04. Delight: To rejoice in the good fortune of others 

What would you do?

Nick Vujicik was born in Australia in 1982 without arms or legs. Although as a child he felt overwhelmed by his disability, he is now a husband, father and internationally-famous motivational speaker. 

Nick’s main focus is not on what has happened to him, but on how he can use the experience of his own challenges to empower young people to see their own strengths and beauty. “It’s a lie to think you’re not good enough, it’s a lie to think you’re not worth anything…Be thankful, dream big and never give up” he tells them. See www.attitudeisaltitude.com

The benefits of delight

Delight has the potential to:

  • lift our spirits, and bring us ease and joy in almost any situation
  • undermine any tendency to feel envy and jealousy, and the discomfort and pain that they bring
  • lessen self-centredness and depression, through shifting the focus from ourselves to others

A 16 Guidelines view on delight

Delight is the delicious taste we get when something good happens. Worries fade away, frustration evaporates, and anger disappears when a baby is safely born or a friend passes their exams, when a problem is solved or a conflict resolved. Delight opens the heart.

Delight can change our minds and change our lives. It is a tonic that relieves the pain of envy and shifts the blight of depression. It brings us closer to the people we love and eases the difficulties we have with those people who are further away from us.

It makes such good sense to practise the art of rejoicing that it is strange we often overlook it. Why is bad news sometimes more compelling than good news? Why are we tempted to dwell on what is going wrong rather than what is going right? One drags us down, the other lifts us up.

We have a choice about what to feed our heart and mind. If we can learn to dwell on positive stories and accomplishments we can quickly bring more happiness into the lives of ourselves and others.

16 Guidelines resources and training for developing delight


Did you know?

Why do humans sometimes cry when they feel intense delight? 'Tears of joy', according to scientists at Yale University, could be our body’s attempt to counteract an overwhelmingemotion – like euphoria –  to help us better regain our emotional balance.


Aragon O, Bargh JA, Clark MS, Dyer RL. Why 'I'm so happy I could cry'makes sense, Psychological Science, 2014.



Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute& UN Messenger of Peace

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference,” says Jane Goodall, whose ability to rejoice and delight in the natural world has been with her since childhood. 

Jane Goodall's research into the fascinating lives of the wild chimpanzees of Gombe, Tanzania has continued for more than 55 years and she is now a tireless international campaigner for a more just and compassionate world. 

Dr.Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 ‘to advance the power of individuals to take informed and compassionate action to improve the environment of all living things’ and gets inspiration from the young people that she engages with. “My greatest source of hope for the future is the energy, commitment and often the courage of young people, when they know the problems and are empowered to act. They are changing the world,” she says. 

For more on Jane Goodall, see:

  1. www.janegoodall.org, the website of the Jane Goodall Institute, and www.rootsandshoots.org, the site of its youth programme
  2. The Jane Effect:  More than 100 testimonies by Jane Goodall’s friends and colleagues honouring her as a scientific pioneer, inspiring teacher, and engaging spirit.
  3. A Prayer for Word Peace:  In this inspiring book, Jane’s quest for understanding between all Earth’s creatures shines through.  With beautiful illustrations by FeeroozehGolmohammadi this is a book well worth purchasing either for you or loved ones of all ages.
  4. In the Shadow of Man:  Describing the early years of Jane Goodall’s field research with chimpanzees in Tanzania
  5. Reason for Hope: In this book Jane give a very personal insight into her philosophy of life and meditates on what the chimpanzees have taught us about ourselves and humankind’s place in the world. 


A short reflection on delight from '16 Guidelines: The Basics' book

Find a quiet space where you can relax. Sit comfortably. To help you settle, focus your awareness on your breathing. Let go of any thoughts, images or feelings that arise. Whenever you become distracted, bring your awareness gently back to the sensation of the breath going in and out. Spend a few minutes enjoying the experience of coming to rest. 

Start by rejoicing in all the good things you have done in the past. Think of the positive qualities that you have inside of you - such as kindness, patience and generosity – and the occasions when you have used those qualities to help others. Taste the warmth of appreciation. ‘How wonderful it is, how wonderful it is.’

Gradually broaden your sphere of attention to include the people you feel close to. Rejoice at all their positive qualities and the different ways in which they care for you and for each other. Be as specific as you can. Enjoy the sensation of delight. ‘How wonderful it is, how wonderful it is.’

Move your attention further outwards and rejoice at all the caring actions that are taking place between people you may have never met: teachers in schools, medical staff in hospitals, parents in the home. Is there anyone who does not contribute to the well-being of others in some way? 

Think about the people who campaign for a better world in areas such as justice, equality, peace, poverty or the environment. Recall their contribution. ‘How wonderful it is, how wonderful it is.’ Reflect on the life stories of the saints of all the different religious traditions, who devoted their lives to spiritual practice and service. Rejoice in their qualities and deeds. 

Finally, see if you can rejoice at all the good things that you and others have done, are doing, and will do in the future. Can you extend this feeling of warmth throughout the whole universe, beyond the bounds of time and space? ‘How wonderful it is, how wonderful it is.’ 

What would happen if you rejoiced like this on a regular basis? 

Close with the wish ‘May all beings be happy!’


Quotes on delight

  • Celebrate the success of others as you want others to celebrate yours. What goes around comes around. – Source unknown 
  • Taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good, and melt at other’s woe. –Homer
  • If I am only happy for myself, many fewer chances for happiness. If I am happy when good things happen to other people, billions more chances to be happy!– The Dalai Lama
  • To be rich in admiration and free from envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others - these are the gifts which money cannot buy. —Robert Louis Stevenson 
  • We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt.  – Dorothy Day
  • The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own – Benjamin Disraeli
  • Every being is a jar of delight. Be a connoisseur. – Rumi


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