‘Aggressively Happy’ by Joy Clarkson

Listen, I don’t really do this. I’ve never met @joynessthebrave, but she wrote a book that pulled me out of a spiral. Aggressively Happy is funny, wise, and unapologetic in the best way.

Matt Civico (@mattCivico)

In an online world full of ugliness, cynicism, and despair, Joy Clarkson’s Twitter and Instagram pages are always an oasis of…well, joy — a teatime balm for the soul. As such, her new book, Aggressively Happy: A Realist’s Guide to Believing in the Goodness of Life, is definitely one you should have on your radar, especially if the world has been getting you down lately.

This is a book all about cultivating happiness in your life, despite the darkness and pain out there, using lessons and insights taken from literature, poetry, and scripture. (The latter isn’t my thing personally, but I accept that {Chef Gusteau voice} great teachings can come from anywhere.)

From the book’s description:

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.

And here’s what the author herself says on her website:

This is a book about looking life square in the face and learning to, as Wendell Berry puts it “rejoice though you have considered all the facts.” It is not about being happy all the time. There is such a thing as toxic positivity, a compulsive need to look on the bright side that lends itself to a perpetual denial of the real, deep difficulties of life. A happiness that ignores pain, injustice, and brokenness is not worth having. But a happiness which can stand tall, look life in the eye, and smile anyway? That is well worth the fight.

This is a book of essays drawing on literature, poetry, theology, history, and my own little life. I wrote it in the depths of winter, locked down in the UK, and gnashing my teeth over my PhD. It was purgatorial, a good test of the content. And yet, I found that I still believe there is a deep well of happiness at the heart of life. I believe that for all of its darkness, and mundanity, and confusion, life is good, and was made to be good, deep down to its core. I believe being alive is a precious gift, and the greatest crime is to squander it. I believe that there’s reason to hope. I know I can’t exactly prove these things, but in my experience, life is better when you live like they’re true.

By the end of Aggressively Happy, you’ll have the tools to find encouragement and comfort in all things (yes, even sadness); to enjoy things unironically; to face down outer turmoil with inner light, bravery, and hope.

A book best enjoyed with a latte or cup of hot tea in hand. ☕️📖

Get the book in these formats: