Happiness is work.
Do you agree or disagree with that statement?
I’ve been known as one of those people who easily smile and laugh. I can’t help it. I tend to be serious, but happy go-lucky at the same time. I’m not sure where I got that from, maybe from my father who is always joking around and seeing the best of everything. Maybe it’s from my up bringing. We weren’t rich, but we were always surrounded by family and friends. Maybe it was from the many opportunities I’ve been grateful and privileged to have been exposed to. One thing is for sure, I believe that happiness is a choice and it takes work.
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I had the chance to read and review the book The Happy Mind: A Simple Guide to Living a Happier Life Starting Today by Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but when I first picked it up, I was expecting the book to be scientific. Maybe it was the cover which had an image that resembled a brain and what looked like neurons firing. Instead this book is about the dynamics of what constitutes happiness and I think deep down we all know what these are, but may have forgotten these basic and simple rules in our busy lives and our distracted world.
Disclaimer: This book was provided free of charge to me. All opinions are my own.
There’s one sentence in the book that readily stood out to me: “…you should never expect sympathy from the world if you have access to all the inherent equipment for a better life, but choose to be a passive casualty.” I think for many of us in the world, we have a lot more control over our lives than we think, however, we let the opinions of others and the old mindsets of other people in our circle to dictate how we feel and live our lives. We let marketers and advertisers tell us what we need to buy to be happy. We let old wounds from the past dictate our present and our future. We let others who don’t fulfill us run our lives. It’s time that we break free from this and the simple guidelines in this book will provide you quick reminders on just how to do that. Happiness takes work, but it doesn’t take a lot of overwhelming work. It takes simple changes to take on a new perspective and see a lot of good in the world.
Common Qualities of Happy People
The Happy Mind shows us that happy people share the following common qualities:
They think in a different way
They assume full accountability for their circumstances
They enjoy the simple things more
They own up to their future
They are passionately engaged in what they do for a living
They invest in their overall wellness
They have constructive relationships
They harness an optimistic world view
They accept that happiness is a day-to-day effort
In the book, the authors cover practical guidelines on how to achieve happiness and they all relate back to the fact that we all have a choice to be happy. We have to take responsibility and action towards creating our own version of happiness. Everyone of us has a different definition of happiness and it’s up to us to define what that means. I think this is the scariest part. Sitting down with your thoughts and figuring out what does happiness mean to you isn’t easy. When you do this exercise, it brings out emotions and thoughts that you may not be familiar with or comfortable with. Defining your own version of happiness may mean actually facing your dreams AND fears or facing dreams that you’ve long forgotten. It may be realizing that there are certain people that no longer fit the kind of life that you want for yourself and extricating yourself from those relationships.
Another important aspect of happiness is being happy with what you already have. Happiness is all about the present. Happiness doesn’t come from the past or the future. They call this destination pre-occupation and it doesn’t work so well. We all have to learn to be grateful for what today brings.
Gratitude is important and I think that’s why so many always talk about it’s importance. If you need help with this aspect, check out The Five Minute Journal. You can use either the hardcover or download the app to help you sit and reflect on what you are grateful for on a daily basis. Even a simple gratitude journal can provide wonders.
The other aspects of happiness that I want to mention to is all about wellness and living a simple life. As someone who continues to practice minimalism, I’ve found that decluttering and simplifying has been a boon to my happiness level. We’ve been told on a few occasions that buying stuff will bring us happiness, but research and the current state of many people today show us that this is simply not the case. Living a more minimal life goes back to appreciating the small things in life and focusing on value-added activities. We now live in a world with many choices and we have to make the choice to be deliberate about who we interact with, what we buy and how we spend our time.
The authors suggest that you read this book a few times or that you go through the practical guidelines day-by-day and I agree with them on that. There’s a lot of insight into this book. Many will be things we’ve all heard before. It’s a quick and simple read, but one that requires lots of reflection and contemplation. The challenge after reading this book is taking action and figuring out how to let go of old beliefs, habits and situations that no longer serve us. It’s really up to each one of us to learn how to be happy and following a few of the guidelines from the book, while seemingly very simple, can go a long away to changing our thoughts and actions.
Pick up the book here and let me know what you think.