Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why Is God Laughing? A Review.

I was recently gifted a copy of Deepak Chopra’s book, “Why Is God Laughing? The Path to Joy And Spiritual Optimism.” I don’t often read books related to spirituality, probably an over-reaction to being inundated with religious instruction as a youth. Frankly, I’m one of those people who believe the more you talk about spirituality the less likely you are actually spiritually connected. I must confess that in the past I had less than an open mind about all things new age, but that’s changed. Chopra’s book helped me make more connections between my expertise area of creativity, and something I am still mystified about, spirituality.

The fact that Mike Myers (yes, of SNL and Wayne’s World fame) wrote the foreward helped me get over myself and start reading.

In recent years I have become more and more convinced that the deepest root in the innovation tree is, in fact, spirtuality. I’ve tried time and again to find a way to say this in a way that people, particularly business people, understand. I see spirituality as the most important part of a person’s creative environment, the source from which all innovation flows. I cite the spirituality of Einstein and Elvis as examples of how that foundation can lead to creative greatness. Still, for most people, it’s a tenuous link.

Why Is God Laughing fills in a lot of cracks in the linkage between the soul and personal creativity. It’s written as a story. The main character is Mickey, a successful stand-up comic who has just lost his semi-estranged father. His father’s character, Larry, reaches back from the dead (I won’t say how here) and finds a way to show Mickey a path to spiritual optimism. In the process Mickey learns more about the nature of fear, the roles we play in life that aren’t who we really are, and how the ego gets in the way of leading a more joyful life. It’s a quick read — only a day or two for most people I suspect, and, it moves quickly and without a lot of new-age double-speak. It’s a light weight story, and it is nonetheless a powerful book.

For me, a key insight is how much fear gets in the way of how we live. I’ve always said that removal of fear, or at least recognition of it, is the first step in creative problem solving. If you are paralyzed with fear there will be no creativity, there will be no innovation. Chopra does a great job of showing how fear is a dead end and provides a way of looking at it that helps remove it from our thinking. Likewise, he does a fine job of showing how ego interferes with authenticity. The learning for me is that recognizing how your ego rules you is the first step in letting that go and the positive result is greater, and more authentic, self-expression.

I would encourage anyone who wants a fresh perspective on the connection of spirituality to creativity, innovation, and joyful living to read this subtly enlightening book.

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