Happiness for Dummies: Knowing What Happiness Isn't
So, the book review continues, you can read on here or join in on the forum — I’d love to start some real dialogue. As timetoplay.com (by the way the new website layout will be up this week) is my quest for quality of life, I believe many, many others need to come along for the “ride” with me so we can enjoy life. Here’s the link to the book review / discussion for this book, Happiness for Dummies, in the forum in case you’re interested — http://timetoplay.com/forum/showthread.php/168-Happiness-for-Dummies-W-Doyle-Gentry-Ph
Chapter 3: Knowing what happiness isn’t
This chapter reviews another theme we read about in Mr. Tolle‘s book The Power of Now — it’s just really streamlined and made for us to understand a little easier with examples of people who have fallen into the ruts believing happiness comes from what Dr. Gentry calls culturally valued outcomes — wealth, power and success. Through timetoplay.com, my “quest for quality of life” journey, I have realized that “things” aren’t as important to making me happy as they were when I was younger, so this chapter was interesting to me.
Dr. Gentry discussed what money DOES buy, which is comfort for living (there are some things that are definitely necessary, like food and shelter), people to help you and support you (he gave examples of people who you hire), and economic freedom.
Then he went into the power, success and excitement which — the general theme is — DON’T make people happy. I guess it depends on who you ask, though, right? Or, if you really went deep into the people, are they really happy, or just appear happy on the surface. Each life situation brings something else with it that you have to deal with, right? So, let’s discuss the points Dr. Gentry made:
POWER – economic, physical, social (status): These people have control over the world around them but, he went on to discuss why these people who regular working people would think “made it” aren’t happy. He gave an example of people high in the corporate world who become very aggressive in life, I guess trying to control everything, which became their only goal and focus, and they just weren’t happy. I guess if anything becomes an obsession, there’s no room for anything else in your life.
SUCCESS: Dr. Gentry notes that, many times, success is accompanied by misfortune and tragedy. I guess we see this time and time again in the news regarding successful people, or people we believe to be successful, in a tragic situation. He noted that success does not guarantee a happy life free of misfortune and misery. He actually told of people like Ben Franklin and Abraham Lincoln who were depressed much of their lives. Maybe when you feel you “made it” there’s nothing more to strive for? Or you feel a huge sense of responsibility which causes depression? Anyone have comments?
EXCITEMENT: This is interesting. . . people substitute activities and think they’re happy while they’re doing it but sometimes (which is really a feeling of excitement) and wind up regretting it in the morning, like going to clubs, gambling, or other passion or energy-seeking activities. He notes excitement can cause an illusion of happiness. He included this activity that anyone can do to evaluate if you’re confusing excitement with happiness: “Make a list of 10 things that excite you. Then rate how happy you feel after doing each of these things — how grateful you feel, how satisfied you are, how much contentment and serenity you feel.” (p. 44)
Dr. Gentry then went into how researchers have identified income has little effect on how positive a person is – that 1) each time you reach a level you adjust your “level of neutrality” and it takes more to make you happy; 2) people constantly compare themselves with others, the “keep up with the Jones’s” philosophy, and feel deprived. Although she might be made if she ever reads this, I grew up in a home where my mom was like this. You know kids learn what they see. My mom spoke about how this one got this, or that one got that. I realize now that you shouldn’t get into debt to have something just because someone else does, and I am lucky to have had my husband along with me to protect me from doing this. The more stuff you have the harder you have to work to have the stuff, so you have to ask yourself how bad you want it, right? Dr. Gentry suggested not just comparing yourself to people who have lots, but to those with less than you so you can become more content and grateful with what you have. 3) Escalating needs – kind of goes with the treadmill effect. The more you get the more you want, which keeps you from being happy because you’re always “waiting — Mr. Tolle said that, too — to get “it” so you can be happy.
Dr. Gentry reminded that emotions like envy, jealousy, greed and resentment keep you from being happy with what you’ve got and makes you feel bad when you compare yourself. “Their success makes you feel less successful, their power makes you feel powerless and their freedom makes you feel less free. It’s all about them!” (p. 45)
Wow. This has become kind of long. Sorry. But, there’s more! Interestingly, Dr. Gentry said that happiness comes in waves. excited and joyful one minute and not the next, but that the purpose of this book is to make us have more happy moments. That sounds good to me! He suggested another exercise where you put down 10 of the most happiest moments of your life and another list where you list 10 events that you thought would make you happy but didn’t, which will show what you value / your priorities.
Last thought of the chapter – enjoy the moment. So, we’ve heard / learned over and over the importance to stay in the moment. Again, hard to do, right? Things pull us away, but I guess we need to constantly remind ourselves and pull ourselves back in.
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Embrace the TimetoPlay.com philosophy: You have to be happy, healthy, have money (at least enough to eat) and a work life balance to have quality of life. It’s time to enjoy life. There’s so many amazing resources on timetoplay. Take charge, make the change — one little thing at a time. It’s up to you.
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