In “Are You Happy? A Guidebook to Earning Happiness,” author Lea Colleens takes the reader on a journey of discovery in a quick and easy to read self-help manual that will open the eyes to a unique concept on how to find happiness – by earning it. The book is divided into three sections: Happiness Explained, Instruction Guide and The End Result, each section providing clear and easy to understand ideas, explanations and suggestions along the way.
The journey begins with a simple question – Are you happy? Seems an easy enough question, right? But it leads to several other questions. How do you know if you are really happy? How can you be sure? How does anyone know what will make them happy? How can anyone know? To help answer these questions, Colleens begins by explaining what happiness is and what it is not. She states that contrary to the popular beliefs that have been spoon fed to us over the years, it is not contentment, the absence of ego, pleasure, self-esteem, positive, thinking, etc. Nor will nice things make one happy. Rather it is cited that happiness is certainty of future pleasures (that nice things often bring), but that the nice things of themselves, don’t, and won’t make you happy. The basic formula for happiness as defined by the author is Happiness = Affection + Excitement.
Colleens goes on to explain the functions of the three brains in your head vying for control: The Master Brain, The Dog Brain and The Reptile Brain, and explains how each brain makes us act the way we do. According to Colleens, if we can learn to let our Master Brains run the show, we will be happy, because our Master Brains want us to be happy.
Colleens has a distinctive, clear voice that is crisp and to the point. One can almost feel her energy emanating from the pages. Though while the pages are full of zest and enthusiasm, some of the language used in the delivery is distracting from the message. The profanity will be off-putting to those with an aversion to that sort of thing, as will the sarcasm. Granted, there are times when such a tone is effective and beneficial, but in a self-help book on happiness? I leave that up to the individual reader.
That being said, there were many things in “Are You Happy? A Guidebook to Earning Happiness,” by Lea Colleens that I thoroughly enjoyed. The illustrations are excellent and clearly add definition and an extra layer of understanding to the text. I also found the charts on Seeking Excitement: Do’s and Don’ts and Seeking Affection: Do’s and Don’ts to contain valuable advice. In the end, I fully agree with the author when she says, “There are no shortcuts… to help you earn happiness” (59). It takes consistent hard work and dedication to the cause, but in the end, happiness is totally worth it!