Friday, April 15, 2016

Happiness! (Ignatius Press)

Since May 2015, Fr. Robert Spitzer has released three books for Ignatius Press as part of his "Happiness, Suffering, and Transcendence" series. The books are as follows - Finding True Happiness, The Soul's Upward Yearning, and God So Loved the World. In addition to these books, they have also released a DVD study program that is both approachable and affordable! It is simply called Happiness! and I am going to tell you about it. Happiness! takes up only two DVDs and is divided into seven lessons. The lessons are as follows:

1. The Four Levels of Happiness
2. The Comparison Game
3. The Faith to Reach Transcendence
4. Level 4 Evidence: Near-Death Experiences
5. Level 4 Evidence: The Resurrection
6. Transcendence: Is Unconditional Love Real?
7. Happiness, Love, and Suffering

The two presenters of the video series are Eric Johnson and Jennifer Milani who conduct interviews with guests such as Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, Leah Darrow, and of course Fr. Robert Spitzer. Each video lesson is approximately 30 minutes long and presented in a way that makes the material very easy to learn. However, the companion book is the best part of this program. Each lesson comes with exact timestamps in the DVD that sync up with the page in the study book. There are ample room for notes, and perhaps the most captivating part are all the illustrations. These illustrations are comic in nature, but they really reinforce the main points of the lesson and help it stick in your brain.

This study focuses a lot on Level 4 happiness, because that is the ultimate happiness, but what I really took away from this program was a self-realization of how I view happiness. The four levels in the most basic form are pleasure, comparisons, empathy, and transcendence. I would love to say that I hover between Levels 3 and 4 all the time, but unfortunately, I still find myself in Levels 1 and 2 from time to time. There are times when I am merely worried about what I want/what will make me happy and other times where I find myself envious and making comparisons. Both of these are fleeting and shallow happiness. Pleasure doesn't last forever, and with comparisons, there's always someone better and worse than you. This study opened my eyes to my own shortcomings and helped me realize I need to get beyond Levels 1 and 2, and aim for Level 3 to start off with, but ultimately strive to reach Level 4. It was a very humbling experience.

I highly recommend this study in large part because of the humbling experience. We are all searching for happiness in the world, and a lot of people haven't found it, because they are dwelling on the first two levels. This study will open their eyes to this reality and get them aiming for a higher level, which can only be found in God. This seems like a perfect study for young adults, but anyone could benefit from this study. With its short length (7 lessons) and affordability (under $50), this is a program that every parish should consider investing in.

This program was provided to me for free by Ignatius Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!