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"If You're So Smart" is a professional spin on the time-honored question of finding happiness. Dr. Raj comes from a business background and asked this question of himself and his students several years ago, leading him to write this book.
IYSS does excellent justice to this question, with material largely from mindfulness practice and academic psychology. Dr. Raj outlines seven happiness "sins" and the complementary remediating "habits" (detailed notes below). My most beneficial takeaway is the concept of passionate processes but dispassionate end results, which has had an immediate positive impact on some of the stresses I face in my career and personal life.
Clearly a lot of effort went into this title, from the academic research to the online Coursera curriculum to the happysmarts.com website with numerous reference materials for the reader. Dr. Raj narrates his own title--indeed he has a subcontinent accent and the written work could use further editing, but for the majority of the read I found this unobtrusive. I find self-narration adds a level of sincerity to a title like this. Dr. Raj's effort yielded an engaging read that leaves the reader with plenty of food for thought. IYSS is worth the credit--enjoy.
- Sin 1: Devaluing happiness (for example: trading it away for frugality).
- Habit 1: Prioritize--but do not pursue--happiness. Don't chase happiness the way insomniacs chase sleep. Be happy with what you have ("harmony/abundance"), and you can deal with whatever comes your way.
- Sin 2: Chasing superiority. Human adaptation diminishes happiness via superiority over time.
- Habit 2: Pursue flow. Identify your talents and what you enjoy doing. Sacrifice short-term happiness when probability of long-term flow goes up.
- Sin 3: Desperation for love.
- Habit 3: The need to love and give.
- Sin 4: The need to be overly controlling. It's why driving feels safer than flying (though statistics clearly state that it's not) It's why we can't book the post-bar vacation until we know the bar results. When obsessed with goals, the goals control you. Time abundance is a perception: for example, stress as a function of hourly wage.
- Habit 4: Gaining internal control. Never blame someone else for your own unhappiness. It's okay to let your emotions run free, so long as you're consciously doing so. You can still keep others accountable for your actions. External control is often a projection of the lack of internal control. Labeling feelings lowers their intensity.
- Sin 5: distrusting others.
- Habit 5: Exercise smart trust. Practice forgiveness and keeping in mind the perspective of other people. Builds trust with others over time.
- Sin 6: Passionate to indifferent pursuit of passions. Worrying about the goal more than the process (or worse, not caring about the work at all.)
- Habit 6. Focus on processes, not results. Do everything it takes to pursue a goal, but care not if the the final result is not as desired (understanding that sometimes you cannot control everything).
- Sin 7: Allowing your focus to be pulled and distracted in all directions, worrying about the past and future, something which modern technologies enable.
- Habit 7: Maintaining presence. There's nothing better you can do than focus on the here and now.
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