Tag Archives: happiness

Shift Happens! by Robert Holden

Shift Happens: How to Live an Inspired Life...Starting Right Now!Shift Happens: How to Live an Inspired Life…Starting Right Now! by Robert Holden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I seem to be in a Robert Holden kick these days, and for good reason I think: this guy obviously knows what he’s talking about. He practices what he preaches, and it seeps through every word, every sentence he writes. He is honest and transparent, and doesn’t hide potential challenges to his philosophy.

Because, let’s get this straight: Holden’s work presents a philosophy of life. It may be wrapped in self-help paper, but dig a little and you have a fascinating, and eminently positive, conception of human beings and human life.

I think that Shift Happens is a great place to start if you’re new to Holden. It is comprised of short, punchy essays that develop an idea or a topic, such as feeling stuck, relationships, and struggling. It is filled with inspirational quotes and stories of transformation, of people who were just a miserable as you feel and discovered that there was a better way.

However, I’m starting to hit a wall with Holden: as much as I am inspired by his writing, I’m having a hard time finding ways to do what he suggests: letting go of guilt, fear and expectations. He routinely suggests to release control and give it up to God (not the Christian God but rather a general idea of divinity). Not being especially religious, I sometimes have trouble relating to this advice, but I admit that everyone needs some spiritual nourishing in their life. So here I am, trying to understand this concept of God and trying to give my struggles up.

There’s also a lot of talk about mediation, but little instruction on how to do it. In Holden’s world, it seems to be simply a matter of sitting down somewhere and being still. And it might just be as simple as that, but a single paragraph giving basic instructions would be appreciated, if only in appendix.

If you want a quick inspirational read, I strongly suggest this volume. However, if you want to delve deeper into Holden’s philosophy and approach, you can get Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST, which I have reviewed earlier.

This book matters because it is filled with wisdom that we simply have forgotten and need to relearn. If you even only read one chapter a day, you’ll feel more inspired, more positive and definitely more hopeful. The secret? Live in the present.


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Authentic Success by Robert Holden (review)

Authentic Success: Essential Lessons and Practices from the World's Leading Coaching Program on Success IntelligenceAuthentic Success: Essential Lessons and Practices from the World’s Leading Coaching Program on Success Intelligence by Robert Holden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another wonderful book by Robert Holden.

Given that I had already read Happiness NOW!, a lot of his ideas were already familiar to me. But these ideas are so important that they bear repeating, and so I don’t think that reading this along with other works by Holden is in any way a waste of time. In fact, I think I got more out of this one because I had read it already, because his approach to success is very much based on his ideas about happiness. Basically, happy people are more naturally successful.

While Happiness NOW! was more philosophical in nature, this one has a more practical outlook. It’s filled with exercises and tips on how to find what success really means to you, and then taking action. It forces you to look at your fears and at your deeply conditioned thoughts and beliefs about success and all its related elements.

A book, by itself, will never change your life, just like money by itself cannot make you happy. So unless you’re willing to sit down with yourself and do the work, you probably won’t reap all the benefits that this book can provide.

This book was well-structured, with tons of examples from a variety of sources like clients, seminars and other writers (including other psychologists, novelists, poets and philosophers). But, most of all, it’s Holden’s own deep belief in what he preaches that convinces me. You can feel his commitment to his subject through every word, and he doesn’t seem like the hypocritical “do as I say, not as I do” type.

One chapter that especially touched me was the one about Money Sickness. I was on the edge of tears throughout. But if you want to know what he says about it… you’ll have to read the book. I think that it should be read with an open mind and a desire to become a better person.

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Happiness Now! by Robert Holden (review)

Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FASTHappiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST by Robert Holden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve always looked at self-help books with a bit of suspicion. Either they are blindingly obvious and don’t deserve their asking price, or they are useless to anyone other than the person who wrote it, in which case we end up with the same result: you spent money, and quite a bit of time, for something that is definitely not helpful.

Robert Holden avoids both pitfalls with Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST… if you’re ready to listen to its message.

The book’s core idea is most elegant in its simplicity: happiness is within your grasp, now. The title is actually a bit misleading: “now” is not about “feel happy right now because you are reading this book”, but rather about how the secret of happiness is in the “now”. The book won’t make you feel happy, but it may, in Holden’s words, encourage you to happiness.

Throughout the book, Holden uses personal experience, writings from philosophers, poets and religious figures from around the world (and not just the Bible, which I appreciated), and examples from past clinical work with clients to show that deep down, everyone knows how to be happy. Most of us have simply forgotten.

The book takes you through the many facets of happiness: realizing that we already are happy, giving up the search for happiness, the curse of “not being good enough”, accepting yourself, letting go of conditional love, the healing process, the importance of love, and lightening your burden.

After reading this book, I had the strangest, yet most familiar feeling: that I knew all of this all long. How easy is it to forget, in our frenzied search for more money, more possessions, more success, more love, that each of us has something inside that makes all those things optional at best.

Have you ever felt a part of you resisting the nature of modern life? Looking for a slower, more meaningful way to relate to the world and to others?

Listen to it. It’s happiness knocking at your heart’s door.

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The Tyranny of Happiness

Yesterday on Q, Jian Ghomeshi had the author of This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike, Augusten Bourroughs, on the air.

Curious, I downloaded the sample from Amazon.

After a few pages, my thought was “Finally! Someone who understands that ‘thinking positive’ is a load of crap”!

I’ve never pretended to be a particularly happy or positive person. I have a bit of a tendency towards negativity and brooding. In a weird sense, I’m usually pretty hopeful about life, but in general I need something really special to make me feel happy.

According to all the self-help books and articles, everyone should try to be happy, all the time. Showing up at work with a frown on your face is, well, frowned upon. Sometimes I walk on the street and people tell me “Smile!” and all I want to do is to punch them in the face.

Something else about me: I’m blunt.

the cranky cat

“Feed me and leave me alone.” Eesti on Flickr.

Once, I was told how people with different moods can handle each other through a blood transfusion metaphor: positive rhesus can accept positive AND negative rhesus; negative rhesus can only accept negative rhesus. Just so with people: happy people can handle both happy and unhappy people, but unhappy people can only hang around other unhappy people. Pity likes company, if you will.

So let’s be honest: if I’m in a bad mood, I don’t want to hear your “be happy” comment or read your “how to feel awesome every day” article. I want to wallow in my bad mood, complain and bitch at the world without people telling me I should “look on the bright side”. When I feel like looking on the bright side, I will, thank you very much.

It’s similar to how society views depression.

It’s risky to admit to depression. People will secretly consider you weak, unable to cope, and think that you should simply “get over it”. As countless studies have shown, one cannot just “get over” depression.

If I’m in a bad mood, for whatever reason, I cannot simply “get over it”. If I was meant to be a good mood, I would probably be already. But it’s risky to admit to a bad mood. When asked “How are you?”, the person doesn’t really want to hear how you really are. They want to hear “fine, thank you, how are you?”. So you slap a fake smile on your face, and muster an “I’m okay, how are you?” that doesn’t betray how much you don’t want to talk to that person. Or to anyone.

So today I want to declare for the right of all the crankies, bad-moodies and meanies of the world to be allowed to freely feel and express their mood, or at least to not to have to slap on a fake smile to pretend that they feel awesome.

No, it may not make us socially attractive, but we probably don’t want to be social anyway. So that’s a win-win.

How do you act around others when you’re in a bad mood? Do you find that faking it makes you feel worse? Tell me your stories of crankiness!


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Employment–at last!

There are things that happen when they must. These last few months have tried my patience beyond anything I’ve ever had to deal with before. But finally, patience has been rewarded (along with a lot of time spent praying to those watching over me).

After three interviews, a translation test, a reference check and five days of waiting, I finally received a job offer. In Victoria. In a position that I am skilled for an interested in doing as a profession.

Which is weird, because I rejected this profession when I started my degree at Concordia. I doubt I would have found this position (and would have lived in such a beautiful place) had I followed through with my first impulse, but it seems that all the roads lead to Rome after all.

So, no more moaning about not getting called back or scrunging for clients or doing terrible work just for the pay. I will do the writing I want, use my French on a daily basis and generally be gainfully employed communicating messages to people in their own language. Which is awesome and meaningful, in its own way.

Oh, and it comes with a salary, vacation and a benefit package. But that’s just the icing on the cake!

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Thoughtful Tuesdays: What Makes You Happy?

I’m not talking about “happiness” here, that ever-elusive state of complete satisfaction with life. I’m talking about the little joys that punctuate our otherwise ordinary lives filled with routine, frustration and problems. What brings you those moments of transient happiness?

For me, it’s

  • Drinking good wine in good company
  • Walking around English Bay admiring the mountains and the sea together
  • Dancing to a great song
  • Laughing with a new friend
  • Watching TV with my love

To me, it’s all these disparate things that make life worth living. It’s not so much about being completely happy every single moment of my life, but rather about enjoying those special times when they come.

What makes you happy? What are those special moments in your life?


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