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Customer Review

427 of 471 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not a new approach, and not specific enough..., June 27, 2009
This review is from: The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Paperback)
I tried to follow the suggestions in this book. First of all, if you really want to use this as a how-to guide, its format is not conducive to that. The very few specific actions it recommends are buried in text that is full of anecdotes and studies that are supposed to sell you on the thought that doing these actions will make you happy. Also, according to the author the solution to all of your problems seems to be writing in journals: your "Best Possible Selves" journal in which you are trying to cultivate optimism by imagining what your life will be like one it is exactly the way you want it to be, your "Goals and Subgoals Journal," your "Trauma" journal, in which you write about traumatic experiences you've had as a way of coping with stress, a "Gratitude journal" in which you are writing what you are grateful for, etc etc etc. While I can see how writing can help people become more optimistic and grateful, lighter in spirit and more focused, the author does not give specific advice on what questions to ponder while writing.

I felt after reading this book (several times) that it was a less helpful, more commercialized version of a much better, more helpful and more specific book which was written several years ago, "The Emotional Toolkit" by Darlene Minnini (also a PhD from California, although from UCLA). The Emotional Toolkit cites the same studies that The How of Happiness cites and more, but is more focused on the reader and what he or she can do, not exclusively on selling the idea of what they should do. It gives specific suggestions, which How does not; such as listing questions to ask yourself while writing in a journal, for example, and questions to ask yourself to shift your thoughts from negative to neutral (instead of How's simply telling you to "stop" the negative thoughts because negative thoughts are bad for you).
So, if you really want to help yourself, I would not go for How of Happiness.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 22, 2012 10:35:29 PM PST
Maybe it's just me....but I don't need someone to spell out every tedious detail of what I need to do to be happy. I thought it was a great book. She does talk a little too much about journals for my taste, but there are plenty of other options besides journaling. One of the things I liked about the book is that she offers a menu of options and says to consistently do 3 or 4 of the ones that appeal to you most and chuck the rest. I like that approach.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 8:02:40 PM PDT
Phil says:
mysticaltiger,
Thanks for providing your perspective on this review. The author's approach you describe sounds useful to me.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 6:19:02 AM PST
I think that the ideas you describe actually sound as if they would be worthwhile. Thanks for sharing this.

Posted on Jan 4, 2013 12:08:18 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2013 12:11:04 AM PST
Steven Mason says:
I'm curious about a couple of things. First, you say that you read this book - a book you didn't like - several times. If you didn't like it, why did you read it several times? Second, and perhaps even more confusing, is why you read this book (several times) when you had already read a "much better, more helpful" book several years ago? If you had read such a great book on happiness already, why are you still looking for more books on happiness? Are you "happy" now, and were you just curious?

By the way, the thought of eating curried goat meat does not make me happy at all. :-)

Posted on Oct 2, 2014 10:05:55 AM PDT
You are really good with words and expressed yourself impressively. I enjoyed reading your comment. Thank you for sharing your review.

Posted on Jul 17, 2015 1:45:39 AM PDT
KD says:
Thank you for suggesting Darlene Minnini's book. I will be checking it out.

That said, I do want to point out a possible reason that Sonja Lyubomirsky's book may have received the attention that it has: She is a famous researcher, and regarding the academic hierarchy (which I am not endorsing, just observing) she is much higher on the ladder, so to speak, than Darlene Minnini, who does not do her own research, as far as I can tell.

It makes sense that Darlene Minnini's work is more practical and applied, given this information.

So, if you are looking to read a book that includes analysis from a top researcher, you might prefer this book. If you want very practical, "translated" tips, then Darlene Minnini's book might be better for you.

I, personally, like both points of view :)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2015 1:05:35 AM PDT
Curmudgeon says:
I'm not the author of this review, but your line of questioning is pretty silly. I personally read books like this several times to make sure I got everything I can out of them. My goal is to summarize them down to their barest essence so I can decide the high-level gestalt of what the book is actually saying. It's only once I've really understood the book that I can decide whether I thought it made a worthwhile contribution to my understanding of myself -- so yes, it is possible to read a book several times and not like it. Similarly, it might be the case that after having read a book several times, I compare it to some other book I read several times and decide that the information in the other is more valuable.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2015 11:21:42 AM PDT
Steven Mason says:
"I personally read books like this several times to make sure I got everything I can out of them . . . it is possible to read a book several times and not like it."

Of course it's "possible" to spend a lot of time on books you don't like; it's your time to waste. That gives you less time for books you like. The notion that you would need to read a book like "The How of Happiness" several times in order to "really understand" it, in order to figure out it's bad is, in a word, silly.

Allow me to indulge in another silly line of questioning: I'm curious to know how many times you needed to read The Loneliness Cure before you understood it enough to say it's the worst book you ever read? And what evidence do you have to support your claim that the five-star reviews for that book are "fake"? :-)
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