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Finding Happiness: Monastic Steps for a…
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Finding Happiness: Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life

by Christopher Jamison

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Though I would label myself as more spiritual than religious, I really did enjoy reading this book and contemplating my own reaction to it.

Abbot Christopher begins his book by addressing the history of the idea of happiness, citing Plato and Aristotle and comparing their ideals to those to the monastic vision of happiness. From there, Abbot Christopher moves forward in time to examine the ways of Saint Antony of Egypt and the first Christian monks and nuns. In the second part of the book, each chapter explores one of a set of traits called the Eight Thoughts -- gluttony, lust, greed, anger, sadness, acedia ("a state of restlessness and inability either to work or to pray"), vanity and pride -- and how to best recognize and overcome them in our lives.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not exactly a religious person, but I would hesitate to classify this as strictly a religious book. While Abbot Christopher does explore the religious basis for everything he presents, he does so in a manner that I found to be not at all 'preachy'. One of my favorite passages in the book is about hope:

"Hope is the surest remedy against sadness and so we have to take conscious steps to sustain hope. While we recognize the need to foster a loving attitude in children, today people tend not to foster hope with the same self-conscious energy. Cassian invites us to exercise a discipline of hope. This means not placing our hope where it is subject to change and decay, avoiding reliance for our interior well-being on wealth and position. We are heading back to the primitive definition of happiness if we have placed our hope in financial markets or promotion. The disappointments and the successes of our daily lives should both be treated with balance and not be the source alternately of sadness and elation. Hope is bigger than these, on par with love, so that just as I do not determine my love for somebody just by my mood today so my hope should not be subject to passing events." (pg. 131-132)

This is another book that made me sit and think quietly when I had turned the final page, and I've since become a little more aware of my own shortcomings and stumbling points on my quest to be truly happy. ( )
2 vote ladydzura | Feb 24, 2009 |
An interesting review of Happiness - using the insights and wisdom of the Church Mothers and Fathers - mainly Cassian. Like his earlier book "Finding Sanctuary" it is a very accessible book for those of faith and those not. It speaks to both about some of the deepest desires of the human heart. ( )
  dom20 | Dec 11, 2008 |
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Dedicated to the memory of my father who showed me how to be hopeful, to my mother who still shows me how to be faithful and to my brothers with their wives who continue to show me love.
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This book is for everyone in search of happiness, so I hope that people of all religions and none will read it.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0297852779, Hardcover)

Why is 'being happy' such an imperative nowadays? What meaning do people give happiness? In this book Abbot Christopher turns to monastic wisdom to offer answers, and to explain that in essence, happiness is a gift not an achievement, the fruit of giving and receiving blessings. Following the same accessible and engaging format of Finding Sanctuary, Abbot Christopher takes different aspects of happiness, examines them, tells us what monastic wisdom has to say about them, and offers us steps towards our own journey to finding happiness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:08 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In this book Abbot Christopher turns to monastic wisdom to offer answers, and to explain that in essence happiness is a gift not an achievement, the fruit of giving and receiving blessings." "Everybody is searching for happiness but not everybody knows how to find it. In modern Britain, more and more people say that their life is too materialistic and superficial, which leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction. Our consumer culture encourages the belief that happiness comes with pleasure, but this book will challenge that belief and encourage alternative approaches to how we view happiness."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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