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Spontaneous Happiness [Hardcover]

Andrew Weil
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 8 2011
Everyone wants to be happy. But what does that really mean? Increasingly, scientific evidence shows us that true satisfaction and well-being come only from within.

Dr. Andrew Weil has proven that the best way to maintain optimum physical health is to draw on both conventional and alternative medicine. Now, in Spontaneous Happiness, he gives us the foundation for attaining and sustaining optimum emotional health. Rooted in Dr. Weil's pioneering work in integrative medicine, the book suggests a reinterpretation of the notion of happiness, discusses the limitations of the biomedical model in treating depression, and elaborates on the inseparability of body and mind.

Dr. Weil offers an array of scientifically proven strategies from Eastern and Western psychology to counteract low mood and enhance contentment, comfort, resilience, serenity, and emotional balance. Drawn from psychotherapy, mindfulness training, Buddhist psychology, nutritional science, and more, these strategies include body-oriented therapies to support emotional wellness, techniques for managing stress and anxiety and changing mental habits that keep us stuck in negative patterns, and advice on developing a spiritual dimension in our lives. Lastly, Dr. Weil presents an eight-week program that can be customized according to specific needs, with short- and long-term advice on nutrition, exercise, supplements, environment, lifestyle, and much more.

Whether you are struggling with depression or simply want to feel happier, Dr. Weil's revolutionary approach will shift the paradigm of emotional health and help you achieve greater contentment in your life.




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Review

"A comprehensive roadmap for the prized path to true happiness...Weil provides sensible, accessible advice...Immensely beneficial information for those seeking a self-galvanized life lift."—Kirkus Reviews

"Weil's program aims for 'positive emotionality'-a far better destination than the roller-coaster ride between bliss and despair. This is more than a New Age prescription for contentment. Weil's revelations and insights from his own lifelong battle with depression lift this guide from a hip and clinical 'how to' to a generous and heartfelt 'here's how.'"—Publisher's Weekly

"Like all of his books, Spontaneous Happiness is a refreshing combination of clarity, science and practical wisdom. But it's also warm and, indeed, personal: Dr. Weil includes not only anecdotes from people who've written to him over the years, but also his own experience in battling mild depression."—iVillage

About the Author

Andrew Weil, MD, is the founder and program director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. He is the author of many bestselling books, including Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, and others.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful July 14 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is an insightful book and made me look at happiness in a whole different way. I have been putting some of the ideas into practice and I feel more confident that I can deal with ups and downs in a better way in the future.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ultimately dissatisfying Jan. 7 2012
By Poetkitty TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I don't know if it's his style of writing, but I read a book of his a while back but I can't remember the title or the subject. This is pretty forgettable as well. His writing is so uneven - pithy, hit the nail on the head kind of paragraphs (our obsession with being happy and appearing happy) and then he bogs down into rehashed stuff, boring anecdotal evidence and lengthy letters from patients....He talks about how modern, technologically advanced lives lead to depression, how we're not meant to live as we do and a 'getting back to basics' approach is the answer. He talks about the mind/body connection, the importance of diet and exercise, the inefficacy of antidepressants (then wastes page after page describing them)...ho hum. There just isn't enough new here to justify another book. I wonder how much of his writing is just profit driven........and as another reviewer asked why is his stupid 'mug' on all of his books.......You could probably glean enough information or as much information by googling "How to be content". Overall, a disappointment.....
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  150 reviews
104 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even Better Than Anticipated Nov. 21 2011
By Paulina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've always found Dr. Weil to the be the sound of reason and the perfect balance between natural health and science. I happened to see a Dr. Oz show that he was on and he was giving a few natural alternatives to antidepressants. Being someone who has always suffered from some level of melancholia that every so often leads to a deeper level of depression and anxiety, I listened closely. I decided to try the Holy Basil he recommended because it sounded like something safe I could try with no side effects. Keep in mind I had been mildly to moderately depressed for the last year with bouts of anxiety. I took it for the first day and felt nothing. The second day I started excitedly planning for the future and walked around especially happy. Later on in the day, I wondered why I was suddenly in such a great mood and feeling so motivated and optimistic and remembered the Holy Basil! Anyway, it worked so well it really sparked my interest and so I ordered the book. Everything is so relevant to not only me and my life with all it's stresses and anxiety but to everyone in this day of information overload. I found this book to be life altering. It's extremely well written and interesting to read and doesn't just address problems, it tells you what to do about them. I urge everyone to read this book, not just those who are depressed. It's about well-being and about reducing stress because stress leads to all sorts of problems... mentally and physically and this is something we can all benefit from.
165 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the Psychobabble of TV Guru's, Dr. Weil is the real expert! Nov. 8 2011
By SCOTT FREILE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am a Psychologist and Pharmacognosist (ethnobotanist), in large part because of being inspired by Dr.W's first books, "The Natural Mind" and his book about the miracle like qualities of mushrooms, and his classic book "From Chocolate to Morphine". His ability to speak to the reader in a conversational way while explaining complex subjects backed by a broad and firm base of scientific research is unique among scientists. He makes the reader comfortable with the concepts, the science, and the practical approach to overcoming depression and anxiety without talking down to the reader. Dr.W. is entertaining and has the nack of making you feel like you are listening to an old friend. Having heard him give a talk in the mid 1970's and reading everything he wrote, I know how truly exceptional he is as a scientist and physician, but he is remarkable in his ability to bring together the biology, psychology, and spiritual nature without resorting to quick fixes and aphorisms based on pseudo-science and secret knowledge. Dr.W' has done the work and spent a lifetime researching the mind-body-spirit relationship and how it applies to health and healing of people around the world. The reader who has followed his work from the beginning will find a continuity in this new book and will be familiar with many of the concepts from his earlier books. I always find his newest book to be based on his earlier work but still able to fascinate and inform me on his newest topic. This book did not disappoint, it goes on my shelf as my latest text book and further it is a book I will recommend to all of my colleagues and patients who are struggling with life. I plan to send several of my friends who fight depression and anxiety this book for Christmas. This is not just another feel good book based on pop psychology nor is it an esoteric treatise on spiritual practices that take years of practice. This is a great book for a fan of the good Doctor and a truly fantastic book for anyone who needs real practical help finding contentment in this world without joining a cult or taking another antidepressant. If I only recommended one book this would be it! Dr.Scott Freile (retired) SCOTTYDOGBOOKS.COM (AMAZON.COM SELLER)
91 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Plentiful Harvest Nov. 9 2011
By Kathleen Welton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I came across this timely quote in Dr. Weil's latest book:

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.

--William Blake

Like many of his followers, I have read his other books and refer to them often. This new book shares a wealth of research on how many little things over time contribute to inner contentment--from gratitude, forgiveness, and laughter to meditation, nutrition, and spirituality.

My favorite part of the book is the section: "An 8-Week Program for Optimum Emotional Well-Being." In adddition to offering practical and easy-to-follow suggestions, if you start on this program now, most New Year's resolutions will not even be necessary! Thanks to Dr. Weil for his diligent work over the years to provide us with this plentiful harvest.
48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spontaneous Happiness Nov. 13 2011
By Big Red - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I first learned about this book on the Dr. Oz show. I have been trying to cope with depresion for the last 8 years. Seeing up to eight different doctors all with pieces of the puzzle. Dr. Weil took 8 years of work and completed the puzzle in the first 20 minutes of the show. I now have hope and a clear path to a better life. I would like to thank Dr. OZ for putting me in touch with such a life changing Book and thanks to Dr. Weil for sharing his life experience with me.
228 of 282 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars End Poverty; End Stigma Dec 30 2011
By Allan Stellar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I always enjoy Dr. Weil. I've heard him speak and have had some contact with the Integrative Program that seems to be his legacy. All of this is real, compassionate and makes sense. I also am a Registered Nurse and have been working in the Mental Health field for twenty years.

I found his chapter on the prevalence (and causes of) depression within our society interesting. I especially resonate with his descriptions of the lack of connection to good old fashioned "hard work" and being outside. Bravo! His discussion of alternatives is good. Especially his advocacy of the use of Fish Oil, Vitamin D and the B vitamins. Common sense!

There are a few things that bother me about Dr. Weil. I write these things as a fan of the man. A person who respects him and the work he does.

1. I'm not too enamored with the cult of personality surrounding the guy. Yes, I know that branding helps sell books. But does he really have to display his cherubic, monster bearded face on every book he writes? And must he really have a corporation attached to his name and his ideology?

2. Footnotes please! Yes, he states you can go on-line to get more information. And there is a short end note section. The bibliography is quite deficient for further reading. The book is written for a lay laudience, but that doesn't mean that we can't have a bit more intellectual rigor attached to his claims.

3. Culturally, this book comes from the White, Enviro, Suburban, BMW driving class. The book is written from, and for, the upper ends of the socio-economic ladder. Poverty is the number one predictor and cause of mental illness. There is no discussion of that in this book, with the exception to maybe glorify the hard life we used to have when we all farmed.

4. He relies too much on anecdotal evidence. I found all the letters to him tireseome. And it seemed like these letters were written from the same sorts of people that I talked about in my critique above.

5. Where are the nurses? Dr. Weil doesn't mention one nurse as an expert through out his entire book. The fact is that nursing has been way ahead of even Dr. Weil in their advocacy of the reforms he mentions. In fact, nurses have been quicker to adopt such reforms than the AMA. The Holistic Nurses Association has been around for 35 years. Nurses have re-invented the therapeutic touch movement---with no mention of that from Dr. Weil. Dr. Weil quotes pharmacists, MD's, LCSW's, psychologists, psychiatrists---but never does he mention a nurse who is an expert. He does cite one nurse who had retired to Sweden. This letter was written not as an expert, but as a client. In short, there is a hierarchical chauvinism present in Dr. Weil's writing that discounts the talents and skills of nurses. This is a systemic problem within the health care establishment. My rule of thumb is, if you really want to know what is going on with your patient, ask an experienced nurse who is taking care of the client. You'll get better and more useful information.

6. Dr. Weil's view of anti-depressants is contradictory. He cites a study that states that SSRI's are junk; later in the book he cites evidence that people should not go off of anti-depressants. He seems to think that anti-depressants should only be used for severe depression. My view is that anti-depressants are helpful, but should be used in tandem with all the things he talks about---and even more.

But my number one critique would be that he never mentions that poverty is the number one predictor and cause of mental illness.

In short, this book is a good first attempt at reforming our mental health system. Ending poverty would do more to reduce severe mental illness in our society. Also ending the stigma of mental illness to the point where it has less unappealing stereotypes to it. If Schizophrenia was seen the same way that Grave's Disease is, then we would have made progress.Ending poverty; ending stigma: accomplish those items and then we could go along with these more natural reforms that are intended for a more narrow, less severe dysthymic disorders.
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