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What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better Paperback – January 19, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Baker, a psychologist and director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, offers a new way to look at unhappiness. He believes that people can teach themselves to be happy instead of remaining trapped in a vicious cycle of stress from work and family: "If you adopt management of your life as a primary goal, you'll be able to participate in your own destiny. But if you squander your energy struggling for complete control, you'll lose the reins of management and become just another leaf in the wind." It's essential for people to avoid such traps as trying to buy happiness or trying to find it through pleasure, Baker argues. Instead, people should use and take advantage of the six happiness tools-appreciation, choice, personal power, leading with strengths, language and stories, and multidimensional living. To demonstrate his strategy, the author offers various case studies. For example, one wealthy CEO comes for therapy, complaining about his children, wife and employees. Baker listens and offers just one piece of advice: he tells the man to visit a pediatric cancer ward; the visit allows the man to look beyond his self-centered complaints. Baker's advice is sound and his presentation engaging, but some readers, especially those coping with serious life crises, may find this approach too New Age or simplistic. He makes the transition from the traps to the tools of happiness sound easy, perhaps too much so.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Baker's advice is sound and his presentation engaging.” ―Publishers Weekly
“This wonderfully helpful book is sure to increase the number of happy people with its wisdom.” ―Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
“Everyone wants to be happy. So much suffering and illness occur when we look for happiness in the wrong places. In What Happy People Know, Dan Baker distills the best of science and spirituality, sharing with deep and profound wisdom how we can learn to be happy and let go of suffering. Highly recommended.” ―Dean Ornish, M.D., founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; ad author of Love and Survival and Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease
“Dr. Dan Baker has created a book that we all have been waiting for. It is a significant, practical, insightful, easy-to-read book filled with nuggets that lead us to the road of happiness.” ―Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., author of Love is Letting Go of Fear
Top customer reviews
The book discusses the one single key that it all boils down to in life, imo:
There are two primal, overpowering emotions, Love and fear. The tendency toward fear is slightly stronger in most people bc it was so protective of us in the caveman days. The really cool thing is that to some extent, especially just by trying to do it for a while, we can shift to a mostly Love mindset.
Since it is basically not possible to feel Love and fear at the same time, that means fear and things that come out of it like anger, sadness, violence, hate etc. can be hugely cut down and then we are happy most of the time, not anxious or sad. Seriously, it works.
But it was a book to help me to see clearly despite the muddying of psychological understanding the many convoluted, worthless, baseless self-help books out there. What I got from the book is that everyone has a choice in their actions. Even if the choices are limited by calamitous circumstances, they still exist. Instead of falling into the attitude of blame, excuses, and/or paralysis, instead of dwelling on what is impossible, dwell on what is possible. Dwell on solutions. Just this focus on a plan of action to overcome challenges is enough to help a person achieve happiness. I also like how even though the author is obviously religious, and mentions his Christian god a few times, he doesn't emphasize his belief in that god. I'm fundamentally anti-religion and I liked this book.
Highly recommended. However, it's not recommended for all people of course. I bought a copy for a friend but she stopped reading it after a couple of chapters. To her it was "common sense" and really didn't bring her any additional enlightenment. I agree with her that the concepts were very simple and straightforward and everyone knows it. For those who are clear in knowing that life must be lived not in defeat but considering the possibilities, then this book will not be very helpful as they already have that mindset in place in their lives.
It is due in large part to what Dan Baker describes in this book, especially during his discussion of "Job." Ironically, during my grief work my therapist referred to me in the same terms. With the dubious honor as Job2, allow me to whole heartedly recommend Baker's method. It can rock your world.
In spite of it all, no matter what has happened, you will find that elusive sweet spot we call happiness. And you will know how to create more and more of it in your life more and more often.
I highly recommend this book - for everyone. Once you realize that you not only have the power, but the tools, to make your own happiness, you'll never settle for anything less again.
This book is an owner's manual, explaining that although part of the brain is mindless, we can learn to manage it, and find happiness within ourselves, and with others.
Now that we know how to manage what that part of the brain does to us, we have no excuse for causing ourselves and others all that pain.
Highly recommended. Life changing.