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Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  778 ratings  ·  88 reviews
How can we stay engaged with life day after day? How can we continue to love–to keep our minds in a happy mood–when life is complex, difficult, and, often, disappointing? Bestselling author and beloved teacher Sylvia Boorstein asked herself these questions when she started to write this inspiring new book. The result is her best work to date, offering warm, wise, and helpf ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published December 4th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, buddhism
A distillation of the key components of buddhist thought and practice channeled through a lifetime of experiences of Sylvia Boorstein,co-founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Centre in California.

Split into sections on equanimity, wise effort (and speech), mindfulness, and concentration it uses anecdotes and examples in every day life to illustrate how to put this philosophy of compassion into practice. It often sounds like common sense and indeed it is, however the mind often loses track a
Maughn Gregory
I was put off every now and then by Boorstein's life stories, which reveal her to lead a pretty pampered life - buying antique furniture in Paris, ski trips to the Pyrenees, teaching at retreats on Hawaiian islands, lap tops, hands-free car phones, etc. - and none of her insights into compassion seem to have taken her very far beyond that life, e.g., into a refugee camp or soup kitchen. But I learned some good lessons on Buddhist psychology from her clear analysis and good writing. ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sylvia Boorstein knows happiness and she knows how we can all, big and small, crazy or not so, can get there. It's simple practices, really, but practices that are all deeply grounded in habits developed over hundreds of years. What are they? Thinking kindly about others. Wise speech. Mindfulness.

Very, very helpful.
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
so far i like her even better then pema chodran! definitely a book i needed RIGHT NOW!

liked her so well, I've ordered one of her other books. this book seemed just the right amount of deep understanding, insightful teaching, in-the-trenches feel with enough fluff to make it readable and relatable. I got the feeling she is very much living in this world with us, just trying to get by. I'm speaking feeling and meditatively if not monitarily. other readers did not relate due to stories that reveal
Michele Harrod
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this a little repetitive but that may be because I’ve read a run of Buddhist themes lately. If I sum up my keys learnings from this, they are mostly that I need to stop and breathe before I react, (oh boy, do I what!!!). And if I can remember to return to a place of empathy and connection with my fellow man, even though life will eternally run through its endless phases of sunshine and shit storms, by allowing my feelings to come, being compassionate to myself and others around said feel ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook. There were a lot of good ideas that stopped me in my tracts, for instance the idea of us having "scripts" which we try to rewrite after a situation is over and nothing can be done to change how it happened, some people will still try and relive it over and over in their mind about what they could have said, why did that person say that, should haves, etc. I do that and it's a horrible waste of time. She also talked about the five hindrances which ...more
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I adore Sylvia Boorstein and am a very beginning meditator so this is definitely up my alley. If you’re at all interested in meditation or learning techniques to focus and stay calm during chaos, but it’s all new to you, I would suggest to start by listening to an interview with Sylvia Boorstein on the Ten Percent Happier podcast, or check out Dan Harris’s book Ten Percent Happier which is a great intro to meditation and a moving memoir. (If you want more immediate results Harris offers lots of ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sylvia Boorstein helps you understand the Buddhist paths of wise effort, wise mindfulness, and wise concentration using practical experiences and examples. This book keeps you focused on learning how to pay attention to difficulties that startle you and get you back into a balanced state. I am very interested in reading Dr. Boorstein other books!
Larry James
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I enjoyed reading the book, which gave me the feeling of having a wise master speak with me,But,I am still thinking about what she said, and maybe that is the point.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Simple, instructive and delightful. I love how Boorstein shares stories to demonstrate the application of her practice.
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: buddhism
This book is an very broad overview of Buddhist teachings on the Brahama Viharas-- the teachings on loving kindness, compassion, empathic joy and equanimity. There is frequently a use of several aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path to help clarify or enhance-- including wise understating and wise speech. Sylvia is a very good meditation teacher and lovely human being, but I feel like this very basic book sets the sights too low. It is good to be happier, let go of stress and realize happiness can ...more
Dawn Woodward
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really wish I had read this 10+ years ago when I saw it. At the time, I didn't know who Sylvia was, and the title put me off, thinking it was not about "serious" Buddhist teachings. I have, in recent years, been listening to interviews and talks with Sylvia and found I identify with her SO much. I am a "recovering fretter" as well and had I not judged this book by it's cover, I might well have made it to a better place sooner. That said, this is an easy read, practical, and even humorous book ...more
M. Jane Colette
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm on my way to the library to get all the other Sylvia Boorstein books, which I think could be the beginning and end of this review... But I'll give you a little more. Like, this quote:

"There are only two possibilities in any moment. You can kiss or you can fight. Kissing is better."

Hold on. I'm going to send that to my lover right now...

...and now I'm going to the library to get the rest of Sylvia Boorstein's books.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I know that this author and this book are supposed to be a huge thing in the Western Buddhist tradition but I just couldn't get into it. I felt that there was a glib attitude toward suffering and a very superficial explanation of the "practicing". The author seemed to be offering platitudes aimed toward people who were already familiar with practice. Perhaps at some point I will try another of her books or, once I have a better grasps of the basics of Buddhism, try this one again. ...more
Liz Thys
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m a big fan of Sylvia Boorstein! I wasn’t as moved by this book as I remember being with her other book, It’s Easier Than you Think. Yet, it’s a short, quick read that acts as a lovely reminder to the Buddhist way of approaching life. With her encouragement to breathe deeply dispersed through the book, the reading process becomes relaxing and joyful.
Jen Bojkov
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nice book covering a few aspects of Buddhism and mindfulness practice. I like how the author uses “regular” language to explain the concepts even when she’s using the proper terminology. It makes the process more accessible. I will read more by her I’m sure.
Sarah Bollinger
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Boorstein walks the reader through three of the eight steps on the Eightfold Path of Buddhism - right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. I appreciated this in-depth look at the mindfulness steps and found her thoughts helpful in my meditation practice.
Yamon Bo
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book contains very clear explanations of Buddhism and clear insights into Buddhist teachings. It also has very specific and practical instructions on how to practice metta and mindfulness in everyday life.
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sylvia Boorstein is a wonderful Buddhist teacher. Down to earth and with the same problems in life that we all have. I go to this book over and over again when I'm having a difficult patch in my life. ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed her small stories the most.I like how she related them to the morals she wanted to deliver. Buddha threw me off
After reading some Sharon Salzberg and Mark Epstein it felt a little basic, not bad, just a lot of material I had already heard.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I like the way she connects Buddhist teachings with everyday experiences. But, as another reader mentioned, it’s sometimes hard to related to her very sheltered life.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The only thing that disappointed me about this book was that the author didn't read it herself. ...more
Chui Ying
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A delightful easy read, and a great resource for explaining the basic tenets of Buddhism in a clear and secular manner.
Cari Dunbar Philpott
I think this is a good book for beginners or those early into meditation. It didn’t inspire me as much as I’d hoped for in my stage of my journey. Still it is well- written and good information.
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Exactly right at exactly the right time.
Dec 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another book of wisdom from Sylvia Boorstein. To be read slowly and savored.
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great content. The style of writing is a little choppy, but I was able to get used to it after a few chapters.
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
**Happiness seekers: apply within**
Buddhism for the rest of us. That’s how I’d describe this little gem. The author does an impressive job in presenting an overview of Buddhist principles, and then making salient some of the core nuggets. In particular, she conveys how the trio of effort, concentration, and mindfulness can be used to help us move from internal confusion and struggle to inner wisdom and happiness. With clear and concise explanations of otherwise hefty concepts—and personal experi
Rose Moore
May 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Happiness is an Inside Job is a very sweet and simple introduction to how meditation practices and Zen Buddhism can impact your life to make it better.

The chapters range through various practices, with each one covering the fundamentals along with explanation and anecdote from Boorstein's own practice. It's very pleasant to read - nothing is over complicated or oversimplified, and the authors voice is very clear throughout. There is a real sense of being able to connect to the kind of woman that
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Sylvia Boorstein (born 1936) is an American writer and Buddhist spiritualist.

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55 likes · 14 comments
“All losses are sad. The end of an important relationship is also a death. When people fall out of love with each other, or when what seemed like a solid friendship falls into ruin, the hope for a shared future--a hope that provided a context and a purpose to life--is gone. [p. 149]” 14 likes
“... the moment in which the mind acknowledge 'This isn't what I wanted, but it's what I got' is the point at which suffering disappears. Sadness might remain present, but the mind ... is free to console, free to support the mind's acceptance of the situation, free to allow space for new possibilities to come into view. [p. 29]” 11 likes
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