Happiness From the Inside Out is an optimistic little book that teaches us how to attain happiness in our daily lives by following a few simple guidelines.  It shows how dissatisfaction can be transformed into true happiness though the positive decisions we make for ourselves, and not from society or personal relationships.

Chapter one is a biographical sketch of Mack’s journey from unhappiness to personal satisfaction.  He shows us how one simple thought can transform the course of your life.  

In chapter two, Mack outlines his concepts of what constitutes authentic happiness.  He tells us about what it is, how to get it and how to keep it.  The author discusses the concept of synthetic happiness as well as instructing the reader how to determine the difference between true personal happiness as opposed to what society determines happiness to be.

Chapter three tells us how to discard old thoughts or habits that aren’t useful, how to find your talents and how to utilize them.  Mack encourages us to seek pleasure and stop being competitive to the point of being miserable.  .

Chapter four teaches us about the positive aspects of non attachment.  Some of the best advice Mack offers involves not letting your happiness be determined by others, their behavior or by their criticisms of you and your personal desires.  He suggests staying in the present moment and tells us to make sure our happiness is dependent upon ourselves and no one else.

Chapter five focuses on the positive.  This chapter is pretty self explanatory.  Here, Mack advises us to focus on what feels good instead of focusing on the unpleasantness in our lives.  He talks about how to become more sensitive towards our own feelings.  Chapter six instructs us to appreciate ourselves rather than constantly comparing ourselves to others.

Chapter seven teaches us how to tell ourselves a better story.  Edit your speech in accordance to how you feel but make sure that the story you tell yourself is based on fact and not upon mere wishful thinking.

Chapter eight embraces adversity.   Here the author tells us to embrace adversity, to use that period of our lives as a ‘fallow time’ where we sit back and reassess our lives, what our goals are and determine what it is that truly gives us the greatest joy. Chapter nine advises us to pursue goals that are rewarding and to reach for better thoughts, feeling, etc before reacting to less than optimal circumstances.

Chapter ten explores how we can empower ourselves through our relationships by following tips such as not relying on someone else to make us happy, to stop trying to convert others to our point of view and learn not to worry about what others think.  And of course, to help others as much as we are able.  Chapter eleven concludes the book by summarizing the text and giving the reader a little pep talk at the end.

I liked Happiness From the Inside Out. The author made many valid points in his text and many of the approaches he discusses are quite useful. The book does get a little Pollyannaish at times but don’t let that deter you.  It contains lots of valuable information.

~review by Patricia Snodgrass

Author: Robert Mack
New World Library, 2009
pp. 178, 14.95