The Happy Mind

The Happy Mind, by Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie

Being given the ARC of The Happy Mind made me, well, happy, because this kind of book is completely my jam. I'm not normally a big reader of self help type books, but I will always take the time for anything that has to do with the search for happiness. Isn't that we are all looking for, happiness? I believe so, even if some people claim not to - I just suspect that our search for happiness might look different from each other.

The book is written by Kevin Horsley, the best-selling author of Unlimited Memory, and Louis Fourie, and they have done significant analysis into what is different in the minds of happy people.

The crux of the issue, of course, is what is happiness? This is no easy question, as philosophers from the entire human history have been trying to peg down the answer, without consensus. And yet, I think that we can agree that some people are just happy, and some people are just not. And a careful observer can see it has very little to do with external circumstances - having more does not equal more happiness, and can often have the opposite effect. Why is that, exactly? It does begin in the mind, and not in the world around us.

The first question the authors ask is what is your personal definition of happiness, and I struggled over this question. It is phrased as "definition of happiness" and not as "what would make you happy." Because, essentially, nothing can make you happy. You are happy, or not, based entirely on your wiring and your attitude towards life.

So, how happy are you really? One little test you can do is to just spend time with yourself. No work, no screens, no books to distract you, just ... you. On your own. How does that feel? Do you like yourself? Are you your own best friend? Happy people enjoy spending time with themselves. You might be thinking that maybe happiness just isn't for you.

The good news is that anybody can change their thoughts in order to achieve happiness, and The Happy Mind does decipher the nine common qualities shared by happy people. It is essentially the code to happiness. Happiness is simple! Except that it's not at all, because it can take a lifetime to reconstruct our thought patterns into those that are constructive and optimistic, which the authors recognize.

But you can start. I greatly enjoyed reading The Happy Mind. It was quite short, actually, and the actual essence of the book very short, but it is rounded out with some daily exercises you can do to work on your happiness. Because make no mistake, happiness is not magic, it is a lot of work. And you have to be ready to face yourself, and your world view, here. But I found that while the book didn't make me happier, per se, it made me want to be happier, to nurture an attitude of productivity and optimism. That's worth a lot. The authors suggest reading this book in small snippets at a time, to really give your mind the time to register the suggestions. I just might do that.

For those interested in the book, here are some links if you want to click further:

Here is the link to the book: Kevin Horsley can be found on his website or on twitter

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