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Finding Happiness: Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life Hardcover – February 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814618782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814618783
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Jamison’s book is a treasure, for it combines insights from philosophy, monastic sources, psychology and literature, as also stories of human struggles.
Horizons


Finding Happiness . . . is a map of the soul designed for our age: wise, lucid, inspiring, rich—a treasure-chest of gems that do not merely glitter.
The Way


This is a good book that challenges the mind because it is so clearly written.
Cistercian Studies Quarterly


This book is highly recommended to those looking for a book on spirituality that is based on an ancient and tried tradition.
American Benedictine Review


Finding Happiness: Monastic Steps to a Fulfilling Life takes the reader through a very personalized journey of the soul and spirit.
Lost in Books


The genius of this work lies in its integration of classical thought (Plato, Aristotle, and Cassian) with more current movements (e.g., cognitive behavior therapy, 12-step programs). Author Christopher Jamison, abbot of the Benedictine monastery in Sussex, holds these frames of reference in delicate balance; the resulting creative tension gives birth to a useful guide to living well. . . . This book is solid food for ‘personal soul-recovery.’
Prairie Messenger


It is rewarding to read this lovely book because through it one touches base with oneself as being human and Christian. Through the text the author gently nudges the reader forward once again on the path of effort and virtue. . . . There is a wise Christian behavioral psychology being presented here and one experiences a certain lightness in reading it. For you are advised to ‘travel light,’ to not be dependent on others for one’s happiness. And your journey is not meant to be burdensome as there will always be ‘a word to live by’ when one is in touch with the Scriptures.
The Furrow


[Reading] Finding Happiness has been a transforming experience, calling me to think deeply about the life I’m living and also confirming what I know and am currently doing.
Karen O’Connor, Author, Writing Mentor, and Speaker

About the Author

Christopher Jamison is former abbot of Worth Abbey, a Benedictine monastery near London. He is also president of the International Commission on Benedictine Education and sits on the Council of the Alliance for International Monasticism, a body that promotes links between monasteries across the North/South divide. He is author of Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life and was the host of the popular BBC documentary series The Monastery.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Finding Happiness is one of those rare gems of a book that serenely guides you through the trials of modern day life.
Andy James Turner
The basic idea that runs through the book is that happiness comes to people indirectly as the fruit of defeating the causes of our unhappiness.
Rhonda P.
What I found most eye-opening was the continued influence of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics on our definition of happiness.
J. Kaye Oldner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rhonda P. on March 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Interestiong book. It's written by Abbott Christopher Jamison, host of "The Monastery" -a documentary BBC television series. The basic idea that runs through the book is that happiness comes to people indirectly as the fruit of defeating the causes of our unhappiness. To that end, a major chunk of the book is spent discussing "eight thoughts" to get you heading in the right direction (acedia, gluttony, lust, greed, anger, sadness, vanity, and pride).

No "happiness formula" here, just at lot of good wisdom of a religious flavor. Readers wanting a more scientific look at happiness might be better off with a book like "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World".
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joel Holtz VINE VOICE on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a follow-up to FINDING SANCTUARY by Abbot Christopher Jamison, and is just as good.

Jamison starts with an interesting "history" of happiness and from there develops a strong case for the stepping stones to living a fulfilled life, by overcoming the 8 negative thoughts.

These are acedia(sloth), gluttony, lust, greed, anger, sadness, vanity and pride.
Astute readers will notice that one of the originial 7 deadly sins, ENVY, isn't on the list. The way to overcome the negative thoughts is by practicing the corresponding 8 virtues, which are spiritual awareness, moderation, chaste love, generosity, gentleness, gladness, magnanimity, and humility.

The chapters are all well written and easy to comprehend. The one on Sadness is the best, with Jamison keenly noting that sadness can indeed be "survived."

The one thing I would disagree with is that anger and sadness are automatically negative thoughts. Some anger is plainly wrong and sinful, but some isn't. And sometimes we have clearly valid reasons for being sad.

Ultimately, as Jamison points out, Happiness isn't "..an object to be grasped but a lifelong process that culminates in a happy death." (pg.177)

This is an easy to read book based on the writings of John Cassian, interspersed with the Abbot's observations living in Sussex. Those with a contemplative bent will benefit greatly but also anyone who wishes to live a more fulfilled life.

I highly recommend it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Kaye Oldner on April 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Finding Happiness, by Abbot Christopher Jamison, is a nicely written book based on the writings of John Cassian, who was the first person to systematically write down the teachings of the desert monks and nuns. The first was St. Antony of Egypt, who as a 20 year old in 271 AD, went into the desert to live a religious life to discover himself and GOD. Over the next few centuries, the desert monks and nuns discovered authentic insights about the interior world. In the fourth century, John Cassian wrote about these insights calling the Eight Thoughts or the eight principle obstacles to perfection.

Abbot Jamison explains the Eight Thoughts an easy-to-read style with anecdotes and commentaries from modern life in England. He also brings his experiences with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to compliment the religious explanations. His writing has a Roman Catholic undertone, but is fairly balanced and informative.

The book starts with the history of happiness and the problems on how happiness id defined. What I found most eye-opening was the continued influence of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics on our definition of happiness. Illustrating the eight thoughts with comparisons of modern issues, Abbot Jamison brings these into the daily routine of life for those in and out of the monastery.

(Review by Steve, my hubby.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andy James Turner on October 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Finding Happiness is one of those rare gems of a book that serenely guides you through the trials of modern day life. Father Jamison takes the reader hand in hand to genuine inner joy. "Are monks happy?" His reply, "They are not unhappy." That grabbed me straight away, along with his question about having a happy death! Having never thought about death being happy, on the rare occasions I think about death. I realised that to have a happy death, equates to having a happy and fulfilled life.

With his profound insights, and effective communication, this book remarkably mirrors humanities embedded condition. With such elegance, we're guided through many of the reasons that make us unhappy.

Ultimately the dark clouds dissipate, opening the door to inner happiness, if you so choose...

This book is of a solid foundation to make a significant change in your life. Its timing in this troubled era is perfect.
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