This morning I was checking my books on Amazon and noticed that How To Be Happier was by far the most reviewed, with 28 entries. So that has to tell me something. Most of the reviews were favourable, some of them extremely so, but I also seem to have reduced a couple of people to a state of near apoplexy. Far from being happier they were utterly enraged. And it’s quite instructive to look at why.
One criticism was that my book contained much the same advice as other books on happiness. Now, few people could be buying more ‘how to’ books than me. I have books on how to ski, snowboard, climb, ride, surf, dive, sail, have sex (two shelves) and all kinds of other things. And you know what? All the books on, say, snowboarding, give me the same advice. So far, not one of the books has suggested I should strap the board to my head rather than my feet. I find it reassuring that all the experts are agreed on that point.
The other main criticism was that I hadn’t discovered some magic formula for happiness such as ‘snap your fingers three times whilst turning round and intoning abracadabra’. When I find it I’ll certainly share it with you.Â And if you already know it, please share it with us by clicking on ‘Comments’ . Indeed, anything you wish to contribute would be welcome.
It reminds me of the period that I reviewed shows as a journalist on the Southend Standard newspaper. I regret to say I did rather lay into some of them. I thought it would be more entertaining for the readers. Now I feel rather sorry, not because I’m on the receiving end of criticism myself, but because happiness comes (partly) from focusing on the positive, not the negative. And there usually was positive, but in those days I ignored it.
I’ll deal with the criticisms just as advised in my own book. I’ll learn from whatever is valid. So I’ll be better. There may also be things to learn about human nature from criticisms that are not valid. But, since they’re not valid, they can’t possibly upset me. And it’s nice to know many people feel I have helped them. That makes me happy.