Happiness: A book review by Bob Morris

HappinessHappiness: A New Perspective
James Hadley
Glenmore Publications (2013)

A sound and sensible discussion of happiness on the other side of complexity

Totaling 73 pages plus notes, this is a booklet rather than a book, one in which James Hadley shares his thoughts and feelings about a subject that has intrigued and confounded human beings for several thousand years. Early on, he explains that the material is based on four premises that differentiate his perspective from other sources of information, insights, and advice. Essentially, he offers suggestions that are practical (i.e. doable) and based on scientific evidence.

These are among the subjects and issues that he addresses:

o The obstacles to greater happiness
o How to avoid or overcome them
o How to replace a self-defeating perspective with one that is self-fulfilling
o Workplace challenges and opportunities
o How to replace negative relationships with positive relationships
Note: I agree with Hadley that one’s attitude toward relationships is a key factor.
o Gender-specific tendencies that help to explain certain behaviors
o How to find meaning and significance
o How they can nourish others as well as one’s self

Hadley duly acknowledges that the scientific study of happiness is relatively recent and by no means definitive. That said, Amazon.com now offers more than 37,000 books on the general subject as the scope and depth of reflection and research rapidly increase. Throughout his lively and substantive narrative, Hadley stresses the importance of taking ownership of one’s quest for greater happiness, and, for defining one’s “life meaning.” These are essential to the ultimate success of the quest, best viewed as a challenging process, by which to become comfortable living in your own body.

In the Appendix, James Hadley provides an excellent briefing on “The Science of Happiness.” I agree with the words of caution with which he concludes: “…while it is reasonable to try the recommendations of existing studies, the limitations of the evidence should make us both wary of placing too much reliance on their advice e and also give us more confidence in challenging findings with which our personal experience conflicts.”

Those who seek additional perspectives are urged to check out these three: Tal Ben-Shahar’s The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life as well as Jessica Pryce-Jones’ Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success, and Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work.

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