10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (Book Review)
“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.” — Ayn Rand
Have you found your happy place? I finished reading Galen Pearl’s 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There).
There are so many books on happiness, but I think this one is going to rise above the noise.
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place is a great weave of quotes, stories, insight, and action. It’s easy to relate to. It’s a smart book, with sound advice. It puts the science of happiness on your side, both in a daily way and for the long haul.
One of the things that surprised me the most about the book is how much insight and action there is per page. A lot of books, especially on happiness, often throw in a bunch of fluff that you need to skip past, if you want to actually get to something useful. This book is a masterful composition of the best principles, patterns, and practices on happiness, that you can read and apply immediately, as well as have on your shelf as a reference for life.
Best of all, if you read 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place, you won’t have an excuse for not knowing the keys to happiness. You’ll know what the keys to happiness actually are. Then all you need to do, is practice what you know.
This is the stuff that people have looked to gurus on top of mountains for, for ages. Now the secrets of happiness are right at your finger tips.
Chapters at a Glance
Here are the chapters at a glance:
- Step 1: Give Yourself Permission to Be Happy
- Step 2: Decide if You Want to Be Right or Happy
- Step 3: Give Up the Delusion of Control
- Step 4: Feel Your Feelings
- Step 5: Make Haste to Be Kind
- Step 6: Judge Not
- Step 7: Practice Compassion
- Step 8: Forgive Everyone
- Step 9: Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
- Step 10: Be Here Now
- The 11th Step: You Can Go Home Again
What’s In It For You
Here is a sampling of some of the challenges that 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place helps you with:
- How to find your happy place.
- How to stay in your happy place.
- How to grow your happiness from the inside out.
- How to defeat limiting beliefs that limit your happiness.
- How to figure out what really makes us happy.
- How to have a happiness mindset.
- How to improve your happiness in simple, daily ways.
- Conversational writing. With all the happiness science in the book, and references, it easily could have been a very technical book. Instead, it’s written as if a friend across the table is sharing stories in a very conversational and informal way.
- Happiness mantras. Throughout the book, there are great one-liner reminders on how to practice your happiness skills.
- Happiness quotes. Galen elegantly placed insightful happiness quotes throughout the book with skill.
- Happiness science. Galen draws from a variety of sources, and shares some of the best wisdom of the ages and modern sages on the art and science of happiness.
- Stories and anecdotes. Galen reveals the art and science of happiness to us, through stories, anecdotes, and vignettes.
Here is a sampling of some of my favorite nuggets from the book …
How to find your happy place
The book was born from a realization. Galen had found her happy place:
“My daughter looked up at me, her brows furrowed with concern, and said softly, ‘Emanuel is looking for his happy place.’ I walked on through the room, trying not to laugh at the thought of this tough guy looking for his happy place. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the phrase. We’ve all been there, looking for our happy
place. Maybe you are there now. As I contemplated Emanuel’s search, I realized, with some sense of relief and gratitude, that I have found my happy place, and that I live in it most of the time.”
Risk Everything to Blossom
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place is rich with powerful mantras. A very sticky one for me is “Risk everything to blossom.” Galen writes:
“In case I missed the point, or was tempted to ignore it, I ended up in the hospital again ten days later, a horribly real déjà vu—life was urgently screaming at me that my choice to remain tight in a bud was going to become excruciatingly more painful than would making fundamental changes in my life. Lying in the emergency room a second time, I vowed to risk everything to blossom.”
Our Happiness is Rooted in Our Habitual Thoughts, Words, and Actions
When you know what happiness is rooted in, you can change it. Galen writes:
“Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky has found that besides our basic genetic temperament, which establishes our happiness baseline, most of our happiness is grounded in our habitual thoughts, words, and actions.”
Happiness is an Inside Job
Galen reminds us of simple truths about happiness in an elegant way:
“So happiness is, as they say, an inside job. Happiness is not a destination, not something to be pursued. It is the way we live. There is much wisdom out there to guide us, to inspire us, to encourage us. But, like horses being led to water, we can be led to joy but not made.”
Starter Habits: Belly Breathing and Smiling
Galen makes happiness very approachable, very pragmatic, and very down to Earth, by starting with some simple, physical things we can do. Galen writes:
“I like to think of belly breathing as a starter habit, along with smiling. While belly breathing is telling our brains that we are safe, smiling tells our brains that we are happy. Even a fake smile, through muscle messaging, tells our brains that our glass is half full. Our brain responds with those good feeling chemicals and before we know it, our glass is even more than half full. Smiling also triggers a similar response in others, so we’re spreading cheer like Johnny Appleseed.”
The Most Pervasive Shadow Belief
Galen brilliantly reveals to us how our beliefs get in the way of our happiness:
“At the root of my fear, anxiety, and heavy sense of responsibility was a belief that I was not safe — in fact, that the world was not safe. I’ve learned that this is a common shadow belief. Here are some
other common ones:
I’m not good enough.
I don’t deserve love, happiness, success, etc.
I’m a bad person.
I can’t get over my past.
People won’t like or respect the real me.
I can’t trust my own intuition or judgment.
Good guys finish last.
I am powerless.
All of these support the most pervasive shadow belief: It’s not okay to be happy.”
Grow a Joyful Spirit
Galen says one of the most helpful things we can do in our lifetime is to grow a joyful spirit:
“I would go so far as to say that being happy is one of the most unselfish and socially responsible things we can do in our lives. An interviewer once asked author and counterculture icon Ken Kesey what he was doing in his later years to make the world a better place.
He looked out from his front porch and said, ‘Well, this year I’m growing asparagus.’ I’m not famous and no interviewer will ever ask me that question, but if one ever did, I have my answer ready: ‘This year I’m growing a joyful spirit.’”
Bloom Where You’re Planted
Another of my favorite happiness mantras in the book is “bloom where you’re planted.” Galen writes:
“Another important lesson. We can’t always control the circumstances we find ourselves in. But if we can let go of expectations and use the resources at hand, we can bloom where we’re planted. And if we can bloom where we’re planted, then wherever we’re planted will become our happy place.”
Get the Book
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place, by Galen Pearl is available on Amazon:
- 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), by Galen Pearl
Note — All proceeds from the sale of this book and associated speaking engagements will be donated to Edwards Center, a nonprofit organization providing residential and vocational services to adults with developmental disabilities (www.edwardscenter.org).