Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create Your Own Road to Happiness
Author: Tal Ben-Shahar
Rating 4/ 5
Sometimes the hardest part of decision-making is being aware that there’s a decision to be made in the first place. “Choose the Life You Want” shows us how we can view our lives as a series of choices.
Tal Ben-Shahar advocates a proactive approach to well-being in which every moment offers opportunities for positive changes in our lives. He promises no simple trick or secret, no quick-fix for instant improvement. Instead, he proposes being continuously mindful of the power we hold to choose our courses of action at every moment of our lives.
As Ben-Shahar himself writes, ”
The dramas of life’s ‘big decisions’ (which, almost by definition, are few and far between) should not hide the fact that in life we face choices all the time. Every moment of our waking lives we face choices whose cumulative effect on us is just as great, if not greater, than the effect of the big decisions. I can choose whether to sit up straight or stooped; whether to say a warm word to my partner or give her a sour look; whether to appreciate my health, my friend, and my lunch, or to take these for granted; whether to choose to choose or to remain oblivious to the choices that are there for the making. Individually, these choices may not seem important, but together they are the very bricks that make up the road we create for ourselves.”Not to be aware of the choices we make moment by moment, is to relinquish control over our ability to improve our life. For instance, we take it for granted that our feelings are what they are and cannot be altered; we react to someone else’s behavior automatically without considering alternative options; we are faced with the same situation over and over again and respond in the same way over and over again–as if no other course of action were available to us. We assume that our thoughts and actions and feelings are inevitable, that we do not have a choice, when in fact we do.”
This is the kind of book one must read in small doses, try to incorporate its lessons into one’s life and come back to delve into some more. I enjoyed it and I know I’ll keep coming back to it for more.
Here are five ways we can choose happiness every day from Ben-Shahar’s book.
1. View work as having meaning.
“Find work that is meaningful or find something meaningful in our work.”
2. Find the positive.
Here are two different choices:
“I was kicked out of the PhD program at Cambridge University in England – the only student in my year (and one of the few ever) to be expelled. All in all, it was a humiliating experience and a wasted year, professionally and academically. I am so unlucky!”
“I was kicked out of the PhD program at Cambridge University in England – the only student in my year (and one of the few ever) to be expelled. The experience turned out to be a blessing in disguise, preparing me for my future work as a consultant. I was at the time arrogant and full of myself – a likely prescription for failure. Being kicked out of the program humbled me and I ended up spending some of the best years of my life living and working in Asia. I am so lucky!”
3. Include pleasure boosters in your day.
Infusing your day with bits of joy helps you refuel. Ben-Shahar calls these brief mood-elevating moments “pleasure boosters.”
4. Embrace silence.
“When we fill every moment of our life with sounds, we fail to realize our true potential.”
5. See challenges, not difficult situations.
“My words do not merely describe reality, they create reality,” writes Ben-Shahar.
You can learn more about Tal Ben-Shahar and his work at his website.