What Happy People Know

What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better
by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth
Pub. Date: January 2004, Rodale
ISBN: 0312321597
Review Written: 3/7/07

Success Rating :5

Why I Read this Book:
Happiness is the key component to success. This shows why some people seem to know and do what it takes to be happy and others unfortunately do not. These words allow us to realize that happiness is possible for anyone.


It is a funny thing to think about, what happy people know.  Happiness has got to be the number one key ingredient to success. In fact by many measures happiness is success. Yet in the end happiness comes down to knowing the things that make for a happy life, all of which can be learned.  The power of a positive state in your mind and the way you live your life is the most fundamental component to being happy. Happiness is not a situation you find yourself in.  It is not a circumstance.  Happiness is something that you have the choice to live with or without.

The above is certainly something happy people know and throughout the book Baker and Stauth show us the many other things that must be known in order to live a happy life.  There are so many important components of the mind and one’s thoughts that go into creating a happy life and state of being.  Many of these things are common sense as is the case with so many significant components of life.  And there are also some that are quite profound and are concepts that did not come to me until reading them in this book.

What is so powerful is that the reader quickly realizes that it is not some outside factor that is affecting his or her happiness. It is internal thoughts, feelings and emotions.  The authors specifically discuss twelve qualities of happiness upon which much of the book is based.  A few of these include optimism, courage and self security.  Learning about these and the rest of the twelve qualities is reason enough to read this book.  Optimism for example is such a commonly know concept.  How often have you heard the whole“glass is half empty or half full” saying?  It may sound cliché at this point, but we all have to realize how true and powerful this concept is.

And how about money? How does that tie into happiness?  So many of us think we know the answer to this (especially those of us who don’t have much).  A mistake every one of us makes at some point in our lives is that money will help us find happiness.  The key here is realizing as early as possible how untrue this is.  The authors are sure to hammer this home on a number of occasions with powerfulexamples. This is something that is very important to me especially given the nature of this site and its purpose.  Success is often associated with money.  A big goal of this site is proving that it is not money that leads to success.  If nothing else it is the opposite.  That is why books like this are so important to me. Please do not make this common mistake in your journey towards success.

There were a few more things that happy people know that stood out for me.  One is that happiness is hard work.  Nothing rewarding comes without hard work.  Happiness is no different.  The twelve qualities of happiness require maintenance and work to ensure they are positive contributors to your life.  And remember one of the biggest obstacles that keep happiness out of our lives is fear.  It is up to us to take this fear and turn it into courage to create a greater level of happiness in our lives.  It helps to understand that we all need to experience adversity, unhappiness and failure sometime in our lives or we will never really be able to appreciate the success we have yet a head of us.

Finally there is love.  No work on happiness would be complete without giving love its proper credit.  Baker and Stauth really give the reader something to think about.  When love is new and young we feel that it is the act of being loved that brings the greatest happiness, but it is not until we have reached a certain level of love that we realize it is actually the act of loving that brings the most happiness.  It is the thought that you could not give a single ounce more of emotion and love to your friend, significant other or family member.  That is what really breeds happiness.

I had the pleasure of receiving this book as a gift from my sister while discovering the world in Seville, Spain.  I can’t think of a better setting to allow the mind to fully absorb such powerful thoughts.  I have since passed this on to the rest of my family and my loving girlfriend.  Usually I write reviews soon after completing a book but I have let some time pass with this one.  Writing this brings some important ideas up to the front of my mind again.  This is a book that should be read at least every couple years given the timelessness of its words.  I think I am going to have to give this another read.  Perhaps you’ll join me.

So many people feel that happiness is something that will come once you get something or reach some point in your life.  The key is realizing that you never actually get there.  The only happiness available is the happiness in the very second you are living right now.  If you live for happiness in the future, that is where it will always stay.  

Nothing in your life has to change except you in order to be happy.

Valuable Quotes:

“Most successful people don’t get ahead because of worry.  They do it with brains and vision.”

“I have found that every hurtful event holds lessons, and that the more it hurts, the more you learn.”

“Choice is available to anyone who has the courage to exercise it.”

“Being happy means turning a deaf ear to fear, even when it’s screaming for attention.  It means being your true self, even when it hurts.  It means going after what you really want, even when you don’t think you’ ll get it.”

“Nobody’s happy forever—Not in the real world.  That’s something happy people know.”

“We don’t describe the world we see—we see the world we describe…the stories we tell ourselves about our own lives eventually become our lives.”

“Leisure is one of those luxuries that’s best in small portions.  When it’s all there is to life, it’s as boring as being locked in jail.”

“Loving your job is the ultimate freedom.  It means, in effect, that you never have to work—you just play hard and collect your check.  You can’t beat that for leisure.”

“Happiness depends to a significant degree upon expectations. If you inflate your expectations, you’re begging to be unhappy.”

“Happy people get their status from within.  Their status symbols are things like a happy family, good friends, and pride in their work.”

“Pleasure is a good thing.  But it is the dessert of life, not the meal.”

“No matter what happens in life, there’s always something left to love”

“Remember that failure occurs only when you quit.”

“Satisfaction without effort doesn’t create happiness.”

-Reading for Your Success