The Happiness Makeover

“It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.” – Margaret Bonnano

I recently finished reading The Happiness Makeover by M. J. Ryan. I loved this book. It is similar in feel and idea to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. The difference between the two is that Rubin’s book was about her personal happiness adventure whereas Ryan’s book is more about offering tips and advice on how to find and create happiness in general. Ryan does offer her personal examples, as well as examples from clients. If you’re interested in happiness in general, I highly recommend this book.

Just a few things from the book I’d like to share:

“We tend to think that loving ourselves is selfish or self-centered. However, if we understand we are doing it not for ourselves but for everyone we meet, then it becomes easier to do. The same is true for happiness. It may seem self-indulgent or self-centered to make it a priority in our lives.” This quote reminded me once again of Caribbean Princess’s post about how she makes her own life worth living. These two concepts are the same in my mind. Just as Caribbean Princess relies on herself for a happier life, I rely on myself for my own happiness. And while others may find the two self-centered and/or egotistical, I beg to differ. If one is happier or a better person because of something they do (or don’t do), that only makes their relationships better, and so have a positive effect on others. And our positive effect on others makes for a better world.

“…The mind is a powerful thing and its power can be used to make us happy or miserable. We can concentrate on how the world has done us wrong or the ways it does us right. We can focus on where we’re stuck or how we’re free. We can take the opportunity to notice the ordinary miracles around us. We can find ways to truly enjoy, even to relish, the moments of our lives.” Because I have spent a few months deep in anxiety and a bit of depression, I have learned to fully appreciate the little things in life. I have mentioned some, but I have to say that since embarking on this happiness project of mine, I am more aware of each and every day, the little things that make a day good or bad, and to really enjoy the moment. I remember a dinner I was at about a month ago. We went to a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I wasn’t feeling particularly well, but went anyway. I’m glad I did. We had a good time, and even while not feeling the best, I remember thinking these are the moments to be thankful for, a dinner out with friends and really enjoying the company and the food. It’s only when I really started looking at the world through slightly new eyes that I was able to increase my happiness like never before.

“We all need a group to be part of, a place in the social world where we feel like we belong… It doesn’t matter where the group is—in cyberspace, in your hometown, or scattered around the globe. It doesn’t matter what the focus of getting together is—a love of dogs, or books, or changing the world. What matters is that you find a clan, a tribe, where you can share your joys and sorrows, your gifts and challenges, and be likewise supported in return. One place to look is at your interests. How can you join or create a group about something you love?” I don’t think I need to say too much on this point. If you’re reading this, you’re a part of one of my “clans.” I thank the original Philofaxer for starting Philofaxy. I thank Nan, Steve and Laurie for continuing the blog and making the community a bigger and stronger thing. And I thank all of the readers out there who make my planner obsession a little less weird. Finding people who share your passion is always a good thing and it makes me happy.

“At the beginning of January, when you get a new appointment book [really, one buys new appointment books only in January?!] or are setting up your Outlook for the year, randomly select six days sprinkled throughout the year and put a special symbol on them… Then, when you come to them during the year, give yourself a treat. This will bring you happiness sevenfold—the six treats and the smile it brings now in anticipation of what’s to come.” I absolutely love this idea. Really, I should do this to mark weekends where I will not plan anything because every once in a while I need that type of weekend and it’s rare that I get that. But marking specific days for a treat is great too. This idea could help with purchasing too many bags and/or planners. If I buy one or the other on those specific days, then it will have to be something I really want. And the anticipation of that purchase would be enough to put a smile on my face, though let’s be honest, the actual bag or planner is what I’m really after.

These are my favorite passages from the book. I plan on reading her other books as well. Of course, I will write about those as well.

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” – Hugh Downs


  1. Kanalt thanks so much for sharing this book review with us. Yet another thing added to my list of stuff I should get.

    Like you, I think that this planner loving community of enablers (hehe) has made a huge difference to my life. I am so thankful for the joy I get from reading the blogs, tweeting, emailing or messaging and commenting. It has added a lot of happiness to my life too. And made it a bit easier to face the challenges.

    Thanks to you too for sharing a part of yourself with all of us every time you write :-) It means a lot to me.

  2. Thank you for sharing this, kanalt. As an expat wife I can relate to what you say on needing to be part of a group. On average I tend to move every 2 years and need to start 'all over again'. But it never occurred to me before that as part of a group in cyberspace (Philofaxy, FB), that group will travel with me, wherever I go! That is a comforting thought.

  3. Thank you for your kind thoughtful comments.

    The community spirit is very strong amongst Philofaxy. I can't measure it, or tell anyone the secret of it. But just invite someone to attend a meet up or suggest a bunch of people to follow on Twitter and they will quickly see for themselves how it works.

  4. Would you be willing to enable the "subscribe to comments" on your blog too? I already subscribe to your blog, because I loves it, but I'd also loves to follow all the comments!

  5. Thank you everyone, for you comments.

    CP - Thanks for your sweet words. I like reading what you have to share too.

    Nickynic - The Internet is so wonderful for keeping in touch with friends and family, and it really does help when you move a lot. I can't relate to that personally, but I can imagine that it's a comforting thing. I can say that it's helped me keep in touch with my family members who are far away.

    Steve - I often wonder if other online communities are as great as this one. I'm not involved with any others, so I can't say one way or the other. But I do feel very lucky that this one is as wonderful as it is.

    Rori - Oops! I didn't realize the comments RSS feed wasn't enabled - I'll get on that.

  6. Rori - RSS button added on the side. I also updated my sidebar a little and consolidated some sections. I can't believe how many blogs I follow!


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