Robert Holden, Be Happy

Robert Holden introduces us to happiness in this book as a state that most of us say we want to experience more of and yet most of us do not have a definition of happiness, let alone know how to actually achieve happiness consciously. Happiness for many of us is little more than a fleeting emotion which we sometimes confuse with mere pleasure.

Robert Holden in his book Be Happy, sets out the essential components of his annual signature event, the eight week Happiness Course. Robert Holden founded the Happiness Project and was originally a psychologist, but quickly realised that psychologists were there to fix extreme conditions, rather than to study and encourage the personal development and growth of others in order to help everybody achieve happiness.

So what is happiness?

Happiness is not the mere absence of problems and unhappiness, but is a state which we can achieve by being more ourselves. The path to being more happy is the path to being more ourselves. Robert Holden talks a lot about our Self as being oour true nature underneath the ego that is constantly chattering in our ear. He talks about the fact that most of us “suffer from psychology” and that we suffer from having a personality – but the key point here is that our personality is not us.

Having read this book on happiness there is no danger that you will become a shallow, positive thinking, constantly smiling simpleton – on the contrary you will experience a deeper knowledge of yourself and a compassionate self-acceptance. Through that you will become happier, although you will still experience unhappy emotions from time to time! You will however be a more deeply content and happy version of yourself. You will learn to accept that happiness is your state of being. Holden says that you literally ARE happy.

Robert Holden’s Happiness Contract

Robert Holden looks at all the difference reasons that we might have that prevent us from being happy – one of the easy ones to relate to is the “Happiness Contract” – the place where we set out the ration of happiness that we allow ourselves and the preconditions for us to experience it. The point is that we are happy in our being, that happiness is free and accessible to all. We just need to be willing to receive it and acknowledge it. For example we may believe that happiness can only be earned – the great work ethic belief. This means that we have to do things in order to make us feel happy. Unfortunately, as Robert points out, the work is never done and so we never quite get round to experiencing that happiness!

Robert talks about being more present as being a key to happiness, for happiness can only be experienced in the now. He explores our desire for more of everything in order to feel happy and looks at the patterns of behaviour and belief that we have inherited from our families and help us to see where some of the clauses in our happiness contract have come from. This gives us the power to pick up the red pen and delete contract terms that no longer make sense!

In the world of personal development, there are many books that talk about having more and doing more and achieving more, but the main purpose for most of that is to feel a certain way and generally speaking, most people will talk about wanting to be happy. Robert Holden cuts to the chase and in his book Be Happy sets out the learning from his eight-week happiness course that has been running for many years and gives us the tools to set us on the road to being more happy.