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happinessresearch has commented on (13) products.

Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World by Jim Johnson
Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World

happinessresearch, February 23, 2009

How to Find Long-Term Happiness

This is currently my favorite happiness book. In less than 100 pages, it offers a reader all they ever wanted to know about the subject of happiness- and then some. While some readers might be turned off by its brevity, I wasn't bothered, and in fact, appreciated it! As the insert of the book points out, "What good is a big book full of useful information if nobody ever finishes it?"

So if you're looking to live a happier life, want to start concentrating your life's efforts on what will really make you happy in the long run, OR if you simply want to learn more about the science of happiness- get it. Happy trails!
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Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good Fast by Robert Holden
Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good Fast

happinessresearch, February 23, 2009

Got Happiness?

I've read a lot of happiness books and those written for the popular read always seem to fall into one of two general categories. Some of them, like "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World", are based on scientific research and what has positively been proven to make people happier in controlled trials. Yet others take a less scientific approach and try to make you happier by re-framing your thinking through wisdom and enlightening stories- which is just what you'll get in "Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST".

Now while I'm a little more biased towards the scientific approach, let it be said there is MUCH to be gained by reading a book like this. It's what I like to think of as a "cognitive therapy" approach to making one happier. Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people overcome their problems by identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking- which is just how I feel this book accomplishes its goal of trying to make people happier.

One interesting point of the book is that happiness is a decision, and that you can have it right now- hence the title of the book. Of course if it was thar easy, you or I wouldn't need to be reading a book about how to be happy, now would we? Therefore, the bulk of the book is spent discussing obstacles that get in the way.

To that end, one of the many quotes in the book goes like this, "A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes." And changing your attitude for the better is definitely one thing this book succeeds at. Happy trails!

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Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin Seligman
Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

happinessresearch, February 23, 2009

Authentic Happiness

Written by the former president of the American Psychological Association, and author of over a dozen books including the popular "Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life", this title is one of the better selling happiness books out there.

First off, this book was a little harder read for me than most happiness books- I have the paperback book which has small print, perhaps that was a factor. I'm also partial to shorter, just-give-me-the-facts happiness books, such as "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World"- so that might also explain why I plodded my way through pages at times. But having said that, there's IS lot of gems in here for happiness searchers like myself.

While this is the kind of book I could write a really long review about, I think I'll just discuss what I consider to be the best bits for those looking for ways to become happier- which I think is why most people would buy this book. Soooo.....

1) the book provides the reader with a "happiness formula", which is H = S + C + V. This works out to happiness = your genetic Set point + intervening Circumstances + factors under you Voluntary control. So, since your can't do much about changing your genetics, when it comes to becoming happier, that leaves room for improvement in the areas of circumstances and voluntary activities.

2) the book suggests that if you want to lastingly raise your level of happiness by changing the external circumstances of your life, you should: live in a wealthy democracy, get married, avoid negative events and negative emotion, acquire a rich social network, and get religion. Conversely, you needn't bother to do the following: make more money, stay healthy, get as much education as possible, or try to change your race or move to a sunnier climate. However even if you could alter all of these things, it would not do much for you as this stuff accounts for only a small part of your happiness. On to Voluntary efforts...

3) This is where most of the book spends a substantial part of its efforts showing you how to be happier, and there's a lot of "meat" to sink your teeth into, with sections on how to obtain more satisfaction with your past, what consitutes happiness about the future, and happiness in the present. Also, the book spend much time talking about how happiness can be cultivated by identifying and nurturing our traits, such as humor, optimism, generosity or kindness.

Readers who have read other happiness books, such as those by Jim Johnson or Sonja Lyubomirsky, will already be well familiar with the idea that the best way to increase your happiness is through intentional or voluntary activities. It makes a lot of sense, as you can't change your genetics, and circumstances are either out of your control, or make very little contributions to your happiness. Like this book, I agree that using intentional activities is the route to go when it comes to raising lasting happiness levels- and this book will help you out with that a lot. Happy trails!

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Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out by Marci Shimoff
Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out

happinessresearch, February 23, 2009

Happy for No Reason

Written by the author of the best-selling "Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul", this is one of the most popular happiness books around. While the author isn't a bona fide positive psychology researcher, that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to happiness books- although opinions vary.

Some people think that the best happiness books are written by the positive psychology researchers themselves- because they know the info the best. On the other hand, there are excellent happiness books around written by non-happiness researchers, such as "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World" -penned by a physical therapist who began studying happiness after wondering how some of his patients in the hospital could be so happy- despite being so sick or faced with a grave prognosis. Sometimes its nice to get a non-happiness researcher's point of view- to avoid the inherent biases that people have when they discuss and write about their own research. You be the judge- on to the book.

The idea presented is to get the reader to become "Happy for No Reason"- which the book defines as true happiness that isn't dependent on external circumstances. You can then take a questionnaire to see how close you are to being "Happy for No Reason."

So if you're not quite there yet, how does the book intend to get you there? By several ways:

-you'll learn three guiding principles that will help you get past the common blocks to happiness
-you'll learn how to apply the "Law of Attraction" to being happier (the author was featured in the mega-bestseller "The Secret" which focuses on this law)
-you'll learn about a seven-step program to become "Happy for No Reason". Each step has three "Happiness Habits" with corresponding exercises.
-the author interviewed 100 happy people and shares 21 of their stories that define what it means to be "Happy for No Reason"- stories reminiscent of the "Chicken Soup" series.

A few comments. First, having read much happiness literature, readers should know that some of the things the book suggests you do to become happier ARE research based, such as focusing on gratitude (readers can check out Emmon's book "Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier" for more on expressing gratitude), while other advice, such as "trust life's unfolding" have NOT been shown to increase happiness levels in controlled trials.

Also, it should be obvious by my brief synopsis that the book has a lot of stuff for the reader to "do" in order to become happier. And, if readers "do" the exercises and become happier, the reason they're happier is because of the things they've done. This kinda goes against the whole point of the book- which is to show us how to become happier for NO reason. This confused me a bit.

Logic aside, there's plenty of value in this book. Happiness books written for the popular read seem to fall into one of two general categories. They're either mainly based on scientific evidence and give you research-tested techniques OR they primarily give you advice and things to think about to help you "reframe" your thinking. "Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out" seems to fit in the latter category- and for that I can recommend it to happiness searchers everywhere. Happy trails!

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Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth by Ed Diener
Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth

happinessresearch, February 23, 2009

Well-Balanced, Scientific Book on Happiness

I was always wondering if Ed Diener would get around to writing a happiness book for the popular read. For those not in the know, Ed Diener is one of the most well-known happiness researchers out there- and has been contributing to the positive psychology field for literally decades by adding piles of his own research papers to the ever growing stack of happiness studies. Based on a lot of his work that I have read, I figured the book would be pretty scientific-minded. And I was right- you'll find no baloney here.

"Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth" contains over 250 pages explaining in layman's terms, more or less, just about everything you ever wanted to know about happiness. Some of the more interesting topics covered include:

-health and happiness
-happiness and social relationships
-happiness at work
-money and happiness
-spirituality and happiness
-the happiest places on earth
-the genetic set point and happiness

Not since "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World" have I found a happiness book that covers so many happiness topics for the reader. While Johnson's book is a LOT shorter, and a sort of "Cliff Notes" version of this book in a sense, get this one if you want a more detailed review of the happiness literature.

Great research findings aside, perhaps the most impressive thing I found in this book was the author's attitude about happiness. Here are people who have spent years researching happiness, and yet they seem to have put it all in a sensible perspective. Consider this:

--happiness is something to shoot for most of the time, but negative emotions serve a useful purpose as well on occasion
--while happiness can be reaching a desirable place, such as having good health, a successful carreer and a great family, don't overlook the process side of happiness in the pursuit of the good life (this is also a major point of another favorite happiness book of mine "Happier: Can You Learn to be Happy?"). In other words, happiness isn't only a destination, but also the journey.
--happiness isn't JUST about feeling good, it is also good for you in a number of other surprising ways

What more can I say? For anyone looking for a detailed, well-balanced, scientific look at happiness, its a great read. Happy trails!

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