2024 Awakening Joy Course: 10 Steps to a Happier Life

Joy is not just for the lucky few; it's a choice anyone can make. Awakening Joy is a 5-month internationally recognized course designed to awaken joy through exciting themes and practices that incline the mind toward well-being and deeper insight.

James Introduces the 2024 Awakening Joy Course

The course includes LIVE Zoom sessions with both video and audio recordings + a not-to-be-missed practice letter from James on each of the ten themes.

How it Works

Awakening Joy is not a feel good course; it's a feel everything course. It has a strong emphasis on experiential practice, focused on 10 themes. Through these practices, you will come to see myriad results develop from choosing to be happy.

  • Video Recordings of each Live Zoom Session every 2 weeks for 5 months, including a guided meditation, for each of the 10 themes.

  • Practice Letters

  • Reminder Cards

  • Additional Resources related to each of the 10 Themes

  • Email Notification whenever new materials are posted. Materials remain available throughout 2024.

  • Access to the Awakening Joy Community, where you can find a practice partner and share your experience with the course principles and practices. Small, trainee-led support group sessions on each of the 10 themes may also be available, depending on when you join the course.

Meet James

James Baraz

James Baraz has been a meditation teacher since 1978 and leads retreats, workshops and classes in the U.S and abroad. He is the creator and teacher of the online Awakening Joy course, since 2003. He's also a co-founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. In recent years, he has also focused on dharma and climate change, and serves as an advisor to One Earth Sangha, a website devoted to Buddhist responses to climate change. His books include Awakening Joy with Shoshana Alexander, and Awakening Joy for Kids with Michele Lilyanna. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Jane, and has two sons and three grandchildren.

2024 Dates and Themes for the Awakening Joy Course

Live Zoom sessions: 6:30 - 8:30 PM California Time (18:30 - 20:30 UTC-8) every other Tuesday. All sessions are recorded and available within 48 hours. View/listen anytime until the end of 2024.

  • January 30 - Session 1: Intention

  • February 13 - Session 2: Mindfulness

  • February 27 - Session 3: Gratitude

  • March 12 - Session 4: Joy in Difficult Times

  • March 26 - Session 5: Integrity

  • April 9 - Session 6: The Joy of Letting Go

  • April 23 - Session 7: Loving Ourselves

  • May 7 - Session 8: Connection with Others

  • May 21 - Session 9: Compassion

  • June 4 - Session 10: The Joy of Being

The Awakening Joy Book Is Based on the Course

by James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander

Praise for James Baraz and Awakening Joy

From Bill Gates

Microsoft Co-founder and Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

"I don't read a lot of self-help or inspirational books, but even if you never read anything in this genre, this book is one you should try. Baraz teaches a very popular course and has an online lecture series on this. Melinda and I actually went to one of his seminars. He's a very nice guy, and Awakening Joy is very good."

Melinda French Gates

Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

“Awakening Joy was so meaningful to me.  I carried it around in my purse for probably a year and a half.  It gave me a grounding in why meditation is so incredibly helpful, and how even when you’re going through a tough time you can still find joy every single day… that if I sit quietly, all the pieces I need will come together…to be patient and to know that the process will unfold.”

O Magazine

“James Baraz has turned Awakening Joy into a class and found that participants maintained a positive attitude even after it ended. He has been thrilled to receive messages from strangers in Europe, Africa and New Zealand. ‘It works!’ they write.”

See article here.

Jack Kornfield

Author of "A Path with Heart" & "After the Ecstacy, the Laundry"

“Awakening Joy can lead each of us to live with dignity, compassion and gracious freedom. Savor and practice the exercises...use them to open your heart and transform your life. Your days on Earth will be full of blessings.”

Praise for Awakening Joy Course from Participants

“This course changed my life. I understand now that I have a lot more to do with experiencing joy than I thought. To be joyful had always seemed like luck, or some sort of accident even, and I felt like I was a victim of life’s circumstances. I now see that I have more “control” over how often I experience joy. I can choose to be happy and choose to be unhappy, even miserable. Joy seems to occur more often as a result of this realization.”


“I’ve begun to notice various aspects of my work for which I am grateful. And the more I pay attention to these, the more there are! Many of the things I now notice are things I had begun to take for granted, yet were the very reasons I had chosen this work in the first place.”


“Setting the intention to be more alive and to experience joy has been incredibly powerful. I find that I am less afraid of my constant physical pain. My friends are noticing also that I am having fewer episodes of extreme despair. My long-time on-again-off-again boyfriend proposed at the end of July. I was very surprised as I thought he still had doubts about the future of our relationship. Later he explained that he had seen so much progress in the stability of my moods and my ability to live life that he no longer doubted my commitment to 'getting better'. I feel deeply grateful. ”


“The course has been a wonderful experience of remembering the joy that is so accessible and available in our lives everyday. ”


“I have been bombarded with an exceptional number of difficult experiences in the past two weeks. While I haven’t been joyful in the conventional sense, I have maintained awareness of my intention to cultivate joy…I’ve been very aware of compassion and loving kindness in each situation; and I’ve been conscious of allowing positive feelings and happiness to co-exist with the sadness that has naturally accompanied these situations. ”


“I have an increased awareness of joyfulness, and the possibility of cultivating it. I also understand better how to experience it, rather then the old ‘random’ way of simply being surprised, or even worse, unaware of its presence. I now practice choosing to see the joy inherent in many situations, rather then the negative or painful aspects.”