18 August 2011

Happiness Purpose – Edward De Bono

Being a reader with not many strong preferences towards genres, the closest genre I come to favour is self-help. I know…its sad. More so because many of the books in this category are junk, rather than the futility of the pursuit itself. After all nothing is more worthy than an effort put towards a better life, a better ‘me’. Anyway, these aforementioned books usually sell because of one concept or sometimes just a catchy phrase which gives you a temporary ‘Aha’ moment. Like the much used ‘imagine you are dead’ or ‘what if you die today’ concept to make you realize what your priorities in life should be. Or the ‘principle-centeredness’ of Covey, the NLP of Antony Robbins. You get the idea…
The credit of course goes to the magic of words – the same things said with different words have different impact on different people. Which is why so many self-help books and therefore Gurus click well enough to become best-sellers. It makes sense to someone somewhere. And this lengthy preamble is just to say I have found one book that makes sense to me.
Happiness Purpose by Edward De Bono claims to be a new religion, a meta-system, that helps you find happiness. He reasons that when your demand-space / life-space is closest to your cope-space / self-space you are likely to be happy. And when you look at it that way, all you need to do to be happy is
a) increase your self-space and / or
b) decrease your life-space
He lists out specific ways to do both which makes happiness more attainable. It does seem too simple to be true and sometimes it also seems to be fundamentally wrong to take such a thinking-based approach to being happy, considering its unpredictability and elusiveness. But all said and done this is the sanest thing I have ever heard about happiness, especially since I tend to agree with the many dimensions of happiness explained by De Bono.
Another concept that stayed with me from the book is that of a proto-truth, i.e., a truth we accept for the time being till a better truth is found. A lot of our conflicts are around what is true and what we expect to be true forever. So this tolerance of ‘truth-for-now’ which is not too feeble but not very rigid either, makes many things easier to deal with.
The book is highly structured – the chapters and sub-topics very clearly laid out so that there is no rambling anywhere. But hello, this is De Bono! What else does one expect? Thankfully he doesn’t call it the 10 secrets of everlasting happiness or 5 things you need to do to achieve inner peace. For that alone I love this book. It cannot be read just once if you seriously want to give it a shot. But it is also not something you can do 1 day at a time. So you need to read it fully once and then go back to specific areas where you think you can work on. All that if you are looking for a way to be happy of course…
This book is of not much use to you if you are one of those happy souls, except may be to understand why you are happy when others are not. Its also not useful to you at times of crisis or if your life tends to be a series of tragedies. That’s in fact one of the dimensions this framework doesn’t address effectively enough – it does not consider the extreme conditions – terrorism, poverty, ailments, loss or sheer bad luck. Perhaps, it is a proto-truth that some questions just don’t have answers. That point aside, this book and the concept deserve a reading if only to get a thinking mind’s approach to happiness. One can almost visualize De Bono sorting out things in his head, one step at a time, to decode happiness as if were a complex mathematical problem. Interesting!
p.s. The Book now comes with a cover image of a man jumping around with an umbrella. The one I read had the image I have used – a girl leisurely blowing bubbles in air – thought this looked more like happiness :-)

1 comment:

  1. Hola Zid! Kudos - for keeping this space alive.

    I'm going to read this book. Ah! the elusive happiness. That reminds me - I picked up a book called 'The happiness quotient' Never managed to read it. Time to dust the covers and start.