3 out of 4 stars
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The first thing I will say about Happiness Is All We Want! by Ashutosh Mishra is that there is a lot in this book. This is both a strength, because I learned a lot, and a weakness, because it requires a full chapter to explain how to get the most out of the book and read it as author Ashutosh Mishra intended. The book is divided into 3 sections: Mind (represented as a chattering monkey), Body (which is a donkey bearing a pack) and Spirit, which he envisions as a trim racehorse. There is also a sort of coda about spiritual practice and meditation, which, although compelling, adds to the overstuffed feeling despite the book itself, at 242 pages, not being that long in objective terms. Mishra often includes personal accounts from students and former clients in the book, only separated out by italics from his own advice. Nice technique, but maybe some kind of sidebar box might have done a better job for the reader’s eye.
Overall, though, the book appears cleanly and professionally edited, with a colloquial style that may come off with a bit of an “accent” for American readers due to Indian spelling and syntax resembling that found in the U.K. more than that we use in the States. There were very few typographic errors.
As to the advice itself, I’m not sure that, as a single woman with minimal responsibilities and limited mobility from birth, that I represent the intended audience for some of the themes, especially the Body section with all the exercise tips and yoga positions. It’s not unusual for me to skip around in any kind of an advice book, as a member of an under-served demographic whose problems don't often resonate with self-help authors, but I am a little concerned that the downside of any attempt to take health and happiness in an individual’s hands could be used against people with chronic conditions, who often don’t find life as simple as eliminating sugar and choosing happiness. Quite frankly, my slender Donkey will never be a physically-fit racehorse, no matter how much soda I pass up.
The thoughts about beginning meditation and acting mindfully instead of responding emotionally to the crisis of the moment are valuable reminders for almost any reader and validate the extra time spent reading this book. Probably every reader has some area where she is her own worst enemy and needs help fighting through to her own best influences. I also learned that my Western understanding of “karma” was a bit short-term, and therefore, possibly not correct, given that in Buddhist terms, the cycle for things “coming around” may involve several lifetimes.
That is why, despite my criticism, I give Happiness is All We Want! 3 out of 4 stars for being a little something for everyone who's looking for happiness in their own lives.
Happiness is All We Want!
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