Joy on Demand

Chade-Meng Tan is an ex-Googler, often credited with establishing the personal-growth program called ‘Search Inside Yourself’ at Google. ‘Joy on Demand’ is Meng’s second book, a follow-up to the bestseller ‘Search Inside Yourself’. I haven’t read the latter, but, I can confidently put on record that ‘Joy on Demand’ turns out to be a half-baked effort by the author to capitalize on the success of his last book, only it might not lead to same fruits as did ‘Search Inside Yourself’.

On a candid note, I expected a lot more than this book actually serves up. ‘Joy on Demand’ is a primer on basic meditation techniques to access the inner joy as and when required. If you are a novice and aspire to gen up on fundamental meditation techniques, then, you might just lap this book up. However, those practicing yoga and mindful meditation for some time might not find this book making any major additions to their existing repertory.

Mindful meditation is an easy ticket to internal bliss and most practitioners know that. Material accomplishments bring a fleeting sense of joy, but once the novelty element wears off, we return to the normal. There is no permanence, no afterglow. Mindful meditation, says Meng, is the mental equivalent of physical exercise. The more you practice, the more you benefit. It has a flywheel effect. Meng opines, “If you add meditation to your repertoire, you can even have more creative breakthroughs as you learn to reach higher levels of both alertness and relaxation.

There are parts of the book that resonated with me a great deal. For example, in the chapter titled ‘Joy becomes You’, Meng shares that he is successful because he is lucky and defines the luck as a three-pronged hook:

  1. Being born into the right circumstances
  2. Being in the right place at the right time
  3. Being surrounded by good people

Where we end up in life is more of a function of the last two factors , as factor 1 is totally random.

Overall, ‘Joy in Demand’ is a mixed bag. There are parts that awe-inspire, for example, the legends of Chinese and Indian spiritual masters, and there are parts that are downright insipid. ‘Joy on Demand’ has many such pages where you feel like skimming over as the ideas seem weightless. Author throws in illustrations to induce fun, but frankly, the illustrations should have been avoided. They seem to just push the envelope.

Meng is like that talkative kid in the class who asks a lot of questions and challenges the answers of others all the time, and once in a while, rivets everybody’s attention with a shocking revelation or two. The value of any book, for me, lies in how many times you feel compelled to go back to it, or, at least, feel an itch to go back and explore more about the subject matter. I am afraid, Meng’s ‘Joy on Demand’ induced nothing of the sort in me.

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