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A Unified Theory of Happiness: An East-Meets-West Approach to Fully Loving Your Life [Kindle Edition]

Andrea Polard PsyD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Western world teaches us that happiness comes from achievement-from setting goals and actively pursuing them. Eastern wisdom teaches us that surrender is the key, that we must let go in order to experience the great flow of being that is only available in the present moment. How do we take the best wisdom from both of these approaches, and honor what Dr. Andrea Polard calls “the two wings of happiness” that allow us to truly soar?

Discover Dr. Polard's groundbreaking synthesis of Western thinking and Eastern philosophy with A Unified Theory of Happiness, a warm and personalized guide for the transformation of consciousness that allows personal well-being and fulfillment to flourish. While our lives are full of ups and downs, Dr. Polard teaches us that we don't have to let these ups and downs control our experience of life. A Unified Theory of Happiness teaches you the skills to choose and accept happiness by illuminating:

  • How to navigate the active “Basic Mode” and the non-active “Supreme Mode” of consciousness to respond to life's complexities with flexibility
  • Tools to build ambition, competence, confidence, and connection-essential aspects of reconciling with life's fragility and building an engaging, authentic self
  • Paths to receptivity, tranquility, reliance, and lightheartedness-keys to accessing your natural connection with the whole of being, and realizing your non-dual self
  • The Theory of Elastic Consciousness-a balanced place in perfect accord with an authentically lived life

“Happiness,” says Dr. Polard, “is a complex path that becomes easy only as we walk it.” At last, here is a work that provides a comprehensive understanding of happiness that honors the full spectrum of life's offerings while broadening your experience of its inherent joy.

Editorial Reviews


In this comprehensive and well-written guide to a life of happiness, Polard, a clinical psychologist, proposes a blending of Western and Eastern philosophies by focusing on balancing "the two modes of consciousness:" Basic Mode, wherein one "actively relate[s] to the so-called objective world;" and Supreme Mode, wherein one "focus[es] on Being." After explaining the two modes, Polard provides a useful questionnaire to help readers determine which chapters would be most relevant to their unique circumstances. The rest of the book is divided into distinct discussions of the two modes, with chapters dedicated to aspects of each. Under the auspices of the Basic Mode, Polard discusses ambition, competence, connection, and confidence, and provides practical exercises, such as drafting a "personal competency chart" and even watching movies like Billy Elliot or Dead Poets Society. For the Supreme Mode, Polard discourses on receptivity, tranquility, reliance, and lightheartedness; for the latter she suggests being a little silly, even if it feels uncomfortable--sing in a karaoke contest, or play on the floor with the dogs. Though she introduces the modes separately, she maintains that a synthesis of the two is ideal, and negative experiences will always be a part of the equation. By balancing new-age spirituality with relevant research and useful tips, Polard's approach will appeal to a wide range of readers.
- Publishers Weekly (May 2012)

Andrea Polard is a German-born author and clinical psychologist with an extensive background in psychodynamic therapies, meditation, and Erickson mind-body work. Now practicing what she calls "Zen Psychology" in the Los Angeles area, she continues her mission to reduce suffering and promote happiness for individuals wherever they may be. A Unified Theory of Happiness charts Polard's 20-year study of the vibrancy and meaning that comes to those who combine the active Western "Basic Mode" of consciousness with the non-active Eastern "Supreme Mode" of consciousness. Or as the author puts it in more simplistic terms:
"The active way makes us get our hands dirty, plant the seeds, harvest the fruit, and share it with friends and family. The nonactive way is seeing the interplay of hands and dirt, plants and seeds, sun and fruit, friends and family. Neither way is enough by itself."
Happiness stems from blending of the active and non-active modes of consciousness. Polard discusses the four tools of the Basic Mode: ambition, competence, connection, and confidence. There are helpful exercises following each of these tools which contain something to think about, exploring your feelings, and things you can do (movies, books, and practices).
This section of the book leads naturally to a consideration of the qualities which enhance and sustain "The Supreme Mode" of consciousness: receptivity, tranquility, reliance, and lightheartedness. All of these combine to a realization of "no self" and our natural immersion in the flow of life.
Psychologist Polard has fashioned a compelling map of the good things which can grow out of a synthesis of Western science and Eastern wisdom.
-By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Spirituality & Practice, July 2012

About the Author

Andrea F. Polard, PsyD, is a German-born author and clinical psychologist with an extensive background in psychodynamic therapies, meditation, and Ericksonian mind-body work. Now practicing what she calls "Zen Psychology" in the Los Angeles area, she continues her mission to reduce suffering and promote happiness for individuals wherever they may be. See

Product Details

  • File Size: 2098 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sounds True; 1 edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00805D8OM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,584 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A NEW APPROACH TO HAPPINESS IS BORN--A MUST READ April 24, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I received my preordered book of "A Unified Theory of Happiness", I could not put it down. I learned so much while enjoying a very pleasurable style of writing. The book is obviously very well researched, based on science and grounded in real experience, both of which makes me feel taken seriously. No gimmicks. Complex issues, facts and theories are explained in a way that aren't over anybody's head and makes one even more curious about the subject. This book is a wonderful contribution to the deep longing I have in my life, namely how to find a deep connection with life without disregarding the necessity to function in this life.

Particularly I like that this book allows me to be who I am as a spiritual person, abstaining from telling me to go in a particular religious direction. I don't feel I have to believe in the Buddha, Hindi gods, energies, or a Judea-Christian God. The spiritual value lies in opening up to existence, to life and all living beings. The principles of love, connection, compassion, receptive awareness trump everything in our happiness. I really believe that and feel strengthened in that belief now.

Lastly I want to share that I really appreciated that the author has included so many exercises after each chapter, making the wisdom of the West and East more accessible. It is fun to fill out the happiness quiz which pointed me to areas in my life I would have not looked at.

Excellent book -- will read it many times in my life!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Andrea Polard begins her introduction to A Unified Theory of Happiness with a quote from Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield:

"Only a deep attention to the whole of our life can bring us the capacity to love well and live freely."

It's the 'whole' of our life that she is most interested in, integrating the knowledge of Western psychology with Eastern philosophy and spiritual teachings. This is reflected in the subtitle 'An East-Meets-West Approach to Fully Loving Your Life.' Dr. Polard is a clinical psychologist who has long studied Eastern philosophies in addition to her clinical training, particularly Buddhism.

In this book she brings the two together into a comprehensive approach to life that addresses all aspects of ourselves. The book is divided into two parts, each focused on one of two modes of consciousness - Basic Mode and Supreme Mode. In Basic Mode, we focus on traditionally Western values of achievement and action in the world - it is our externally-focused mode of self. In Supreme Mode, we focus on our relationship to 'being', beyond notions of self, as portrayed in various degrees within Eastern schools of thought. Happiness arises when we are able to integrate both these modes into our lives. Or as Polard puts it:

"Happiness is when we habitually experience both active and nonactive participation in life. The experience of active participation is generated in the Basic Mode of consciousness, in which we focus on and actively relate to distinct other beings and external goals in the so-called objective world. The experience of nonactive participation is generated in the Supreme Mode of consciousness, in which we focus on and relate to non-distinct Being.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Struggling for happiness throughout several years, I had been reading many books on the subject. Every single one of them left me a little wiser, but nevertheless unsatisfied. Many items of Western psychology proved themselves to be helpful, but even though not fulfilling. Then I discovered yoga and meditation, teaching me inner peace and freedom. And yet, I am living in the Western world, and I felt like a retreat to Eastern practice wouldn't be satisfying in the end. How could I manage to get the best out of both ways of living? While I was still wondering how to solve this problem and how to find my way to happiness, Andrea Polard wrote this wonderful book giving answers to all my questions.

In "A Unified Theory of Happiness" she presents the two modes of consciousness, the basic mode and the supreme mode. The first one consists of the elements ambition, competence, connection and confidence and fits basically the Western way of thinking, whereas the latter consists of receptivity, tranquility, reliance and lightheartedness, mainly elements of Eastern thinking. Each chapter is followed by some exercises, some of them very easy, others more demanding, but all of them undoubtedly enriching. The reader is invited to choose those exercises that are most appropriate to himself. There are no obligations to follow a certain credo whatsoever, except for taking over responsibility for your own life. The author concludes with the Theory of Elastic Consciousness, which links the two modes and shows the way to harmony between them, the way to "full life participation" and the path to happiness.

In my personal opinion this path may not always be easy and simple (just reading the book might not change your life, as it is never enough to just read a psychological or spiritual book), but definitely worth following it. In this sense "A Unified Theory of Happiness" is most probably going to be a valuable companion on my road to happiness. May it enrich your life too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Integration of Sense and Soul February 13, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Given the unending diversity of opinions on the descriptive, prescriptive, normative and substantive aspects of happiness, one can acknowledge that the subject of happiness is immensely elusive, with a complex past and perhaps an uncertain future, not to mention its relationship with things ironic and paradoxical at times. In the context of this confusion, Dr. Andrea Polard’s A Unified Theory of Happiness: An East-Meets-West Approach to Fully Loving Your Life, is a much needed perspective which not only honors the ancient sacred wisdom, but also respects the hard-won insights of science and humanities, thus addressing mind, body, soul, spirit and culture. Moreover, her sensitivity towards all humanity and openness towards all available wisdom is a beautiful testimony of her cosmopolitan and compassionate soul. Indeed, in an increasingly inter-connected and inter-dependent world of ours, any understanding of personal happiness, has to include all sentient beings. And before one consciously pursues happiness, it should be based upon what is true, good and just, in a universal sense, and not just on what one has been conditioned to believe by the chance of birth. And her book fits the bill gloriously. Based on twelve years of interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and transpersonal research, she eloquently integrates scattered partial insights on happiness along with offering unique practical exercises to implement those insights. Her theory also reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s words: “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.” In the same way, nothing can cure the soul but the East, just as nothing can cure the senses but the West. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are seeking to find true happiness in your life
Dr. Andrea Polard most deftly, and at a pace anyone can easily follow, gentle guides her reader down a truly revolutionary path in her seminal book "A Unified Theory of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by R J Jeffreys
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness is a Choice
For me this was a West meets East approach to happiness. This is the most comprehensive book I have read on the topic, covering the material world (basic mode) as well as the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Cynthia G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone needs this information!
Most books only stress what a person needs to DO in order to be successful; Andrea Pollard explores how one needs to BE AND DO. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kay McKaskel
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
Absolutely must read book! Very meaningful and truly inspired. I think everyone should take out some time from their busy schedule and read this book. Thanks Andrea Polard.
Published 7 months ago by G. Nius
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and insightful
Read this book. You'll be amazed at what really makes people happy. I bet it's not what you think but if you're truthful with yourself you may agree.
Published 8 months ago by dog lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!
Andrea Polard knows happiness and she's sharing in great detail. Her Zen background weaves in and out throughout the book and demonstrates a profound understanding of happiness. Read more
Published 8 months ago by kane phelps
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
I belongs to a place and tribe where everyone have a lot of views and methods about how to get happiness , I have heard a lot of views from many peoples and also studied a lot of... Read more
Published 12 months ago by vijay
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness Search
What a great book to read during the holiday season! Happiness--the elusive butterfly we all seek. How lovely to know that it is within our reach if we have the skills outlined in... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Joanne A. Gary
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book!!!
This is absolutely a must read book if you are serious about understanding happiness on a deep intellectual level and/or just want to become happier. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nevenka Pobric
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Insight Into the Pursuit of Happiness in Life
This excellent book provides essential insight into the pursuit of happiness in life. By bringing together eastern philosophies with western practices, Andrea Polard makes sense... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Lori Culwell
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More About the Author

Dr. Andrea F. Polard started her meditation practice and interest in psychology at age sixteen. Having endured childhood trauma, happiness was on her mind early on, as she wondered whether she and her fellow-sufferers could really be happy. To find out how to reduce suffering and invite happiness, Dr. Polard enrolled in the Freie University of Berlin, Germany, where she received her first master's degree in clinical psychology in 1993. When Dr. Polard immigrated to the United States, she enrolled at Ryokan College, Los Angeles to receive her second master's degree in clinical psychology in 1996, as well as her doctorate in psychology in 1998.

Dr. Polard's training as a psychotherapist included various psychodynamic therapies, mind-body therapy, Buddhist-oriented therapy, Zen meditation, and mindfulness practice. When she discovered that happiness was indeed possible for all, she decided to share with others the necessary, consciousness-building skills for it. As writing had long been her passion, Dr. Polard soon started on "A Unified Theory of Happiness: An East-Meets-West Approach to Fully Loving Your Life" -- a project that took her twelve devoted years to complete. It is a book that is not only to inform, but delight the reader.

Since then Dr. Polard founded the Los Angeles Center for Zen Psychology, offering Zen psychotherapy, consultations, workshops, training, and meditation groups, based on both Western and Eastern thought. She lives with her husband and their three children in the quiet mountains of Topanga. For more information, please visit

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