In my long struggle with misery, quite by accident, I discovered the mental equivalent of physical exercise. I found that one can deliberately effect life-changing mental changes with simple training exercises…
if you will, bicep curls for the mind.
Chade-Meng Tan was not always a happy guy. It was a skill he had to learn. In doing so he discovered that the ability to access joy is highly trainable – much as one builds muscles through a repeated physical fitness regimen. Tan used this realization, over time, to hone (meditation and mindfulness) skills which would actually “train” him to be happy. And, in the pages of Joy On Demand: The Art of Discovering Happiness Within (Harper One, 2016), his recently published follow up to his best-selling Search Inside Yourself, he chronicles that shift over to the sunny side. “In my long struggle with misery, quite by accident, I discovered the mental equivalent of physical exercise. I found that one can deliberately effect life-changing mental changes with simple training exercises – if you will, bicep curls for the mind,” says the author in the book’s introduction. Tan is super positive that one and all are capable of a similar transformation and in seven zippy chapters he shares his “algorithm for happiness”.
Chade-Meng Tan was an early engineer at Google – just as his pivot to happiness began. There, he led the creation of a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence course titled, Search Inside Yourself. The course quickly became a hit at Google, eventually attracting the attention of influencers such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and former President Jimmy Carter and catapulting Tan to international recognition. The White House, the TED stage, 60 Minutes and CNN are just a few of the settings where he shares his prescription for shifting one’s baseline recipe for happiness. With Joy On Demand: The Art of Discovering Happiness Within Tan extends his zest to all.
Movies, music, transportation, food… all things available on a whim. But, joy? Is sheer happiness really something we can summon on demand? Mr. Tan says, “yes!”. And, integral to his approach is “easing in”. “Life is too important to be taken seriously,” is the author’s motto. It’s an energy which permeates throughout the book’s pages. While at Google, Mr. Tan earned the nickname of “Jolly Good Fellow”. Sifting through the book you’ll find chapters titled Just One Breath? Surely You Jest, Happiness is Full of Crap and Joy Becomes You peppered with quotes, personal anecdotes, tales from the masters and comic strip style line drawings. Tan’s cheerful delivery is hard to resist. Among the amusement are several easy-to-follow practices bringing Tan’s teachings to life. Setup, Anchoring, Resting, Being and Freestyle form the framework of what he refers to as “Formal Practice”. More experienced meditators will feel at home with many of the book’s exercises involving loving-kindness and conscious breathing. Above all, Joy On Demand drives home the point of practice, practice, practice. It is not a book simply to digest and shelve, but one to interact with… daily. Bicep curls for the mind required!
“If you want to be successful, I highly recommend learning to be happy first. It is possible to become successful without first learning to be happy, but I strongly recommend against it, because if you are unhappy before you are successful, you are likely to be even more unhappy after.” Make sense to you? Merry and bright is Tan’s new release. It throws the reader a line – perhaps a much needed one during this season in which we find ourselves. Like the author, Joy On Demand does not take itself too seriously, thus making for a swell holiday gift or pick-me up for a friend in need of a little sunshine.