Check It Out: Readers, come on, get happy

Happiness — it's a quality we are all looking to find and keep. Although no one is happy all the time, some people appear to feel more fulfilled than others. Being happy with yourself isn't so much about pursuing it, but finding things that you can do to help you recognize your happiness.

Gretchen Rubin, author of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun," described in her 2009 book how she spent a year reaching for measurable goals in different areas of her life, such as work and parenting, to achieve greater happiness.

She outlined her steps--organizing herself, exercising more, going to bed earlier--to help her get there, and the book went on to spend more than two years on bestseller lists. A follow-up title, "Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life," again contemplated the nature of happiness along with simple ways to implement changes to make a house truly a home.

UC Riverside professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky has written "The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, But Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, But Does" as a follow-up to a previous book on the same subject. In it, the author explains how our assumptions about what will and will not bring us happiness are often wrong. She goes on to explain how "nearly all of us buy into what I call the myths of happiness — beliefs that certain adult achievements (marriage, kids, jobs, wealth) will make us forever happy and that certain adult failures or adversities (health problems, not having a life partner, having little money) will make us forever unhappy."

Covering 10 adult crisis points such as work and money, the author goes on to point out that these can be used as opportunities for renewal, growth and change: "How we respond to crisis moments … may have cascading effects across our lives. In these moments, we choose the future."

In "The Happiness Makeover: How to Teach Yourself to Be Happy and Enjoy Every Day," M.J. Ryan talks about all the things we believe will make us happy — love, money, success. But what happens when those are achieved and we still don't feel happy? In her book, the author explains how she herself learned to find happiness and how people can feel joy in their lives. Writing in short chapters, the author concludes with 22 concrete "instant happiness boosters" so people can learn how to create happiness in their lives.

In Brett Blumenthal's "52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You," the author presents a novel idea for making small changes. Each week, he invites you to take one facet of your life and make a change. This could involve diet or exercise, stress management or nutrition. By doing so, he offers a way to plan and a blueprint to succeed.

Andrew Weil, renowned author and wellness expert, has written a book titled "Spontaneous Happiness: A New Path to Emotional Well-Being." In it, he suggests a foundation for obtaining and sustaining emotional health. The author aims to guide readers to peak emotional wellness. Dr. Weil's prescription for spontaneous happiness includes lifestyle, behavioral and dietary changes that draw from a vast array of ancient and modern therapies including Ayurveda, acupuncture, herbal medicine, psychotherapy, exercise therapy, mindfulness training and much more.

Finding happiness is a lofty goal. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Find these titles and many more at the Newport Beach Public Library on your reading road to happiness.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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