In this highly entertaining and literate book, Shawn Christopher Shea takes us on a provocative journey into the world of practical philosophy, applied spirituality and everyday psychology. Calling upon more than twenty years of clinical experience, fifty years of navigating life's ups and downs, and an array of thinkers and pop icons - from Alan Watts to Albert Einstein, Billy Graham to Bob Dylan, the Dalai Lama to the English mystic Julian of Norwich - he weaves a gentle compassion and a tart wit into this compelling look at human nature and our never-ending quest for happiness.
Not content with traditional stereotypes of happiness, Shea is on a search for a tougher happiness that is present and revitalizing even during times of stress, loss, and pain. He begins with the intriguing twist that happiness is not so much a feeling as it is both an attitude and a feeling. He shows how to distinguish between success and happiness, emphasizing the importance of embracing life as a series of moments to savor as opposed to a series of goals to achieve.
For Shea happiness is determined within each moment by five interacting processes - our biologies, our perspectives, our relationships, our environments, and our spiritual quests. These five interacting, constantly shifting processes, give happiness its fluid nature; change one factor, and you change them all. This "matrix effect" explains why happiness is often elusive and fleeting. It need not be so.
Using the human matrix, Shea shows what it is that limits our ability to find happiness and what it is that allows us to transcend those very same limits. Shea demonstrates how an understanding of this human matrix can be used to forge a resilient and enduring attitude of trust and a resulting feeling of confidence and compassion - a combination we call happiness.
Written with elegance, wit, and a disarming playfulness, Shea's surprising answers to difficult questions are not so much things to do as they are creative ways of thinking, fresh manners of conceptualizing and innovative approaches to understanding human nature - all of which are invaluable tools for finding our own unique answers to the puzzle of happiness.
"A bold, dazzling, and wonderfully fresh antidote to the simplistic platitudes so common in the self-help books of today! Shawn Christopher Shea pulls on everything from his clinical practice to arcane philosophy to pop culture as he poignantly answers a most modern question: If we're so successful, why aren't we happier?
The end result is deeply affecting, often funny, and always instructive. Destined to inspire an entire generation with the excitement and happiness to be found in the nurturance of compassion and the quest for meaning. "
-Paul Farmer, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
"Following in the groundbreaking footsteps of M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled, Shawn Shea guides us down the road to happiness in his insightful and engaging book. I found it very compelling. "
Co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul®
"This book is in a very special group of works that, springing from clinical experience and wisdom, moves to expand with wondrous insights the life of all those it touches."
-Juan E. Mezzich, M.D., Ph.D.
President-Elect, World Psychiatric Association
"A remarkable achievement that is a wonderful blend of science, philosophy, clinical wisdom and personal anecdote. Using a writing style that is enjoyable, engaging and incredibly effective, Shea has crafted a book that will have an impact and make a difference in many, many lives. It will stay with you, challenge you and change the way you look at the world. "
-M. David Rudd, Ph.D.
ABPP Baylor University
President, American Association of Suicidology
"A moving book, filled with touching and insightful stories, containing much wisdom and the practical methods of applying them to our lives to help us find happiness, meaning and a successful life. "
-Bernie Siegel, M.D.
Author of Prescriptions For Living and 365 Prescriptions For the Soul
About the Author:
Shawn Christopher Shea, M.D. is an internationally acclaimed speaker and innovator in the field of suicide prevention and mental health. His two previous books, The Practical Art of Suicide Assessment: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals and Substance Abuse Counselors and Psychiatric Interviewing: The Art of Understanding, 2nd Edition, are considered classics in the field. Dr. Shea is currently the Director of the Training Institute for Suicide Assessment & Clinical Interviewing (TISA), an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Dartmouth School of Medicine, and in private