Book Review

Are You Happy Now?

10 ways to Live a Happy Life

Reviewed by: Brad J Tesh

Title: Are You Happy Now?

Subtitle: 10 Ways to live a Happy Life

Author: Barbara Berger

Publisher: O Books, imprint of John Hunt Publishing 2013

186 pages

  “Are you Happy Now?” by Barbara Berger is a book that enlightens, uplifts and transfixes a reader. In the Introduction the author tells us how her book came to be as she pondered one day laying on the sofa, “What does it take to live a happy life?”.The 10 ways she addresses in this delightful book are broken down into sections or the chapters of the book. There is so much in- depth knowledge shared in this book that I found myself re-reading portions of it as I was reading, just to make sure I was absorbing the words and information to the fullest extent. The book is written in a comprehensive and easy to understand manner, but its depth is enthralling. It begs us to question the idea of our happiness. Are we happy? How can we be happier? How do we embrace life to its fullest extent? How can we handle the stress and situations of our lives? What makes life worth living? How can we be at peace within ourselves? I found within her words a deep sense of honesty, wisdom and intrigue. Not everyday do you come across a book that makes you rethink your entire life! The author extends her hand to her readers giving us thought provoking processes to work with that can change our life and bring us more happiness, peace and contentment.

  In Chapter 1 Accept What Is the author writes “ Just think how you would feel if you didn’t resist what is, just for a few minutes. “ I had never really pondered upon this before. What if I did not resist what is, and allowed it to be, how would I feel? What if I simply accepted how things were. Barbara then writes, “If we could just for a  moment allow things to be exactly the way they are, without fighting them. If you play around with this idea or mind shift, you will discover that it can be quite liberating”. So I played around with it, I found a sort of silence and peace and acceptance that I found interesting, enlightening and refreshing. To an extent it felt like freedom. What a thought to just allow things to be as they are! Another section of chapter one I really loved speaks about the nature of pain. Barbara tells us “ I found that when I think about pain I am mostly resisting the pain, and that when I resist pain it definitely gets worse . “ How true is that! It goes along with the whole vantage point of what we resist often persists. Or when we focus on something in resistance, which is giving our attention to it and amplifying it, generally it does get worse and become bigger. In this section the author explains that pain can often be amplified or lessened in its degree. She writes “ I try to be with the sensation in the present moment and allow it, without going into a panic.When I  am able to do this, I find the nature of the discomfort changes.” I think the concept presented here is a very relevant one, for where we focus our mind and how we feel are huge components to living a happy life.

  In Chapter 2 Want what you Have  Barbara address the meaning of a crisis, the blessings behind one and how to deal with them. I loved this line “ Crisis is an alarm signal, a sign that something you are thinking or doing is preventing you from experiencing the happiness that is your true nature and birthright”. To look at a crisis in this way enables us to see beyond its illusion, and gain knowledge from its occurrence. She really breaks it down for her readers in showcasing how crisis and the mind are related and how attitude plays a pivotal role in not only surviving the crisis but charting a new course. We can learn from crisis and investigate ourselves deeper, gaining a different perspective. I particularly resonated with this line “ Here’s what I’ve discovered – happiness is a mind that is at peace with itself”. To understand the balance between being fully present and the thoughts of the mind, we can free ourselves from being trapped in unhappiness. In Chapter 3 Be Honest with yourself  Barbara speaks indepthly of  “ Becoming your own Best friend”, “Being a people Pleaser” and about “ Being Loving and kind”. This Chapter shows us how to be honest with ourselves and how to communicate with ourselves and with others. The author writes “ And who’s to say if being clear and honest and communicating openly is not the most loving and kind thing we can possibly do in every situation!”  How about that! To be clear and honest and communicate? What would that do for us? Would it help us be more open? More ourselves? Might it help even clarify our intentions? This really makes a person think about how they present themselves and about how honest they are. Can it be done in a loving way? I think it can. So why don’t we do it, out of fear of disagreement? This is addressed thoroughly in the book as well.

   This book delves into the “truth” of things. Examining our own thoughts, and how we can turn our thoughts around to see the truth and bring resolution.  A brilliant statement from Chapter 4- Investigate your stories “ In my experience, there’s only one way to deal with worrying – and that’s to shine the light of truth on the things we are worrying about”.  This chapter helps us understand what worrying is and how to change our thoughts. By telling new stories and understanding what kind of stories we are telling, we gain more control over our own thoughts and feelings. Chapter 5 – Mind your own business gives us ideas about boundaries, and how to “ be at home with yourself” Barbara explains how to be “at home” with yourself or that is- in sync with yourself and not into invading other people’s business. “ Call it being your own best friend. Call it being there for you. Call it minding your own business. Call it peace. But whatever you call it, when you do this, everyone becomes your friend, including you.” Is that not a profound statement? Does it not send a little shiver up your spine?  What if everyone was at peace with themselves and what if we did mind our own business ? How would that feel. The book gives us many brilliant ideas to consider.

One of my favorite parts of the entire book is in Chapter 6- Follow your Passion and Accept the Consequences. It is called “My deathbed Technique” This idea deals with living fully in the present moment, embracing the totality of your opportunities and following your hearts desire. While the name of this technique might sound slightly interesting, it is a remarkable and relevant concept to me. How often do we not say what we feel? Or follow our true passions? Or seize the moments life hands us? Barbara writes about life being a gift and seizing our opportunities. ” I try to envision how I will feel on my deathbed if I do not honor the highest and best in myself at this very moment in time.” When we think back on the moment we are being offered and then think about how we would feel about it on our deathbed, it helps us to follow our hearts desire and gives us conviction to allow life to flow through us. It got me thinking about my own life and how on occasion I restrain myself a bit due to social anxieties and stigmatic fears. I think this is a brilliant way to look at living in the now.

  Another section I truly enjoyed was “Fearing your Emotions” in chapter 8. This line made me really think about my emotions “ So when powerful emotions arise, we are afraid because we think we’ll be swept away and lose control. “ we read here how to be mindful of our emotions and not so much fear them like an ugly monster. I think a lot of times we do run from our emotions and as such we let fear or panic control us and our circumstances. The author clearly explains here many techniques to use to overcome these so called “scary emotions” and how to remain present and “intend” to be mindful, even doing the simplest chores like the dishes.By being mindful we can expeirence more peace and actually “be” in our now. I like that idea lalot, being in our now without clouding it with worry, judgement, or fear. There is a beautiful parable in Chapter 9 – Know what is what called “In the Land with no Mirrors – A Parable “ The mental cages we build that keep us from seeing. Outside the cages is life. Free Life. And Love. Vast and unimaginable. “ I thought that was such a relevant and heart warming statement ,within one of the lines of the parable. So many times we build cages, around ourselves and our emotions but we are naturally free and loving. Just as a bird in a cage, we long to spread our wings and fly and experience and express.

  The author asks us to question, if death is dangerous and if life is dangerous, in the last chapter. She wants us to examine these concepts for what they are. Is there proof death is dangerous? Could we liberate ourselves from fear of life if we did not fear death? A very valid point and one which is intrinsically examined here with preciseness and reasoning. The book ends with a Happy Life worksheet based on each chapter, where key points are presented and you are encouraged to write down and investigate the various parts of your life and examine for yourself things that are working and things that are not. This helps you see struggles more clearly and find the true path to your own unique happiness. “Are You Happy Now?” delivers fully with great depth, insight and invigoration.There is an tremendous amount of knowledge and information presented in this book. The language and concepts fit together with fluidity, efficiency and relevance.This book can not only help enhance your life and open your mind to seeing far beneath the surface – it can change your life as well! Phenomenal  writing Barbara Berger! You have written a book of value, exploration and taken the concept of Happiness and fully helped people to understand what it is and how to be happy! After reading this book you WILL be asking yourself “ Are You Happy Now?”

Amazon link to purchase  “Are You Happy Now?”

Reviewed by : Brad J Tesh. Author. Freelance Writer.



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