June 30, 2009

Book review: Happiness is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life (Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D.)

Happiness is an Inside Job

by Sylvia Boorstein

Review: Todd Mayville for elephantjournal.com

In this paperback reprint of Happiness is an Inside Job, Sylvia Boorstein uses the meditative parts of Buddhism’s Noble Eightfold Path (Right, or Wise Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration) to remind the reader that how much happiness each of us chooses to have (or not have) is up to each of us.

Through the use of anecdotes—some humorous, some more serious—she illustrates how she and others use their awareness in various situations to decide how they will deal with that particular situation. One of the strengths of this book is that Boorstein never portrays herself as a master of equanimity, admitting that there are times when she, too, gets upset or sees things from a more personal standpoint that the situation calls for. However, she then goes on to demonstrate how returning to a use of Right Effort, Mindfulness, and/or Concentration helped to return her to a more balanced and happy state of mind.

The text lacks a lot of Buddhist terminology, which in the case of this book is a strength; rather than specific “Buddhist teaching,” Happiness is an Inside Job is meant for an audience beyond the Buddhist population.

From Ballantine Books and available at your local, independent bookstore.

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Todd Mayville

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.