Each year, there are more and more books on the topics of happiness. Not only how to get it, but how to keep it as well. There are books like “The Science of Happiness, The How of Happiness” and “Be Happy”, just to name a few. As the medical reporter for ABC TV, I’ve read most of them! So when I wanted to write another health book, I really thought long and hard about whether the world needed another happiness book and what my book could say that hadn’t already been said before.
Happiness was on my mind, because I had suffered a personal and family crisis. My mother, my only parent, had died quite suddenly from cancer. And I was finding it really tough to move through the stages of grief. It got me thinking about the advice that happiness experts give out. We’re constantly told that happiness should be our goal, but how can you actually achieve it? Does the advice of the experts actually work?
I wanted to find out if you can be happy when things in your life are not going according to plan. Let’s face it. For most of us, life is like a rollercoaster of ups and downs, some slight and some really big. Just when you think, everything is OK, off you go again. So I wanted to investigate whether the advice of the happiness experts would work, if life wasn’t going the way you hoped.
I interviewed some of the world’s experts, from Buddhist monk Mathieu Ricard (the world’s happiest man) to Timothy Sharp (aka Dr Happy) from the Happiness Institute, to explore the science of happiness. Then I set about trying out their advice, road-testing their ideas, if you like.
I knew that the source of my unhappiness and my journey to happiness would start with my thoughts. So I investigated cognitive behaviour therapy. Everything starts in the mind and how we think about the events and people around us. Cognitive behaviour therapy involves challenging your thoughts, and not just accepting them. It means challenging ‘all or nothing’ thinking and black and white statements, which often aren’t true. I started to think about how I was reacting to the world around me, and I focused on thinking about my reactions, rather than just reacting! It definitely helped me to focus on the positive things in my life.
I spent a year researching happiness which I write about in Roadtesting Happiness. I tell my own journey and the stories of many others. But for now, I want to give you my top tips for happiness, so that you can bring more joy to your own life.
Count your blessings. Much has been written about the importance of gratitude. But it’s something that most of us ignore. We take the people we love for granted and it’s only when something goes wrong that we realise how much they mean to us. Hug your children and kiss your partner each day.
Nurture your relationships. Happiness is contagious, just like the common cold. Invest time and energy in the people around you who bring joy to your life. Enjoy the love and affection of people who care about you.
Use your strengths to find your passion. Finding something you love doing will increase the fulfilment in your life.
Don’t be afraid to volunteer. The happiest people in the world are also the most giving. Give your time and love to help those less fortunate and you will benefit as well.
Eat well, to feel well. Nurture your mind and body with good food and exercise. Regular exercise such as walking or weight training is one of the best things you can do to clear the cobwebs from your mind and find a place for happiness.
Make happiness a priority. Invest in your emotional wellbeing and commit to reading a book like Roadtesting Happiness to get the life that you want.
My goal in writing Roadtesting Happiness is to help people be happier and to stay that way. I’ve compiled the tools and the short-cuts so that you can ‘road-test’ your way to happiness to. It will help you develop strategies for coping when things get tough.
Through my research, I tried meditation, gratitude, exercise, eating healthy foods and exercise. Happiness is personal, and not a one size fits all prescription. Roadtesting Happiness will give you the road-map to happiness so you can see what will work for you. It helped me, and I hope it will help you too.
– Sophie Scott
About Roadtesting Happiness
With a unique and compelling blend of personal experience and scientific evidence, this book has the research, inspiration and tools to make your life happier than it is right now.