The search for happiness. The Happy Mind by Kevin Horsley & Louis Fourie [Review]

Let me start this off by saying I’ve never read a self-help book in my life. Honestly, I’d never thought I’d read one or have a reason to. Turns out 2021 is challenging everything I thought I knew. Lately the events of my life have made myself ask questions, some of them relating to one thing we all want…happiness.

Think happy thoughts…What do you see? A day on the beach, a library full of books, traveling to a dream destination, kissing the person you’ve been crushing. Some people associate certain events and activities with a happy life.

Questions you should asking yourself. What is happiness? How can I live a happy life over the long term? Am I leading the life I want to live? You know, existential shit like that. Haha! Some of you may be thinking these are stupid questions, I know what happiness is. But a lot of people at some point in their lives find difficult to determine what are the things in life that keep them going, what makes them feel complete, at peace and yes, happy.

How we think is how our lives work out.

My thoughts

I found the book is mainly directed at those who feel lost, those who are questioning themselves and their life and have lost their way. By no means is this book intended to help someone dealing with a critical mental or physical illness or some other life disaster. But rather this is a collection of advice for those who are just starting to ask themselves the big questions in life.

I had this idea of what happiness was…have I been wrong all this time? The book starts off by analyzing what people perceive as happiness and ideas relating to it. Some people (perhaps with some life experience under their belt) will find these a no-brainer. For someone who is just starting out to ask these questions, it was helpful to first define it. Happiness shouldn’t be confused with pleasurable moments all strung together one after another. Sometimes you have thoughts relating to an idea like happiness but it isn’t until someone helps give these thoughts shape and form and lays it all out for you that you are then ready to really think about your life. This is exactly how I felt as the book made me reflect on my own ideas of happiness and unhappiness.

Pleasure cannot be hoarded and then called happiness.

The book offers some helpful advice one should reflect on and apply as needed if you think you are lacking in some aspects. The advice touches on cornerstones that are generally considered important to live a peaceful, productive life, free from negativity that comes from within and from around you. Contrary to how happiness is portrayed in tv and movies and how easily it is achieved, the authors emphasize that real happiness takes mental work and introspection; it isn’t something that just happens to you.

It is a short book that can be read in one sitting. But! As the book points out, you’ll probably retain a small fraction of the information and toss the rest. The best way to appreciate and glean some perspective off this book is to read it slowly each day and really take it in, reflecting on your own life experiences. I found doing some journaling and taking notes to be the best way for me to document my thoughts and feeling on the topic that would arise so I can later go back to reflect on them.

To a newbie to self help books just starting out, I would recommend this book as a stepping stone. Those with some titles under their belt might find other books that expand on some themes that are touched on here. But right now, having nothing else to compare it to, it’s a good starting off point.

This is a book I’ll reread at some point to continue reevaluating myself.

On a personal note…I finished university and got my degree. Next I went to pharmacy school and got my PharmD. Next I got the job, had the things that should make my life complete. I kept thinking the next thing will be better. I set myself all these goals that when I accomplished them and found myself at a standstill I was left thinking, what now? Perhaps, like so many people, I kept thinking that “real” happiness was a life, that something that was waiting for me just beyond the horizon.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book but all opinions are my own.

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