Friday, October 17, 2014

Recommended Reading: The How of Happiness

Shortly after I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, my sister recommended the book The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, by Sonja Lyobmirsky. I resented the recommendation. I didn't need some general book about happiness. I needed medicine! A psychiatrist! And a psychologist! Some silly book my sister liked was not going to save me from my postpartum depression demons.

It's true, I did need medicine (Zoloft and mirtazipane). And I did need a psychiatrist and a cognitive behavioral psychologist. I also needed to spend four days in the hospital. Those things were essential to my recovery.

But I needed more. When I was first diagnosed with postpartum depression, I thought I just needed to take my pills and get enough sleep. WRONG. I had to get back into the world and do the things I love.

My sister kept pestering me, so finally, I grudgingly borrowed the book and started reading.

IT WAS SO INSPIRING. This book is written for every person and does NOT offer a cure to depression. If you have postpartum depression, you should still seek a doctor's help; but this book greatly supplemented my treatment.

In the first part, the book describes the science of happiness. It's very interesting, but don't worry, it's not too long.

Then there's a test that you can easily take while your baby naps or does tummy time. The test identifies the activities/values that will most effectively increase your happiness.

The second half of the book is devoted to explaining the different activities/values that can increase your happiness. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ THE ENTIRE SECOND HALF. You just read the two or three sections that correspond with your happiness style.
e According to the test, projects and goals increase my happiness. So true! But when I had postpartum depression, I forgot how much I enjoy working on and completing a few projects. I headed to a yarn store asap and started knitting a blanket for my newborn niece Beatrice.

The book also told me that learning increases my happiness. So true! Yet sadly, I had lost this part of myself to the postpartum depression darkness. I brought learning back into my life. First easily, with little museum outings. Then I took an online drawing class and  went to a CPR class. I downloaded an app on to my phone to practice Spanish.

Finally, my test results recommended that I engage in physical activity. Oh boy, I had become a SLUG, but I eased myself back into exercise with daily walks. Now I go to the gym and do Zumba every week and Zumba makes my heart sing joyously. When I had PPD, I had no energy and just the thought of exercise exhausts me. Now I know that exercise does not deplete my energy - it increase it! I do everything possible to include physical activity in my life because it makes me so happy.

What sort of things will increase your happiness? I don't know, but I do know that The How of Happiness will help you answer that question for yourself. If you haven't already, please see a doctor for help with postpartum depression. And then read The How of Happiness!

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