Book Review: The Happiness Diary

The Happiness Diary by Barbara Kipfer book cover

The Happiness Diary: Practice Living Joyfully by Barbara A. Kipfer guides you through various self-reflection exercises and prompts to connect with the potential for happiness that already exists in your life. It’s designed to be used as a notebook and written in, and each page is beautifully illustrated.

I’m always a tad wary of happiness-promoting books/articles, since the message that people just need to choose happiness is a) annoying, and b) not particularly relevant for people living with mental illness.  However, this book doesn’t take that stance.  It’s also less about happiness as a transient emotion and more about an attitude of joy towards the positives that are available to us.

The book tries to help you find your own way in identifying the things that are meaningful and valuable for you, and find all the little sources of happiness you might not be noticing.  It doesn’t provide instructions or give you a recipe for happiness.

Mindfulness is one of the major topics in the book, but instead of coming at it from a meditation-focused angle, it’s presented more in terms of slowing down and savouring what’s going on in the moment and what you’re experiencing through your sense.  The book encourages you to find pleasure in the simple things in life.

There are list prompts, mind mapping, self-reflection prompts, exploratory questions, life mapping, gratitude journalling, writing prompts, and mindfulness exercises, among other things.  There is a challenge to develop a media reduction plan.

The book encourages us to think about how we can connect with the people in our lives, and offers prompts around sharing positives with others.

Here’s an example of a two-page spread taken from the book’s Amazon listing:

page from The Happiness Diary

The reviewer copy of this book that I got was an ebook version, but this is definitely the kind of book where you would want to get the paper version so you could write in it.  The ebook version is still beautiful, but I doubt it can do justice to the paper version.

I wasn’t familiar with this author before this, but she’s published a number of books, including several on Buddhism and one called 14,000 Things To Be Happy About.  She’s also a Roget’s Thesaurus editor.  What a fascinating combination. Her happiness website is Things To Be Happy About.

The Happiness Diary is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

I received a reviewer copy of this book from NetGalley.

You can find my other reviews on the MH@H book review index or on Goodreads.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Happiness Diary”

  1. Like you, I do not think you can choose happiness. What you can do is come to terms with your situation, recognize the challenges your life presents while also recognizing the good things, however few they may be for some people in some circumstances. You can change your whole attitude to life and with that, happiness may follow.

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