Review of "Happiness: A guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill" by Matthieu Ricard. Published by Little Brown.
What a joy to find such an intelligent and creative approach to the universal quest for happiness and well-being! Matthieu Ricard begins by examining our definitions of happiness and then leads us on a journey that explores the causes and conditions for happiness, our own inner mechanisms that do or don't create happiness, how to deal with death and difficulties, the sociology of happiness, and so on.
The book's emphasis is on how to develop inner resources for a sense of happiness and fulfillment that is not dependent on outer circumstances. There is real freedom in the knowledge that we can move towards an authentic sense of well-being by working with our ways of relating and processing the obstacles and circumstances that present themselves. This is all helped along by the short enjoyable exercises that lead the reader through a process of getting to know the mind and how it works.
Matthieu Ricard's voice is quite unique and I liked his use of metaphor to describe various emotional states and how to deal with them. I also found the sociology of happiness an interesting chapter, revealing the trends of our society, and I especially liked learning "first-hand about the work of neuroscience and the brain.