Book Review: 10 Steps To Finding Your Happy Place (And Staying There)
by Galen Pearl
Still Creek Press, Portland 97232
I’ve said it before, while introducing Galen in the wonderful guest post she wrote on this blog, that I see her as the original teacher – and I’ll say it again. She does it so easily – and I do believe she can pick any situation in life and turn it into a learning point in the most beautiful way, encouraging action in a positive way.
Today I am absolutely blessed to review her book: 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There). When I received the book and held it in my hand, I knew in my heart that I am going to love it. Visit Galen’s blog and you’ll know exactly what I mean. In fact, I had often thought, while reading her posts, that there was a best-selling book in there. And happily, there is!
With her trademark story-telling prowess and welcome doses of humor throughout the book, Galen offers us a happiness template, sharing what she learned from her own experiences.
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There)
Suppose you had to answer the question “Do you want to be happy?” what would your answer be? Obviously (hopefully) “yes”. Unfortunately, most of us have no idea what will make us happy and when we do get around to thinking about it, we tend to postpone it to the future, and as Galen so aptly puts it, “hold our happiness hostage to some future circumstances” making it dependent on a series of events likely to happen in the future.
This book is a treasure that shows you how to cultivate happy habits that nurture self-awareness – because you see, happiness is an inside job! It is up to us to choose happiness and when we make it a habit, it is easy to arrive at your happy place and stay there. Galen hastens to add that “Happy Place is not a place of unrelenting inner sunshine” Rather, it is a place of refuge and spiritual sustenance, contented fulfillment.
I loved Ken Wert’s and Sandra Pawula’s thoughts on the book under “Praise for 10 steps” and I’d add “un-put-downable”. I began reading with a smile – often laughing, crying a little, making notes – and when I finished the book, I just held it close to my heart, with a wonderful sense of peace.
Here are the chapters from the book: (These 10 steps are listed in the sidebar of Galen’s blog and her book follows the same pattern)
Step 1.Give yourself permission to be happy
Chapter 1 urges us to dwell on what happiness means to us, identify what holds us back and give ourselves permission to be happy, followed by making the choices that will lead to our greatest happiness. Why would one NOT want to be happy when happiness means health, longevity, a stronger immune system, higher self-esteem and success among other things?
1 .Learn to belly-breathe to release stress and relax
I loved the chapter “Power to choose” where Galen talks about what is in our spiritual wallet – a credit card with unlimited power over how we interpret circumstances and interact with them – the power of choice!
Step 2.Decide if you want to be right or happy
Learn to pick your battles. Being right is rewarding. Being happy, however tough on your ego, is nourishing to your spirit. And of course, everything is captivating when we look with an open mind. My favorite chapter in Step two is “Be Water”. Choosing happiness does not mean silencing our voice of truth. “Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected”(George Washington)
Step 3.Give up the delusion of control
This begins with the beautiful Serenity prayer and describes, how, by developing the habit of letting go, we can understand why we hang on to our delusions. I loved how Galen wrote that children are God’s cure for this particular affliction! It is enough to control what we say and think, and have the courage to change the things we can.
We can’t always control the circumstances we find ourselves in. But if we can let go of expectations and use the resources at hand, we can bloom where we’re planted. And if we can bloom where we’re planted, then wherever we’re planted will become our happy place.
Step 4.Feel your feelings
I was thrilled to see this step opening with the lines of a song I love by Irene Cara “What a feeling”. Recognize, acknowledge, accept and own your feelings because by doing so, we give ourselves a chance to reduce our suffering rather than making the world responsible for our happiness. Change your thoughts, change your feelings. I loved the process Galen describes on Page 136.
Step 5.Make haste to be kind
Kindness, an easy habit to develop, with immediate benefits. This beautiful step talks about heart hospitality. And yes, you go through your day a little differently when you are actively seeking opportunities to be kind. Kindness pays. Pay it forward. Start with yourself.
Step 6.Judge not
Open your heart, open your mind. Every time we open our hearts and connect with another person, we connect to God. Stop complaining, criticizing. Share your joys, not annoyances. Release the resistance of “I have to” and enjoy happiness by switching to “I get to”. Family habits is a lovely sub-chapter here and worth practicing. I do.
Step 7.Practice Compassion
Find ways to awaken compassion for ourselves and for others, for the whole world. Make it a habit.
The Dalai Lama
Step 8.Forgive Everyone
Related to step 3, Forgiveness is perhaps the most challenging practice. Galen describes how the main obstacle to forgiving others is forgiving ourselves – and how it is about the forgiver. Withholding it isolates us, fills us with fear, makes us judgmental. Quite like “drinking rat poison and hoping the rat will die” I loved the chapter “Dog is God Spelled backwards” which wonderfully illustrates this point. So forgive and be happy.
Step 9.Develop an attitude of gratitude
Appreciate every little thing. Every moment. Every day.
William Arthur Ward
Step 10.Be here now
Live in the present moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh
And nicely rounded off by Step 11 – There’s no place like home!
See the natural progression? The purpose of this book is to help the reader develop joyful habits – hence the title 10 steps to finding your happy place (and staying there). The chapters are short and sweet.
I am glad to say that I literally read the book from beautiful cover to cover – and found the “Further Reading” suggestions very useful. In fact, I actually got some of those books right away.
To me, this book, in two words, is Delightfully Inspiring!
Galen says that she does not have all the answers, but when you read the book, you might disagree – because you WILL find some answers in this book. It is guaranteed to make you feel great.
Galen is a very special friend and I am grateful to her for sending me a review copy of this book, which will always have a place of pride on my “favorites” bookshelf, to read often. I am also excited to be introduced to A Course In Miracles by her, which is a gift to whoever “enrolls” and chooses to practice it.
Last but certainly not least is the gorgeous book cover!
I am proud to tell you that the proceeds from the sale of this fantastic book and associated speaking engagements will be donated to Edwards Center, a nonprofit organization providing residential and vocational services to adults with developmental disabilities.
Galen Pearl’s stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort anthologies, and her popular blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), attracts thousands of readers every month. Recently retired from teaching law, she regularly leads retreats and workshops on developing habits to grow a joyful spirit. A Southern girl transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys her five kids and two grandchildren, martial arts, her cabin in the mountains, and mahjong. Please visit Galen’s blog to be inspired on a regular basis:
P.S.: If you’d like to know how the book came about, here’s a great interview with Galen on Angela’s blog at Powered By Intuition