On the Joy of Living


So, after a few weeks of wallowing in a lot of drama, I finally got exasperated enough with myself to do something else besides whining philosphically (even if it’s philosophical, it’s still whining).

Since I’d lent out nearly all my Pema Chödrön books, I was wondering what could possibly get me out of my funk until I remembered a book that my friend Saar had given me on the studio’s opening: Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness.

It took me about around four hours to devour the book, which I unabashedly endorse as one of the most lucid, compelling and accessible manuals to being happy that I’ve come across.

(Just to be clear, the literature I’ve gathered on the subject tends to focus on Buddhist accounts of happiness or pyschological/sociological/ neurological research on happiness. I tend to stay away from what popular magazines or most self-help literature have to say about it, which invariably consists of tired old cliches with no phenomenological or scientific backing whatsoever.)

In any case, Mr. Yongey’s book was a much-needed reminder of things I’d previously learned from reading Pema Chödrön, Anthony de Mello and Matthieu Ricard, while also being a charming combination of the best traits of the former. Like Mr. Ricard, Mr. Yongey provides a detailed scientific account of precisely why Buddhist techniques for achieving happiness are effective to begin with; like Ms. Chödrön and Mr. de Mello, he provides constant reassurance to the reader by generously sharing his own personal experiences and failures.

A lengthier exposition of the book’s contents will probably be the subject of another blog post, but for now, let me just say that I’m definitely out of my funk.

And I have Mr. Yongey (and Saar) to thank for that.

Happy, serene sigh.

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