Book 22 was from a Little Free Library and titled Sustainable Happiness. I know, I know… self-help? I promised not to discriminate on genre, and hey, who doesn’t want to know the secrets to sustainable happiness, right? So here we are. The basic premise of this book is that while consumerism is necessary for continued economic growth, it doesn’t make humans much happier after we have the basics.
Here are the 10 things that will make you happy, according to the book:
- Savor everyday moments
- Avoid comparisons
- Put money low on the list
- Have meaningful goals
- Take initiative at work
- Make friends, treasure family
- Smile even when you don’t feel like it*
- Say thank you like you mean it
- Get out and exercise
- Give it away now!
Many of these things make sense intuitively, and #10 is the basis of Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering manifestos. 4 and 5 are probably the most difficult, because they’re hard to define, and the benefits are hard to quantify.
I did also appreciate the following list from the book, though it sounds more like a list on “How to be French”:
The Sabbath Manifesto — 10 ways to take a day off
- Avoid technology
- Connect with loved ones
- Nurture your health
- Get outside
- Avoid commerce
- Light candles
- Drink wine
- Eat bread
- Find silence
- Give back
The book is composed of several essays, and I found a couple of them… goofy. For example, there’s one on internet porn addiction that seems out of place. Author Dan Mahle says giving up porn helped him restore a sense of personal integrity, dismantle his subconscious sexism, reconnect to his tears, trust himself more, increase self-confidence, gain clarity on his life’s purpose and be passionate about the work he’s doing. Wow, what an infomercial. Makes me wonder why there are people who were never into porn but don’t have those things (eg clarity, passion, self-confidence). Then there’s some stuff about “Earth university,” “Earth Democracy,” and restorative justice. I’m not really sure what they have to do with an individual finding happiness, but maybe the point is to help all humans get there.
In short, to be happy, try to live more simply, enjoy and be thankful for what you have, and be Frencher.
Quotes from the book that I enjoyed:
“Slavery was motivated by “the love of ease and gain,” and no luxuries could exist without others having to suffer to create them.”
I definitely disagree with this one. Fine dining? Those chefs have the time of their lives. I don’t think the artisans at Staub are suffering a lot to make the luxury cocottes I love either.
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Simple living is not about abandoning luxury, but discovering it in new places.”
Maybe this quote addresses my objection to the previous luxury quote. Maybe I’ve discovered it in places where it doesn’t cost suffering. Yay, me.
“It’s not that we actually have an overwhelming desire to accumulate property, it’s that we’re concerned with how we’re seen all the time. It’s not material self-interest, it’s that we experience ourselves through each other’s eyes — and that’s the reason for the labels and the clothes and the cars.”
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” — Viktor E. Frankl, concentration camp survivor
*Not about actually smiling, but a recommendation to have a positive outlook so as to see more opportunities