Awakening Joy

Books - By James Baraz

James is the author of two books.

Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness

in partnership with Shoshana Alexander

Paperback Book Cover


Awakening Joy for Kids

in partnership with Michele Lilyanna

Book Cover for Kids


Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness

By James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander
Forward by Jack Kornfield
Preface by Ram Dass


Hardcover Paperback Audio and Kindle Editions
Awakening Joy Awakening Joy The Book Awakening Joy The Book

Bantam Books
ISBN-13: 9780553807035

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Parallax Press 

Your Independent Bookstore


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Use code AJ25 at Parallax Press
to receive a 25% Discount

Unabridged Audio Edition

Narrated by James Baraz

Kindle Edition

Original book formatting
is lost in this version

Happiness is not for the lucky few—it’s a choice anyone can make. In his groundbreaking first book, written with Shoshana Alexander, Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness (A Bantam Books Hardcover). James Baraz, cofounder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and renowned meditation teacher for more than 30 years, reveals his 10-step program, based on the curriculum of his popular “Awakening Joy” course, for how we can reorient our minds away from dissatisfaction and distraction and toward the contentment and delight that is abundantly available in our everyday lives. 

Many people look outside of themselves to explain their happiness or suffering, but Baraz says that we can decide to be happy. For years, his “Awakening Joy” course has offered participants from around the world the benefits of this simple but profoundly radical proposition. In Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness, Baraz and Alexander show how you, too, can access the switch inside yourself and live life with greater joy. 

Filled with engaging exercises and practical advice to make happiness your natural default setting and grounded in Buddhist principles – though accessible to people of all faiths or no faith at all – the book takes you step-by-step through cultivating behaviors and attitudes that bring well-being into your life. From resetting your mind toward happier thoughts, to learning to be present in the moment, this practical down-to-earth guide will teach you how to:

  • Make happiness a habit by inclining your mind toward states that lead to well-being

  • Find joy even during difficult times and avoid the pitfalls that prevent you from achieving the contentment you seek

  • Cultivate effective practices for sustaining joyfulness, such as reclaiming your natural sense of wonder and finding joy and gratitude in the midst of everyday experiences

  • Choose words to remember your intention to be happy when making decisions about how to think or act

  • Learn to let go – of change, of our obsession with material objects, of crowded schedules, of stories that limit us – to gain a greater sense of well being and joy in our everyday lives

With Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness, any reader will find it easy to begin the revolutionary journey to embrace happiness and well-being, and embark on a path to an enriching, meaningful, positive view of life.

About the Authors of Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness



  JAMES BARAZ   Shoshana Alexander SHOSHANA

James has been teaching meditation since 1978.

He created and has taught the "Awakening Joy" course since 2003. ( Over 13,000 people have taken the course.)

James leads retreats, workshops and classes in the U.S. and abroad.

He is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California.

James lives with his wife, Jane Baraz, in Berkeley, California.

Shoshana is also the author of :

In Praise of Single Parents,
Women's Ventures / Women's Visions

The Findhorn Garden

Shoshana has studied Buddhism since 1970 and has guided various works of several prominent Buddhist authors, including Tara Brach, Sharon Salzberg, and Wes Nisker.

She lives in Ashland, Oregon and teaches fiction and non-fiction writing.

Bill Gates' Blog Praises Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness

Bill Gates


"I don't read a lot of self-help or inspirational books, but even if you never read anything in this genre, this book is one you should try. Baraz teaches a very popular course and has an online lecture series on this. Melinda and I actually went to one of his seminars. He's a very nice guy, and Awakening Joy is very good."

More Praise for Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness

"I've personally taken the Awakening Joy program and can say this unequivocally: It's fabulous and it works!  This book, filled with moving stories and rich teachings, will give you wonderful tools to experience true happiness and well-being.  It's a gem!"
Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author of Happy for No Reason

"Opening to joy takes courage and intention. This book will inspire you to discover genuine happiness, and show you how. Drawing on perennial wisdom and accessible meditative practices, James and Shoshana offer teachings that can awaken your love of life."   
Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance

"Every page of this wonderful book has something that inspires faith or confidence: a new story, a memorable quote, an exercise that invites participation....From beginning to end, it is a joy to read."
Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness Is An Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life

"This book should be read by every person who cares about making this a better world. It can enhance the joys of working to develop a wiser and more compassionate society, and help make us both happier and more effective in challenging times."
Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

"This is an important book--and a great read! With its unique mix of story, philosophy, and practice we can explore our needs, free ourselves from the bonds of suffering, and innovate new ways of being that will last our lifetimes.  And, because James has woven himself and his characteristic smile throughout the book, we can have a lot of fun in the process." 
Rick Foster, co-author of How We Choose to Be Happy

"Faith, hope, and love have long been considered the essential virtues of the religious life. James Baraz has done us all a great service by elevating joy to its rightful place alongside the trinity of sacred emotions. What a gift is it, to be surprised by joy, and to awaken, in the midst of a difficult world, the impulse to rejoice."
Patricia E. de Jong, Senior Minister, First Congregational Church of Berkeley

“Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness is an inspirational and practical resource which helps us identify where we are or are not experiencing joy in our lives. This original book addresses the primary obstacles or beliefs that hinder our access to joy, and includes timeless practices and ways in which we can expand, cultivate, express, and experience more joy in our lives and within our own nature. Well-written, informative, and a significant contribution to everyone’s well-being.”    
Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., cultural anthropologist, and author of award-winning Second Half of Life: Opening to the Eight Gates of Wisdom

"In our pursuit of happiness, this moving book should be a dog eared, worn out companion....As you work through this elegant material, you will find yourself laughing a little longer, dancing a little more, and awakening to the beauty of what lies inside you and in those nearby."  
Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley, and author, Born To Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life

"I have been deeply touched and inspired by James Baraz’s accessible, practical wisdom.  His genuine caring for people and enthusiasm for life generously pour forth and permeate everything that he teaches--now in the pages of this book."
Rabbi Margie Jacobs, Institute for Jewish Spirituality

“Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness is a wise treasure house of valuable information, anecdotes, potent quotes, and creative suggestions to step into one's power and live life to the max. This book is a rich, inspiring resource I’m excited to share with my yoga students.”
Gabriel Halpern, founder and director of the Yoga Circle [Chicago]

"This is a life-changing book that not only teaches practical, useful strategies for increasing your awareness, but also illuminates choices about how you can lead your emotional life."
Paul Ekman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of California, San Francisco, co-author of Emotional Awareness and author of Emotions Revealed

"To awaken joy in oneself and others is one of life’s great skills, a skill taught by sages across the centuries, and now distilled in this book."
Roger Walsh M.D., Ph.D., University of California Medical School, author of Essential Spirituality: The Seven Central Practices

"This book is an inspiring gift that will open your heart to the presence of love and joy in everyday life."
Frances Vaughan, Ph.D., psychologist, author of Shadows of the Sacred

"Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness is an important guide to transforming our everyday experience into genuine happiness.  James and Shoshana's insight, kindness, and clear and practical language make this a direct, pragmatic and valuable manual for a better life."
Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

"In this beautiful and heartwarming book, James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander take us on a journey that truly awakens joy. There are stories that bring tears to our eyes and practices that transform our lives.  This is a loving, wise, and compassionate testament to what is possible for each one of us.  Highly recommended."
Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace

"I'm so happy that James Baraz's Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness class is now available in book form.  His class has been helpful to thousands of people.  I plan to give it to all my clients who are struggling with creating a life of meaning and happiness.  Joyfulness is our birthright.  This book shows you how to reclaim it."
M.J. Ryan, author of AdaptAbility

Catherine Ingram interviews James Baraz about Awakening Joy

© 2017 Awakening Joy, James Baraz