Read an Excerpt
Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
Could you be happier?
Is there room for a little bit more happiness in your life? If so, this is the book for you.
It will help you to create a happier life for yourself, if that’s what you want. Better still, it will help you toward a happier life on your terms, without anyone putting their two cents in and telling you what kind of life you should be leading. (I’m guessing that maybe like me, you’ve had enough of that.)
It’s a big subject, so I’m going to focus on your happiness. After all, there is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to being happy. This book isn’t a rigid ten exact steps that will make every single person happy. It really doesn’t work like that. Happy is such a deeply personal thing.
What we need is a flexible, adaptable plan that will gently show you how you can choose to move from where you are now to a place with more happiness. And that’s what you’ll find here.
We all know people who seem to have it all worked out on the happiness front. Things always seem to go well for them, and even when things do go wrong, they know how to handle it and what to do. What’s the difference between them and the rest of us, who find it all a bit of a struggle sometimes?
In my view, there are a few simple basics. Here they are:
- Happiness gets created while you’re busy doing other things. It happens when you
- Set your intention to be happy—whateveryou’ve got to do today
- Live as the “real you”
- Have a choice; for example to know your limits and say no
- Take action
- Put love first
This book will help you get all these things sorted—to help you find the easy way to more happiness. It really doesn’t have to be a rare treat; and if that’s what you think, I hope to change your mind. Amazingly, taking control of your life in this way is a major step forward when it comes to happiness.
- Set your intention to be happy—whateveryou’ve got to do today
- Aiming for happiness as the goal itself is missing the point. If someone (down at the club, say) told you “my priority right now is to be happier,” what would you think? Exactly. It’s like saying you are going on vacation to get a tan. Ideally wouldn’t it be better to go on vacation to swim in the sea, snorkel, explore, play on the beach, sleep, eat, laugh, and visit amazing places? The tan comes along without any effort while you’re busy doing all this other stuff. Happiness is exactly the same—if you get your life sorted out generally, and are doing good things that you want to do, then happiness will usually just take care of itself.
- More happiness comes from the heart. Who are you? A messy, unique, gorgeous, imperfect human, that’s who. Not a programmable robot, thank God. So, you are more likely to be happy (for a bit anyway) when you open your heart, rather than strive to follow somebody else’s intellectual formula. This book will help you do more on that.
- Happiness comes and goes. It’s a fleeting thing, a bit precious. Trying to stay on a happiness high is not a good idea. It’s okay to come down. We just want to be a generally happier version of ourselves.
- Happiness as an emotional win–win. It is not possible to think your way to a happier life; happiness is an emotion, a feeling. And it starts, and lasts, from one simple intention; to make yourself happy by making other people happy.
- Happiness is not automatic (as we’re led to believe). The basics of life don’t seem to work as well as they ought to. Find a good job, have kids, and own more than others. It should work, so why doesn’t it? Why are we unhappier than ever with so many good things in life? We’ll take a look and, hopefully, find a way to enjoy our current sources of happiness, as well as create more.
And it starts, and lasts, from one simple intention; to make yourself happy by making other people happy.
- Happiness is not the answer! It would be great to think there is some secret, an answer to the big questions, some magic wand to wave over our problems. Happiness is being touted in this way, elixir-like, but you know what? In my view, tiny answers come every day, like baby steps, if we’re on the right track. And those baby steps take us forward, bit by bit to a happier future, whatever that might look like. I’d love to support you with this.
I have to quickly and clearly draw a distinct line between what this book aims to do and the growth in “lifestyle gurus.” They seem to be everywhere—books, TV, radio. Telling us all what to do and how—what to wear, what to eat, where to live, what to do, how much exercise to take, what to spend, and on and on. Whether it’s what we do as individuals or what we do as a society, there’s no shortage of experts telling us how to live our lives, to achieve their version of “the successful contemporary human being.” Their way is the right way and we should all follow it. These experts seem less gurus and more lifestyle fascists to me.
I know this could be a letdown if you were looking for a generic A to Z of happiness, but in my view, there is no one single way to be happy. There are new perspectives to think about and apply to your unique circumstances. There are tips and ideas and some practical suggestions, which I believe can open up new possibilities for a happier life. However, the only way that will help you is your way. (Don’t worry, we’ll help you find it.) So, I won’t presume to tell you how to live your life.
Neither is this book a philosophical look at the nature of happiness that explores in great detail why we aren’t all as happy as our grandparents. Nor is it an in-depth look at why buying more stuff doesn’t make us happy. (It doesn’t—there, that’s covered.) There’s not a lot of pontificating here. Just lots of personal, purposeful suggestions that have the capacity, if combined with your will, to make you happier. Does that sound okay?What this book is
I’ve spent a lot of my life helping people discover
- How to find purpose and success
- How to build better relationships (at work as well as at home)
- How to take action, outside their comfort zone, in line with their values
- How to create the right level of wealth to live a happy life
These ideas have helped me to grow less frightened in the face of the scariest parts of scary old life. And the ideas have worked well for thousands of other people, too.
The Happiness Plan is a powerful action plan that, if you put your faith and effort into it, will help you make changes.
This book is for you if
- You think certain parts of your life aren’t working.
- You just don’t have the fire in your belly or joy in your soul that you’d like to have.
- You want to make some changes but aren’t sure how.
The Happiness Plan is a way to design your life so that it feels happier, more connected, more purposeful.
It has seven steps:
Step 1: Decide to be happier (the ABC approach).
Step 2: Understand happiness.
Step 3: Create a personal Happiness Plan.
Step 4: Unlearn unhappiness.
Step 5: Our plan. Make others happy.
Step 6: Some Happiness Plan examples.
Step 7: Put your plan into action.
Each one of those steps will have some easy wins, ways to find more happiness here and now—plus guidance from the experts and exercises for you to gain a better perspective on what is happening right now in your life.
Looking at those seven steps, you may have noticed Step 5 “make others happy.” Why, you might reasonably ask, should your Happiness Plan be concerned with the happiness of other people?
It’s because a Happiness Plan based on your needs alone is not going to be enough. We humans are social creatures, and our happiness is inextricably linked to that of others. Trouble is, we’ve been increasingly trained to think as individuals, with little sense of the communities around us. Creating a more lasting kind of happiness requires investment in our relationships, in the shared connections and purpose that join our families, workplaces, and communities together—or which sometimes cause them to break up.
Each step will encourage you to view things differently. For example, to enjoy the happiness that may already be there in your life, perhaps wanting a little more of your company. Then move on to the tactics and techniques that will enable you to create even more.
Your plan is, in context, there to enhance your relationships, your connection to work, your sense of belonging where you live, and how you see your life’s happiness overall. In each of these stages, my aim is to help you think how life would be if you were really happy. Then take the steps to get there.
And this book aims to help you make your mind up to be happier! What is a plan?
The Happiness Plan is an approach designed to help you build a happier life. A plan is a statement of intention, a high-level design plus a detailed list of what needs to be done to reach the desired outcome.
This book aims to help you design a happier life for yourself—that’s the desired outcome. How will you do that? By asking yourself better questions, opening up to new ideas and, above all, being prepared to try stuff out. The process of learning how to be happier isn’t a project with an end date. Instead try to consider happiness as the underlying intention, there to support the many choices and changes in life.
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