- Taschenbuch: 432 Seiten
- Verlag: Mark Hebwood (4. Januar 2018)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 099565090X
- ISBN-13: 978-0995650909
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,5 x 3 x 21,6 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 259.132 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
Happiness Rules (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 4. Januar 2018
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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Mark has worked in the City of London as an equity analyst for the last 20 years. That's still his dayjob, but away from his desk he has discovered a new passion: writing. Now he has turned his analytical mind to an investigation of how to lead an authentic life. The methods he discusses in his new book, "Happiness Rules" are as perceptive as they are simple. He has lived in London for the past 20 years and loves it. When he's not in London, he loves sports, especially things people now call 'action sports'. Anything else to say about Mark? Ah yes - he's happy.
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You might ask yourself it this isn't too egotistic (today's main vice, I would say), but then it introduces a chapter on ethics which might remind you of Kant's categorical imperative because it adds a social aspect to your happiness. Instead of referring to Kant however (Hebwood claims that Kant wanted to ban individualism), Hebwood tries to find his own categorical imperative. You could discuss the needs of this and the needs of introducing the term "to hurt somebody" as the scale and limit of your own freedom, but this guidebook ends with offering you a lot of practical advice - by assessing your grade of happiness through happiness grids, for example. You might not agree with the methods, but you cannot deny that the book is really good entertainment because of its casual style and interesting subject. Though it seems to be written only for the well-to-do who can afford to think of seemingly petty personal problems apart from those of making ends meet, the basis could apply to everybody.
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The layout of the book is a set rules, which are equivalent to chapters. He starts out with an important point in the first part of the book. It is hard to see how one can be happy without a good understanding of oneself. The other chapter in this part is on making decisions with two tests one can perform in making them. The second part starts with another important point—take control of your life. He also discusses the importance of problem solving, not judging others, asking for advice, having friends and a significant other, knowing what you want, and acting morally. The final chapter is about a happiness test that he has devised to help figure out where you are in life.
The following are comments based on specific pieces of the text based on notes I took while I was reading the book. Kindle locations are in brackets . The “@” symbol in front of a Kindle location indicates where I thought of a comment, but that was not linked to a specific part of the text.
 “Should I have tiramisu or apple pie for dessert?” is on Hebwood’s list of “innocuous” choices. I might not include it on this list, since it would come down to which I would like to bake, which means far more to me than just choosing which one to eat.
 “A mindset that blames circumstances for a personal predicament relinquishes control. A mindset that searches for reasons in our own actions remains in control.” Why focus on blame at all? Just look to see what our role in the situation might have been, and then search for a solution. I do not see blame as necessarily playing a bad role, but what is important is that we look to take control (what can I do?) our own actions, now—let the past be a lesson only.
 “If you get to know who you are, and go on to like yourself, you have obtained the key to happiness.” I would qualify this a bit to one of the major keys to happiness. Another thought I had here is the need for you to be your own best friend.
[@2469] In chapter four he covered how two individuals overcame the most terrible childhoods to become stable and even flourishing persons as adults. While certainly illustrative, I wonder what the statistics are on how many such individuals actually do overcome their horribly abusive childhoods. I just cannot imagine that the two people he covered are the typical outcomes. But, again I do not feel this was Hebwood’s point. I feel that he was after showing that it can be done.
 ”I believe the more we are discontented with our own lives, the more we may be inclined to judge.” I know someone’s sister that seems to illustrated this point. It also goes with a recent blog post I wrote (“Can Mean People Be Happy?”) about mean people being incapable of “normal” happiness.
 He writes, “I evaluated the actions as if they were abstract examples in a text book on ethics or practical philosophy” in discussing how he was “judging” the person not what that person did. I wonder whether or not basing your ethical decisions from a book is either wise or possible anyway.
 His “information . . . was not first-hand. In fact, it was third-hand . . .” Actually, most of our knowledge is not first-hand, which does not necessarily make it bad. I wrote another blog post (“Are You Certain?) were I discuss in part how handed our knowledge is.
 “I confess that I feel my life enriched beyond measure through my relationship [with Ursina]. Yet, I never missed anything when I was single, and I do not miss being single now.” This sounds like he is comfortable with himself. I would point out, that while there is great merit in having meaningful relationships (whether single or partnered), no relationship should be a defining feature of ourselves.
 “When establishing a relationship, it is important to find your potential partner in a setting that puts you at ease.” At the risk of disclosure would this include meeting in a state mental hospital? Actually, it was my job (I was asked by staff) to make my future partner at ease when she appeared on the open ward (cottage) I was in.
 “Going steady is a third phase, and is typically sealed by a public ceremony (marriage, civil partnership) or personal vows.” The form of going steady I was familiar with (the teenage era) was a relationship that was supposed to be an exclusive one, but the notion that it was to end in permanency was never expected.
 “I remember long evenings in the Borders bookshop . . .” I also have fond memories of spending time in Borders. It was an activity that happiness seemed attached to.
 I considered “Moon River” to be one of my family cats theme song. After going to a pet store for some cat supplies my mother saw an all gray cat playing with the lock on the cage she was in. My mom just had to go back and buy her, and thus set her free. After playing no role in naming two previous cats (my brothers monopolized this) she wanted to name this one. When she was younger she thought that if she ever owned a cat she would name it “cat” like the character in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” did with her cat. But, at the time of getting her she thought that that was perhaps not such a good name after all, so she name her Tiffany after the movie. It is funny that my girlfriend will call our cat (Baxter) “cat” when he misbehaves.
 “To summarize [sticking to your guns], if we learn to harness the power of our emotions in a way that means they lend resolve, conviction or spirit to a rational argument . . . we will have mastered an important skill . . .” As I see it, and neuroscience tends to back this up, thinking and emotions, or feelings, when they are conscious, are inseparable. We are never without emotions, and while rational thought is possible they can be colored and <i>driven</i> by emotions and often are. Matter of fact I would classify “resolve” and “conviction” as feelings. These are just some of the feelings that are necessary sometimes to carry out an action that has been thought out.
[@5203] I wholeheartedly agree with this whole section about being nice. I am working on a blog post about niceness and ethics. It will be called “Is Niceness Enough?”
 He quotes this guy at the newsagent (newsstand for us Americans) “’The reason people are <i>not</i> happy is because they want things before the time is right. And they want the wrong things. They don’t follow their destiny. I don’t want things that I can’t have and I know there’s a right time for everything in life. Because I know that, I’m calm and I have no stress.’” (author’s italics) This sounds like stoicism. While there is some wisdom in what this guy said, I cannot jump on board. First, it sounds like fate is what determines the life someone lives. Second, without desire life lacks goals, and without goals life can seem to have no purpose. Third, stress is a normal component of life. While it can do great damage to the body and the psyche, it can be a prime motivator in life. So fourth, I find it hard to believe this guy has no stress. Lastly, you might not know what you can accomplish unless you try. I feel it is better to have tried and failed, than to have not tried at all. This reminds me of the phrase: “It is better to have loved and lost, then to not have loved at all.”
 “And as for health, well this is clearly important, but a discussion of fitness is firmly outside the scope of this book.” I wonder why Hebwood thinks this is outside the scope of his book. For me, while not an “absolutely” necessity, a healthy diet and regular exercise is I believe an important component to my own happiness.†
 Quoting Kant: “There is therefore but one categorical imperative, namely this: Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” How is this really different from the Golden Rule. Plus, “universal” I think is a little strong here. Most oughts in life come with exception clauses. I feel Hebwood realizes this later on .
 Quoting totally outside of context: “I found in an old book . . . the whole is greater than the part.” Except for some infinite sets. Could not resist.
 “This principle [self-preservation] is universal and all life forms have developed mechanisms that ensure the preservation of their individual existence, and by extension their species.” This is the basis of a natural law ethical principle (one used to prohibit killing) and is plainly not correct in human beings and other species as well. Human beings often choose to end their own life (for manifold reasons), and some do not intend to have children. There are cases in other animals that they will risk their own life for those of another. And, in many species not all animals participate in producing the next generation. So even nature has exception clauses.
This was a good book, maybe because of its personal style. Instead of just looking at obtaining happiness, which if sought is most often illusive, I think that the book explains one route to improving one’s life. With improvement one will generally find yourself happier than you were before your life improved. Mark Hebwood writes well and kept this reader, at least, interested throughout. Although, I am not a fan of self help books, which this one is not your typical one (no pop psychology), it made many valid observations and good points. I do not think one would go wrong in following the books advice.
While the book explores just one avenue to happiness, it brings up a number of good points. The first and last of which is to know who you are. Knowing who you are includes knowing your strengths and weaknesses, your needs and wants, and other aspects of your personality. The chapter on “everything is your fault” was a chapter that I struggled with its focus. I think it is much more important to focus on what you can do, instead of focusing on blame at all. In other words gain as much control of your present and future as you can. The past is gone, and except for using it as a learning tool, it is not so worthy of concern it this context. Hebwood still provided the needed component here and in the following chapter, taking control of your life. Judgment day (do not judge others, only their actions) is upon us—I feel he has made a good point here. It is difficult to know all the facts. That is one reason I usually preface a comment on others with “I feel.”‡ And as he pointed out, the person who tends to judge a lot is often not satisfied with his or her life; I would say also that he or she is usually carrying around a good deal of resentment. Seeking advice is usually a good idea, especially when something major is going on in your life. I would say that friendship is certainly a key component to happiness, and finding an enriching partner is the most fulfilling relationship of all. The only competitor with this is an enriching occupation, which I believe he speaks about in chapter eight. I feel that he did a fair job in his chapter on being a moral person. Ethics contains more gray than black and white rules. Therefore, it is a subject that takes a good deal of nuance in my opinion. Still, the “golden rule” makes a good contribution here—Kant’s categorical imperative, not so much. I think a key component in morality is respect, which I think demands that one seeks in general to be nice to others. Finally, I found his happiness test to be very interesting. Even so, I have not and might not take it, as I feel I know where I am with my life. It basically sums up how satisfied you are with your life. It is not a survey or questionnaire, which have too many issues with them to be very useful in finding out whether you are happy or not.
My recommendation for this book is that it would be best suited to a seeker after self-knowledge. Will one be happier as a result of having read it? I do not know. First, one would need to read it, but then on needs to apply it to one’s life for happiness to arise. I have a friend who reads tons of self help books, but he never seems to apply much of it in his life. So, my final recommendation is to go ahead and read it; you might be pleasantly surprised.
[Disclaimer: Mark Hebwood is a goodreads’s friend of mine. The main reason I read the book was because he asked me to read it and comment on it because I already consider myself a happy person, so I did not read it because I wanted to be happy. Having said this, I am not sorry that I have read it. We share many points in common in our approaches.]
† I write about its importance in another blog post - “What Is Human Flourishing?”
‡ I talk about this use in my blog post – "Can You Believe That?”
[You can find the blog post on wordpress.]
If your answer is “yes” to any or all of the above but you shake your head, thinking such a life is far from your everyday reality, then I have good news - Mark Hebwood is here to share his own experience along with the stories of others and suggest ways we can examine who we are as individuals and analyze our present situation as a clear first step in understanding how we can begin to enjoy more happiness and fulfillment.
Since Mark’s approach to happiness is up close and personal, here are a number of direct quotes from the book along with my comments that tend likewise to be up close and personal:
“I did not start out in life as balanced and happy as I am now. It took a lifetime of application to get there, and I do not believe there are quick fixes in the pursuit of happiness.” ---------- Marks’s book is a 400-page in-depth breakdown of the various components of what comprises happiness. Also included are charts and graphs to better guide us in our own investigation and self-examination. This to say, Mark recognizes addressing a reader’s happiness requires more than a pamphlet that can be read in ten minutes. This is a serious subject demanding a modest amount of time and energy if we are likewise serious about happiness, both for ourselves and others. There is even a “Happiness Test” in the concluding chapter.
“I have a natural steak of irreverence. One aspect of this is that I do not accept authority before I think it has been earned. It follows, for example, that I should not seek employment in organisations that are innately hierarchical in nature. I am afraid the military, public service and hierarchically structured companies are all out.” ---------- Mark recounts stories in his life stretching back to boyhood, experiences that serve as lessons in coming to know himself better. The overarching lesson: when we know ourselves better, we are better postured to pursue employment that will contribute to our overall happiness.
I couldn’t agree more. Quick story: I’m age thirty-nine and have achieved success working in a particular rigid industry. But, I HATED my job, the people I was around, working in an office. Moving companies wasn’t going to solve my problem – I had to change careers. I did the type of self-analysis Mark outlines and shortly thereafter – bingo. I made a switch to a liberal industry and field career much more in keeping with my personality, skills, values, likes and dislikes.
“I do not like the countryside. . . . If I am honest with myself, I need to realize that I can only live in a big city.” ------- Mark goes into some humorous stories about his hay fever and aversion to animals. So, his answer to the question “where to live to be happy” was relatively easy. Mark lives in London. As it was for me: I have serious issues with insect bites and also have hay fever; I’ve never liked being in small towns or on farms. I want to have access to universities and libraries, museums and theaters and concert halls, live among many people of diverse backgrounds. Thus, I live in Philadelphia. This to emphasize how one big piece of the happiness pie is choosing a locale that is most conducive for our overall happiness.
“I do not want children. I know this with a certainty that eclipses everything else I may know about myself.” ---------- I include this quote since sometimes our self-knowledge might not square with an idealized version of ourselves, many times the ideal formulated based on others’ expectations, parents most notably. This is of critical importance: in our coming to know ourselves more completely, honesty is required: honesty in relation to our views and values respecting marriage partner or choice of significant other. And, most especially, our wish to have or not have children. The happiness of others as well as ourselves is at stake.
Personal note: The woman who was to become my wife did not want children all her young life. After meeting me, she definitely wanted children. We eventually had three children, two boys and a girl – and a great family. And now, four grandchildren. Happy days! Throughout his book, Mark encourages us to continually remain attuned to our lives and recognize taking personal inventory is an ongoing process - since some things will remain the same but others will most definitely change.
“Be the agent, not the victim! Choose the future! You have a choice!” ---------- We are given two case studies, of Dave and of Senait. We can be inspired to change when we read of other people overcoming harsh circumstances to find happiness. Mark encourages us to have the confidence to look to the future and not be bound or see ourselves as trapped by the past. Dave’s story is particularly wonderful – saying to us, in so many words, if Dave can do it, in all likelihood we can as well.
“We are never in possession of all the facts pertaining to somebody’s action or statements.” ------ The chapter on judgement was one of my favorites, how there is a great downside if we are overly judgmental. A polite way of saying not to be a constant complainer; not to be a smellfungus (out-of-date term, which is too bad – it fits so many people’s world view). I myself have seen this over and over through the years - if anybody treats people and all other aspects of life through the limited lens of complaining, faultfinding, negativity and harsh judgement – there is always something to find (and a list of great excuses for not being happy!)
“If we constantly engage in activities that do not make us happy, we create a world for ourselves in which our life enjoyment is only lukewarm.” -------- How true! A lesson to last a lifetime. I grew up in a house with the television always on and turned to high volume. I hate television! As an adult I have always avoided watching television – my time is better spent meditating, reading, writing, taking walks and exercising. And, I can assure you, I live a VERY happy life.
These are but a few gems a reader will find in Mark’s book. Highly recommend!
Would I recommend to buy the book? Absolutely. It makes a great gift to unhappy people. And its fun to read.