Be Happy, Be Holy: Review of ‘Resisting Happiness’

Book Pick: A look at Matthew Kelly’s latest.

(photo: Register Files)

Resisting Happiness

By Matthew Kelly

Beacon Publishing, 2016

192 pages, $24.95 (hardcover)

To order: or (859) 980-7900


“This is the paradox that surrounds our quest for happiness: We know the things that will make us happy, but we don’t always do them,” writes best-selling author, speaker and business consultant Matthew Kelly in his newest book, Resisting Happiness.  

Kelly, a Catholic, brings God into the book early on. “God wants you to be happy even more than you want it yourself. When we resist happiness, we resist God and the-very-best-version-of-ourselves.”

Kelly’s own relationship with God took hold as a teenager, after he started spending 10 minutes every morning in prayer in his high-school chapel. It was that time with God that filled the “holes” in his life with purpose and happiness. Through that divine relationship, he began to interpret everyday life in a godly way and receive God’s direction.

Our happiness, Kelly explains, is ultimately tied to fulfilling the mission God has for us. He acknowledges that life can get messy and difficult.

“Don’t listen to resistance when it comes to wearing the mask of discouragement,” Kelly writes. “Turn to God in prayer.”

He encourages: “Let’s decide together, right here and right now, to do something about the mess in our own lives, and whenever possible the mess in other people’s lives.”

And if we find ourselves dissatisfied with life, Kelly advises: “It’s time to start listening to what God is saying to us through our dissatisfaction. … Resistance loves keeping us busy with anything but the one thing that will most help us grow.”

After identifying common stumbling blocks, Kelly presents readers with the four words that are the greatest challenge to Christianity — the fifth line of the Our Father: Thy will be done. Then he presents this prayer as the only path to lasting happiness. Each of the 37 short chapters ends by naming a “key point” and “action step.”

The many insights are significant because Kelly knows success and he knows God. His 20 books are published in more than 25 languages and have appeared on The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller lists and sold more than 20 million copies. He’s a partner at Floyd Consulting, a Chicago-based management-consulting firm with more than fifty Fortune 500 companies. Kelly has also founded Dynamic Catholic, a nonprofit that seeks to re-energize the Catholic Church.

Resisting Happiness is not just good — it is divinely clever.

Kelly wrote an engaging, uplifting book equal to any secular self-help advice on the market, except that God is embedded deeply into the narrative.

For faithful Catholics, the book is a wonderful integration of the tools of the world in union with God.

I plan to give copies to people whom I think will respond well to such an approach.

Resisting Happiness is ultimately all about God, but without seeming to be just about God — just like life.

Patti Armstrong writes from North Dakota.