Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: The Happiness Handbook by Jenn Flaa

The Happiness Handbook
by Jenn Flaa
Publisher: Bush Street Press (May, 2012)
158 pages

This book could not have come into my life at a better time.  Anyone following Joystory knows that I've been in crisis mode since late January after being hit by a lifequake that included major health, financial and relationship shocks.  Happy is a far away land I've heard tell of but fear at times belongs to the same world as fairy tales.  Jenn Flaa's book gives me hope that there is a there there.

And a map to locate it.

I've barely begun to imagine doing most of the work she spells out but as she makes clear, sometimes you have to get back to neutral before you can reach for happy.  Although answering the questions in the workbook sections is mostly beyond me right now it does feel helpful just to have them on my radar.

I can't thank her enough for the one blow-my-mind insight that may play a huge role in helping me salvage my marriage of 34 years that we have just pulled back from the brink--from break-up emails the week of Valentine's to  an amaze-za-aing reigniting of passion and commitment by the end of March.  That is the revelation that men need visual evidence of our happiness and gratitude when they have 'done it right'.  Whether a simple smile or a full out happy dance.

I realized I'd been very stingy with such things.  Not intentionally. Not to manipulate or punish. Decades of struggling with a mood disorder played a role as did being raised by stoic parents who discouraged expressing strong emotion and frivolity, backing it up with scripture.  To this day whenever I feel my mood elevate from neutral to excited--whether frustration or enthusiasm--I hear my parent's voices cautioning me to 'watch your tone young lady'.

I ran this past Ed in a Skype yesterday and he just about bounced out of his chair exclaiming Yes! Yes! Yes!  I neeeeed your smiles!  They give me energy.  Exactly.  And he went on and on about non verbal cues being so important and how discouraged and frustrated he gets when faced with my stone face whether I'm just listening to him relate events of his day or he has just served me a salmon fillet on a bed of jicama, mangos and passion fruit.  And that even when he isn't directly responsible he loves to see me animated about anything.

He was so grateful and enthusiastic about having that made explicit he not only gave me permission but insisted I use his name in this review and make clear that he confirms and endorses that one thing as fact: that men need non-verbal visual cues and that they feed off the energy from our smiles.

I will be returning to this book over the next months to work the exercises and answer the questions and I fully expect to discover that there are many more such gems in there.  I see glimmers and shimmers of them already but I've still a ways to go just to reach neutral.

From the Publishers:

#1 on Amazon Hot New Releases!

We arrive on this planet naked and without operating instructions. We live our lives and learn from trial and error (lots of errors) what works, what doesn't work, what makes us happy and what pisses us off.

Each new person that comes into our lives gets no user's manual and has to figure us out the hard way.  But what if we changed the rules?  What if we wrote our own user's manual, The Happiness Handbook, about what makes us tick and gave it to the people we love most?

Imagine how that would change our interactions and our lives. People would begin to do what makes us happy and ... we would be happy!  If someone received our Happiness Handbook and chose not to follow it, well then, we could choose not to hang out with them more quickly.
The Happiness Handbook is about empowering the reader to discover their own unique ways of being that lead to unlocking their full potential and becomes their guide for leading the extraordinary life they were born to fulfill.

The Happiness Handbook is written in a warm, friendly and informal tone; as if a girl friend were guiding the reader through their process of self discovery. Peppered with humbling, humorous anecdotes and stories; the reader has a practical, seasoned guide and partner in crime as they work the exercises and use the tools to move from unhappy to happy!

What they are saying:

"Flaa's guide aims to send the reader down the path of self-discovery.
After living through a divorce, Flaa finally decided that there was only one thing in the world that was going to make her happy: herself. But who was she? The answer came as she took the time to rediscover what she enjoyed and then tell other people about her findings. Flaa's book explains how the author found her own fulfillment, and the author's hope is that her readers will use the handbook to do the same...
Reaching a state of elation may be a process, but the work outlines three steps to get there: Decide what makes you happy, communicate your needs, and do a "happy dance," i.e., express your joy. Along with this simple strategy, the guide presents plenty of different exercises and activities...
The aim of all these exercises, and the book itself, is to give the reader the tools they need to figure out how to find their bliss. For Flaa, taking an active role in the creation of one's own joy helps actualize it."- Kirkus Review

"A witty and revealing journey around many of life's more friction-filled corners. The challenges described have such a human, almost generic universality that you'll find wisdom even in the words not on the page, but that flash into mind hours after putting the book down. Ms. Flaa is talented author, intelligent and unafraid to be bold employing a particularly conversational flavor of the written word. Enjoy!"- Matt Maurer, Amazon Reviewer

"To all the women that read this review; buy the book, read it, answer the questions, give it to your man and tell him to read it and learn and then act on what he has learned. To all the guys that read this review, do yourself a HUGE favor buy the book, give it to your lady, ask her to read it and fill it out, then steal it after she has finished it and learn what you've been doing wrong all these years and then fix the problem and become that knight in shining armor that you think you've been. Trust me I know, I've been married for 23 years and thought everything was fine and it is for the most part, but obviously there is always room for improvement and this book help me find out where I needed to improve to make my wife much happier."-Jeff Black, Amazon Reviewer

"What a marvelous concept - ask for what makes us happy! Such a simple concept, yet so overlooked. Thanks Jenn Flaa for this fun and enlightening read. Doing the happy dance!"- Kd Harris, Amazon Reviewer

"I just finished this book and found it to be the most refreshing no nonsense approach to overcoming the hard knocks that life presents! It provides questions that you need to ask yourself, putting it in writing makes you see it more clearly and work through it. I thought I was happy before, and really I was relatively, but know, I have a whole new perspective. Go get this book and read it, then reread it, you will learn a lot about yourself. I am giving this book to my daughter!"- M. Susan Swchwartz, Amazon Reviewer

Jenn Flaa, serial entrepreneur with deep roots in technology and a passion for music. merges creativity and tech with fun and energy.

After starting her career as an engineer at NASA and a stint in Silicon Valley as a Quality Assurance Manager, Jenn started her first of four companies.  Vettanna provides high tech resources and communications training on-camera.

Not content to use one side of her brain, Jenn is also the rock vocalist and song writer for the band Urban Fiction, the author of The Happiness Handbook and the Better Boyfriend blog.

You can find out more about Jenn and The Happiness Handbook in her interview on CBS:

Follow the blog tour for more reviews, giveaways, author interviews and guest posts:

3 tell me a story:

Jenn 4/24/2013 4:18 PM  

Joy, you brought tears to my eyes. I'm so happy the book crossed your path. Wishing you well on your journey!

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith 4/24/2013 7:02 PM  

So happy the book is working for you. I really enjoyed it, as well, coming from a very different place. See my review on the 26th...
I'm really enjoying following the tour, as well... ;-)

Dr. Bill ;-)
Dr. Bill's Book Bazaar

Teddy Rose 4/25/2013 12:16 AM  

Joy, I am so happy that The Happiness Handbook has come at the right time for you. It sounds like it has already started helping you. I'm doing the :happy dance" for you. You go girl!

Thanks for taking part in the tour!

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