Long before the current trend in 'how to achieve happiness' books, the analyst Marion Milner (Joanna Field) began her own personal investigation into what made her happy. She noticed, for example, that on some days, it was enough for her to simply notice the reflections of light on the surface of her bathwater in order for her to be filled with bliss; while on toher days nothing at all could make her happy.
This is the record of her seven-year exploration of happiness, during which she observes: `I found that there were different ways of perceiving and that the different ways provided me with different facts. There was a narrow focus which meant seeing life as if from blinkers and with the centre of my awareness in my head; and there was a wide focus which meant knowing with the whole of my body, a way of looking which quite altered my perception of whatever I saw' (15).
Milner's careful inquiry into the small movements of her mind, her concept of 'wide attention' - a way of experiencing that is expansive and embodied rather than narrow and fixed - and her description of 'that fat feeling' which comes with being at ease with ourselves and the world, once we have learned to relinquish more habitual styles of reaching and trying, has had a profound effect on my thinking and my work with my clients.
As other reviewers have commented, I find myself returning to this book, again and again.