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I recently finished reading Zen And the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. I liked it.

I approached it with an open mind, and I enjoyed the read. The idea of the book, at it’s core, is that to be happy you must realize that the Universe is looking out for you and regardless of what happens, it is the best possible thing that can happen to you.

Or, in other words, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

I loved the emphasis on this, and I loved the story examples the author gave. I loved that the author mentions using this method in his drug rehabilitation center especially. [Even though many people didn’t.]

I loved the mention to drug rehabilitation because as an aspiring Psychologist, it was very helpful, and I believe that it is a far more effective treatment method than many therapists use, especially in the case of drug rehabilitation. This is largely because of my own personal experience. I went to a treatment center that included drug addiction as well as other at-risk behaviours. They taught there the ‘rule of thirds’: One third will recover, one third will relapse and one third will die.

Very depressing stuff, hearing that constantly, always wondering which third you’ll be. They also largely focus on shame and making the patient feel bad for what they did. While it is good to feel regret for their bad choices, regret and guilt are two different things. Guilt can be toxic, and the more loving philosophy would, I believe, benefit the patients much better. With the belief that the Universe is looking out for you, recovery can be a much more relaxing place.

On the other hand, there are definitely some cons as well.

Zen and Buddhism only play a minor role in the book, which is misleading based on the title. While it covers the subjects in a broad sense, any practitioner [or practitioner to be] should take it with a grain of salt. It does not mention a lot about meditation or mindfulness, [though the argument can be made that he is talking about mindfulness in the philosophy of ‘everything that happens is the best possible thing that can happen’].

It is also simply written, which can be either good or bad. I didn’t mind it, but sometimes it took him some time to get to the point of what he was trying to say. He often spent more time sharing his personal stories than explaining his philosophy.

It’s definitely more of a philosophy book mixed with a disjointed memoir than a How-To. Which to me, was fine.

I don’t believe any ‘How-To’ book on Happiness is anything more than philosophy with some direction anyways.

3.5/5 stars. It’s a quick read, and I got it at a discount. Worth the read, but there are better books out there.

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