The notion that we can intentionally make ourselves happier by the behavior we choose is not new to psychology. It has been around since at least William James. Paul McKenna picks up the theme in I Can Make You Happy.
McKenna’s focus is extremely practical. Much of the book is a description of specific exercises or behaviors that are aimed at improving mood, changing habits of thought and reducing the intensity of negative emotions attached to memories.
Many of these exercises involve visualizations. Some involve physical actions or stances (even something as simple as standing up straight can improve your mood). In each case, McKenna provides detailed step-by-step instructions.
Because of the practical focus of the book, there is limited explanation of how these actions work. McKenna mentions the sources of the exercises and many have roots in scientific studies. He assumes, no doubt rightly, that his readers are most interested in what they can do.
The book includes a hypnosis CD that McKenna recommends using along with the other exercises. It is intended to reinforce habits that create and support happiness.
McKenna does not guarantee constant happiness. He suggests it wouldn’t be a good thing. He describes our emotions—all of them—as “part of our intelligence.” They are there to tell us something important. We should not avoid our painful or uncomfortable emotions. It is appropriate to feel pain in response to losses and hurts.
Much of what you’ll find in this book is something you can find elsewhere. However, I Can Make You Happy is compact, practical and easy to read. It gets right to showing readers they can do something, often simple things, to be happier now. Making them habits could lead to generally higher levels of happiness.
Paul McKenna also wrote I Can Make You Thin.
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