The Power of Happiness: A Book Review

With advice on happiness from Aristotle to Drew Barrymore, Thich Nhat Hanh to Jimmy Hendrix, Gretchen Rubin to Abraham Lincoln, the author of The Power of Happiness has you covered.

Timothy McKinney published The Power of Happiness this past July, and I can only imagine the amount of research he put into this compilation that explores multiple elements of happiness, and our unending pursuit to find it.  Check out the amazon synopsis:

In his new book, The Power of Happiness, Timothy McKinney shows readers how to be happy from the inside out. Happiness is about more than just a positive attitude or a good mood. Happiness comes from a deep sense of well-being that allows a person to be happy regardless of external circumstances. The Power of Happiness gives deep insights into what happiness is and how to reduce worry, stress, and frustration. By learning how to have different responses and reactions to the situations faced every day, readers are able to be happier with the life they have now!

By the end of this book, readers will have discovered:

• What happiness really is
• How you can know if you’re happy (hint: it’s not a feeling)
• What the benefits are to being happy
• What the individual differences of happiness are
• What foods you should eat to be happier
• Whether or not money can make you happy (the answer might surprise you)
• Ten myths about happiness
• How to develop your OWN happiness

After exploring what happiness is, McKinney goes on to discuss how to overcome unhappiness. Readers with a negative attitude will learn what to do to turn their thoughts around. The last part of the book contains ten “hows” of happiness—ten keys to creating a happier life. Readers who want to learn how to be happy no matter what circumstances they face are sure to love The Power of Happiness.

Many of you know that I started blogging and writing again after reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project a few years ago.  I have a love/hate relationship with Rubin’s book because while I valued her advice and story, it all seemed so easy, too easy.  Where McKinney’s book differs is that it has the same research and study involved of how we can identify and test happiness, but the second half of the book (my favorite) is actual practices for the “HOW” of happiness.  There are pages and pages of scenarios, list making, and activities to challenge the way you think and react to situations.  It allows an ongoing learning process for its readers.

So all of you are probably scrolling through my post right now searching frantically for the quick tips to happiness that I gleaned from McKinney’s work.  Well, there’s too many to name!  All the expected tips such as diet, exercise, sleep, work engagement, love, service, safety, money all make an appearance.  But much of the research about how these factors affect you may surprise you.

One of the big takeaways I read is that happiness requires relationships.  I don’t mean couple specific, I mean people in general.  Relationships are an integral part of our self esteem, our affirmations of work and talents, and our ability to give.  Service to others and kind word exchanges with others are crucial to how happy we feel.  And this can come in many forms:  surprising your neighbor with fresh baked cookies, volunteering at a food pantry, telling a coworker you appreciate them, being a cheerleader on Twitter for your tweeps, hugging your spouse/parent/child, etc.  All of those can be affirmations to our spirit, our ability to quantify happiness.

Attention Writers:

You know what was the most interesting to me, both as a writer and as someone who is disgustingly self aware (this is both a positive and negative trait because it means I’m my own worst enemy)?  McKinney studies happiness, but he also has a chapter that dives into feelings behind unhappiness.  The exercises in this book could be used as awesome tools for character sketches.  It makes you think about how people act, or could react, to situations.  What skills in their being help them cope, what is their natural disposition, what words identify them and what words do they wish identified them?

Besides helping you create characters, this book could be read over time and used for further journaling activities.  It’s very well laid out, and all the exercises are helpful; you could really delve into the philosophy behind each of the chapter’s steps.  Plus, every chapter starts with a quote on happiness by a plethora of famous individuals and sometimes an inspiring quote is all you need to be inspired.

Overall, I highly recommend McKinney’s book.  The second half full of exercises is well worth the read.  I don’t think the author writes with band-aid fix-its to finding happiness.  He gives you the research behind it and then provides multiple tools to try, with scenarios as examples and exercises to practice.  It’s one of those books a reader can return to a year later and still find something new, something more that they can learn about themselves.  Actually, I think that’d be really interesting since one of the chapters graphs the spikes in happiness over generations and ages.  Wouldn’t it be a fascinating thing to watch and track how your happiness gage changes from decade to decade?

Don’t you want to read this book now?  Well, you can!  Timothy McKinney has graciously offered to giveaway 3 e-book copies!  Share a comment below and let us know what your thoughts are about our ongoing pursuit for happiness.  How has your perception of how happy you are changed over time?  All those who comment will be entered to win one of the copies of The Power of Happiness.

Comments must be made by Sunday, September 16th at 5pm.

And tune in again on Friday when Timothy joins me to answer the age old question:  Can money buy you happiness?

Timothy McKinney lives in Redondo Beach, California with his wife Cindy and their two children, Heather and Robbie. He went to the University of Southern California, where he received degrees in Business and Psychology. Since 1997, Tim has been a corporate trainer who conducts workshops on subjects related to happiness and workplace effectiveness. He is a passionate vegetarian who enjoys SCUBA Diving in the Kelp Forests of Catalina Island.

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19 responses

  1. Happiness is a wonderful thing, but it is conditional on things like diet, relationships and such. I think the most valuable thing my faith has brought to my life (beyond the someday salvation) is the everyday joy. Even when I’m having a not-so-happy day, I have joy.

    1. That’s a great faith system, Jane. I keep a gratitude journal so that I too, even on bad days, can find things or people or moments that bring me happiness. Or joy.

  2. Jess! I totally want this book! Happiness is something I have been struggling with lately as I feel like… ugh…since my son’s fabulously fabulous bar mitzvah in June, I’ve been waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. Well, it did — and I’m struggling. I’m not teaching this semester because of some personal issues which would have forced me to miss too much work. And then my car died. And then my computer crashed, taking with it 20 years of writing and photographs — and my novel, which was 400 pages and just about to be sent to beta readers. I had always intended to back-up these things, but I never did. So I’m kind of grieving. And I want to get back on track. Need to get back on track. But I can’t seem to really get there again, and it is impacting everything. I’d love a copy of this book, but if I don’t win it, I’ll have to download it. It sounds like it got you thinking! 😉

    1. Oh Renee, my heart aches for you. I know things have been pouring lately and to lose your book after so many pages is sickening. I would be grieving too. Don’t give up! I know your character wouldn’t allow you to quit. You helped me once when I had a meltdown, so please know I’m here to return the favor. Gene Lempp always reminds me, “You might not be moving as fast as all the others, but you’re still moving forward.” Say that to yourself each day. Are you still finding joy in each day? Are you still learning something new each day – about your work, your family, yourself? There is opportunity every day and all we need to do is rise to meet it. I know that you can.

      *Big bear hug* I’m thinking of you!

    2. Oh, Renee! I’m so sorry to hear this! I lost my much smaller MS a few months ago and I have an idea what you’re feeling. I screamed and carried on for a day–it helped a little, but i realized it can be rewritten, or I can write something else. I didn’t lose a child, I lost a MS. It’s heartbreaking and you need time to grieve (I still am). But do keep moving forward in some way…maybe just jotting notes for the rewrite or ideas for a new book. Just don’t let it go completely. It’s hard to believe right now, but that’s all just “STUFF”. Stuff you can replace or afford to let go of. Hang on to your talent, your strength and your perseverance. Life/God/Fate hands you barrels of crap sometimes all at once, but you will push through it and come out better, happier and with a new novel. Believe it! You have friends to lean on, so do that when you need to. Connections help, venting helps, chocolate helps. 🙂 Wishing you the best recovery!

  3. Jess,
    I love that you’re self-aware and attuned to happiness lived out in daily life. It’s a hard thing to do. Also, your quote struck me: “happiness requires relationships”. Agreed. Thank you for this post — it boosts all of our happiness!
    (PS. Since I live overseas, please exclude me from the giveaway.) Thanks!

    1. Thanks for commenting Jennifer! I’m a sucker for self improvement stuff because I always find it interesting to get more perspective on ourselves and how we view the world. Sounds silly – get to know yourself better? But I think we constantly evolve and what McKinney’s book made me think about is the paradigms between what we want and what we need, what we can control and can’t control. Fascinating right?

      Glad to bring a smile to you today!

  4. Sounds like a fantastic read, Jess. I haven’t read McKinney’s book, but I’ve enjoyed other books on the topic. Always fascinating. Ever since reading about the happiness “blue zones” I’ve had a city crush on San Luis Obispo, CA–one of the happiest spots in the world.

    1. Interesting. A city crush you say? Love it. My city crush is Portland, OR. I don’t know if it’s one of the happiest places, but it had the best food! And bookstores. 😀

  5. I love the sound of this book, Jess. Any author who goes to the trouble to do the research and offer practicals tools to make the concept work is worth reading! I think I know what he means when he says, “happiness isn’t a feeling”. I operate from “happy”. That’s my natural state. I get it from my Mom. That’s not to say happy people don’t have bad days or bad weeks, but inside, no matter how awful your day is, you can still say you’re happy. I think I have to have this book! I’ve always been self-aware and a self-help book lover, too!
    I hope Renee wins a copy of the book!

    1. Yah read his other amazon reviews, people are really appreciating the way he set the book up. He has a lot of great chapters so if you start to think yah yah I’ve read this before, he gives you something more.

      You would love all the practice sections! Here’s rootin’ for ya!

  6. Oh, I’m a thousand times happier than I was just a couple of years ago. I agree that this had to do with a relationship, but not exactly how you think: I had to develop a relationship with myself first, and learn to be happy on my own, before the doors to true happiness opened for me. Sounds all hippie-dippy, I’m sure, but it’s true!

    1. You sound hippy-dippy? NEVER! Lol.

      Truth. I totally get what you’re saying and I agree. It’s why we have sayings like “put your oxygen mask on before helping others” and “we must set free the ones we love, only then may they fly back to us.” They mean different things, yes, but it’s still that situation where we need to be strong in ourselves before we can help/connect with others. True words.

  7. I think for me it’s about figuring out my priorities and then making them a priority. That and maintaining a positive outlook. 🙂

    1. For sure! Several of the exercises help you figure out your goals. But I like it because there’s so many, it opens your eyes to view if you’ve made the goal too small or too big – so you can revise it and make it achievable and real.

      Thanks for visiting Coleen! I love your positive outlook! (You know like dyeing your hair blue to be happy…) 😉

  8. […] Timothy McKinney’s The Power of Happiness.  You can still enter to win by leaving a comment here before Sunday, September 16th at 5pm. […]

  9. While I’m not specifically saying that I need this book… I need this book. I’ve been struggling with depression for years, and I’ve been on medication for the last seven months that has helped, but… there’s still something missing that I can’t put my finger on. It’s affecting my job, and intermittently affecting everything else in my life as well.

    I just received a 90-day performance improvement plan at my job yesterday, implying that if things don’t drastically change, I’ll get fired exactly 13 days before Christmas. I’m not looking for a pity party, really. On the contrary, it’s pushing me even harder than normal to succeed. I just hope that something in this book might spur me on toward making the turn.

    Thanks so much, as always, for your wonderful posts. Sorry it took me so long to get to this one… I’m three days behind in reading at the moment. I appreciate the hard work you put into each one. Have a great week!

    1. Hey Mike, I’m so sorry to hear about the difficulties you’re facing at work. As a manager who’s been on the opposite end delivering those I can tell it’s not always a bad thing. All depends on how you look at it: With focus and some new changes it could be the push you needed to prove to yourself just exactly what you’re capable of! I hope you have a supportive supervisor helping you along or another peer to give you honest feedback. I’m rooting for you!

      Sharing advice from the book – make a list of words that describe you, then a list of words you wish described you. What goals can you set for yourself that will help you get there. For example I know I let things slip when I take too much on and don’t ask for help. So if I wish to be a better leader then my goal is delegate tasks more or develop my team members to take on more responsibility.

      I hope that helps and I’m cheering you on!! I also find cheetos help. 😉

  10. […] Plus:  He’s offering 3 lucky commenters a chance to win an e-copy of his book!  Leave a comment on today’s post to enter, or double your chances by also leaving a comment on my book review of The Power of Happiness here.  […]

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