Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Habits of Happy People

I have to say that Happiness for Dummies did not knock my socks off the way The Happiness Project did but the author made a lot of valid points.

People are more playful when they’re happy – they’re interested in golf, tennis, marathon running…Happy people are more likely to exercise on a regular basis. (190)
Here’s W. Doyle Gentry’s four-ingredient formula for happiness:

  • A feeling of safety

  • A sense of satiation

  • A sense of perspective

  • Quietude
  • Someone must have really talked to Gentry about the importance of exercise because he frequently mentions it and cites a study done by two psychologists who found:

    Those employees who were low on the hardiness scale and who failed to exercise regularly had nearly seven times more illness than their co-workers who were hardy exercisers…(83)
    In addition to reminding folks to be grateful and to be true to themselves, the author also gives out homework. One task is to identify the best moments that have occurred in your life. Gentry also has suggestions for what to do if you’re no longer satisfied with your regular routine. The last suggestion in this segment says:

    Stretch, moving beyond your usual comfort zone. (109)
    This reminded me of one of my teachers who used to constantly say stretch your mind. Most of my stretching, of late, has occurred via rock climbing and swimming where I’ve really had to get out of my comfort zone.

    Gentry says that there are three core components when it comes to making sense out of life:

  • Order

  • Affiliation

  • Meaning
  • I liked his suggestion to have rituals for the beginning and end of the day. He has one suggestion to send close friends emails and wish them a pleasant day. Later on, he expands on the idea:

    If you want to have a happy relationship…you have to let the people closest to you know how much happiness they bring to your life. Happiness should never be taken for granted – it needs to be shared. (140)
    The author talks about healthy selfishness, a concept that I embrace wholeheartedly. Here are a few of Gentry’s examples of healthy selfishness:

    Catching up on your sleep when you’re exhausted.

    Exercising several hours a week at your favorite gym. (208)
    If you’re still not convinced that healthy selfishness is good, Gentry gives another reminder:
    Remember: You need to leave room in your life for yourself. (213)
    Gentry expands on the idea of healthy selfishness by discussing the importance of creating energy:

    Some things in life take energy and other things create energy. Regular exercise creates energy – it leaves you feeling refreshed and renewed. A good night’s sleep does the same thing. Laughing creates positive energy. Hugs create an infusion of energy both for the hugger and the person being hugged… (211)
    Earlier in the book, I liked Gentry’s advice to walk away from annoying situations. I also like what he says about coworkers:

    Never view those with whom you work as the enemy. (224)

    As I was writing this up, I realized that Gentry did cover a lot of territory. He talks about raising sane children, eating a healthy diet and he, eventually, gets back to the E word:

    What’s the best form of exercise? According to a friend of mine who owns and operates his own health facility, the best exercise for you is the one you’ll agree to do…(290)

    Have a favorite For Dummies book? Feel like sharing a best moment?


    1. lots of great pointers in that book :)
      and i wouldn't call it healthy selfishness, i'd call it "nurturing yourself."
      best exercise for me is just one in which my blood is flowing and i break a sweat. it probably does more for me mentally than anything.

    2. I like this: Some things in life take energy and other things create energy.

      I've never read any Dummies books!

    3. @Heather,

      I like *nurturing* myself almost as much as I love breaking a sweat. :)


      I also like what he wrote about exercise creating energy. I know when I'm feeling tired it's harder to exercise but, of course, there's the reward post-exercise when, as the author said, you feel refreshed.

      I can't wait for you to get your hands on a Dummies book. I swear, I think they've covered just about every topic you can imagine.