5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2013
First of all I never thought I'd write a review like this, but this book deserves it. I'm not sure I've read a book that's been so informative in quite a while. Even the intro is packed full of quotes, ideas and approaches to keep you thinking. It's brilliantly easy to read with a good mix of famous quotes, experiences from the authors life, science and ideas that are placed into such a context they are very easy to understand and apply. The book is also really very practical with easy to do exercises (though nothing too wacky) that do seem to make a difference. I'm only half way through and notice a massive difference in my level of happiness already! For me, I picked this book up not because I was unhappy, I just felt like there was something missing. The book frames this perfectly and explains it as our base level of happiness that we return to (seems mine was just quite low) - it then sets out to show you how to increase that. So far it's doing a brilliant job! Perhaps it was the timing of which this book landed on my kindle (I was beginning to think I should study happiness at which point Amazon emails me with a link to this book) or perhaps its just a reflection of the writers ability to convey his ideas (I'm guessing a bit of both). I like everything about this book: the personal stories, the ideas, the way its written how easy it is to read and how well read the author obviously is on the topic. Overall this book is jam packed full of stories, ideas, facts, exercises and more that have made an impact for me and will continue to. It's that good I'll be buying a hard copy for the book shelf! Highly recommended. Great job Mr Bowen.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
I requested an advance Vine copy of this book because I have researched happiness intensively since the 1980s and wanted to see if studies had revealed anything new.
I was impressed with it: clearly the author is also very familiar with happiness studies. Although somewhat confused and offering nothing new, he provides, in an easy-to-understand and enjoyable manner, an excellent introduction and overview for those new to the subject.
In addition, I recommend my top four picks on Happiness - all these books provide practical advice:
- "Happy for No Reason" distills the best of the happiness research into easy-to-use steps, illustrated with inspiring stories of how very happy people have surmounted personal tragedies using these happiness processes and habits. It offers three guiding principles to overcome common blocks to happiness and a seven-step programme to become "Happy for No Reason".
- "The How of Happiness" - the author is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, the majority of her research career has been devoted to studying human happiness.
- "Emotional Toolkit" - for its detailed action steps that work well with "How"
- "To Love is to be Happy With" - a classic written by the founder of the famous "Options Institute", where people can live the process explained in his book. If I had to buy only one book on happiness, this would be it.
Little that is really new on happiness appears to have been published since these books, but note:
in 2012 "The Longevity Project" by Friedman and Martin, a groundbreaking 80-year overview on what is really directly linked to happiness and health and "Resilience" by Southwick and Charney, who identify ten key and researched ways to weather, and bounce back from, stress and trauma;
in 2011 Seligman's "Flourish", with its new emphasis on well-being rather than happiness and McTaggart's "The Bond" on the importance of relationships;
in 2010 "Why Kindness is Good For You" by Hamilton which expands on the importance of kindness and helping; and
in 2009 "Positivity" by Fredrickson on the tipping point created by having 3 positive thoughts to every negative or neutral thought [later note: also her subsequent "Love 2.0" on connectedness/happiness]
(each of these books elaborates on different aspects already known and reported within the happiness/health field).
In the end, having worked on myself intensively by using many of the tips, techniques and tools that I learned about over the last 15 years, I found that HEALTH is the biggest determinant of happiness. To me, happiness is directly linked to well-being - or being well. Yes, there are happy sick people but for most of us it is our underlying constitution that controls our level of happiness. This is not exactly the same as the now-famous "happiness set point" because there are ways to improve basic health whereas it seems the set point is, well, set.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I have read a lot of self help or self improvement books over the years. Some, perhaps most, are basically reworks of widely known principles although such books are not without their merits and depend on the way the material is presented for their impact. However, Happy This Year! rather stood out from the rest of the crowd. The author speaks with sincerity, has clearly thought a lot about the subject matter and has put his own slant on it. The fact that he is a religious man himself and sees a spiritual aspect to a lot of what he writes about did not diminish his message at all and, to my mind although I would not regard myself as religious, added an additional dimension.
Many self help books are written in such a way that it is easy to skip through them and quickly pick up the main gist of what is being said. The use of fonts, dense print and highlighting of key points assists with this. However, this is not written in that way and, whilst I started off intending to extract the message as quickly as possible, I found it impossible not to get drawn into the detail. This is a positive aspect as the book is packed with interesting examples, both anecdotal and from the author's own life. There is a lot of emphasis on focusing on the positive areas of one's life, the good things which have happened, the things you are grateful for. Equal and opposite is eliminating negativity as far as possible, and this can be as basic as listening to uplifting and happy music rather than songs which dwell on heartbreak and broken relationships.
Generally self help books do make an impression, sometimes rather fleeting and a little bit of what is being said does rub off on the reader. However, here there is quite a lot to take in and I do plan to read through it again to get the full value of what is being said. There is so much practical advice on introducing strategies into your life which will improve your degree of happiness that it would take a particularly cynical reader not to take some of it on board in their own life to their benefit.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
When I first started reading this book I decided I must have read too many books about being happy. I felt a little jaded and as though I'd read it all before but I persevered because I liked the book's style. The author writes in an infectiously happy way and I could feel my mood lightening as I kept reading. I found it very interesting that half your happiness is inbuilt - that is how you are and you probably can't change that bit. Only ten percent is attributable to life events and how your life affects you leaving forty percent which you can influence. Nearly half of your happiness status is within your control and you can affect it by your thoughts, your feelings and your actions as well as your habits.
It is all too easy to get stuck in a negative frame of mind and quite difficult to get out of it if you are a naturally pessimistic person. But it is possible to change your thinking and your actions and this intriguing book shows you how. If you find the news depresses you then don't read or watch it. Even if you don't read any news at all you will still find you get to know the things you need to know. Read inspirational stories on the internet instead of doom and gloom. There are plenty of websites listed which you can explore as well as plenty of other books to follow up. I was intrigued by the idea of going twenty one days without complaining about anything - could you do it?
Complaining can lower your happiness - much better to count your blessings. I think what struck me most of all about the book - and it is worth reading just for this idea alone; you cannot be happy if you do not act with integrity. It's something which resonates with me because I do have standards which I try and live up to and it does make me feel happy when I manage to live up to those standards. I'm the one who points out a mistake in change given to me even when the mistake is in my favour. I'm the person who tells the hotel they've undercharged me and the shop when they've put the wrong price on the shoes I've bought. Even though it costs me money - it makes me happy.
Helping other people or doing something nice for them does make you feel happy and that feeling doesn't detract from the help given. That doesn't mean you have to spend all your time helping others to your own detriment but it does mean that kindnesses done for others with no hope of reward can boost your own happiness. Forgiving someone for an act they've done against you will make you feel better. That doesn't mean you have to be friends with that person - just that you stop holding onto the resentment and the hatred. Being happy is nothing to do with what the government of the day does or even what the weather is like - it is everything to do with how you think and what you do on a day to day basis. You can be happy whether you're rich or poor and you need to enjoy the moment not be constantly saying that you will be happy in the future.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Will Bowen is an American who was in advertising sales and marketing but don't let that put you off. He is an ordained minister and concentrates on getting our minds and thinking processes functioning habitually to think perty thoughts rather than negative ones. It is well written and pleasant to read. Hopefully it will make the world a better place with its wit and wisdom. He obviously has a lot of experience in making people happy. It will bring a big smile to your face. No matter what is going on around us we can still be happy. If life is a bowl of fruit don't look at the one lemon.
Our destiny is to be happy. Deep in your heart you know this is true. Here is practical advice and step by step instructions to make you happy. Well we all know this is pie in the sky but it can do no harm. I found this a fun read and very uplifting and enjoyable. Recommended for most people.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2013
I've read this book in little chunks - there's only so much self-help advice I can take in one go, but I have to admit that a lot of the advice has been quite useful. Bowen writes in an affable sort of way, and it's all very positive stuff. Yes, happiness it very much a state of being that starts with us, and I have found I've taken a few of his ideas and tried to use them on an everyday basis. Some of it isn't my thing - like chanting "I'm the greatest" to my image in the mirror - and I prefer to quietly contemplate rather than use a happiness buddy, but I think if everybody had even a fraction of Bowen's upbeat optimism, the world would be a much more cheerful place.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Will Bowen's mission is to improve your happiness and it's all about perception. He believes you can THINK yourself happy i.e. if you concentrate on the positives rather than the negatives then it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy that you will start to feel happier in yourself.
Write down how you feel at least three times a day on a 1 to 10 scale of how happy you are. Bowen believes if you concentrate on how happy you are rather than the problems you have then you will start to be happier.
In essence his book is divided into a number of chapters which explore the adage that happy thoughts translate to happy words, which then become happy actions, which begat happy habits, which in turn transform your character into a happier one and therefore ensures you have a happier destiny. I certainly agree with Bowen's ethos - you are what you think. Does his technique work? Well yes - simple as it is - I really do think it does work. Try to find the positive in any situation and try to see the good in others.
I like his anecdotes and quotes also - this is because they agree with my attempt to get through life being and feeling more positive. It's something I started about 10 years ago after spending most of my life as a borderline pessimist/realist - now I consider myself an optimist/realist. Yes I do agree with Bowen - you really CAN change your perception of how good your life is - and that's what it really is all about.
For those who want to be more positive and happier in their life this is a great little book. But you must WANT to change and be prepared to change your way of thinking. This book, despite its title is NOT just about being happy THIS year - it is about being happy for the rest of your life. Good luck!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 June 2013
I bought this for a friend that was diagnosed with depression, but found myself reading it and using the advice. One of the best books I've bought, full of tips and tricks, and statistics to back up the claims. I've taken to leaving post-it notes with quotes from the book throughout my house as reminders whenever I feel a little down. Recommended for anyone and everyone.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Having suffered a bad time recently, anything that promotes happiness and positive mental health is something that I feel that I will enjoy and benefit from.
This premise of Will Bowen's theory is simple: if you think happy thoughts then in turn you will become happy. I'll admit that I was fairly skeptical about this as, surely, if it were that simple, then everyone would be doing it!
This book is split into eight chapters. These are: 1) Can't Buy Me Happiness, 2) You > Happy!, 3) Thoughts of Happiness, 4) Words of Happiness, 5) Actions of Happiness, 6) Habits of Happiness, 7) Characters of Happiness and 8) Destiny of Happiness.
Each chapter is very down to earth, readable and enthusiastic. From reading, suddenly the idea of the simple premise becomes rather clever. If something is overly complicated, then it's not as likely to work as something that takes a simple shift in thinking, doing and acting.
The advice contained within is common sense and yet can also sound quite profound at times. I also like the fact that the author used to be in advertising and therefore knows the tricks that marketers use to get people to feel a certain way or to want a certain thing.
I would like to think that continuing to dip in and out of this book would lead me to be able to make the most of the hints and tips contained within. While not everything is possible (e.g. eliminating negative people from your life when they are loved ones - or your colleagues does seem a bit drastic and, at times, unrealistic!) this book certainly can't hurt anyone's efforts to feel happy. It might not be everyone's taste but it's definitely worth a look.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2013
This book arrived on my Kindle at a turbulent time in my year. It appeared as a featured advert and although doubtful I decided to give this book a shot.
I found that the frequent quotes, anecdotes and practical tips for happiness, along with the inspirational writing style, really helped to make this book relevant in my life. The author has structured it in such a way, you reflect on how you're progressing and you learn interesting approaches to life events from the perspective of different cultures. With reference to psychological studies and references to other useful books, this is a great combination of what's needed to be happy this year.