How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People: Their Secrets, Their Stories

How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People: Their Secrets, Their Stories

by Rick Foster, Greg Hicks


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How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People: Their Secrets, Their Stories by Rick Foster, Greg Hicks

Now featuring new research and the most current information on the science of happiness, this book presents an outline of the nine choices happy people consistently make.

Also included are tools for self-assessment to allow readers to measure happiness-and to find out what might be holding them back from having more of it. Insightful, intimate, and inspiring, How We Choose to Be Happy lets readers learn by example, and take substantial steps toward joining the ranks of the extremely happy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399529900
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/01/2004
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 409,235
Product dimensions: 7.92(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Rick Foster and Greg Hicks are professional training consultants with a specialty in developing interpersonal skills. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area, they conduct workshops and seminars throughout the United States and internationally, in public, private, and corporate forums, including in such major venues as Hewlett Packard, Toyota America, U.C. Berkeley, and UCLA.

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page



Chapter 1 - Intention

Chapter 2 - Accountability

Chapter 3 - Identification

Chapter 4 - Centrality

Chapter 5 - Recasting

Chapter 6 - Options

Chapter 7 - Appreciation

Chapter 8 - Giving

Chapter 9 - Truthfulness

Chapter 10 - Synergy


“Foster and Hicks conduct workshops internationally in the development of interpersonal skills. For this book, they interviewed happy people from all walks of life, from the United States to Eastern Europe. The resulting personal stories, writing exercises, and quotes together inform and instruct the reader in the nine principles discovered by the authors in their travels. Recommended.”

Library Journal

-Will Schutz, Ph. D.,

Published by the Penguin Group

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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

While the authors have made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the authors assume any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

PERIGEE is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The “P” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


G. P. Putnam’s Sons edition / April 1999

Revised Perigee trade paperback / June 2004

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Foster, Rick.

How we choose to be happy : the 9 choices of extremely happy people : their secrets, their stories / Rick Foster and Greg Hicks.

p. cm.

eISBN : 978-1-101-00738-9

1. Happiness. 2. Happiness-Case studies. I. Hicks, Greg.

II. Title.

BF575.H27F-37033 CIP


PUBLISHER’ NOTE: Neither the publisher nor the authors are engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. Neither the authors nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this book.

Most Perigee books are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, or educational use. Special books, or book excerpts, can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write: Special Markets, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

For our children

Our happiness journey has run through two eras—first, the research and writing of this book, and next, the amazing developments after its initial publication. From the beginning, it has been graced by so many who have championed it. Thanks to our editor and trusted friend, John Duff, at Penguin who nurtured and supported our work every step of the way, and to our agent Angela Miller. Thanks also for the skill and superb judgment of our independent editors: Marilyn Foster for her careful reading and insightful suggestions and Paula Munier for her knowledgeable and optimistic cheerleading through the writing process.

Ron Luyet, always gentle of spirit and compassionate about our human strengths and foibles, gave generously of his professional understandings and his materials, including the “List of Defenses.” Thanks also to landscape architect Laurie Grassman of Boulder, Colorado, for her invaluable help with flora, to Dr. David Spear for his deep insight into the interaction of behavior and biochemistry, to Philip Turner and Tonda Marton for advice about writing projects in general, and to Tonda for giving us a “writer’s retreat” in New York City.

Our first Happiness Workshops were sponsored by Dr. Barbara Scott in San Luis Obispo, California. Eva Nemeth transformed her physical therapy offices in Marina Del Rey, California, into a conference center on our behalf. A wonderful crew from Shelburne Farms, Vermont, including Emily Morrow, Alec Webb, Megan Camp and Paul and Eileen Growald, supported our work in their community. Thanks to all of them for adding to the demographic depth of the interviews and to our understanding of happiness.

We also have an extraordinary support system of friends and family who gave unconditionally to the early days of the project. Special thanks goes to dear friends—Ellen Tussman, Diane Jarmolow, Russell Kaltschmidt, Herb Kindler, Marilyn Ginsburg and Janet Cobb. Their referrals to interview sources, opinions and reactions were critical to the development of our ideas. Our generous and patient readers were our parents, Lenore and Don Hicks and Harold and Diana Foster. Matt Weinstein and Geneen Roth gave us a much-needed kick-start in the beginning. And “The Men’s Group” continues to provide a superb forum to experiment, try out ideas, and receive loving yet firm feedback.

We also want to express our gratitude to Ailish and the late Will Schutz, who over the years taught us so much, and introduced us to the wonderful acupuncturist, Dr. Van Vu. His work kept us balanced, and gave us the energy to do our research, write a book, raise our children and continue working.

Since the initial publication of How We Choose to Be Happy, a great number of people and institutions have introduced us to professional arenas we couldn’t have previously imagined. Our deepest gratitude goes to Duffy Newman and Joanna Infantine of the Health Forum in San Francisco, who gave us a superb entree to the medical world. There is no way to individually thank all the wonderful people with whom we’re partnering in the medical fields, but special thanks go to Doctors Nicholas LaRusso and Jeanne Huddleston of The Mayo Clinic, who astonish us with their drive for excellence. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. David Jaques and Aileen Killen provided us with a life-altering view of surgery. Elizabeth Duthie, Director of Nursing for Patient Care Systems at NYU Hospitals Center, has been full of ideas and information and is an encouraging friend. And, Jenny Kirksey, Community Health Director of Wake Forest Baptist Hospitals has been a great supporter. We thank all of you who have become friends and colleagues.

Other faculty and organizational work has also been a source of inspiration and growth. Many thanks to Dr. Joseph Mori and Julie Ryan who have included us as faculty in their MSA program at San Jose State University. Becky Miles-Polka and Gail Hardinger have also given us faculty positions with the wonderful Iowa Community Health Leadership Institute. And James Baraz and Edith Politis have brought us into the unexpected delights of the Buddhist community at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County, California. You have all enriched our lives immeasurably.

Above all, we deeply thank the hundreds of “extremely happy people” from around the world, whose love, commitment, words and thoughts appear in these pages. There is no way to express fully our respect and gratitude to them. They have changed our lives, and we thank them deeply for the kindness, honesty and thoughtfulness they shared with us. Although their names and hometowns have been changed, their true spirits soar through every part of this book and continue to inform our lives.

A Note to the Reader


Excerpted from "How We Choose to Be Happy"
by .
Copyright © 2004 Rick Foster.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People: Their Secrets, Their Stories 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Keeno2011 More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. Great Concept and Most importantly really easy to follow and you can really learn real life values from it. Totally recommend it to anyone whom their peruse for happiness is their priority. May the power be with you
CynthiaSueLarson More than 1 year ago
HOW WE CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY dispels the myth that we have emotional set points and are stuck with whatever level of satisfaction we normally feel, in lives primarily influenced by luck of the draw. Authors Foster and Hicks traveled the world to interview the happiest people referred to them in each town they visited, discovering that the happiest people in the world have made nine life choices in common. Significantly, it became clear that when these nine principles are adopted, they radically improve peoples' happiness in life regardless of what is going on around them. The realizations in HOW WE CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY are so clearly stated with abundant examples of people who are merely cheerful, or in denial, rather than genuninely happy that their nine principles become more clearly outlined. The big idea here is that happiness is a choice, or more precisely a series of choices, and when we choose to move our lives toward happiness by making changes to ourselves from the inside out, we can experience tremendous improvements in feelings of increased inner joy, peace and health. Our health and wellbeing lies in our happiness... and when we realize that our happiness is a new way of life, this book becomes a much-needed guide to finding out just how good life can be. I give this book my highest recommendation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so into this book! I want to give it to everyone that I know. It makes so much sense and has really moved me in a new direction. I already had a basic understanding of some of the concepts that they discuss and reading this book has just intensified my understanding and apprciation for life.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Though this book is not a psychology book, the Nine Step Model is firmly founded in Human Potential psychology. Everyone wants to be in control of their life. When people aren't in control they often feel powerless, victimized and possibly alienated. When they are in control, they feel powerful, actualized and usually happy. This book helps people recognize a path toward greater personal control and the rewards that result.