January 9, 2011
The Art of Living Happily
New Book Illustrates How to Find Happiness Within Your Heart
“The Art of Living Happily” by Ibrahim Sabri is a little book, but it is packed with a wealth of information to help you live a happy life. Its practical advice teaches balance, how to react to difficult situations, how to let go of stress, how to develop meaningful relationships, and much, much more.
Sabri begins by defining happiness as “the enjoyment of the experience of being alive regardless of the surrounding circumstances.” From there, Sabri reveals to us the essential truth about happiness, that it is not elusive, but rather:
you can realize happiness, because if you search, you will discover that happiness lies within your heart. The power to welcome it is in your mind, and you have the ability to become as happy as you may wish to be, if you work at it. You can create your own formula for your personal happiness over time, as you develop an understanding of it.
From that point on, what Sabri presents is advice and examples to help us find happiness, to allow it into our lives, and practical advice for making it more likely to occur, a lot of which has to do with positive thinking. One positive thought that struck me right away was, “A decision to change your attitude will require time to perfect and will generally produce more satisfaction, but since we are blessed with twenty-four hours in a day, we have plenty of time to practice.” I have never realized that we are blessed with twenty-four hours in a day but instead continually think about how there isn’t enough time. I need to change my attitude about time, perhaps focusing on doing what is essential, such as focusing on being happy, while being grateful for all the time I do have and what I do accomplish.
One chapter I found particularly useful was the chapter on listening. Too often we don’t listen to people. Sabri teaches us how to focus on the other person so we hear what he or she is saying—so we turn off the mind chatter and our competing thoughts so we can actually hear, learn from, and appreciate what other people are saying. As Sabri points out, “The reason we were created with two ears and one mouth is to listen twice as much as we speak.”
Not only is Sabri’s advice about listening practical, but he reveals the magic that can come from listening by relating a charming true story about a friend who once dialed the wrong number but was so struck by the beauty of the woman’s voice on the other end that they developed a relationship. Sabri concludes the story by telling us, “Today, they are married and have two children. The incident that began as a wrong number turned into a beautiful romance that led to a happy marriage. The power of what we listen to can have a profound effect on our lives.”
Being happy is largely about attitude, about choosing to appreciate all the good around us. One simple example Sabri gives is just to see anew the extraordinary in what we would usually term our ordinary lives. For example, he recounts one such magical experience he had:
One day, I was looking through my window, something I have often done, and suddenly, for the first time, I noticed the colors of three houses next to each other. They were brown, green, and blue. I stopped for a moment and said to myself, “Such beautiful colors!” I was amazed at how the realization of the beauty in front of me made me smile. I decided at that moment to find something beautiful in my surroundings daily to admire. So every day, focus on something that you like and enjoy it. Recall that image and say to yourself, “There is beauty in life.”
While much of what Sabri has to say is not new, focusing on positive thinking and making a concerted effort to be happy can never be overstated and should never grow tiresome. The decision to be happy is precisely that—a decision—and we need to choose it every day, so constant reminders are helpful, and Sabri offers many new insights and ways to reframe our thoughts to help us develop a greater level of happiness. His final words sum up his message beautifully: “Above all, remember that you deserve to be happy. You owe it to yourself to make every attempt to become as happy as you wish to be!”
Make an attempt to be happy by reading and applying the advice in “The Art of Living Happily.” You’ll be happy you did.
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”
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