Monday, 19 February 2018

Are We Happy Yet? Another self-help book promising the keys to happiness

Are We Happy Yet? 8 Keys to a Joyful Life

I've just finished reading Are We Happy Yet? by Lisa Gypes Kamen, yet another self-help book that I thought could teach me the magic skill of rewiring my brain for happiness.

I had high hopes for Are We Happy Yet?. Gypes Kamen reveals early on in the book that she's had her own mental health battles. Self-help books from the perspective of someone who has battled depression are all too rare. I thought that finally, I had found a book written with mental illness and depression in mind. Finally a book that didn't say I should just think positively and think happy thoughts to be happy.
“As a reformed depressed person, I did not wander into my happy place. There was a personal evolution to my happiness revolution.”
The fact that she says 'reformed depressed person' should have been my warning sign that I was wrong.

While Gypes Kamen said she wanted to debunk the annoying yellow "smiley face" notion of happiness, the book does go there.

Apparently there are eight keys to living a joyful life. Who knew that I just had to do eight things to find happiness! In fact some of the tips contained within the eight keys are quite thought provoking. I particularly found the emphasis on not holding grudges and learning not to complain useful, because I am a serial complainer. It made me think about how I can improve my constant need to complain and whine.

But the book also delivers cheesy self-help jargon like - "Happy people are resilient people", or how you should choose to thrive rather than mainly survive.

I liked that the book was full of practical tools like journaling and writing prompts. Early on you're asked to define your happiness factor - you natural level of happiness - through 65 questions. Similar quizzes are evident throughout the book, but how these can be considered in anyway scientific isn't clear. Readers are also encouraged to build a happiness toolkit, another practical and useful activity.

What I didn't like however, was the notion that you can cultivate happiness by playing happy music (because listening to happy music apparently makes it impossible to feel sad).

If you haven't read a lot of self-help books and want to dip your toe in, Are We Happy Yet? might be for you. It references lots of other books and authors, and the level of topics in there is like multiple self-help books rolled into one.

Are We Happy Yet? got me thinking about happiness in my own life.
Am I doing enough of what makes me happy? And what am I looking for when I read these self-help books promising happiness? But I can't say I feel happier having read it.

Until next time,

**I requested to review Are We Happy Yet? from Netgalley.**   

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