HAPPINESS NOW! is a terrific book for anyone who wants to be happy and improve their outlook on life.
Robert Holden writes at the beginning of the book that anyone can be happy right now...you just have to choose it. Well, that's easier said than done and Holden goes on to explain why people have such a difficult time choosing to be happy. According to Holden, we all have two options in life--either we choose to be happy or we choose to be sad--and most people's choice is sadness, because they don't believe that being happy is a choice. He writes that a lot of our suffering is self-inflicted because we're always thinking that we'll be happy "as soon as...." we get the job, the lover, the money, the car, the house etc., but once we get whatever we think will make us happy, we discover that it doesn't. And that's because happiness doesn't come from things or outside sources, it must come from within. He also compares the way we think as adults versus the way we used to think as children. Holden writes that children, no matter what they are going through, will choose happiness all the time. They focus on the now and not yesterday or tomorrow, and kids will find pleasure in the most mundane things. I wish this section was larger, but he made the point.
Holden also says that another reason we have difficulty choosing to be happy is because of our ego, which constantly tells us that we aren't good enough and that happiness must be earned; and this creates self acceptance issues, which then creates the base for depression, anxiety, addiction and other emotional problems, that begin growing until they become out of control.
He illustrates these points using quotes, folklore, stories from the Bible-Christianity-Catholicism-Zen-Buddha, philosophy/psychology and experience from his own life and the people he's helped (Holden studied Psychology and started "the happiness project" support group).
When I first received the HAPPINESS NOW! book and looked at the cover, I thought to myself,"Oh no, not another stale and boring self-help book!" But once I began reading it, the book was fun, interesting, and easy to understand. Although the book has several references that are found in the bible and other religious texts, it doesn't come off as preachy or judgmental. Holden just takes the positive stories from the different religions around the world and uses them to illustrate the points he's trying to make.
And the book is annotated with a "notes" section in the back--divided by chapters--for those readers who'd like more information/context on the sources he uses.
All in all a great book: simple to understand and yet, not overly simplified to put into action.