by John Hawkins | April 14, 2008 8:00 am
I recently finished reading Marcy Shimoff’s Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out. Although it got a little too “New Agey” near the end, overall, it was a very good book.
Here are the best quotes from the book,
“Researchers have found that no matter what happens to you in life, you tend to return to a fixed range of happiness. Like your weight set-point, which keeps the scale hovering around the same number, your happiness set-point will remain the same unless you make a concerted effort to change it.” — P.17
“One begins identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness. That is the way.” — The Dalai Lama, P.30
“Most of us fall prey to what I call the Myth of More: the more you have, the better you’ll feel. Our society’s collective trance of wanting more and more stuff, or ‘bright, shiny objects,’ as my friend Stewart calls them, is based on a shared, insidious, and often unconscious belief: more toys, success, and money mean more happiness. But as these statistics show, it just isn’t true:
* Americans’ personal income has increased more than two and a half times over the past fifty years, but their happiness level has remained the same.
* Nearly 40 percent of the people on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans are less happy than the average American.
* Once personal wealth exceeds $12,000 a year, more money produces virtually no increase in happiness.” — P.31
“Einstein once said that the most important question a person can ask himself is ‘Is this a friendly universe.’ The (Happiest people) answer this question with a resounding ‘Yes!’ Rather than thinking the universe is out to get them, they believe the universe is out to support them.
What’s striking is that they don’t believe the universe is benevolent only when good things happen to them — they take this approach all the time. When something bad occurs, they don’t moan and groan, ‘Why me? It’s not fair.’ They see all events in their lives through the lens of ‘Ultimately, this is happening for my good. There are no mistakes. Let me look for the blessing in this.’ This belief in a friendly universe is the root of their relaxed and trusting attitude in life.” — P.40
“The sad truth is that as long as you say, ‘It’s my mother’s fault, my husband’s fault, the government’s fault, my sixth-grade piano teacher’s fault…’ you won’t be happy.” — P.64
“One of my friends often reminds me that ‘rejection is God’s protection.’ Though I’m not always able to recognize this as it’s happening, when I look at my disappointments of the years past, I can see how so many of the things I set my heart on wouldn’t have made me happy anyway…and often the things I thought were bad ended up being the greatest blessings of my life.” — P.68
“The (happiest people) recognize that it isn’t useful to label events as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the first place. Instead, they choose to trust that everything contains a gift or a lesson, though they may not always be able to see it at the moment.” — P.69
“According to scientists, we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. That’s one thought per second during every waking hour. No wonder we’re so tired at the end of the day!
And what’s even more startling is that of those 60,000 thoughts, 95% are the same thoughts you had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. Your mind is like a record player playing the same record over and over again….
Still, that wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the next statistic: for the average person, 80% of these habitual thoughts are negative. That means that every day most people have more than 45,000 negative thoughts…” — P.83
“Thoughts are just packets of energy formed by neurochemical events in your brain, which can be measured in terms of electrical impulses and wave frequencies. Your thoughts don’t always give you an accurate picture of reality, yet your mind goes on broadcasting them anyway. When you shine a light on your negative thoughts — and see that you don’t have to believe them — it takes away much of their power to create misery.” — P.85
“As the psychologist and brain researcher Dr. Rick Hanson explained to me during our interview, our brains ‘Velcro for negativity and Teflon for positivity.’ Our negative experiences stick to us like Velcro, while our positive experiences slide right off us like Teflon. In fact, researchers have found it takes numerous positive experiences to overcome a single negative one.” — P.86
“From my interviews with (Happy people), I’ve found that they don’t believe everything they think, They:
* Are more skeptical of their negative thoughts. They question the alarms and override them when necessary.
* Don’t fight with their negative thoughts. They know that these are often just by-products of their negativity bias and that they can go beyond the mind and let them go.
* Register their positive thoughts more deeply and savor their positive experiences.” — P.90
“The real enemy of happiness is the mind’s fixations and delusions. Look at the situation differently, see the truth and the suffering is less. If you have the right mind, you can overcome anything — you can be happy, no matter what.” — Dalai Lama, P.91
“We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens.” — Epictetus, P.95
“All suffering comes from believing our thoughts.” — P.96
“For years, a nasty voice in me was always saying, You’re just not good enough. If a friend had talked to me in that horrible voice, I’d have certainly stopped being her friend.” — Mariel Hemmingway, P.101
One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between the two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all. One is unhappiness. It is fear, worry, anger, jealousy, self-pity, resentment, and inferiority. The other is Happiness. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, kindness, generosity, truth, and compassion.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.'” — P.107
“Most people think that feeling hatred, anger, and resentment toward the person who wronged them is a way to punish them — but it’s exactly the opposite! Holding onto those emotions is like taking poison and expecting it to hurt the other person. It’s you who’s hurt.” — P.133
“Using a cane, I hobbled up the walk to the house where the lama lived. I told him my tale of woe, fully expecting him to turn his compassionate gaze on me and offer his sympathy. Instead, he told me, brusquely, though not unkindly, ‘Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and start focusing on the happiness of others.’ — CJ Scarlett, P.142
“I was blown away when I read a December 2004 study in the journal Science reporting that the quality of our sleep has a greater influence on our ability to enjoy our day than household income or marital status. Who knew that snoozing trumps salaries and spouses?” — P.174
“Grace, Bill explains, ‘is just a fancy word for the infinite, unconditional, all-responsive love of God flowing through our lives.’ He uses the analogy of the unconditional love a mother feels for a newborn child. ‘The mother sees no flaws in the child, only utter perfection and utter deservingness; in her love, she wants nothing more than to give and give and give. Now move that example up to the infinite level. (God) sees the perfection, the worthiness, the absolute wonder of who we are — and in that love, wants nothing more than just to give gifts, to give blessings, to give solutions.'” — P.212-213
“Happy people feel they are on the planet for some purpose. In my interviews with (happy people), I heard the same thing again and again: they live inspired, moment to moment, by a sense of purpose and meaning.” — P.216
“I’d heard the quote from cosmetic tycoon Mary Kay Ash, ‘Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that reads, Make Me Feel Important,’ and I put that concept into practice.” — P.219-220
“As Albert Schweitzer said, ‘Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.'” — P.220
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” — Albert Schweitzer, P.234
“As a young man of thirty-two, (Buckminster Fuller) had contemplated suicide. Deciding against it at the last moment, he’d said to himself, ‘I may be a throw-away person, but perhaps I can take this throw-away life and devote it to making a difference.'” — P.236
“National Opinion Research Center found that people with five or more close friends (not including family members) are 50 percent more likely to describe themselves as ‘very happy’ than those with fewer strong relationships. Another survey of 800 people showed that those who valued wealth, success, and status over close friends and a loving relationship with a significant other were twice as likely to be ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ unhappy.” –P.244
“The famed Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends a woman has, the less likely she is to develop physical problems as she ages and the better chance she has to lead a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant that the researchers concluded that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to a woman’s health as smoking cigarettes or being overweight.” — P.246
“You become the average of the five people you associate with the most.” — Jim Rohn, P.248
“Psychologist John Gottman did a famous study of marital happiness using what he calls ‘the magic ratio’ to predict whether 700 newly married couples would remain married or get divorced. Dr. Gottman said that couples who had a ratio of five positive interactions for every one negative interaction would stay together. In a follow-up done ten years later, a staggering 94 percent of the couples he had said would divorce were, in fact, no longer married.” — P.255
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