Book Review: The Joy Factor – 10 Sacred Practices for Radiant Health

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Author: Susan Smith Jones, PhD
Publisher: Conari Press
Book Publication: 2010

I was recently sent a copy of a very popular piece from newspaper columnist Regina Brett. Upon turning 90, she decided to once again share with her readers some of the lessons life had taught her. This column was a quick and easy read, including forty-five very inspiring and practical insights/tips to living a fuller, happier life. If you are looking for something along the same lines, but with considerably more depth and breadth, then consider The Joy Factor by Susan Smith Jones.

A fitness and health guru for more than 30 years, prolific author and radio/TV personality Smith Jones’ The Joy Factor endeavours to teach readers 10 timeless, sensible, and very doable practices that will help them live healthier, happier, and longer lives – lives which are empowered by the belief that life can be mastered.

The practices are all about choices, and practice one sets the tone for the entire book – “choose to live your best life.”

The recurring theme around all 10 life choices described in the book is treating yourself and others with respect, dignity, love, and caring. Here are some of the ways Jones believes that this can be achieved: loving (and listening to) your body, being committed to staying fit and eating natural foods; sharing with and caring for those less fortunate, either financially or emotionally; staying adventurous and open-minded; including music, meditation, affirmation, and laughter in your life at every opportunity. These are all components to bringing the ‘joy factor’ back to our lives, which according to Jones is the key to lasting health.

I have mixed feelings about The Joy Factor. On one hand, it is a book filled with valuable information. Jones has broken down complex research, scientific studies, and personal experiences into simple terms, making this book an easy, and in many ways very enjoyable, read. She is known as a gifted personal wellness coach, and this shines through in The Joy Factor. Smith comes across as kind, committed, caring, and happy – living up to her nickname of “Sunny”.

On the other hand, while The Joy Factor contains some essential ingredients to living our very best lives – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – I found myself somewhat bored and annoyed with some of its content. It is certainly filled to the brim with clichés. There are numerous references to timeless pearls of wisdom like “if it’s to be it’s up to me,” and “let your food be your medicine…let your medicine be your food.” These are wise words indeed and when applied, potentially life-changing. Unfortunately, there are so many of them in this book that after a few chapters they become mundane, if not meaningless.

Another element I found objectionable was the frequent mention of Jones’ other books. It almost felt like an infomercial for the many works of Susan Smith Jones. There is nothing wrong with authors listing their other books at the beginning, or referring to one or two as suggestions for further reading, but in this case, it just seemed more self-serving than informative.

Aside from the overuse of motivating language and self-promotion, The Joy Factor is a worthy read. It offers sound and insightful ways to nourish our bodies and souls – helping us to “see the body not as a lump of flesh but rather as a noble instrument; within it is the source of all power. All we have to do is tap into it. Wisdom, Light, and Love are within each of us and make up the ribbon that unites us all together.”

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