Customer Reviews


60 Reviews
5 star:
 (52)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Openng the Door to a More Fulfilling Life
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...
Published on January 16, 2010 by Rob Okun

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Awakening Joy
I found the book very helpful. There were lots of good points but sometimes they were repetitive. All in all a good read. Kay
Published 4 months ago by Kay Murdy


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Openng the Door to a More Fulfilling Life, January 16, 2010
By 
Rob Okun (Massachusetts, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.

Rooted in mindfulness meditation practice, which Baraz has been practicing and teaching since the seventies (he is one of the founding teachers of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California), the book is peppered with quotes from a range of teachers, as well as participants in the Awakening Joy course. The book also draws on paths to happiness found in a range of spiritual traditions. Another of its strengths is its gentle introduction to Buddhism, presented in an accessible, open-minded and open-hearted way.

While dealing with life's adversity is certainly addressed in the book--we appreciate Baraz all the more for being open and vulnerable in sharing painful episodes in his own life--time and again he brings the reader back to an appreciation for wholesome states of living. After an eye operation left him with seriously compromised vision--"the world looked like a Jacque Cousteau underwater documentary filmed on a cloudy day"--Baraz relied on his meditation practice to see him through. When a risky operation eventually restored his vision, he felt a surge of gratitude that didn't subside. "... [T]he gratitude I felt at my good fortune became a continuous backdrop to everything else in my life," he wrote.

Over the years Baraz has trained himself to examine his experiences carefully, "not only for my own spiritual growth but also to share my findings with students." As a result of the appreciation he felt at his clear vision, he became fascinated with the question, "What is gratitude?" In many ways, his book answers the question,. It is Baraz's report on his experiences as "an explorer of the landscape of the grateful heart."
HIGHLY RECCOMMENDED
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable book, January 16, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doubts overcome, this book is transformative. At least for me., May 6, 2012
By 
C. Benjamin (Carrboro, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"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. Knowing this book was written by James Baraz, a Buddhist my parents respect, I felt inviting of the philosophy, but worried that the book would expect me to believe in things like reincarnation, karma, deities, etc. Luckily, while the philosophy is most definitely there, the parts I struggle with are not. James Baraz did a good job with making this a book that is not religious.

The title bothered me because life is about more than just Joy, and I thought this would be some kind of "learn how to be a fake Californian who puts on a smile" kind of deal. This is not the case at all. While Awakening Joy is focused on how to bring more enjoyment into life, it recognizes that there are struggles, and discusses techniques for handling difficult times. The book doesn't make me feel pressured to "be happy" all the time, nor ashamed that I'm not. But it does help me to develop awareness, comfort, and compassion with all of my emotions.

As for the cult concerns, those are squashed, and I think it's funny I even entertained that notion. There is a community that gathers to discuss ways of thinking that bring more happiness into one's life, but there is no worship, indoctrination, nor a commune to live in! But the reason I was worried had to do with there being a class, which leads into a brief intro to what happens there.

The course, which meets monthly, is in Berkeley, which luckily for me is nearby, but can also be taken online from all around the world. In the class we arrive, sit quietly for a moment to get focused, discuss the reading from the month before, learn about the upcoming chapter, hear dynamic guest speakers talk on the topic, enjoy music by a a guest singer, and then we all have fun singing a song together - one that most people would know and it varies each month. I find it helpful to hear how others are relating to the book. We talk about what is working, and what challenges people have with the materials so that various approaches can be considered. The website for the class has forums so folks can continue to discuss the material. Those taking the course online can watch recordings. Students taking either version (live, recorded, or just simply reading the book) are encouraged to find buddies or form small groups to discuss the reading. Each month James Baraz writes his students a letter on the topic of the month. And there are bunch of other resources provided to help you stay focused. I won't give them all away here!

But if the class is not for you, no big deal. You can definitely enjoy this book thoroughly without taking the accompanying course. Ultimately, If you do get the book, I hope you enjoy it as much as me! I really like focusing on one chapter per month. It gives time to contemplate the lessons at a good pace. If you do get the book, and don't do the class, you might consider approaching the reading at the same pace, and working through it with a partner. Either way, if you are curious, but have doubts, just take it one step at a time and see if its right for you. If it is, you could find yourself increasingly aware of life's many gifts! That's how I feel.

At this point, my feelings about this book and the class have moved from "Oh hellll motha f''ing no" to something more like "Oh hellll motha f''ing yeah!"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joy After Grief, August 23, 2010
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deepening Joy, August 22, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"Awakening Joy" lives up to its title in that each chapter addresses a different facet of living a harmonious life. This is not a simple self-help book which you toss aside and say, "Ohhh, I knew that already!" It is a life-long program of deepening your awareness and cultivating joy--deep, dependable joy--over time. Each time I read a chapter, there is something new which calls to me. And, in fact, my joy has been greater as a result of the wisdom of these teachings.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book!, October 13, 2010
By 
Frances Lombard (Akron, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
From the first few pages of Awakening Joy I was sure that I had found a life-changing book. The authors very skillfully bring the readers into a most positive way of thinking and behaving so that the best is gained from the present moment. They offer many practical exercises to carry out in daily life that transform one from seeing the glass half empty to half full. Even though the ideas presented are based on Budhism, they are universal and timeless for those of all religious traditions to appreciate. I do wish many, many people will read Awakening Joy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars steps to awaken joy, March 22, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a beautifully written, heart-full book that offers practical and inspirational stories and tools for readers to, as James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander say, "incline your mind toward joy." The authors share depth of wisdom and remind us how to touch joy daily . I love that the book does not gloss over life's challenges, but suggests how you can touch joy even during difficult times.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joy is all around, February 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am finding the book helpful. I'm taking it in stages so that I can apply what I'm learning day by day. Also in a discussion group and absorbing the various responses and reactions of others. This adds to the learning. I recommend this book as a beginning place for those puzzled by the lack of constant happiness in their lives. That means everyone!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, March 1, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I feel so much more aware of moments when I am joyful thanks to this book. It is well written, informative, and truly a fun read. I feel more joyful while I am reading it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and inspirational advice, March 8, 2010
By 
Peter Strong (Boulder, CO, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
If you suffer from anxiety or a deep fear, you are not alone; this is a part of the human condition. But we don't have to suffer endlessly because anxiety has an internal structure in the form of negative thoughts and beliefs powered by emotional energy that has become frozen in place. Uncover these patterns of negative thoughts and you are on the way to making significant change. As a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, I use mindfulness as the primary tool for doing just this, and I would recommend anyone to learn more about the therapeutic use of mindfulness in conjunction with good self-analysis. I also recommend 'The Path of Mindfulness Meditation' available through Amazon.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.