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Book Summary and Review – The Happy Mind: A Simple Guide to Living a Happier Life Starting Today

Everyone wants to be happy, yet many people aren’t.  What makes people unhappy and how can you become a happier person and have a more joyful life?  In “The Happy Mind: A Simple Guide To Living A Happier Life Starting Today”, Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie explain the 9 common qualities of happy people, the key sources of unhappiness, and practical principles and tips you can apply to start living a happier life. In this book review of The Happy Mind, we’ll give a quick summary followed by a short review.  You can get a copy of the book here or check out more free resources/summaries at the bottom of this page.

The Happy Mind: Summary


Happiness is a topic that has been debated for centuries. There’s no fixed definition for happiness, though almost everyone will agree that it’s important to be happy.

A key problem is this: people think that happiness comes from external factors, e.g. having a better job, more money/status, a great family. They’re actually confusing happiness with pleasure, and get stuck in the “if-then” trap, thinking “If if this happens, then I’ll be happy”.

True happiness comes from within. Happiness it not some fuzzy feeling, but actually a skill that can be learned, with habits that you can master. Specifically, the authors found that happy people share 9 key qualities:

The Happy Mind summary_9 qualities of happy people1. They think differently. They tend to adopt a productive view of the world, focusing on what they can do than what’s being done to them, on solutions instead of problems.

2. They take 100% accountability. Happy people also encounter setbacks, but they choose to take responsibility for their circumstances instead of acting like victims or blaming others. They recognize that any situation can be managed.

3. They enjoy and are grateful for simple things in life, be it the beautiful flowers along the path to a kindness they receive.

4. They take charge of their future. They plan head, know their life purpose and set clear goals. Rather than dwell in the past, they treat every day as a fresh start full of opportunities.

5. They’re fully engaged in what they do. They commit to making every moment count, doing work they’re passionate about, playing to their strengths and living life to the fullest.

6. They invest in their own well-being, taking time and effort to maintain their physical, mental, emotional, financial health.

7. They have positive relationships. This starts with them accepting themselves and enjoying time with themselves. They’re also selective of who they spend time with, choosing to focus on constructive people who energize and strengthen them.

8. They approach life with “practical optimism”, i.e. with hope backed by real action. They can laugh at life and at themselves, and are able to forgive and forget.

9. They deliberate work on happiness daily, rather than take it for granted.


To truly understand happiness, you must understand where unhappiness comes from. Unhappiness is a “state of lasting discontentment”, and such feelings of discontentment tends to come from several factors which are the opposite to the 9 qualities above.  For example, unhappy people tend to have destructive thinking patterns, and a victim mindset. They’re constantly dissatisfied because they see the glass as half-empty instead of half-full, so they’re always wishing they had more or something different.


The book ends with numerous tips, principles and thinking suggestions. Here are several examples or snippets:
• Realize that you, and only you, can be responsible for your happiness.
• Take time out to plan (daily, weekly, monthly and annually), as this is an important step toward taking control of your life.
• Be grateful. For everything you lack or lose, there’s something else you have that’s worth valuing and appreciating, e.g. your health, job, spouse, life, freedom.
• Develop positive habits. Energize yourself by leveraging opportunities to laugh, learn and grow. Drop unhelpful habits or things that drag you down.
• De-clutter and simplify your life. You’ll be amazed at how it frees you up and clears your mind.
• Focus on managing yourself. You can’t control others, but you can always control your own reactions and behaviors. When you change yourself, others around you may start to change too.

The Happy Mind: Review

This is a short, easy-to-read book that can probably be completed in just 1-2 hours. However, to get the most from the book, the authors encourage you to review the tips regularly so you can apply them in your daily life. Unlike other self-help or psychology books, there’s not much empirical research; the focus is to highlight the dynamics behind happiness. If you’re looking for something light, conversational, with a blend of philosophical ideas/principles and how-to tips, this book could work for you.


In the book, the authors elaborate on each of the 9 qualities above, the sources of unhappiness (including 10 unhappiness traps), and end off with various short, 1-page application tips that you can revisit regularly.

Other Recommended Books on Happiness

Unfortunately, we don’t have the full ReadinGraphics summary bundle (with text, graphic and infographic formats) for “The Happy Mind”. But feel free to get a copy of the book here, visit the author’s website here, or check out more recommended book summaries here:

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work.
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience Of Happiness, Love & Wisdom.
Peace Is Every Step: The Path Of Mindfulness In Everyday Life.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.


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