Published by Bethany House on February 15, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Humor, Memoir
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Discover the Way Toward a Lighter, Braver, and Wiser Life
This old world can be exhausting, despairing, and cynical. But you don't have to be.
Instead, you can unlock the power to a happy life--an act of defiance that will make you more resilient in times of turmoil, pain, and chaos. Cultivating happiness takes grit, determination, and a good sense of humor. It's not always easy, but it's well worth it.
Beloved writer Joy Marie Clarkson leads the way, crafting an audacious case for happiness no matter what you're going through. With her signature humor and lyrical storytelling, Joy offers an irresistible invitation:
"If we accept that life will be full of difficulties and sorrows, we then have two options: to resign ourselves to life generally being a bummer, or to seek enjoyment, delight, and hope in the midst of (and in spite of!) life's up and downs. To put it bluntly: You could choose to cultivate happiness, or you could not. . . . I think we should go for it."
Go, therefore, and choose an aggressively happy life.
This book is full of encouragement for people who struggle to reconcile the joy and the suffering that they experience personally and see in the world around them. Joy Marie Clarkson provides a stirring defense of why we should pursue and enjoy earthly happiness, instead of feeling like sorrow cancels it out, and she encourages her readers to make the world a better place by choosing happiness. The cover visualizes the theme very well, and it also reflects Joy’s whimsy, as she relates personal stories about the contradictions of joy and bitterness in her name and her life.
Joy shares vivid personal anecdotes without over-sharing, and when she writes about challenges in her life, she often writes about their emotional dimensions without getting into the specifics. This makes it easier for readers to relate her sorrows to their own, regardless of their individual contexts, and Joy honors her own and others’ privacy in how she handles sharing these stories. She also includes lots of charming and happy anecdotes, and she balances the memoir elements well with general life advice, encouraging readers to do things like remember and honor their embodiment, “flounder well” in seasons of uncertainty, and “enjoy things unironically,” without apologizing for finding delight in things others might consider frivolous.
I found Aggressively Happy: A Realist’s Guide to Believing in the Goodness of Life engaging all throughout, and I appreciate Joy’s honesty about her struggles with anxiety, grief, and doubt. She holds different truths in tension well throughout the book, and shares meaningful spiritual encouragement without ever being simplistic or preachy. This book is perfect for the target audience of emerging adults who are figuring out their lives and futures, and it is also full of applicable wisdom and encouragement for older and younger readers. I highly recommend this.