Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: Joy on Demand

  How could I pass up a book called Joy on Demand?  It is written by Chade-Meng Tan, who was the happiness guru at Google.  Pretty cool title, right?  And if I can get to a place where I have joy on demand, that would be great!  I don't think anyone would call me the most joyous person ever, but I am trying... everyone wants to be happier, right?  And if I could read my way to happiness, all the better.  Now if only there was a solution that didn't ask anything of me...
  Joy on Demand is all about meditation.  It's another in what seems like a long line of books that promises happiness if we meditate more.  Happiness teaches us detachment, and the root of the story is that if we aren't so focused on external stimuli, we can find more joy, because we can find peace within us.  External things are unpredictable and can rile us.  If we discover all we need internally, we can discover peace and stop developing a ceaseless anxiety.  Meditation teaches us contentment, and contentment leads to peace, and peace leads to joy.  Simple, right?
  You can read the book if you're interested in the meditation techniques.  I don't think anyone comes here for that.  What I think is interesting is that Paul taught us about the idea of contentment thousands of years ago:  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13).
  What Paul is trying to teach us is that in Christ, we can be content, because in Christ, we are enough.   We don't earn our way to God -- we come to God through the gift of Christ.  It's unearned grace and unmerited favor, and when we realize that it is a free gift, we stop striving and anxiously fretting, and we can rest easy in his love.  It's unconditional, and so all our work will not bring us closer to God.  When we accept grace as an unearned gift, we can discover contentment, because we recognize that all the money and all the fame in the world cannot bring us before the throne of God -- only Christ can bring us to God, and Christ does this as a free gift, not because we've earned it.
  So true contentment comes not from focusing on ourselves, but rather from focusing on what Christ has done for us.  When we accept the gift, our worrying can cease, and we can live from a place of gratitude and freedom.

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