Amy Spencer's "Bright Side Up" equips readers with 100 tools to squeeze happiness out of even the worst scenarios. (Photo courtesy of the Penguin Group)
In this vast world, if there is one thing that we humans have in common across genders, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses, it is that we all want to be happy.
Although we may all have different definitions of what it means to be happy, author Amy Spencer
equips us with 100 tools to get there in "Bright Side Up: 100 Ways to Be Happier Right Now."
Journalist, relationship expert and former senior editor of Glamour magazine, Spencer explains that we can actually train our brains to see life's situations "Bright Side Up." She provides readers with a go-to guide for those days when life could use some sunshine beaming through the dark clouds.
Filled with relatable metaphors and anecdotes from the author's life, "Bright Side Up"
illustrates each of the 100 ways to get happy in a simple, entertaining style.
In our culture, we often learn to reach for external Band-Aids such as new cars, jobs, relationships or the latest iPhone to "fix" our dissatisfaction with ourselves and our lives. Yet the reality is that these props will never serve as a cure.
Spencer reminds us that finding the perfect job or mate will never make us truly happy if we don't face what's inside us first. Instead of looking outward, she encourages us to look within to change our mindset and our lives.
I know firsthand that a negative outlook can breed more mishaps, and I also know that by shifting your perspective, you can make some pretty tasty lemon drop martinis from all those lemons life suddenly chucks at you.
Thank goodness Spencer's new book is here to help us make that attitude adjustment that makes all the difference. Because the hardest part is often figuring out where to start... and Spencer provides concrete steps to move forward with.
When faced with a difficult situation, Spencer advises readers to "ask your one-hundred-year-old self" what he or she would do. After all, Spencer says, he or she is the only one who "can look back on my life and see where I went wrong, got scared or grew weak." She continues:
"Your hundred-year-old-self will tell you if you're wasting your time on busywork or with phony people instead of spending quality time with people who matter, and if you're overanalyzing emails in your relationship or fighting when you should be fixing."
Spencer surmises that one's one-hundred-year-old self would advise:
"Of course you don't know what will happen next, but if you don't try, you'll never know. And then I'll be stuck rocking in this darn chair the last decade of my life wondering, 'What if?' Don't do that to me, kid. Take the chance already and see what happens."
What an interesting concept. Applying this technique helps to highlight what really matters in life and what ultimately fades to the background.
Everyone has faced rejection in some form at one time or another, and Spencer has words of wisdom for this as well. She teaches readers to see that "you have so much to offer to the people who are paying attention and smart enough to appreciate you. Believe in yourself, and their rejection will only make you stronger."
Providing strong examples to go along with each of her nuggets of advice, the author offers wise words, indeed: "Someone's rejection of you is their problem, not yours. So don't let anyone else's judgment of you change how you feel about yourself." Oftentimes we allow others to label and assign value to us, and thus give them power over us. "Bright Side Up" reminds us that we are responsible for our own happiness and self-worth. If we don't believe in ourselves, why would anyone else?
She inspires readers to take charge by weeding out negativity and embracing the positives instead:
"If the person you like doesn't call, there are others who will; if a boss doesn't hire you, you'll find jobs you're better off in; and if one friend makes you feel bad about yourself, surround yourself with those who help you feel strong."
This may seem like common sense, but all too often we are so caught up in our daily habits that we forget to take stock of what is really helping us and what we are allowing to hurt us.
While Spencer admits it is actually counterproductive to force happiness, she assures readers that "when you're sick and tired of being sick and tired, there are strategies for finding your way out of the gloom." That's where this book comes in. It is not about "plastering on fake smiles when you're angry," but instead about "achieving a level of happiness you can only reach in appreciation of all your life experiences, even if life doesn't feel very positive at the moment."
The best part is that any of Spencer's 100 ways to be happier can be applied right now. It doesn't require years of planning or journeying to a mountaintop to meditate for a month in seclusion. All it takes is a willingness to shift your mind to a positive place, and to re-frame the situation to view it in a different light.
The bottom line is, if you are determined to live happier and to improve your attitude instead of just going through the motions and expecting results, this book is for you. Being self-aware and introspective is the first step towards inner happiness in this world that demands our attention in thirty different ways every waking moment, and Spencer's book helps us do just that.
In order to find happiness, we must look inside instead of merely hoping our situations will improve, that people will act the way we want them to, and that material things will erase our shortcomings and personal baggage.
As writer Charles R. Swindoll once said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” ...or how you "see it," as Spencer might say.
Although the ups and downs of life are an inevitable part of being human, it is up to us to shift our perspective and choose to see things "Bright Side Up." Because once we see the best in the worst of situations, things tend to start working out in our favor. Funny how these things work.
"Bright Side Up" is available
digitally and in bookstores. If you're drawing a blank on how to get out of a rut, there's even a Bright Side App
to help. A trailer for the Oprah-approved book can be viewed here
You can reach reporter Tanaya Ghosh here or follow her on Twitter.