SECRETS OF A SATISFYING LIFE: Discover the Habits of Happy People
David D. Ireland, Ph.D.
Dr. David Ireland --- pastor of a 5,000-member Christ Church in Montclair, New Jersey, radio/television personality and prolific author --- understands how to communicate effectively. Ireland uses common sense truisms to get his points across, and he does so with life-changing punctuations. In his text, SECRETS OF A SATISFYING LIFE, readers might wonder what new could be said on this tried topic, but skeptics be warned: Ireland's book is both substantial in content and refreshingly stimulating in scope. Detailing the "roadmap" to happiness in the opening chapter, the author cites the three goals readers should aim to achieve by studying these principles: 1) Discover the habits of happiness; 2) Learn how to practice the habits of happiness; and 3) Learn to laugh at yourself.
Ireland looks closely at statistical evidence that reveals those lifestyle choices of individuals who consider themselves very happy. Bottom line: the happiest people are those who help others. In the wake of "happy" people, researchers have discovered similar characteristics shared by those who demonstrate consistent satisfaction with their lives. Included is the essential quality of developing a realistic perspective on life. The way in which life is seen and interpreted makes all the difference, so one must continually reevaluate personal perspective to ensure accuracy. While good/bad experiences/events happen to everyone, it is those who learn mastery in achieving a healthy perspective who live most "happily."
Ireland recommends asking the following questions when difficulties arise: 1) Am I responding impulsively? 2) Is this the worst thing that can happen to me? 3) What do I want my future to look like? and 4) How can I establish a strategy for happiness as part of the overall solution? He suggests this rule in response to any difficulty, warning that "bad news cannot be responded to impulsively...and a levelheaded response will help maintain a positive state of mind." Further, Ireland notes that individuals must not make the mistake of equating positive thinking with happiness. Rather, "habits of happy people are deliberate responses that have successfully proven to meet their personal emotional needs."
Ireland makes the telling statement that when one looks for the happy man, one will find him not in search of happiness. Instead, the happy man will be found building, writing, educating, growing; in other words, he will be making conscious choices on a moment-by-moment basis to enrich his life and the lives of those around him.
Ireland also discusses, chapter by chapter, the enduring specific happy habits of satisfied individuals, learning how to be content, understanding the value of a hopeful outlook, realizing one's dreams, the odd pairing of happiness and busyness, developing happy relationships, and underscoring the need for forgiveness and the need for laughter.
With practical wisdom for daily life, Ireland exposes the myths and hindrances to experiencing a rich and happy existence. Likewise, he provides step-by-step disciplines for achieving the "happy" life God intends as showpieces of His glory and goodness to humankind.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
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