Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Happy Women Know

A Thursday night read...

"In the end, I learned that happiness is far more than a mood or an emotion; it is a way of being, a way of knowing what is right and good, and living true to that."

On Thursday nights I am home while Chris closes down the store so I am always thinking of different ways to spend my spare time. Tonight's plan includes reading some of my books I had sent to the library since they finally came in today!

Tonight's book of choice is What Happy Women Know written by Dan Baker, PhD.  Something about nonfiction books written by intelligent and experienced writers catches my eye. 

The idea behind the book:
  • Dan Baker is a medical psychologist dedicated to the study of human behavior. He carries out his studies at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. His idea behind this book is to provide tools and information that works specifically for women. It is supposed to provide skills to develop a greater sense of purpose, reconnect with love and appreciation, recapture a sense of adventure, and achieve emotional well-being. Teaches you to look on the bright side and enjoy a richer, healthier, more enjoyable life. (Can you tell I pulled this from the back cover? lol)
The focus is on Positive Psychology. The idea that looking ahead does not mean repressing memories of the past, but embracing your past experiences and moving forward into your future with emphasis on possibilities. The following quote I think sums it up extremely well-

"Identifying a person's virtues, strengths, and character and then building on them is far more helpful than pointing out a person's weaknesses and trying to fix them."

This outlook is so attractive to me. I have always been big on positive outlooks but this quote makes perfect sense to me and sums up the idea perfectly. This takes my train of thought directly to my students. It is an awesome outlook for teachers. Sometimes it is easier and feels better to point out a person's flaws and make them understand what they did wrong to prevent them from doing it again. But for whatever reason, the opposite works so much more effectively. The more you point out a person's positive qualities, the better they feel about themselves, and the more they want to do good.

I wanted to point out some noteworthy points that I have come across in this book! They make you think.

1. Skiing through the trees- First of all, skiing through trees sounds like a terrifying experience. However, it serves as a great metaphor. When skiing down a slope through trees your defensive instincts want you to focus on the trees. However, you literally move towards things you are focused on. Having said that, you would want to focus on the space between the trees. While yes, you are more tuned into threatening forces, that doesn't mean you need to spend the majority of your time focusing on them. 

2. The Joys of Getting It Wrong- Perfectionists fear this outlook and have a hard time accepting it. However, the happiest most successful people face getting it wrong head on. In fact, they embrace it because with being wrong comes the undeniable fact that you are one step closer to getting it right. There's something to be said about having:ownership of knowledge that can only come from experience of failure.

3. Its About Priorities-At one point in the book it talks about people-pleasers. While doing things for others is an amazing thing, it should never get to the point where you put yourself on the back-burner. The people who have so much to take care of often say "how could I make an hour for myself" but the question is how can you not? Especially if people rely on you, you need to first make yourself the person you need to be. This struck me because I have said it myself and have heard so many others say they don't have time for themselves, but Baker says it perfectly. "Here's the truth: You have the same amount of time everyone else has, so it's never really about time; it's about priorities."

4. If Not Now, Then When? - The main thing I can say about this is that it stood out to me because I struggle with it. Why are beds and couches so comfy and inviting? I DONT KNOW! But, the reality is we have the make the most of our time because when all is said and done we really don't have a whole lot of it. Especially if we want to do what we are here to do- whatever that may be, we aren't going to get their on the couch. "Happy women understand that today is all we can be sure of, and they know how to make the most of it."  Below is a video I ironically watched earlier today that supports this idea. Mind boggling. 

5. Downtime- "Happy women know that downtime is not a luxury, it is essential to well-being." I am adding this to the list because it was a moment in this book where I kind of patted myself on the back for always somehow having realized this. It also correlates with the last point- always making the most of your time. Don't confuse making the most of your time with going going going 24/7. If you live a crazy chaotic life, using 30 minutes for downtime is one hell of a way to spend those 30 minutes if you ask me. It isn't a luxury but something one must to do look out for their own well-being. 

6. Getting drug down by negativity- This part of the book talks about revenge, which I don't really know about- I'm not really a revenge type of person but he does bring in very good points. Negative thoughts in general- revenge, holding a grudge, etc. They are not possible to be had without negativity and until you let it go it will keep you there. Another awesome idea he had was- Victimization, entitlement, rescue, and blame- VERBS.

He starts by saying, he has never met a happy victim. It seems like an easy way out at the time. But really? Own up to whatever it is and don't play the victim card. "Happy women understand the importance of personal power, which means their life belongs to them." You have a choice to be the victim of a situation or transcend from it and channel it into something that grows you. 

As far as entitlement goes, the idea that the world owes you something. It doesn't. Entitlement is nothing more than a passive approach to life. And that's all I have to say about that. "Happy women know that taking responsibility for what they have and haven't done leads to a powerful and fulfillment way of life."

7. Forgiveness- "Happy women know that forgiveness isn't letting others of the hook, it's letting yourself off the hook."

8. Getting them to Zero- While it's definitely not recommended to go around hating someone, some people just can't shake someone who has done them wrong or even just someone who rubs them the wrong way. Think of a scale from -20 to +20. This is your personal scale. -20 being the most hate you can feel and 20+ being love. Anyone who makes their way into the negatives is capable of doing nothing for you but awakening negative feelings that bring you down. What is the point of disliking someone anyway? They are getting more out of you than they deserve. Why center your thoughts or maybe even your life around someone you dislike. That's where "getting them to zero" comes in. If you don't enjoy someone, then don't think of them. They aren't worth expending an energy on. Besides, negative feelings are bad for your health.

9. Be your own best friend- "Happy women will never be alone because they never abandon themselves." Now, this point is not something I have always had on lock. I have at time been completely wrapped up in a relationship that I was literally reliant on that person. I can't express enough how important it is to be your own best friend. At the end of the day this is the only thing that will ensure that you live your own life of happiness. Nurture your passion, do what you love, make your life meaningful, focus on yourself, and help others.

10."Happy women know that a good attitude, valued relationships, and a meaningful life are the central ingredients to happiness."

Toward the end of the book Dan Baker lists the 10 Qualities of Happy Women. Being a psychologist for 20 years he has worked with all scores of women and these are the most prevalent qualities of the happiest ones, despite what they've been through. He has also come across some of the most blessed women who are nevertheless unfulfilled. His 10 Qualities of Happy Women are as follows:

1. Believing in yourself
2. Finding Your True North
Find what makes you happy, and do it for yourself and by yourself
3. Taking Personal Responsibility
4. Having Courage
Doing things for your own sake despite how hard it is
5. Being Altruistic
Do unto others. 
6. Embracing Optimism
"if more people could just lighten up and see life in a positive way, they would find more inner peace.
7. Being ProActive
8. Appreciating Life
9. Being Wise and Sharing Your Wisdom
10. Persevering

This book just may have landed itself on my Top 5 favorite books. I would recommend it to anyone. And while it is written for women I don't see any huge points that wouldn't be beneficial for men as well. Dan Baker is a very down-to-earth and realistic psychologist and writer with a lot of experiences to share. 2 Thumbs Up! :)

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