What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better
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What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  593 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Dr. Dan Baker, director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, has devoted his life to teaching people how to be happy. And apparently, most of us could use a little tutoring. Research has shown that the root of unhappiness--fear--lies in the oldest, reptilian part of our brains, and negative reactions are often dictated by primal instincts. We're literally "hard...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 19th 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 4th 2003)
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Cara
I heard about this book from a Chris Guillebeau-follower who lives in his car, plays guitar at small gigs and for hospital patients, and wanders around enjoying life.

As far as clarity, simplicity, and utility, this is one of the best books I have ever read. Even though it hasn't actually changed my life, I'm putting it on the life-changers shelf, because if I had found it earlier, it would have. Instead, I had to gather the same information from tons of other books, only to have it all confirmed...more
Laurie
I have had this book on my shelf for along time and finally took it down. And now I wish I had read it long ago. So many things he says makes perfect sense. I have a close friend who is battling severe depression and a lot of things in this book has put a lot of what she is going thru into a great framework. It is about time someone told the world that typical "talk therapy" doesn't work for everyone. Wow! Really found this book useful and helpful.
Renee
Surprised I liked it. Parts were predictable, but quite a few places made me think about something in my life in a new way. I'd recommend it, if you go into it with an open mind and can ignore the parts that are a little obvious. I'm already noticing positive impacts in my life. :)
Kimberly
Happy people know not to read books by shameless self-promoters.
Elizabeth
borrowed from the library (Rodale, 2003)
copy p 155 table of values

http://www.canyonranch.com/story/dan-...

Post-Doctoral Fellow in Medical Psychology, University of Nebraska Medical College// Doctorate, Counseling Psychology, University of Nebraska// Certified in Mediation, in Assessing Emotional Intelligence, in Clinical Hypnosis

Dan Baker, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the positive psychology initiative, which seeks to study and understand strengths, best practices and, in general, what is right with...more
Scott Dinsmore
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.

Review:

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...more
Pam
Near the beginning of this book, Dan Baker states: "We all have a neurological fear system embedded deep within our brains, a neural network that once helped us survive as a species, but now limits our lives. This biological circuitry of fear is the greatest enemy of happiness." His basic premise in this book is that we have to learn ways to override our natural physical tendencies to react to daily stresses in our lives that prepare us for fight or flight in a life threatening situation. If we...more
Rachelle
Aug 05, 2008 Rachelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rachelle by: Mom
This book is fantastic. It wasn't only some doctor theorizing about what makes people happy, but it is also full of studies, tests and real science that demonstrate what works and what doesn't. Much of it corresponds and backs up the things I have been taught and believe as a member of the LDS faith.. which is always nice. Most (or all) of what motivates our negative behaviors is fear... fear of not having enough or fear of not being enough. The major message I take from the book is that those w...more
Deb
*Happiness demystified*

One of the early books to layperson-ize the wisdom of the emerging positive psychology movement, _What Happy People Know_ is packed with information, insight, and inspiration for improving the happiness factor in your life. In addition to being highly readable and applicable, the book takes such a realistic approach to finding happiness which centers upon finding contentment despite--and perhaps even due to--life's inevitable pain and obstacles.

After identifying the 12 qua...more
Lesley Keller
You know all those self-defeating activities and points of view that annoy you? The writer offers explanations for the origins of those behaviors.
The writing alternates between case stories from the writer’s personally career, his personal point of view, and condensed list. The stories draw an emotional connection from the reader. The lists aid a reader in summarizing the lessons in a short digestible form. It focuses on fear as the source of all negative behavior cycles. The writing links fe...more
Lesli
It is a fascinating book, I would recommend it to anyone struggling, and would recommend this book, to anyone with mild depression. Its really helped me put my life in perspective, I highlighted something on almost every page that I thought was insightful, which means its hard to sum. Also helpful at identifying paralyzing thoughts that make it hard to do anything else in life. Dr. Baker says play up your strengthens, stop thinking about your weaknesses, most likely they are still going to be yo...more
Rebecca
If you're looking for a pop-psychology feel-good classic, you've come to the right book. Baker is a likeable narrator who intersperses his own story with inspirational stories about past patients. Baker also includes many helpful lists, such as "The 12 Qualities of Happiness," "The Five Happiness Traps," and so on. I quite enjoyed those. I have sort of a list fetish. Not in a weird way...?

The only questionable thing about this book is... well, "the new SCIENCE of happiness"? Please. Baker threw...more
Georgia Smith
This was pretty good. It wasn't mindblowing, but it had some really nice anecdotes and was full of legitimate, science-bound tips. I learnt a lot about the reptilian brain which I hadn't known before. My favourite line went something like 'fear is always about the future, and the future we can't control'. It may sound obvious, that we fear the future BECAUSE we can't control it, but since we can't control it, why fear it? We always fear things that are not in the current moment, and we waste our...more
Julie
This book had some good points though I found it somewhat confusing to really get the big ideas to sink in. I did become aware that it was teaching gospel principles using different terms. Once I figured that out, I was so thankful for the gospel because it is what has taught me all the things that make me happy...choosing to act and not react, service and sacrifice, loving, appreciating, etc. (Now I just need to keep practicing them through the rest of my life...and that is okay, as I get bette...more
Ruth
c2003. A lot of this book is common sense - but it seems that when read in black and white - it becomes common sense. An Irish statement if there ever was one. This was a really good read and I am sure that if one could put the ideas into constant practice, your life would change. The difficulty though is that when one is swept up in the descending spiral - you need somebody to tell you "where you are at!" and reaching for a book may not be at the top of your list of things to do. Bits of the tr...more
Vicki
A must read for anyone looking to be inspired, especially those tired of the same old happiness book. Other books tell us the same wisdom (i.e. "you can't buy happiness", "exercise to release endorphins", "appreciate what you have"). All true statements, yes, but until Baker's book I had yet to see the 'laws' of happiness so intricately explained. He shows the reader proof via vignettes and research studies how truly happy people function. His straight forward, logical approach to teaching happi...more
Ginny Miller
I describe myself as being a happy person, but lately I've needed a bit of an attitude adjustment. Dan Baker points the way, showing how we are often ruled by fear, and by understanding how appreciation of what we have and freedom of choice are invaluable tools for living fully. I particularly enjoyed his explanation of how we have two lives - our healthy story and our horror story. They are both accurate,but the version we tend to turn to in our mind is the version we tend to live with. Major a...more
Samantha
I've been trying to read books that would inspire me, as part of my non-official "personal growth challenge".

I thought that this was a fairly good overview of changing personal habits to encourage happiness - with several useful case studies from the author's experience working with patients over his career and at Canyon Ranch.

Dan, the author, also gives fairly useful checklists to help inspire better thinking patterns and promote positive behavior.

It's not really much that I haven't read before...more
Karen Trofka
Nothing in this book is very surprising, but it is a good reminder. I enjoyed the psychology in it.
Leann Reynolds
This was a really good book in the relatively new field of positive psychology. The basic premise of the discipline being that absence of mental illness is not the same as mental health just as the absence of physical illness is not the same as physical health. The author uses many concepts from evolutionary psychology that I really enjoyed, that our bodies and brains have not had time to catch up with our advances and this incongruity negatively impacts our mental health. Anyone interested is g...more
Erich Donati
Awesome, a real eye opener.
christina
I just started this, and though it looks really very similar to a few other books I have read recently, the approach is different enough to make it worthwhile for me.

It is another exploration into the newish field of positive psychology to be sure, but the author had a child who died and talks about testing this concept of learned optimism in the face of such unimaginable pain.
This book is what he learned thorough that experience, as well as in his practice as a therapist and passing these con...more
Maura
The author is the founder of Canyon Ranch holistic spas, and although he sometimes comes across as a bit of an egomaniac, he basically gets it. It is easy to read and offers some "formulas" that are easy to remember. I was particularly struck by his personal reflections on having lost a child shortly after birth, and how he implicitly understood the need to take that displaced love and do something to keep the love alive. DEFINITELY recommended!
Linda
I'm not too much for self-help books, they usually seem so unrealistic, but Dan Baker's book is realistic,and when you think about it,who doesn't want to be happy. We just get derailed with life and the things we focus on. Too many times we focus on the negative in our lives, and we all have some. But, we all have positives in our lives too! Learning how to focus on the positive will truly change how happy we are. Good advice, good read!
Danielle
I think I'm a fairly happy individual so I thought it would be interesting to find out the medical and psychological aspects of happiness. It did not disappoint. I agreed with nearly every point he made in the book. I think more people should read the book. It will give everyone a better sense of how they handle issues and problems... whether its a good look at yourself or a bad one. It's all about improving your life for the future.
Tania
This book was really good. I enjoyed reading it because there were several stories about the doctor's patients which made it very interesting. There are many good points he makes which I think can apply to many people. I think of myself as a generally happy person, still do after reading it-but it brought to light characteristics of myself I was not aware of. This is a good read...in fact one that I will probably re-read at some point.
Ali Kelly
May 19, 2010 Ali Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who feels stuck, depressed, unmotivated, victimized, and anxious.
Recommended to Ali by: My husband
This book really provided me a shift in perception from negative to positive thinking. I used the appreciation audit techniques to change my thinking about an unhappy work situation, and turned it around to making a proposal to advance my position and career, and it worked! Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I'm hyped up about all the possibilities ahead of me. What a game-changer!
Tina
A friend gave this to me, after seeing me struggle with some dark times. The book had helped her and some of her family members in the past. Just picking it up lightened my burden, so I took my time reading it. One thing I picked up was the idea of transcendence, being happy despite hurts. It's part of living, but only part. The idea is finding things to appreciate. Lovely, really lovely.
Jerry
A book about how the brain works to affect happiness. Fear is a major factor.

The 12 Qualities of Happiness
Love, Optimism, Courage, A Sense of Freedom, Proactivity, Security, Health, Spirituality, Altruism, Perspective, Humor, Purpose.

The Six Happiness Tools
Appreciation, Choice, Personal Power, Leading with Your Strengths, The Power of Language and Stories, Multidimensional Living.
Rachel
Just finished reading this. Like most self-help books it's often pedantic and the author likes to "toot his own horn," but so much of it applied to my life now and things I've been thinking about lately that I had to like it in the end. It really has made me happier and I feel more in control of myself (at least for now). It took me a long time to read though.
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