Lianne Williams

Book Review: The Happy Mind by Kevin Horsely and Louis Fourie

Books, Mental HealthLianne WilliamsComment
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I’ll skip to the end- This book is now in my essential reading library

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It’s not often that you get asked to review a book and end up loving it so much that you buy yourself your own hard copy so you can annotate it for the rest of your life.

Seriously, I did NOT see this coming.

The Happy Mind by Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie starts as any other self-help-type book starts. It’s got a life changing goal in mind and it’s going to tell you how you can get there as long as you put in the work-blah-blah-we-know-how-it-all-works-type-shebang.

Now for me, I decided to read this book to see if it could enrich anything I was learning from doing My Happiness Project, I was like, cool, okay, all information on the subject of Happiness is welcome, I'd like to learn some more... What I didn’t expect was for it to end up being one of my favourite books on the subject... my new favourite book on Happiness.

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Insight into my relationship dynamics for a moment.

My husband and I are polar opposites.

I’ve never earned enough to pay off a penny of my student loan, I know maybe 3 people that I'm not directly related to and I’m happy in the sense that I’m cold, dark and cynical... (does that count... probably not...) My idea of success is someone remembering my name after being introduced to me. He, on the other hand is properly successful, popular and happy. A man in demand, seems to be best friends with the whole damn world, naturally gifted at most things, wafts from professional achievement to achievement, rarely upset or worried. Honestly, his level of attainment is sickening at times (probably shouldn't admit to that). I can’t even fathom how he does it and when I ask ‘Darling, how the hell are you achieving all this? How can I get in on some of the action?’ He gazes wistfully towards the horizon and says ‘I don’t know. I’m just happy’

'Fuck off 'you’re just happy'.' I say (Probably shouldn't admit to that either)

'What’s the magic formula? What’s the secret? Who do I need to bribe to give me a shot?'

And this book, this tiny, unassuming book that you can read in a day, pretty much confirms everything Mr Williams says.

Ladies and Gentlemen, he is so blessed, so rewarded, because he’s happy. 

Now most books will just abandon you at this point of revelation. All you have to do is be happy, right? And we all know how to do that.... right????

Well I don’t.

So when it comes to attaining happiness I want actionable steps and hand-holding. I need guidance. I need examples and situations I can relate to and try out myself. Don't tell me to be grateful. What the hell does that even MEAN? Don't tell me to be mindful! I have The Greatest Showman soundtrack stuck in my head, that's as mindful as I get. But thankfully The Happy Mind breaks it all down for you. Happiness is not some exclusive sacred enlightenment only achieved by comprehending obscure metaphysical definitions. The Happy Mind dissects happy specimens so we can analyse for ourselves how they do things, why they do things and what's different between us, and them.

And because I’m a scientist (kinda) I crossed checked every statement and every tip against my husbands behaviour to test how valid it all was. And you know what?! Everything. He did every single thing this book suggests. It was uncanny. 

What struck me was how sensible the suggestions were. Dare I say, obvious? But it is different to other books about Happiness. It has no emotional attachment to happiness. It is functional. And I LOVED that. There is none of this 'you are so precious and if you love yourself everything will fall into place' wishy washy nonsense, it is very straight forward and practical. It makes sense. You don't need to figure anything out, you just need to take action. 

I started to recall a mindset I had in my youth that aligned near perfectly with what the book advises but had been subsequently emotionally bleached and bullied out of me since then, until I’d long forgotten what happiness was. I had vague recollections of a past self that began to cry 'this is all true, remember?' I've NEVER had that reaction before. I've never had a part of my soul speak up and say 'you KNOW this is true', so that was pretty darn powerful for me, as you can imagine.

I found the most significant part was how Happiness is defined compared to Pleasure. To abbreviate Horsley/Fourie's excellent writing on the debate, they argue most people chase pleasure, which is temporary, unpredictable or even completely out of their own control and then they're surprised when their 'Happiness' ultimately disappoints them. Happiness, true happiness is something else. To find out what, you'll have to read the book....

So yes. I absolutely love this book and I will be rereading it and referring to it from now on. Highly Recommend.