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Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness [Kindle Edition]

James Baraz , Shoshana Alexander
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $7.11 (38%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Joy is not for just the lucky few–it’s a choice anyone can make. In this groundbreaking book, based on his popular course, James Baraz helps you discover a path to the happiness that’s right in front of you, offering a step-by-step program that will reorient your mind away from dissatisfaction and distraction and toward the contentment and delight that is abundantly available in our everyday lives.

You can decide to be happy. For years, James Baraz’s online Awakening Joy course has offered participants from around the world the benefits of this simple but profoundly radical proposition. Grounded in simple Buddhist principles but accessible to people of all faiths–or no faith at all–this concept provides the jumping-off point for a transformational journey toward a richer, more meaningful, more positive outlook on life. Now readers everywhere can follow the same ten steps Baraz teaches to his program participants. In this practical down-to-earth guide, you will learn how to

• make happiness a habit by inclining your mind toward states that lead to well-being
• find joy even during difficult times and avoid the pitfalls that prevent you from achieving the contentment you seek
• cultivate effective practices for sustaining joyfulness, such as reclaiming your natural sense of wonder and finding joy in the midst of everyday experiences

Each chapter of Awakening Joy consists of one step in Baraz’s ten-step program and includes engaging exercises and practical advice to make happiness your natural default setting. For everyone from the cynic despondent over life’s many sorrows to the harried commuter raging at freeway traffic, this book offers up a simple yet powerful message of hope grounded in the realization that joy already exists inside every one of us. Like a precious child, it only needs to be recognized, embraced, and nurtured in order to grow to its full potential.

Editorial Reviews


"I've personally taken the Awakening Joy program and can say this unequivocally: It's fabulous and it works!  This book, filled with moving stories and rich teachings, will give you wonderful tools to experience true happiness and well-being.  It's a gem!"— Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author of Happy for No Reason

"Opening to joy takes courage and intention. This book will inspire you to discover genuine happiness, and show you how. Drawing on perennial wisdom and accessible meditative practices, James and Shoshana offer teachings that can awaken your love of life."— Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance

"Awakening Joy is an important guide to transforming our everyday experience into genuine happiness.  James and Shoshana's insight, kindness, and clear and practical language make this a direct, pragmatic and valuable manual for a better life."—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

"In this beautiful and heartwarming book, James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander take us on a journey that truly awakens joy. There are stories that bring tears to our eyes and practices that transform our lives.  This is a loving, wise, and compassionate testament to what is possible for each one of us.  Highly recommended."—Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace 

"I'm so happy that James Baraz's Awakening Joy class is now available in book form.  His class has been helpful to thousands of people.  I plan to give it to all my clients who are struggling with creating a life of meaning and happiness.  Joyfulness is our birthright.  This book shows you how to reclaim it."—M.J. Ryan, author of AdaptAbility

"This is a life-changing book that not only teaches practical, useful strategi...

About the Author

James Baraz has been teaching meditation for more than thirty years and the Awakening Joy course, both on-site and online, since 2003. He is a co—founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and is on the international advisory board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. He lives with his wife, Jane, in the San Francisco Bay area.

Shoshana Tembeck Alexander has studied Buddhism since the early 1970s and is the author of In Praise of Single Parents and Women’s Ventures, Women’s Visions. She has guided the work of several prominent Buddhist authors, including Tara Brach, Sharon Salzberg, and Wes Nisker. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.

Product Details

  • File Size: 784 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (January 12, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030DHPDO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,599 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Openng the Door to a More Fulfilling Life January 16, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Here's a book that works like a master locksmith's pick: it opens a door into a more fulfilling life. An outgrowth of James Baraz's successful online course of the same name, Awakening Joy: Ten Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Happiness is an accessible, anecdote-rich guide filled with valuable tips to understanding both the roadblocks challenging our lives and the open road inviting us for a drive on the freeway of our own personal happiness.

As a longtime meditation teacher, Baraz distills three decades of inquiry into the mind into this down-to-earth primer. Written with the gifted editor Shoshana Alexander,
the book evokes the warmth of a satisfying conversation--actually a series of conversations--with a wise friend. And make no mistake: Baraz is wise. And compassionate, giving and optimistic. He's also a gifted teacher. Among his gifts? Advocating joy as a gateway to pass through on the journey to self-awareness.

To those readers brought up believing in narrow-minded, "should-"oriented approaches to living, awakening joy as a means of achieving personal growth might seem contraindicated--somehow jumping ahead of struggle, pain and suffering (the trinity of stages personal growth many believe we must first pass through to reach higher states of happiness). Such an approach misses the mark--by a wide margin. Baraz is not so much suggesting an "eat dessert first" approach to living as much as saying dessert is available all the time in succulent, small bites. If we pay attention enough to notice.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Oh hellll motha f''ing no." That's a sanitized version of what I thought when my coworker invited me to read this book, and join her for the Awakening Joy class. Wanting to be polite, what came out was more like a skeptical, "I don't think I'd be interested." She patiently suggested that I simply preview the book, and give it a chance because she had heard good things.

Although clearly predisposed to doubt, I started reading Awakening Joy on Amazon, checking out the first chapter for free, and to my surprise I was hooked. So much that I got the book AND signed up for the class. In case you haven't figured it out yet, there is a class you can take that goes with the book, and each month one chapter is covered. I'll write a little more about the class at the end of this review. For now, just the book...

If you are like I was, and not sure whether to read this book, definitely start with the free preview on Amazon, and see what you think. I have noticed some reviewers who think the writing style is too cheesy. Well I anticipated exactly that. But to me, it does not read that way. I can see how this book might not be for everyone, but like my coworker said, do give it a chance.

My concern was there because 1.) it was written by a Buddhist practitioner, 2) it is called Awakening Joy, and 3) the very fact that there is a class that goes with the book. I even wondered if this program was an entry into some kind of cult! (of course it's not!)

Regarding the religious part - Being raised in a Buddhist/Jewish family, on one hand I have an affinity toward Buddhist philosophy. On the other, I am a devout agnostic who does not wish to commit to any religion. I have a hard time with any practice that requires me to have "faith" or what feels to me like superstition.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable book January 16, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I took James Baraz's online course called Awakening Joy and it was a remarkably life-changing experience. I just ordered the book and devoured it immediately and bought 3 copies to give as gifts to my friends. It captures in such a great way a path that really changed my level of daily joy. The book is beautifully written and organized and I just LOVE it. I have a feeling I will be ordering many more copies as I want to give it to everyone I know. I completely recommend it. It isn't just a basic self-help book--it is deep, comes from a deep meditation practice that James Baraz has--and his own experiences of deepening joy that he writes about in the book. It is not superficial at all. I found that it deepened my understanding of his teachings about joy and I already feel the effects. I trust you will love it as much as I do. And I'd recommend doing the online course, or doing it in Berkeley where he teaches it live! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joy After Grief August 23, 2010
By Ginny
I picked up Awakening Joy a few months after my husband passed away. Grief has a way of intensifying after the first few months on autopilot have passed. I looked toward friends, books and a support group, all of which emphasized my loss, how my life had changed, and what I no longer could look forward to.

When I read Awakening Joy, I experienced a serenity that I hadn't felt in some time. James Baraz gave me a strong sense of what I DID have and what I COULD do to appreciate the special moments in the here and now that held purpose and joy. I liked the structure of his book, a finely woven tapestry of personal narrative (he's "walked the walk"), philosophical and scientific perspectives that gave credence to his views, and first hand experiences of his students who have used the techniques from his AJ course (mindfulness, loving kindness, gratitude, among others)to effect personal change. I tried some of the simple highlighted suggestions and they worked.

Baraz speaks directly to his reader in a positive, reassuring and encouraging tone that's not preachy or schmaltzy. Combined with a few humorous asides, he even elicited an easy smile or two as I read. I learned that in our fast-paced, demanding world, we don't have to look far for the most meaningful and gratifying moments -- they are within us.
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