broken.
The positive thoughts I have gleaned about living a joyful life (and wish to share as a pleasant reminder of this season) point to the fact that we are the outcome of how we view our circumstances. The purpose of life is to find happiness and the ultimate source of happiness dwells within each of us. Not money, not power nor status can confer happiness upon us. Many of the things that undermine our joy and happiness are created by ourselves. Our happiness is a function of our attitudes, perspectives and reactions to situations and to our relationships with other people.
According to these men of God, there are eight pillars that can help us live a joyful life. These are perspective, humility, humour (especially at our personal frailties), acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity. For me this present could not have been timelier; a reminder about the finiteness of life and the need to have more empathy than we oft show to the less fortunate.
Perspective to enable us get beyond our own limited and immediate self interest. Humility to remember our common bond with others. Humour to see the rich ironies and funny realities in our lives. An acceptance of our lived reality without expectation for life to be other than what it is. Forgiveness to enable us forge new beginnings. Gratitude to savour life and recognize that most of our good fortune in life comes from others. Compassion for the well being of others and our world and generosity to help others both spiritually and materially.
As part of the season of Christmas and the New Year, many will travel to their villages or far off lands to commune with long lost relatives and friends. Large amounts of money will be spent to satiate our hedonistic instincts. There will be feasting and merry making. There will be dancing and story telling. Generally speaking it will be a time of joy.
But His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak of another type of joy. A joy that recognizes that others won’t be feasting and merry making, like the rest of us. They probably won’t know if it is Christmas because they are refugees or unfortunate in a myriad other ways. In this season then, let us seek an inner joy that enables us to be more aware of the condition of our less fortunate brethren. Let us take those eight pillars of joy to heart and practice, so that we may build a better Uganda in which we are all well pleased. May you have yourselves a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Samuel Sejjaaka is Country Team Leader at Abacus Business School. Twitter @samuelsejjaaka.