Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book Review: Just Choose Happiness: A Guide to Joyous Living by Nell W. Mohney

I must admit upfront that this is not a book that I would have read if I were just looking at books at the local Christian bookstore. I chose to read the book for the obvious reason that I have the honor to be one of Nell's pastors at First-Centenary and I know she is an amazing person of faith.

The premise of the book is that while we may not get to choose our circumstances, happiness is a choice. Nell believes this choice involves "choosing and developing positive and practical traits that will enhance our happiness." (Page 9) Nell believes that this begins first when we place Jesus at the center of our lives instead of placing ourselves in the center. She then goes on to give some practical advice on how to choose happiness. She suggests that we (1) Choose gratitude as a means of coping with worry. (2) Choose to live in the present instead of dwelling on our past failures. (3) Choosing to experience the joy of the future by experiencing the unconditional love of God. (4) Choosing laughter (5) Choosing to care for our whole being, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. (6) Choosing prayer as a means of experiencing the joy of God. Nell ends her book by grounding happiness in living by the Holy Spirit.

There are a couple of strengths to Just Choose Happiness. First, unlike some of the other books that I would call "Christian Self Help", Nell roots her premise first in placing Jesus at the center of our lives and then like a book end, concludes the book by asking her readers to be lead by the Spirit. I find this to be very good theology in that God is the ultimate source of happiness and joy and Nell establishes that without God happiness will only be an illusion at best. I find that the practical traits mentioned in the book are grounded in her faith in Jesus and by her daily living by the Holy Spirit.

What makes this book more meaningful to me is that I have seen Nell live out the pages in this book. She wrote a lot of this while her husband Ralf was passing away. Every time I saw Nell, she chose to be happy. Not only did she choose to be happy, but her faith in God, through Jesus, as she walked by the Spirit, enabled her to make her last days with Ralph special and meaningful. Nell is a great example of the premise of her book. She chooses to be happy despite her circumstance.

I believe her book is important because many people choose to focus on the negatives in life and choose to be unhappy. For those persons, I recommend this book and I hope that God will richly bless your life as you read these pages from one of the best women I know. I know he did me.

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