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Lost Art of Being Happy: Spirituality for Sceptics [Paperback]

Tony Wilkinson
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Oct 2007
"Arguing that spirituality is not about religion but about living happily, this guidebook offers advice on the skills of the inner life - the mind and emotions - that are needed for a life of gladness. This examination discusses the requirements for happiness, explores their nature and shows that mastering a set of five of them leads to bliss. The exercises in this resource are offered to spiritual seekers as a path towards happiness and emphasise that personal elation is not caused by external events, but by mastering the skills of the inner life. This book shows how spirituality should be a vital human concern regardless of beliefs about the supernatural. Starting from the simple idea that everyone wants to live happily, it offers a powerful theory that supports many spiritual and self-development practices. In the five skills, it offers a pragmatic and flexible way to live spiritually allowing each person to develop a practice that suits their own needs. The book focuses on the idea of generating skills of the inner life rather than virtues or merit. This is a profound shift of paradigm, which removes moral anxiety and grounds both spirituality and ethical living in a fundamental choice to live happily. "

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Lost Art of Being Happy: Spirituality for Sceptics + 365 Steps to Practical Spirituality: A day-by-day guide to finding health, contentment and inner peace + The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living
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Product details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Findhorn Press Ltd. (10 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844091163
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844091164
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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" ...a convincing case that spiritual wisdom is easily detachable from myth and mysticism, not to mention organised religion... I hope it's the start of a trend" -- Oliver Burkeman in Guardian Weekend 5 Jan 2008

From the Author

"How can I best live my life?"
"What should I believe?"
"How can I make sense of the world?"
You can start from any of these questions and I think you will be led to the same conclusions I come to in the book. Living happily can be the central, organising value of your life once you accept the profound implications of the following very simple truth. Being happy depends on your inner life - on your thoughts, emotions, desires and beliefs - more than on your circumstances or on what happens to you. But this doesn't just mean "think positive" - it's a complete shift in the way we think about the world. For a start, focusing on your own happiness isn't selfish, because your happiness depends on your inner life and mine on my inner life, so your happiness doesn't impede mine. Second, your inner life isn't under your conscious control all the time - how you react emotionally to something isn't usually a choice at the time, for example. Your inner life depends on patterns or habits and yours may help you to be happy, or not. The good news is that you can change these habits by practice, just as you might change a physical habit or learn a new skill by training. So the thrust of the book is that there are skills of the inner life which you can practice and which will help you to live happily.

But there's more! These inner skills turn out to be very like the virtues and qualities which most religions have encouraged and sought to foster. In fact, the perspective which takes happiness as the objective and practice of inner skills as the method is sufficiently like spiritual practice for me to call it "spirituality for sceptics". It doesn't depend on belief or faith, but it has many of the same practical consequences. Thus it upholds an ethical, non-materialist approach to living which can respect faith without necessarily sharing it. This concept of "spirituality for sceptics" is an important and useful one because it offers a middle way between religion and materialism for those who find neither acceptable, and a necessary common ground for those who are committed to religion or a materialist view but live, as I hope always to do, in a pluralist society.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Profoundly Simple Book 12 July 2008
I read "Lost Art of Being Happy: Spirituality for Sceptics" on the basis of a review in The Guardian, which suggested that it was written for those of us who are interested in "Spirituality" but can't accept either the idea of a supernatural god or "new age mumbo jumbo". As someone who has never been drawn to self-help books and who runs a mile when anyone talks about the healing power of crystals, I found Tony Wilkinson's style every bit as clear, down to earth and sensible as the reviewer sugggested.

This book is a life-changer. Starting with the premise that most of what makes us happy or unhappy occurs in our inner world, as opposed to external circumstance, the author goes on to suggest some skills we can practice in order that we can lead happier, more peaceful lives.

You don't have to be into astrology or past life regression or any other new age fad to start on a path to a more spiritual life. Neither do you have to go down to your local church or temple. This book gives you some pointers that make sense, even to a grumpy old sceptic like me.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The no-nonsense approach to spiritual living 9 Aug 2009
So, what determines how happy you are? How much money you have? Your material comforts? Your level of health? Whether you are in a relationship, or a "good job"?

It's fair to say that most ordinary people would intuitively think the answer is "yes" to some if not all of these questions. But Tony Wilkinson begs to differ. In his view, these are mere "external circumstances", only a relatively small influence on our happiness. Instead, he suggests that it is our interpretation of our circumstances, and, in turn, our response to that interpretation that holds the key.

At first glance, this may seem to be a slightly fatuous appeal for us all to become "glass half-full" people: simply look on the bright side, and all will be well. But that's absolutely not what Wilkinson is all about. He instead proposes a system for *training* the inner life so that we can instinctively respond to our circumstances in ways that will make us happy, without any element of self-denial or delusion in the process.

He clearly sees this as a serious goal, something which can take years to master (although in my experience, just a few hours following his advice can make a significant difference!) and which we as individuals, and our society as a whole, would benefit from in all kinds of ways: less emphasis on consuming things as a way to palliate our nagging sense of soullessness, for example.

I have to say, I'm convinced. What helps his case is that he is from such a conservative background - a career in civil service and banking - and very far from a "drug-crazed tree-hugger"!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A synthesis of many ideas 19 Jun 2009
I have read this book several times over and continue to find it both inspiring and practical. The ideas are timeless but have been representedin a language that suits modern day living. This is definitely a book to be used as the starting point of a new 'way' of living and provides tools that can be applied in a variety of situations. Many of the modern tools of cognitive behavioural therapy are to be found here within the 'mindfulness' and 'story' skills.

This is a book I will treasure and refer to for the rest of my life. truly believe that I will one day look back and say that it was th eone book that changed my life for the better.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A practical guide 21 Nov 2008
For those seeking a practical guide to find meaning and contentment in our inner lives without the need to accept the dogma of any particular religion. This is a thought provoking book, worth taking time over. It well researched and distills the wisdom of enlightened thinkers into simple concepts that would be of benefit to any reader seeking a path to real happiness.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirituality for Sceptics 12 Sep 2009
I credit this book with awakening in an atheist like me the possibility of having a spiritual life. I have also realised, after finishing it, that while there may be other books I might study, and indeed there are some excellent suggestions for further reading, there is enough content and suggested practices in this one volume to occupy the rest of my life and since I think this life is all I have that will do me nicely.
Thank you Tony Wilkinson for writing it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable Guide to a Happier LIfe 5 Nov 2009
I stumbled on this book in my local library and after one reading it has become an indispensable part of my life. Tony Wilkinson writes with clarity and wisdom about the path to a happier life. This book provides a practical approach to making the most of life by managing what happens inside each of us. The book outlines 5 well defined areas where we can learn and practice to be happier and more effective. I go back to the lessons every day to help me, and as a coach helping others it is a central part of the syllabus. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in improving their life, dealing better with the chaotic world around them and finding more peace.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Questions we should all ask 20 Nov 2007
Tony's book focuses on the 'inner life' which is something we should all consider especially in the modern world. Reading this book will help you ask questions of yourself and how you deal with the world around you and what it throws at you. I was quite pleased to see there were bits where I was going right although the book helped quantify what it was I was (unconsciously) doing: more importantly, I got a lot of valuable information on areas where I definitely needed to work on impovement.
Another thing I liked about Tony's book was the even-handed analysis of religions, belief systems and spirituality and how they fit into improving inner life.
Take time with this book to consider the through-provoking concepts and apply them to your own life.
An excellent antidote to (some of the worse aspects of)modern life. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost Art of Being Happy
Product arrived on time - a gift, which my friend is currently reading and, apparently, enjoying (he lectures on life-change, happiness etc.).
Published 11 months ago by Pamela Soar
5.0 out of 5 stars Great principles
Although I am in the infancy of applying these principles, this book does a very good job of convincing you that working on your 'inner life' (simply the part of us underneath the... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Timothy P. Daly
5.0 out of 5 stars The inside story on happiness
There are lots of books now which talk about the science of happiness and what we can learn from positive psychology and some of these books are very good. Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2012 by Matt
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost art of being happy - spirituality for sceptics
Excellently written book. The author speaks from the heart about a subject that he is passionate about but in a cogent and dispassionate way. Read more
Published on 10 Jan 2012 by richardhoneybee
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for people that don't do the supernatural
This is an excellent book for people that don't do the supernatural, but at the same time feel there are many good point iterated in religions/spiritual techings. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2012 by Jawine Westland
5.0 out of 5 stars All the skills you need to learn how to be happy
What inner skills do we need to live happily? There must be many answers, but the book develops an approach by looking at what can go wrong, at what spoils our happiness. Read more
Published on 2 Nov 2007 by Moon lover
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