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Your pal, Jess
Ladies- I'm a single, straight, virgo/boar INTJ (age 45) who enjoys books, getting out into nature, music, and daily exercise.

(my email is JesseGod@live.com)

F.Y.I. There are about 1000 posts..

Here's a quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky to start things off right: Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy for No Reason

A Book report on Marci Shimoff's book of the same name, Pt. 1 of 5 posts

Summary for "the 7 steps to being happy from the inside out."
(My third review of self-help books, after The Secret, and A Complaint-Free World.)

All 3 of these book espouse the same basic philosophy; in fact, Marci Shimoff, the author, was a featured teacher (hey, that rhymes) in Rhonda Byrnes' The Secret.

Basically, there are 287 pages worth of how to be happy (for no reason), which obviously includes a few reasons, I would have to say...the basic idea being that if your life incorporates all these strategies for being happier, your Happiness set-point will rise, and you will be happy for the reason that you read and believed and tried out everything in the book.

The forward says, "you'll find simple, practical steps for experiencing a deeper, more permanent state of happiness, regardless of your external circumstances." (This strikes me as being similar to buddhism, which is more a method than a religion, to finding happiness,

-which Aristotle said is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.
-she calls it the holy grail, the be-all and end-all of life, if you cut to the chase.

It might just be easier if you buy the book. I got mine from the library, and there are pretty cheap copies floating around on the net. But I'm here to spread the joy, so, here goes:

Chapter 1's summary (pgs. 11-26)
all the reasons for being happy for no reason, lol:
1. Money
can buy happiness (if you buy the book, for example).

2. Marci Shimoff's personal experience: she's spent a lifetime looking.
Jack Canfield, who wrote the foreward, says there is no more universal need today than that of true happiness. (the book will help others as well as you, through you). Less than 30% of people report being deeply happy. In the U.S., 25% claim to be depressed. Worldwide, by 2020, depression is projected to be second only to heart disease in terms of the global burden of illness.
Jack is the nation's top expert on self-esteem, and Marci gave keynotes to hundreds of women under him on success/self-esteem. And yet...

She has a background in humanistic psychology, has read Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, and was a teacher of meditation, in her youth, and then became a public speaker- but still was searching, knew something was missing, wasn't exactly happy. She was involved with the 7 chicken soup books, and lived a whirlwind life, which left her drained. The high never lasted. She discovered famous people aren't happy, either. She fell in love and got married, but still felt empty. She finally got the idea that happiness doesn't come for any reason, and is out to share the gospel of her discovery. She's done the work for you -just read on.

3. The "happy hundred"/ genuinely happy (and for no reason) people
Don't just take it from her. There are interviews with happy people, whom she calls the Happy Hundred, genuinely happy people who have high happiness set-points. They're just happy for No reason.

About the happiness set-point: About 50% of it is genetic, and the other 50 learned. This was discovered by a study on twins in the late '80's by Dr. David Lykken (his book is in my local library, but I returned it for being too dry, lol) And the 50% that's learned is only TEN percent determined by circumstances such as job, wealth, and marital status.

4.The other FORTY percent of anyone's happiness set point is determined by

habitual thoughts, feelings, words, and actions
(which you can reprogram)
In other words, the self-help genre is about self-hypnosis

About the continuum of happiness (she breaks it down into 5 states):

two states of unhappiness
a)Unhappiness is different from clinical depression, which is characterized hy a deep despair and hopelessness, that interferes with the ability to have an a normal life, and for which professional help is absolutely necessary.

b)Garden-variety unhappiness, in which you're just bummed out, has the signs of anxiety, fatigue, feeling low or blue -and that's what this book will hopefully remedy, in addition to making happy people happier.

three states of happiness
She says you can be happy (temporarily) from unhealthy addictions (bad reasons), or satisfaction from healthy experiences (good reasons), but only those who are happy for no reason have an inner state of peace and well-being. She quotes the Upanishads, "Happiness for any reason is just another form of misery." True happiness isn't dependent on external circumstances.

c)unhealthy addictions are things like compulsive eating, gambling, retail therapy, television, drugs, alcohol, and sex, which only numb or allow escape from unhappiness through fleeting experiences of pleasure.

d)healthy experience, what most people call happiness, involves good relationships with family and friends, career success, financial security, nice house/car, and using our talents/strengths well. Pleasure from THINGS, she likes to point out. She's all for it; HOWEVER, true happiness does not come from collecting an assortment of happy experiences, having everything "under control", getting by, or numbing the pain. If you lose the things that make you happy, if they are the conditions for your happiness, then the good times are likely to go out the door with them.

e)Real happiness, Marci points out, isn't dependent on external circumsances, but comes from within. It isn't elation, euphoria, mood spikes, or peak experiences. It isn't a superficial high, or grinning like a fool. Here's the rub: "When you're Happy for No Reason, you bring happiness to your outer experiences rather than trying to extract happiness from them.

You don't need to manipulate the world around you to try to make yourself happy (is that what I'm doing with this blog?, or her with the book?); You live from happiness rather than for it.

She uses a metaphor. Usually, we try to make our lives like a necklace. We find just the right beads (experiences) to make a beautiful and happy life, when really it's the string we should make the happy part, to create a happy life (regardless of the good, bad, or indifferent beads). The happiness is unconditional, and you'll be happy by your inner life, however the necklace appears.

The happy hundred all have this string in them (!)

tangent
(are we talking about string theory or puppets, here? I'm guessing probably not, but it's something to think about). Aha! woven into the tapestry of life/society (I never did understand the "fabric of spacetime" expression). Kurt Cobain: yeah, whatever, nevermind

5. Repeated answers to her questioning of happy people yielded the same qualities:
-a sense of lightness or buoyancy
-feeling vital, alive, energetic
-a sense of flow, openness
-feeling love and compassion for yourself and others
-having passion about your life and purpose
-feeling gratitude and forgiveness
-at peace with life
-fully present in the moment

Matthieu Ricard, often called "the happiest man in the world" according to researchers who measured his brain's functioning in and out of meditation, said this:
"By happiness I mean a deep sense of flouishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind. This is not a mere pleasurable feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a mood, but an optimal state of being."

6. Marci goes on to say, "Happiness isn't just a nice idea. It's a specific, measurable physiological state characterized by brain activity, heart rhythms, and body chemistry." and

"We seem to know intuitively that our innermost essence is happiness. You don't have to create it; it's who you are."

7. The rest of the book (this is all from only the first 26 pages)
So what are the 7 steps?
1. Take ownership of your happiness The Foundation
2.Don't believe everything you think The pillar of the Mind
3.Let love lead The pillar of the Heart
4.Make your cells happy The pillar of the Body
5.Plug yourself into spirit The pillar of the soul
6.Live a life inspired by purpose The roof
7.Cultivate nourishing relationships The garden

So, the structure is pretty memorable. Each pillar can be a corner or wall in your house, then you have the foundation, the roof, and the garden. Physical reminders/prompts to the chapters in the book that make you happy/ier, if you want to encode it that way in your head.

The book has 9 chapters. Chapter 2 is entitled 'Practicing Happiness' (pp. 27-45). The next 7 chapters are Building Your Home for Happiness, a chapter for each step (maybe your house has stairs?).

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