Book Review: The Happy Mind

Book review The Happy Mind

Book: The Happy Mind – A Simple Guide to Living a Happier Life Today

Author: Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie

Published: 3rd January 2018

Publisher: TCK Publishing

Genre: Self-Help

Many people who read my blog know that I am very much a sceptic when it comes to self-help books. Especially books that make unsubstantial claims on happiness. I was hesitant to review this book, but I thought I would put my scepticism aside.

Book Summary

This book states it is a book to help find happiness using the power of the mind and also:

  • What do you need to do to be truly happy?
  • How can you change the old habits, beliefs, and situations that make you unhappy?

Now does this book actually do this?

BOOK OVERVIEW

This book has got 5 Chapters and is divided into:

Chapter 1 – The Search For Happiness

Chapter 2 – Happiness Is…

Chapter 3 – The Origin of Unhappiness

Chapter 4 – Practical Guidelines, Thoughts, Suggestions & Reminders In The Interest Of Happiness

Chapter 5 – A Few Last Words

 

A Hopeful Beginning

As I began this book, I was quite hopeful that it was not the usual run-of-the- mill books full of anecdotes about happiness and initially it showed a lot of promise. I loved chapter 2 called Happiness Is…

The introduction resonated a lot with me.

“The fundamental flaw in searching for happiness ‘out there’ lies in confusing pleasure for happiness. This basic misperception leads to the belief that happiness is either a once-in-a-lifetime-delight, or the compound effect of many, more, or bigger ‘pleasurables’.”

Going into key points of what a happy person does in life was very useful. I didn’t agree with one of the points about the future, but overall it had a good grasp of how to live a happier life. Although, personally I prefer the term contented to happy, because the word happiness has so many connotations attributed to it that are wrong, but I digress.

The third chapter about what constitutes unhappiness was very valid too and I can relate this to my life in many ways and it was good to become clear about this to make some changes. These were good triggering chapters (minus a few points I didn’t agree with). 

A Short Book – With Lot’s Of Empty Space

I am someone who really doesn’t like authors who overfill their books until they are jam packed with information that was unnecessary. Fillers I call them, just so the book looks impressively large. This book however went a bit too far in the other direction for me. After the initial chapters I found the huge amounts of empty white space, not only wasted, but made me realise this book would have been far better as a pocket book guide. This could have simply been a publishing decision, but either way it fell short in the way it was laid out for me.

Too Many Obvious Anecdotes

As I continued reading the book my hopefulness for some inspired wisdom fell short, quite quickly. The rest of the book is written in a ‘lots of tips to be happy way’, but nothing of real substance in my eyes. Which is probably why the subtitle of the book is ‘A Simple Guide to Living a Happier Life Today’.

I also found it very, very masculine in its approach to happiness.

What I mean by masculine is that it emphasised lots of planning and organising, which is a more masculine energy than feminine. So this felt quite out of balance for me as a woman. As I spoke about in my podcast episode How To Work Smarter Not Harder, I emphasise how important it is to be receptive, to drop into life’s flow and to not force or try to control the outer world. So while the authors cite it being of great importance that happiness is pretty much an inside job, the tips section steered more towards the typical way of ‘creating’ happiness, which didn’t inspire me further.

Mental Health Is Not Taken Into Account Properly

butterfly change transformation

While they mention that some mental health conditions can make choosing happiness or reframing the mindset more difficult, I would say they missed out on approaching this at a deeper level. 

While I agree that some mental health conditions can make it very hard to choose a new mindset and as a huge proportion of humanity is suffering from depression, these simple instructions just don’t cut it for anyone who is struggling.

For example, if someone is in a really tough place emotionally where a job has ended or a business idea didn’t go to plan, there is a natural period of being in the void, a place where uncertainty is huge. So planning the future, would actually be a negative action, it’s simply not possible.

So to say “happy people refuse to live by chance. They take focused, decisive and constructive steps to realize their plans.” is neglecting those people who don’t know what they want to do in life or are in the natural place of the void. It also excludes the genuinely happy (contented) people who do not take focused, decisive and constructive steps. Instead these people, embrace the moment, drop into the flow, allow action to happen, without the willful nature of the mind getting involved. Aka – action comes from non-action.

This book had great potential, but felt very empty to me. I wish I could give a wholly positive review. 

OVERVIEW

 
The Happy Mind is very simple, easy to understand for those who know little about the topic. It is very clear in it’s interpretation of what happy people do and the origin of unhappiness
 
Too simplistic. If you want a lengthy list of tips that you can find in many other places online and sourced in many books, that’s okay, but if you want something with more depth, more understanding of the human emotional system and how to healthily allow happiness in a more natural way, I would abstain from this book. This is also not a book for those who suffer from depression or other mental health conditions that may make it harder to create a positive mindset. Also not for people who are in a place in their lives where they are at a crossroads or don’t know what to do. In essence if you are going through a healthy, natural, identity crisis or change, this is not the book for you. 
 

Who Would Benefit From This Book?

While this book is clearly not my cup of tea for the reasons above, I would still say it’s a worthwhile book for people who want a very basic understanding of happiness. If you are unsure of what you are doing that is causing you to suffer further, this book will give you clear examples on why and how to change this.

*Post Disclaimer: I received ‘The Happy Mind ‘ from TCK Publishing for an honest review. All opinions are my own.  

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Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin is the author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ , a passionate writer and blogger questioning life’s illusions. After what seemed like a decade of intense anxiety, feelings of failure and grief from the loss of her father she chose to take a mindfulness path and has not looked back since. Kelly encourages people to find the treasures that lie within the pain and suffering and to learn to see themselves as ‘enough’ exactly as they are, right now through her writing and You Tube channel .

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