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Spontaneous Happiness

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,022 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Everyone wants to be happy. But what does that really mean? Increasingly, scientific evidence shows us that true satisfaction and well-being come only from within.

Dr. Andrew Weil has proven that the best way to maintain optimum physical health is to draw on both conventional and alternative medicine. Now, in Spontaneous Happiness, he gives us the foundation for attaining a...more
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Published November 8th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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I picked up this book at my in-laws home and decided that I needed to finish it. The title makes the book sound like some cheesy pop-psychology book about chasing butterflies of happiness, but it was not that way at all. I was riveted right from the introduction where he writes about a "set point of emotional variability" or "emotional sea level" which is not happiness per se but rather peace and contentment. This is not a book obsessed with the idea that we must all be happy all the time. He su...more
Roni Blanche
For any of you that fall into the black funks -- what I call my dips into depression -- like I do, "Spontaneous Happiness" is a godsend. In fact, the book is as much about fighting off depression as it is about courting happiness. I will admit at times it's a tough read, with lots of psychological lingo, and I've been plowing away for several weeks to finish it, but the results I'm getting in feeling less funk and more happy make the effort well worthwhile.
First, let me say that none of the inf...more
Dec 03, 2011 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone with a beating heart
Tremendous book. Written by a medical doctor and an integrative medicine specialist, this is a book about tending mind, body and spirit. It includes information such as the best foods to eat, how to incorporate exercise, supplements you need to take because your diet won't include them, I could go on and on. The audio book, read by the author, also highly recommended.

Dr. Weil has a very positive, not preachy, not dictatorial, just open way of explaining things and making suggestions. He is an o...more
Tony G.
Dec 26, 2011 Tony G. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to be happy.
Recommended to Tony by: No one.
I have followed Dr. Andrew Weil's work since reading "The Natural Mind," recommended to me by a friend during my hippy-dippy college days. His later books, "Spontaneous Healing" and "Eight Weeks to Optimum Health," in which he advocates an "integrative" approach to health, were a big influence - although I admit not fully adhering to the guidelines and recommendations contained therein.

Something about Weil's methodical and exacting approach to health and diet, juxtaposed with his openness to ne...more
I listened to the audiobook version, which was impressively narrated by Dr. Weil himself. I particularly enjoyed the first and last sections of the book. The first section discussed the notion of happiness in the West and how a solely biomedical model may be insufficient in addressing the rise in depression rates we face in the West. The latter section suggested some simple, straightforward techniques that can be used in conjunction with Western methods to produce a greater sense of "comfort, se...more
I found the first section of this book extremely helpful. Many other books on happiness that I've read have left me feelling deficient because I haven't found the discipline to be happier all the time. His discussion of contentment vs. happiness and experiencing the full spectrum of human emotions and then coming back to "emotional sea-level" was very helpful for me. The rest of the book then was about ways to increase your own set point for emotional sea-level and make yourself more confident t...more
Carolyn Rose
I seldom read what I think of as self-help books, but I heard an interview on NPR and was intrigued both by his thoughts on happiness, emotional well-being, our expectations, and the prevalence of pills to "solve" the problem - any problem. I was also interested in the anti-inflammatory diet.

I got what I hoped from the book, and more, but I have to admit that, no matter what Weil suggests, no way am I giving up that one cup of coffee I drink every morning.
This is a great book for anyone wishing to improve their emotional well-being, increase their happiness set point, and learn simple tools to support their emotional health.

"Spontaneous Happiness" focuses on self-care for depression and anxiety using methods other than traditional Western medicine's prescription drug fixes, though it really can be applied to maintaining or improving emotional health in general. It's organized very simply and is well-structured to not be overwhelming. It provides...more
Mike W
In this book, Dr Weil offers some useful advice. He emphasizes the importance of exercise as well as omega-3 and vitamin D and recommends supplements for these. He also highlights recent advances in neuroscience concerning the plasticity of thinking and the ways in which our behavior and thinking can modify our brain structure and function, which can in turn affect our moods and well-being.

But some of its advice is hokey. For example, I doubt whether busy people will want to maintain a "gratitud...more
Rebecca Dosick bernzweig
This is an excellent book - sort of wish the title were different, as it makes you think he's spouting an easy solution. But if you know Dr. Weil you know that's not what he's about. The idea of emotional sea level is really thought-provoking and very down to earth. I love how he broke the chapters into physical, mental and spiritual well-being, as I am examining all three in my life right now. Great book for someone who struggles with relatively mild but sometimes intrusive depression. This tea...more
Dec 21, 2011 Yvensong rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Darlene Milner
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

4 1/2 Stars

This book is not about a continuing state of happiness. It is about emotional balance and wellness, which consists of happiness, contentment, sadness and even periods of depression.

Dr. Weil cites several different branches of research, with referrals to different sources for further reading, regarding depression and some of the possible causes. He, then, discusses the many methods that someone could use to improve their chan...more
I'm glad book club "forced" me to read this. :) Dr. Weil's philosophy embraces integrative medicine to treat depression and unhappiness, rather than going straight for the throat and taking medication, which he believes should be reserved for the most severe cases. Integrative medicine is his "biopsychosocialspiritual" model - I know, biowhaaaat??? It makes sense though. Weil believes lots of factors add up to our mental state - exercise, relationships and touch, spiritual health, eating the rig...more
Integrative health guy talks about how to fight depression through a whole-health integrated lifestyle instead of relying solely on pills. He addresses lifestyle, eating, negative thought patterns, meditation, exercise, and spirituality. He's in some senses adapting his entire anti-inflammatory diet and philosophy of health to mental health. He's very careful to define major depressive disorders versus dysthymia and does not advocate simply dropping treatment or antidepressants, but he makes a g...more
Sam Torode
Re-reading portions of this. It's a good one...

"I wonder which changes in particular might account for the dramatic increase of depression in the past twenty years.... Not only do we suffer from nature deficit, but we are also experiencing information surfeit. Many people today spend much of their waking time surfing the Internet, texting and talking on mobile phones, attending to e-mail, watching television, and being stimulated by other new media--all experiences that were unavailable until r...more
Louise Silk
This is an in-depth look at everything we need to maintain happiness, diet, exercise, mood, lifestyle, emotion, and spirit. Disregard the title- it is not spontaneous. At the end of the book is a 6-week program to integrate all of the information- also not spontaneous.

If you have read any of Dr. Weil's books or any of the other health/diet books on the market today, you won't find anything new or exciting in this one.

If you are new to the idea of integrated healthy life style that includes body...more
As a lifelong sufferer of sporadic depression and anxiety, I really wish this book had been available to me in my teens or twenties. I agree with others that the title of the book is misleading. In reality it's a very practical, balanced, non-biased look at what we know about depression and anxiety, and what really works to combat these. He describes the end goal not as happiness all the time: in reality, there is and should be a natural fluctuation of moods. The practices in the book can help y...more
Carrie Comfort
Great, simple tips for those who may have occasional bouts of depression or anxiety. The beginning of the book discusses ways to combat depression and the science/research about it along with personal testimonies.
The book finishes with a plan for you to follow and how to get started on your own journey to becoming happier.
What can I say, I am a sucker for Dr. Weil's self-help philosophy. I find 3/4 of it relevant and practical and the stuff I don't care for is easy to ignore. I always put down his books inspired to lead a healthier, happier life. I guess that's all I can ask for from them.
Jen Smith
I really enjoyed Andrews advice about being happy. So much good stuff in here I don't know where to start applying the stuff. I think I need to read it again, slowly this time. I like the scientific aspect as well as the personal experiences referenced.
You can find lots of information on happiness in this book.

Happiness is a skill, so you need to make much efforts and spend long time to acquire it.

The two sections, "mental nutrition" and "forgiveness," in this book resonated with me.

Andrew Weil suggests that we need to limit the intake of news to nourish our mental nutrition. This is so true because my mind is quite calm and my thought is very clear since I stopped watching
TV seven month ago.

Forgiveness is "for yourself," not for others. Then...more
I was looking for a couple of audio books from the library for a trip I was taking and this one caught my eye. I have a friend going through some issues surrounding depression and will be recommending this book to her. In fact, I'd recommend it to anyone who suffers from depression in any of its many forms or knows others who do, b/c it gives so many varied and sound suggestions to both cope and resume one's life after struggling with depression.

Although I listened to this book in its audio for...more
Stephen Hull
Good, solid advice, presented in a reasonably concise fashion. Now to find the discipline to put it into practice...
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الكاتب يحاول عرض تجربته النفسية والعملية في الوصول للصحة العاطفية..صحة...more
I received "Spontaneous Happiness" by Andrew Weil, MD for free from You would think this book is about happiness, but really it is about depression or rather, ridding oneself of depression. The first several chapters of the book are about emotional well being, depression, and psychological knowledge of emotions. It then goes into methods of becoming happy both with and without the use of prescribed drugs. The author connects physical health with emotional health and shows the...more
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

4 stars

I think this is a great book for just about anyone to read--whether you suffer from depression or anxiety, or know someone who does. My favorite part about this book is that Dr. Weil mentions very early on that negative emotions are a normal part of life. It seems obvious, but how acceptable is it, really, to express negative emotions in public? Not very--you're supposed to keep those things to yourself. Sometimes it's completely...more
This is such a great book for anybody looking to improve their mood in some way. It's so easy to fall into society's vortex of anxious and depressing thoughts. Why is that? Maybe it's because there is a large group of people that financially benefit (pharmaceutical companies), so we are bombarded with depressing news reports and a plethora of commercials for mood altering medications. The statistics regarding the amount of people in the United States currently taking prescription medication for...more
In concert with my first-ever three week elimination diet cleanse, I listened to the audiotape while taking long walks with my dogs. I've read Dr, Weil before and knew that his integrative medicine approach focused on whole food nutrition. Living on things like spinach, kale and black beans is not second nature to me so it was great to hear all the pros to eating non-processed foods and an anti-inflammatory diet, especially as it relates to mood, stress, anxiety and depression. I loved hearing a...more
3.5 stars This was a First Reads giveaway, and also my first experience with Andrew Weil. All throughout the book, I found the title,"Spontaneous Happiness", confusing. The book came across to me more as how to fight depression and work at being happy. He explains the title in this way: "I am asking you to question the prevalent habit of making positive emotions dependent on external agencies and to think of happiness as one of the many moods available to us if we allow for healthy variability o...more
I had mixed feelings about "Spontaneous Happiness" by Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-known champion of integrative medicine, a way of thinking about medicine that aims for an eclectic merging of modern Western medicine, complementary medicine, and other medical traditions. Dr. Weil has some very good ideas; he is a Harvard-educated physician and has popularized some very useful ways to promote wellness such as healthy eating, stress management,meditation, exercise, laughter, practicing gratitude, socia...more
Integrative medicine is something of value; everything we experience and do to our bodies can impact our gene expression and can change our phenotypes. This book breaks down ways to regulate mood through your own chosen behaviors. Weil does a good job of breaking down science for lay people, but if you are a biologist/geneticist/other scientist you might get frustrated with some oversimplification and some claims that aren't entirely validated.
Structurally, the book is sound. There is a logical...more
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Andrew Thomas Weil, MD, is the founder and program director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. He is the author of many bestselling books, including Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, and others.

Learn More:
More about Andrew Weil...
Spontaneous Healing 8 Weeks to Optimum Health Eating Well for Optimum Health Healthy Aging Natural Health, Natural Medicine

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“If you want to be in optimum emotional health, realize that social isolation stands between you and it. Reach out to others. Join groups—to drum, meditate, sing, sew, read, whatever. Find communities—to garden, do service work, travel, whatever. We humans are social animals. Spontaneous happiness is incompatible with social isolation. Period.” 1 likes
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