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Searching for Happiness: How Generosity, Faith, and Other Spiritual Habits Can Lead to a Full Life Paperback – February 4, 2016
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"Martin Thielen's new book, Searching for Happiness, is a captivating read. I read it straight through in one sitting. Using Scripture, science and personal experience, Martin reminds us eloquently that happiness does not come from material things or external circumstances, but rather, real contentment comes from within us. At the end of the day, happiness is 'an inside job!'"
—James W. Moore, best-selling author and minister in residence at Highland Park United Methodist Church, Dallas, TX
About the Author
Martin Thielen is author of the best-selling What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? and The Answer to Bad Religion Is Not No Religion. He frequently writes for MinistryMatters.com, Circuit Rider, and Net Results, among others. He is Senior Pastor of Cookeville United Methodist Church in Cookeville, Tennessee. He offers worship and preaching ideas at www.GettingReadyForSunday.com.
Top customer reviews
"Many people think, If I can just get rich, I'll be happy. But that's not true. Extensive research has proven that after our basic needs are met, additional money has minimal impact on our happiness. In his book Flourish, Martin Seligman, a psychologist and an expert in happiness studies, cites amazing research. Pennsylvania Amish, Inuit people in northern Greenland, and African Msai - people who have minimal income and few material assets - have virtually the same levels of life satisfaction as Forbes magazine's richest Americans. In spite of beliefs to the contrary, after our core necessities are met, money does not make people happy."
The book then goes on to tell us alternative ways to improve our inner happiness as well as remaining happy irregardless of our outer circumstances. It says when it comes to happiness, the happiest people practice optimism, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude, cultivate optimism, nurture relationships, care for their bodies and soul, focus on the present, and use trials as growth opportunities. The author expands on these lists, telling us how to practice each of them and giving real life examples of people's actions in the quest for happiness.
"Searching For Happiness" is easy to read and its approach is down-to-earth. Though the author references science, theology, psychology and real life situations, the writing style he uses is simple and strong enough to convey his points. "Searching For Happiness" does not bore you with jargons or long sentences, neither does it pretend to be highbrow and talk down to readers.
"Searching For Happiness by Martin Thielen" is a book that treads a well-beaten path, but does little to add to the body of knowledge already out there. There is nothing jumping out of the pages to catch you by surprise. There are no controversies or attempts to poke holes into existing mainstream arguments about happiness. "Searching for Happiness" plays it safe, and as a result falls short of its potential.
Apart from the sin of the repeating the obvious, one of the letdowns of this book is that it feels overloaded with quotes and anedotes from "experts". The book regularly quotes scientists and experts for validation in a way that makes me feel the author is insecure in relying on the strength of his own observations and the Bible (I included the latter since the author intended the book to be in a Christian category).
In a bid to be balanced as well as lend its arguments some validity, "Searching for Happiness" panders to philosophy and science. Because the writer isn't owning his statements, I found it difficult to take him seriously. This subsequently led to boredom as I struggled to finish the book.
Make no mistake though, "Searching For Happiness" is a good book that reiterates obvious points on a subject that is in demand. Though I believe the author is a little bit guilty of accommodationism, this is still a good book and has some basic things to remind us about happiness and how to find it.
Many thanks to Westminster John Knox Press for review copy.
Instead, Martin Thielen’s Searching for Happiness is a Christian condensed version of Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness. In short, Searching for Happiness is exactly another book on positive psychology, but with Bible verses.
The premise of Martin Thielen's Searching for Happiness is captured by his remarks on the book of Ecclesiastes.
Late in his life the writer of Ecclesiastes realized that the four paths he had spent most of his life traveling—the paths of philosophy, pleasure, possessions, and production— were ultimately bankrupt in terms of producing happiness. They could not satisfy; they could not offer contentment. Each path promised far more than it could deliver.
The observation was correct. Unfortunately, instead of giving the reader the Preacher’s conclusion regarding the issue of happiness, Martin Thielen borrows from positive psychology.
Thielen burdens the reader with the laws of happiness advocated by positive psychology. He gives scriptures to coerce the reader to stick to the laws. Give so that you can be happy, think positively, don't forget to say thank you, live for today, love yourself, et cetera. Sometimes, he sounded New Age or like Deepak Chopra, “pick the fruit, burn the rest, and move forward with your life.”
Question. If Job read Searching for Happiness would he recommend it to anyone? Another question. Can a poor person, an orphan living in the streets or a chronically ill person glorify God after reading this book? I might be biased, but I don't think so.
According to Dr. James Coyne, “The promise that “smile, think positive thoughts, and you will be happy and healthy” underestimates the importance of social context for psychological well-being and health.”
Dr. Coyne continues, “Once we acknowledge the contribution of social economic circumstances, it can be readily seen that for many people, it is not personal characteristics driving responses to these items.” And adds, “In the case of the poor and minorities and other disadvantaged people, responses can be driven by overwhelmingly crushing characteristics of their circumstances.”
I wish Martin Thielen had focused this book on demystifying the four paths to happiness and finally resolving the matter as the Preacher did.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
I received Searching for Happiness from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.