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Book Review 2 - Happiness Is A Choice

Posted May 22 2009 11:55pm

Venice
In the second of my weekly book posts, I’m introducing you to Barry Neil Kaufman, therapist, author, motivational speaker, and founder of the Option Institute. He has written a number of books, and this one: Happiness Is A Choice specifically deals with the issue of happiness. He contends that if you change a belief or attitude you can change your life. A decision to pursue happiness, he claims, can improve relations with others: "We can engineer our own responses, choosing love over hate, peace over conflict and happiness over depression." The first five sections relate Kaufman's philosophy and offer stories of clients' successful changes while in therapy. Section six has short chapters detailing shortcuts to happiness. (Source: Amazon.com ) (See also my Oct. 2006 Newsletter: Happiness: Has it Become a Science or is it a Question of Luck? )

Kaufman has observed that despite disappointment, illnesses, and physical and emotional problems, people who are most successful in finding happiness share certain traits. In Happiness Is A Choice, Kaufman shows you how to use these traits to change your life quickly, easily, and without pain. His shortcuts to happiness include:

  • Make happiness the priority

  • Accept your personal authenticity, the freedom to be yourself

  • Let go of judgments and embrace people and situations

  • Be present by learning to discard regrets about the past and worries about the future

  • Be grateful by appreciating specific people and events, even during hard times

  • Decide to be happy by recognizing your capacity to choose your beliefs and feelings and taking responsibility for your responses to people and situations (Source: back book cover)
This is the book to read if you have come to the point where you are indeed willing to become aware of yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, your actions, and reactions, and to take responsibility for them. All of that implies that you are also willing to take responsibility for your own happiness, rather than waiting for it to come to you in the guise of a lover, spouse, job, child, money, sex, prestige, fame, honor, or any other thing that is external to you. (See also my Feb. 2006 Newsletter: Making Choices: Taking Responsibility For Our Lives ).

In an interview with In Context (read the entire interview by clicking on the link), Kaufman says: When I use the word "happiness," I'm thinking of something that other people might use different words to express. They might say "peace of mind" or "inner ease." Some might say "communion with God." Some might say "a sense of self-fulfillment." Whatever the wording, we know what it feels like inside of ourselves when we have a sense of comfort, peacefulness, centeredness, solidity. I call that happiness.
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