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Happy at Last: The Thinking Person's Guide to Finding Joy Hardcover – October 28, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Many self-help books are wildly unrealistic and not grounded in any kind of scientific evidence about how the mind actually works. Not so with Richard O'Connor's book. The author provides a clear roadmap through the opportunities, obstacles and complexities of happiness, drawing on the latest scientific research as well as his long and compassionate experience as a therapist. This is a book that leaves you wiser and better equipped to face the future.” - Daniel Nettle, Newcastle University; author of Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile

"Richard O'Connor, having already helped us to undo depression and chronic stress, now helps us to do happiness. Filled with humor and humanity, this book gives an up-to-date summary of the best of what research and clinical experience has to tell us about being happy. O'Connor is an engaging writer who holds the reader's attention while providing real substance." - Bill O'Hanlon, author of Change 101


About the Author

Richard O’Connor, MSW, Ph.D. is the author of Undoing Depression and Undoing Perpetual Stress.  For fourteen years he was executive director of the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health, a private, nonprofit mental health clinic serving Litchfield County, Connecticut, overseeing the work of twenty mental health professionals in treating almost a thousand patients per year. He is currently a practicing psychotherapist with offices in Connecticut and New York.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312369069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312369064
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #839,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
About: Psychotherapist O'Connor gives an overview of human happiness and provides reasons why folks are unhappy and as well as exercises that can bring upon a happier mindset. He identifies three causes of misery: Contemporary insanity is the stuff that the modern world requires of us like the 50 hour work week and other forms of stress; innate foolishness is the false ingrained beliefs such as getting what we want will make us happy; finally, unnecessary misery comes from our emotions or defense mechanism such as denial. 40% of happiness is in your direct control with 50% being genetically determined and 10% due to external causes like health or employment. In order to makes that 40% the happiest it can be, he provides techniques involving things like gratitude, mindfulness, and meditation that will rewire your brain so you can be a happier you.

Some Interesting Things I Learned:

* A big cause of unhappiness is comparing ourselves to other people, we always want to be better and have more than the other guy but even if we get that, it won't make us happy.

* People like things more if they end on a high note.

* People regret not doing things more than they regret the things they did, even if what they did wasn't all that great.

* Losing something hurts more than gaining something gives us pleasure.

* There's twice the chance a kid of divorced parents will need mental health services than one from an intact family.

* In the last 10 years, types of Pop-Tarts has grown from 3 to 29 and Lay's Chips from 10 to 78.

* The more television you watch, the less happy you become.

* People who watch less than two hours of television a day enjoy it more than those who four or more hours.
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Format: Paperback
As both a sufferer of intermittent depression, and as a primary care physician that frequently treats depression, I read Richard O'Connor's Happy at Last with a high level of interest, considerable anticipation, and a bit of skepticism. Verdict? Two thumbs up!

To be fair, Dr. O'Connor does not offer to transform moaning Eeyores into bouncy Tiggers. What he does do is draw on current neurological research, as well as contemporary trends in psychology, steeps the mix in common sense, throws in a bit of wisdom, and comes up with this message: lack of happiness is something one can most definitely do something about.

The book is a bit of a shotgun blast, incorporating the work of some contemporary psychologists, some relatively recent information about how our brains respond to training by becoming physically altered, making some demands that we agree to WORK at being happy, challenging the reader to drop old habits and make some new ones, meanwhile taking some serious and effective swipes at the psychological and physical toxicity of the American consumerist social addictions. Throw in a bit of Buddhism, a demand that you become socially involved in your community, a plea to pay more attention to one's family members and one's friends, an exhortation to pick up new skills such as music, arts, or literary skills, and a suggestion that one search for opportunities to do good deeds, and one ends up feeling a bit like O'Connor is talking about each of us becoming a Renaissance Man or a devout monk (or both!) in order to be happier. For good measure, O'Connor spends not a little time lambasting capitalism and it's exploitation of the human spirit. I kind of enjoyed that last part, though it will earn O'Connor no points with the captains of industry.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first started this book, I thought I was going to have to put it down or donate it like I did "Happy for No Reason," (which really sucked) but I am glad I kept going. At first I thought it was just a lecture on how bad the world is today or how bad parenting is or how we are bad off from a lack of religion.

But before long at all, it gets really good, with real practical advice and exercises and scientific information about learning and happiness.

The part about how we "learn" happiness is really good and helpful. The examples are meaningful, and I am glad there are real life examples since some of these books on happiness and meditation are all pie in the sky with no reality based descriptions.

One great thing about this book is it describes mindfulness and meditation in a way anyone can understand, appreciate and practice. And it works!

I am not quite done, but I can already say this is a really good and beneficial book. You should read it.
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Format: Hardcover
This latest work by psychotherapist Richard O'Connor, author of the acclaimed Undoing Depression, is about how we can teach ourselves to feel happy more often. Written for a wide audience, it is highly readable. Explaining how consumer culture, instinctual urges, and unnecessary miseries such as addiction act as powerful obstacles to happiness that must be acknowledged and faced, O'Connor suggests that we need to look at our thoughts and develop what he calls "mindfulness" toward them. The goal is to view our mental habits more objectively so that we can consciously change and direct them rather than letting them overwhelm us. By changing our inner orientation to ourselves and the outside world, O'Connor suggests, we can learn to be more satisfied with life and optimistic about the future. Definitely worthwhile.
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