Tag Archives: happiness

Happy Reading List

Seems books are popping up in front of me right and left begging to be read. I consider buying them all, taking the stack to a desert island and reading for days, then waiting for the epiphany (in the warm sun with a nice tropical drink in hand.)

41rplgartil_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_Bounce!: Failure, Resiliency, and Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success by Barry J. Moltz

Bounce! lets you move forward from any event, situation, or outcome—good or bad—to the next place where a decision can be made based on the choices currently available to you. Bounce! allows us to be passionately excited and intensely enthusiastic about our business and our lives.

How long do I wait? Seems familiar, like the story of my life. Perhaps waiting is not the best answer.
41s1t2at2kl_sl500_aa240_Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness is a book about a very simple but powerful idea. What distinguishes us as human beings from other animals is our ability to predict the future–or rather, our interest in predicting the future. We spend a great deal of our waking life imagining what it would be like to be this way or that way, or to do this or that, or taste or buy or experience some state or feeling or thing. We do that for good reasons: it is what allows us to shape our life. And it is by trying to exert some control over our futures that we attempt to be happy. But by any objective measure, we are really bad at that predictive function. We’re terrible at knowing how we will feel a day or a month or year from now, and even worse at knowing what will and will not bring us that cherished happiness. Gilbert sets out to figure what that’s so: why we are so terrible at something that would seem to be so extraordinarily important?

Penning my own epiphanic book after I read all the others might make me happy. People who write books must be happy when they are published and people buy them, no?

41tzkh4nrl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_Release Your Brilliance by Simon T. Bailey

Each of us is born brilliant. Then we spend the rest of our lives having our brilliance buried by people, circumstances, and experiences. Eventually, we forget that we ever had genius and special talents, and our brilliance is locked away in a vault deep within. So we settle for who we are, instead of striving for who we were meant to be. Release Your Brilliance provides the combination to the vault where your brilliance is kept.

Guess I need to find an island and a big book bag and some paper to write on.
b0de820dd7a09236ebfaf010l1The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, lamented St. Paul, and this engrossing scientific interpretation of traditional lore backs him up with hard data. Citing Plato, Buddha and modern brain science, psychologist Haidt notes the mind is like an “elephant” of automatic desires and impulses atop which conscious intention is an ineffectual “rider.” Haidt sifts Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions for other nuggets of wisdom to substantiate—and sometimes critique—with the findings of neurology and cognitive psychology. The Buddhist-Stoic injunction to cast off worldly attachments in pursuit of happiness, for example, is backed up by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s studies into pleasure. And Nietzsche’s contention that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is considered against research into post-traumatic growth. An exponent of the “positive psychology” movement, Haidt also offers practical advice on finding happiness and meaning. Riches don’t matter much, he observes, but close relationships, quiet surroundings and short commutes help a lot, while meditation, cognitive psychotherapy and Prozac are equally valid remedies for constitutional unhappiness. Haidt sometimes seems reductionist, but his is an erudite, fluently written, stimulating reassessment of age-old issues.

Is it possible to find the answer in books? Oh, to have the nerve.

desert-island

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Brain Stretching

In Dorothea Brande’s book Wake Up and Live, she suggests twelve mental exercises to pull you out of your usual habits and put you in situations that demand resourcefulness and creative problem-solving. Her premise is that people who stray from their routines, try new things, explore, and experiment tend to be happier than those who don’t. Of course, as Brande herself points out, novelty and challenge can also bring frustration, anxiety, confusion, and annoyance along the way; it’s the process of facing those challenges that brings the “atmosphere of growth” so important to happiness. radioactive-happiness-face

Here are Dorothea Brande’s twelve mental exercises. Note: she wrote these in 1936, so you need to adapt of few of them.

1. Spend an hour each day without saying anything except in answer to direct questions, in the midst of the usual group, without creating the impression that you’re sulking or ill. Be as ordinary as possible. But do not volunteer remarks or try to draw out information.

2. Think for 30 minutes a day about one subject exclusively. Start with five minutes.

3. Write a letter without using the words I, me, mine, my.

4. Talk for 15 minutes a day without using I, me, my, mine.

5. Write a letter in a “successful” or placid tone. No misstatements, no lying. Look for aspects or activities that can be honestly reported that way.

6. Pause on the threshold of any crowded room and size it up.

7. Keep a new acquaintance talking about himself or herself without allowing him to become conscious of it. Turn back any courteous reciprocal questions in a way that your auditor doesn’t feel rebuffed.

8. Talk exclusively about yourself and your interests without complaining, boasting, or boring your companions.

9. Cut “I mean” or “As a matter of fact” or any other verbal mannerism out of your conversation.

10. Plan two hours of a day and stick to the plan.

11. Set yourself twelve tasks at random: e.g., go twenty miles from home using ordinary conveyance; go 12 hours without food; go eat a meal in the unlikelist place you can find; say nothing all day except in answer to questions; stay up all night and work.

12. From time to time, give yourself a day when you answer “yes” to any reasonable request.

If you’d like to read a more lengthy explanation of the twelve disciplines, or about Brande’s explanation for these exercises, go here and search for Chapter 11 – Twelve Disciplines.

Thanks to Gretchen Rubin author of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT–a memoir about the year she spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study she could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah.

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