The World Book of Happiness

By Leo Bormans

Reviewed by Catherine Mahon

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This book’s subject is self explanatory. It is simply about the complex issue of happiness.

It attempts to explain what happiness in its various forms means to all of us.  By “all of us,” I mean the wealthy to the poor and everyone in between.  That includes the young and old, the intelligent and the ignorant, and the followers of all types of religions  as well as nonbelievers.

Leo Bormans tries to define exactly what happiness is, what it is supposed to do for people and how to obtain it.  He also considers whether happiness is something that can be bought, taught or learned?

The author generally describes happiness as “The degree to which an individual judges the overall quality of his/her own life-as-a-whole favorably.”  In other words, to what extent a person likes their life .

Happiness, as a very subjective concept, is very personal and intimate for each individual.  To gain broad insights that people can use to help find their own happiness, Bormans traveled all over the world to “pick” the brains of many professionals from Canada, England, Spain, Samoa, the United States and elsewhere.

Of course, some elements of happiness are not ours to control. There are random factors include things like  health, genetics, being born into poverty or riches and how one is raised to think about happiness.

Amid his travels, he does address the age old question of “Can money buy happiness?” The answer is yes, to an extent.  In other words, a certain amount of security is definitely helpful to most people’s happiness.  However, after a certain point, more money doesn’t add to that happiness.

While most believe that happiness comes from within, “positive relationships” with other people can enhance it. That’s as long as it’s done with care and comes naturally.

Most people probably believe youth as the happiest time of life.  Although there are many ways in which this is true, Bormans finds that one shouldn’t assume that being older is an “unhappy” time.

Leo Bormans has done well describing the indescribable and then offering ways to obtain it.  Everyone should read this book. I believe this would be a very good topic to be studied in schools.  Happiness, though difficult to pin down, is definitely something we all look for in our lives. We try to teach our children how to make a living, about political systems and how every corner of the world affects each of us. Why not teach them about the one thing that we all want for our children?

Everyone has had problems that could “spin” them into an “unhappy” life.  A conscious efforts can often prevent that downward spiral.  I have fibromyalgia, a medical condition that is causes constant pain and can get in the way of enjoying life. I let it make me depressed, until I accepted that as far as I know this is my only life. Since no one can fix my problem, I refuse to spend my precious days being a victim. I make every effort to find reasons to smile and be thankful.

Coming from this  perspective, I believe author has done an excellent job achieving his goal of telling us how to decide what happiness is to us. He also shows realistic ways of obtaining it with what tools we have, no matter what limitations we may have.

The World Book of Happiness
Leo Bormans
Firefly Books,  2011
Paperback, 352 pages
$19.77

Psych Central's Recommendation:
Worth Your Time! +++

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APA Reference
Mahon, C. (2012). The World Book of Happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-world-book-of-happiness/00010794
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

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